Jackson County Business owner Charessa Wilkinson was the guest speaker at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce September Luncheon at West Virginia University Parkersburg Jackson County Center. Wilkinson herself was an educator and taught in the very same room she addressed JCCC members.
Wilkinson’s amazing story begins as a child of a preacher. At the age of sixteen Wilkinson was in Colombia, South America with the “Open Arms Foundation” spreading Christianity. They were performing mission work with “Teen Mania” in Botswana, Africa when her sister Amber turned sixteen.
Wilkinson grew up with “Jesus hippie pastor parents.” She was a devout Christian doing the work of God. In her late twenties she was kicked out of a modern church for being post-modern. As she teared up, she expressed the deep hurt, disappointment and pain this caused.
Without knowing her personally, Jackson County Pastor Chris Skeens called her for an entire year encouraging her and telling her great things were going to happen. She met and prayed weekly with Pastor Skeens and other pastors in the area.
Wilkinson started her work here in Jackson County at a Ravenswood City Council Meeting. Out of this meeting came the beginning of “The Bridge” which mixed Jesus with Rock-N-Roll and provided clothing and food for those in need. She travelled West Virginia on a “Rock-N-Love” tour reaching out to others providing food, clothing and ministries. She also took a bus run with Brant Russo who had a different way to do church. Wilkinson organized daily showings of the film “Adopted Jesus” in different cities all across the United States and Canada.
Wilkinson taught higher education for 15 years at Marshall University and Mountain State University. She faced unemployment when Mountain State University closed its doors and began working direct sales at various craft shows and events.
Her sister was a realtor and kept telling her she too would be a good realtor. Wilkinson did not want to do it at first but her sister kept persisting. She thought, “oh yeah, I am going to change it up a bit with my tattoos, ripped jeans and T-shirts.”
She jumped in with her sister and they began asking everyone they knew, strangers in stores and shoppers at the craft shows, if they needed to buy a home.
Wilkinson joked that she would say, “Would you like to buy a necklace, would you like to buy a home?”
Sold Sisters now has twenty agents.
Now on to the next venture - “The GO-GO Scare Show.” She was always fascinated with haunted houses growing up. Wilkinson had an idea, and she and her husband, Dave Westfall, along with family and friends began bringing her Haunted House to life.
Wilkinson advertised the need for people to be actors in the show. She had no idea that fifty kids would show up. She has a “love of diversity and love of the underdog.”
She met many young students who faced hardships who looked to her for direction. When the show was over, her love for the kids was not. This is when she decided to bring to life her dream, “I Scream Sundae.”
Ripley’s new eccentric ice cream parlor, “I Scream Sundae” officially opened its doors Monday, July 1 at 516 West Main Street. This was a long-time dream of Wilkinson’s.
“I heard the song ‘I Scream Sunday’ by the Christian Rock band One Bad Pig, and it all started,” Wilkinson said.
The inspirational song embodies opening your eyes and starting to live your dreams.
Wilkinson employs many students and teaches them not just how to make yummy ice cream creations, but also the ins-and-outs of what it takes to run a business. Her energetic attitude, passion, and commitment gives these young adults hope and assurance that they too can one day open a business.
“None of this could have ever happened anywhere but right here in Jackson County,” Wilkinson said.
“I Scream Sundae” is a must do destination stop not only for locals but also for those traveling West Virginia looking for something extraordinary.
People are visiting from many places to indulge in a lavish treat while taking in the thrilling spooktacular ambience of this unique sweet shop. Where else can you enjoy a Snakes on a Plane creation and play a game of Pac-Man, Frogger, or Double Dragon while listening to tunes from the Rocky Horror Picture Show?
“The GO-GO Scare Show” opened its doors this season Friday, Sept. 20 in Ripley.
Shop local, eat local, and support local business!