PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Franklin, Virginia remains tattered following the closure of a paper mill more than a decade ago.
Pastor and realtor Eric Majette grew up in Franklin at a time when the Union Camp paper mill provided decent jobs in the community.
“It left the community kinda like a desert,” Majette said. “I grew up in Franklin, and for me to ride through the streets that I grew up on and to see so many abandoned properties, it’s as though people just left.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, with a population of 8,200, the per capita income in Franklin is $27,000 a year, and 20% of families live in poverty.
“I think that at this point the community is trying to find ways to heal and basically figure out ways to make sure this type of tragedy doesn’t happen again,” said Majette, who lives in Virginia Beach but pastors a church in his hometown.
The healing process can begin next weekend with mental health professionals who will participate in the third annual Riverfront Soul Festival.
“These professionals are coming in from Norfolk and from all over [the region] to be part of the health and wellness fair and the Riverfront Festival on Friday from 11 a.m. to four o’clock,” Majette said.
The Food Bank will feed the hungry with its mobile unit while persons of the cloth will feed the soul.
“The first 100 families will be able to shop for groceries for free,” Majette said.
Regina Mobley: You hope to help with the third annual Riverfront Soul Festival. The word soul has multiple meanings here?
Eric Majette: Absolutely it goes deep. There are going to be mental health workshops, vendors, food resources and this is all free to the community.
The festival will also include mobile healthcare services where an estimated 15% of the population in Franklin is diabetic.
Truist, in partnership with Paul D. Camp Community College and others, will provide financial education to help inspire and build better lives and communities, Majette said.
Food, family, fun, and soul music for the entire family are part of the three-year tradition. This year, the festival will include a Comedy Explosion that will be hosted by Hampton Roads’ own
Anguz Black on Friday, Sept. 8. Tickets for the Comedy Explosion are available at Eventbrite.com. In a free concert Saturday evening at Barrett’s Landing Park, headliner Tom Browne will hit the stage with his iconic hits including Jamaica Funk.