Annual Meeting 2024

- Appalachia -


Together for Hope Appalachia Annual Meeting - Zoom Recordings

February 1-2, 2024 - Bluefield University, Bluefield VA


TFH Appalachia Annual Meeting 2024

Feb. 1 & 2 (Thursday & Friday)
Bluefield University (3000 College Avenue, Bluefield, VA 24605)

Check Back for Updates
  • In-person with virtual option
  • Theme: What Will it Take to End Poverty?
  • Hear from Coalition Members & Partners
  • Meet TFH Staff
  • Thursday 4:00 to 8:00 pm & Friday 9:00-11:00 am in Bluefield
  • Mountain Farming and Economic Solutions Session
  • Social Enterprise Session
  • Site visits Friday - Bluefield
  • Thursday afternoon lunch and visit Jason Tartt's Demonstration Farm McDowell County
  • Networking
All people, organizations, churches, faith-based groups interested in alleviating poverty in rural counties of persistent poverty in Appalachia are invited to attend.

More Information


Hotel Options

Directions & Parking

Dr. Jason Coker - What Will it Take to End Poverty?

Meeting Location - Thursday Evening & Friday Morning - Bluefield University

Dinner Menu - Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Mountain Farming & Economic Solutions - Thursday, 4:00 p.m.

Bluefield WV/McDowell County WV TFH Appalachia Coalition Members


Dr. Jason Coker, TFH President

will present at the TFH Appalachia Annual Meeting - February 1-2

What Will it Take to End Poverty?

On Thursday evening Dr. Jason Coker, TFH President will present:

  • What will it take to end poverty?
  • The Vision of Together for Hope
  • Dialogue: The role of our partners in ending poverty

Read Dr. Coker's recent article, "The Poor You Will Always Have With You?" in a Yale Divinity School issue of Reflections.

The Rev. Dr. K. Jason Coker is the national director of Together for Hope, the rural development coalition of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. After nearly two decades of life and ministry in Connecticut, Coker returned to his home state of Mississippi to work for peace and justice in areas of persistent rural poverty. The lessons of human compassion and equality he learned as a minister guide his work in poverty relief.

He is the author of James in Postcolonial Perspective: The Letter as Nativist Discourse (Fortress Press, 2015) and Faded Flowers: Preaching in the Aftermath of Suicide (Smyth & Helwys, 2020), which was just released in August! He also is the co-editor of Bible and Theory: Essays in Biblical Interpretation in Honor of Stephen D. Moore (Fortress Academic, 2020). He is currently working on The Corporation of God: A Biblical Critique of Global Capitalism (Cascade Press, 2021) that will be released early 2021.



February 1-2 - Bluefield West Virginia
Hybrid (in-person and virtual)
Bluefield University
3000 College Avenue, Bluefield, VA 24605

Who: TFH Appalachia Coalition Members, partners and friends, potential partners, any organizations and individuals interested in poverty alleviation in counties of persistent rural poverty in Appalachia.

Thursday – February 1

12:00-2:30 EST –Lunch & Visit Jason Tartt’s Demonstration Farm (McDowell County) - early option

4:00 EST - Mountain Farming & Economic Solutions: A Conversation with Amelia Bandy, Jason Tartt, & Josh McGee (Bluefield University & Virtual)

5:00 EST – Gathering & Networking

5:30 EST – Welcome and Introductions (Bluefield University and Virtual) 


  • TFH Updates
  • Meet Harold Tessendorf, TFH Director of Social Enterprise
  • Etc.

Coalition Members Report

  • Updates
  • Successes
  • Challenges
  • Something we’ve learned that may be helpful to others
  • Questions (could be addressed with the group at Friday session)

Introduction of participants

6:30 EST – Dinner

7:15 EST – What will it Take to End Poverty? with TFH President, Dr. Jason Coker (Bluefield University and Virtual)

  • What Will it Take to End Poverty?
  • Vision of Together for Hope
  • Dialogue: The role of our partners in ending poverty

8:00 EST – Adjourn


Breakfast on your Own

9:00 EST - TFH Appalachia Updates & Announcements & Conversation (Bluefield University & Virtual)

Announcements (10-15 min)

  • Meet Dr. John Studdard, Acting Director of Health and Nutrition
  • Fundraisers
  • Reporting

Continue conversations from Thursday—address key questions raised on Thursday

10:00 - Break

10:15 EST – Social Enterprise Session with Josiah Hannah, Community Impact Director for Coalfield Development (Bluefield University & Virtual)

  • Presentation 
  • Social Enterprise Dialogue & Networking

11:00 – Break

11:15 EST – Site Visits (Live Streaming on Facebook)

Visit Wade Center and Crea Company

12:30 – Closing Lunch in Local Restaurant (optional)


Bluefield University

Thursday evening and Friday morning sessions will be held at Bluefield University

3000 College Avenue
Bluefield, VA 24605

Bluefield University, and Dr. David Olive, president, was one of the original partners that launched Bridges for Hope


Directions and Parking

Chandler Boardroom
3000 College Avenue
Bluefield, VA 24605

The Chandler Boardroom is in Lansdell Hall, circled in aqua (#12). We have limited parking between the chapel and Lansdell Hall. This is circled in magenta on the map. The entrance to this parking area is off College Avenue. If you have the ability to do so, suggest this parking for anyone needing handicapped accessible, with limited mobility or health challenges that prevent walking distances. We can reserve about 8 parking spaces for your group. If you had someone driving a van, this is a good place to do a drop-off and park elsewhere.

For all others, they may use any employee parking that is available, and can enter from Stadium Drive. I suggest parking behind Shott Hall (circled in purple). There are entrances on either side of Lansdell Hall. When coming in the first floor, they may take either the stairs or the elevator to the third floor. The boardroom is located at the end of the hall.

Campus Map (PDF)


Dinner - Thursday, February 1, 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $17.00 (Reservations/Payment)

Please make your reservation by Friday, January 26.
After the 26th please contact Keith at [email protected]
We will have extra but we want to make sure we have enough.

Bluefield State University Dining Services (Pioneer College Caterers)

  • Chicken Cordon Bleu
    (or Vegetarian Baked Cheese Manicotti in Marinara Sauce topped with Melted Mozzarella Cheese)
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Tossed Garden Salad
  • Fresh Steamed Seasonal Vegetable Fresh Green Beans (likely Broccoli)
  • Honey Glazed Carrots
  • Assorted Bread Basket
  • Chocolate Layer Cake
  • Coffee, Decaf Coffee, Iced Tea, and Water


Mountain Farming & Economic Solutions:
A Conversation with Jason Tartt, Amelia Bandy, & Josh McGee

Thursday, February 1, 4:00 p.m. at Bluefield University
(Lunch at El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant in Tazewell, VA & Visit Jason Tartt’s Demonstration Farm, 12:00-2:30 p.m., Feb. 1)
Mountain Farming & Economic Solutions – 4:00 p.m. (Feb. 1)
Amelia Bandy (Economic Development Greater East, EDGE), Jason Tartt (T&T Organics & Appalachian Gold), and Josh McGee (Y’All Sauce Company) make a presentation on their comprehensive approach to economic development in McDowell County, West Virginia, which includes farming and food, business and jobs, housing, collaborating with faith communities, and appealing to coal companies concerning land use. Their approach is relevant to other Appalachian organizations and regions. There will be time for questions and dialogue.
Lunch & Farm Visit - 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. (Feb. 1)
Earlier that afternoon participants are invited to lunch at El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant (624 E Riverside Dr North Tazewell, VA 24630) in Tazewell, Virginia, and travel to Jason Tartt’s Vallscreek Mountain Demonstration Farm. The Vallscreek Demonstration Farm provides training and land to market pilots in mountain farming appropriate productions. Including: honey and derived products, high tunnel vegetable and fruit, orchards, compost and vermiculture, maple and tree syrups, pastured poultry, meat rabbits, clean water harvesting through solar, and value-added productions. 
El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant
Lunch Menu  (participants will order of the menu at their expense)
624 E Riverside Dr North Tazewell, VA 24630
We will plan to leave the restaurant at around 12:45 to make the approximately 40 minute drive to the Farm. Participants may choose to car pool from the restaurant. If you do not wish to eat lunch you may join us at El Mariachi around at 12:30.
Vallscreek Demonstration Farm
37 Valerie St, Berwind, WV 24815
(Cell service is spotty)
Travel Time: The Drive from Bluefield University to Tazewell is about 25 minutes. The drive from Tazewell to Vallscreek is about 40 minutes. Then it will be about an hour from the farm to Bluefield University, not counting a stop in Tazewell if needed.
Tentative Schedule: 12:00-12:45 - lunch; 1:30-2:25 - Vallscreek Farm; 2:30 - leave for Bluefield stopping in Tazewell if necessary; 3:30 - Bluefield University.
Jason Tartt, is the owner of T&T Organics, located in the McDowell County, West Virginia area and is co-founder of EDGE ( and Appalachian Gold ( Jason’s innovative work has been featured in a numerous prominent news stories, television episodes, and podcasts: 
Amelia Bandy, is co-founder of EDGE ( and works with Jason Tartt on a number of the projects featured above. Through EDGE she works with local agribusinesses, agritourism experts and community members to build economic development efforts in Central Appalachia. She works as a rural health education professional currently working to coordinate project activities and support local coalitions whose missions are related to prevention of substance misuse and addiction.
Josh McGee, is the owner of Y’All Company (, a Southern sauce company. Josh approached Together for Hope offering to help start a locally owned business in a county of persistent poverty that would provide a local owned business, living wage jobs, and a market for local farm products. He teamed up with Jason Tartt and Amelia Bandy and Appalachian Gold was born.


Social Enterprise in the Mountians:
A Conversation with Josiah Hannah, Community Impact Director for Coalfield Development

Friday, February 2, 10:15 a.m. EST at Bluefield University
Josiah Hannah will talk about the kind of social enterprise that is working in Appalachia and the Coalfield Development SEED Fund, which invests in, incubates, and grows employment-based social enterprise partners in Appalachian Communities with time for dialogue among participants engaged in social enterprise.
Coafield Development: Rebuilding Appalachia from the Ground Up
Coalfield Development’s Mission: Inspiring the courage to grow, activating the creativity to innovate, and cultivating communities of opportunity in central Appalachia through four core capabilities:
  • Designing and Scaling New Programs in Emerging Sustainable Sectors
  • Incubating and Investing in Well-Paying Employment Social Enterprises
  • Facilitating Personal, Professional, and Academic Growth for People Facing Barriers to Employment
  • Advancing, Completing, and/or Managing Community Based Revitalization Projects
Coalfield Development’s SEED Fund invests in, incubates, and grows employment-based social enterprise partners in Appalachian Communities. These social enterprises are entities who are not SOLELY motivated by profit – they measure success and failure by the profit generated as well as their positive impact on the local community and environment. Our invested businesses work in line with Coalfield’s mission to grow and diversify our regional economy and provide fulfilling opportunities for those facing barriers to employment (including low-income, unemployed, minority, and recovery from substance use disorder).
Josiah Hannah is a Wayne County native, a husband, a father, and a believer (in Jesus, in the power of a hopeful heart, and in home). Josiah serves as the Community Impact Director for Coalfield Development. He is a graduate of Garrett College and Bucknell University where he specialized in nonprofit management, community development, and social sustainability, and he worked in the field of social work for three years prior to coming to Coalfield. Josiah loves his babies’ dauntless laughter and joy, and the strength and courage of their mother.


Hotel Options

Country Inn & Suites By Radisson, Princeton, WV

111 Halls Ridge Road, Princeton, WV, 24740
(304) 425-2200

Rates as of 12/21/23 (subject to change):
Standard Two Queen Beds or Standard King
$108.05 + tax (same rate as the AAA rate if you mention “Together for Hope Appalachia”)

22 minutes (16.8 miles) to Bluefield University
40 minutes (35 miles) to Tazewell, VA (El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant - for lunch and farm visit on Thursday)

Free Hot Breakfast
Pet-friendly Hotel

Hampton Inn Princeton, WV

277 Meadowfield Lane, Princeton, West Virginia, 24740
(304) 431-2580

Standard Two Queen Beds or Standard King 
$129.99 + tax (if you mention “Together for Hope Appalachia”)

23 minutes (16 miles) to Bluefield University
40 minutes (34 miles) to Tazewell, VA (El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant - for lunch and farm visit on Thursday)

Free hot breakfast
Pet-friendly rooms

Fairfield Inn & Suites Princeton, WV

107 Halls Ridge Road, Princeton, West Virginia, 24739
(304) 913-5101

Rates as of 12/21/23 (subject to change):
Standard Two Queen Beds or Standard King
$141 + tax

23 minutes (17.5 miles) to Bluefield University
40 minutes (35 miles) to Tazewell, VA (El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant - for lunch and farm visit on Thursday)

Free Continental and Buffet and Hot Breakfast

Other Options Are Available in Princeton and Bluefield

Trip Advisor (Hotels Near Bluefield)

Come meet our Bluefield and McDowell County Friends

Bluefield WV/McDowell County WV TFH Appalachia Coalition Members

Crea Company
Economic Development Greater East
Reid Miller Womenswear
T&T Organics
The Wade Center