The Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center (EPEC), which houses the only shelter for victims of violence in the area, has exponentially expanded its reach and impact over the years. Founded in 1977, it served less than 100 victims in its first year. Today it serves 1,400 victims annually.
When Eastern Panhandle Pride began organizing Shepherdstown’s annual Pride celebration, founder Mark Harding had a few fresh ideas. “We wanted to be sure that we’re showcasing our rural heritage,” Harding said—having grown up in a rural area that instilled in him an appreciation for Appalachian culture—and for the unique brand of pride shown by rural LGBTQ+ communities.