Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation Board hopes for federal funding for potential welcome center

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation Board has wanted a welcome center for visitors to Ivy Green since 2003.

“This has been a dream for Helen Keller Birthplace for many years,” said Sue Pilkilton.

There is tourism initiative money available through the American Rescue Plan. $750 million from the Economic Development Administration are allocated to support state tourism and competitive grants.

Now, Tuscumbia, the foundation, and Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments are taking a chance and hoping that their nearly two-decade dream will come true.

“We will focus on deafness and blindness. There will be a lot of braille and a lot of things for people who have a hearing disability to see and hear. We are also planning to have a documentary,” said Pilkilton.

The welcome center would be located across from the Ivy Green entrance. They started the application process in November and are heading into phase two.

“We are going to be entering into the second step of course and then everything will have to be sent to Washington and many other groups, I’m sure have applied for this grant so we are just keeping our fingers crossed,” said Pilkilton.

It’s a grant that would bring in more tourism money to Tuscumbia and the Shoals.

“Visitors will be able to come in, pay their admission, look around in the gift shop, see the documentary and then they will cross over to tour the Helen Keller Birthplace,” said Pilkilton.

The American Rescue Plan requires Economic Development Administration to award funds by September 30th.

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