Remembering a Mentor
Fortney was devoted to YouthBuild
ELKINS — On Sunday, April 12, Loren Dow Fortney suddenly passed from this life. He was on his way to feed his horses, so we know he died doing what he loved.
Up until 2015, Fortney was employed by the Randolph County Housing Authority (RCHA) as the Teacher/Education Coordinator/Principal and all-around youth wrangler at the YouthBuild North Central program.
YouthBuild is a program RCHA has been offering since 1996–nearly 25 years–and Fortney was a key player for nearly half that time. Officials reckon he taught, supported, teased and congratulated more than 300 young people during his tenure.
Because of people like Fortney, and the huge energy that young people create when they’re getting focused on their future, the program has a slogan that has stuck: “Once in YouthBuild, Always in YouthBuild!” Fortney will forever be part of the YouthBuild family.
YouthBuild offers job training and TASC prep for people 16-24 who have dropped out of high school. Participants become paid crew members for 6-8 months building affordable housing, training for health care careers and learning what they need to know to pass the high school equivalency test (TASC).
Crew members also participate in leadership development activities, serve as AmeriCorps members volunteering for local nonprofits, and get help finding and keeping jobs after graduation, or enrolling in other training or education.
Here are just a few of the sentiments expressed by YouthBuild alumni who knew and loved Loren:
“I shed tears for you today, not out of weakness… but, pure sadness. Thank you, for being the caring adult that a young lady like me needed in that time. I avoided you at the grocery stores when I knew I didn’t have a story to tell you that would make you proud, because that’s all I wanted to do… and I know so many other young people had the same mission. I needed you, I needed Youthbuild, and you made it happen. Thank you, we thank you.”
“Best teacher and mentor I ever had. Never gave up on me, no matter how stubborn I was. He will be missed so much.”
“He was one of my favorite people (one of the few I let hug me regularly), he will be missed.”
“This man had such a profound impact on my life and made me strive to become more. I will forever remember his smile and his booming ‘Good Morning, Youthbuild’ voice. He has touched countless lives and his mark will forever be left on this world.”
With the help of the Tucker Community Foundation, YouthBuild North Central is raising a fund to support the program and its alumni into the future. With the gracious support of Anita Fortney, officials have named the fund the Loren Fortney YouthBuild Fund, in honor of a great man and inspired teacher who taught hundreds of crew members from 2003-2015 and even came back to tutor 2017-2018.
The Loren Fortney YouthBuild Fund will provide scholarships to YB grads and provide program support to protect it from federal funding uncertainty. If you would like to honor Loren with a contribution, no matter how large or small, please do.
Here’s how to give:
Donate through the Tucker Community Foundation site: (all funds go to Loren Fortney YB Fund)
Or mail or drop off a check made out to TCF-YouthBuild Fund to: RCHA, 2280 Randolph Avenue, Elkins, WV 26241.