There are many stories hidden in the walls of Windwalker Underground Gallery in downtown Charlotte. The city’s ‘Wizard of Oz,’ Richard Turbin has been crafting a masterful tale inside the historic building for the past 25-plus years.

The building’s transformation is at the heart of the latest story, which will be unveiled Saturday, April 13 at 6 p.m. as part of Windwalker Underground Gallery’s 3rd Annual Fundraiser — Then and Now. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the three-floor beacon for the arts, and witness how a man and a dream can help transform a community.

That’s Turbin’s greatest story, one of transformation. It’s also one, he alone cannot tell. For the transformations that have taken place within Windwalker’s walls belong to the many people who have stepped foot across the threshold, graced its community stage, or hung their work from its 150-year-old brick walls.

I’ve seen my own personal transformation because of Windwalker, and I have the opportunity to share some of that story to help kick off the live entertainment portion of the evening. I will be sharing some of the music that inspired me to brave the open mic stage at Windwalker just two years ago. Since taking that leap, I’ve discovered a side of myself that had been hidden for far too long. The encouragement I’ve always received and the bond created with other artists has inspired me to continue to perform, which is a side of my personality that most people don’t get to see.

That’s part of the magic of Windwalker, it allows people to be who they are truly meant to be. It’s a freeing experience. It’s also been a bonding experience for my family. My children have found the courage to take the stage as well, and it’s been amazing to see their personalities come to life under the spotlight.

My story is unique, though. There are many people who have discovered their own creative outlet, thanks to opportunities Windwalker provides.

The April 13 fundraiser is an opportunity to celebrate these stories, to meet the artists, and to come together to support a community organization that has done so much for the soul of the community, often times with so little. The non-profit, which was officially created a little more than three years ago, has a very meager budget, relying heavily on the generosity of the community during weekly open mic nights, ticket sales to its monthly shows, and rent from the few apartments contained within.

Support at the annual fundraiser is vital to Windwalker’s continued efforts to provide a place for artists to create, and for the community to gather. Tickets for the event are $20 and can be purchased at Windwalker Underground Gallery, located at 125 S. Cochran Avenue in downtown Charlotte. In addition to the Then and Now photo exhibit and building tour, the evening will feature light hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, live entertainment and a photo display of metal prints, created by Windwalker artist Vincent Brady, available for purchase.

The highlight of the evening will be an inaugural Windwalker awards ceremony, recognizing several individuals who have made an impact in the community through the gallery. The awards will be followed by local band, Acoustic Liberty, which is comprised of local musicians, LeRoy Harvey, Ron McKeever, and Diane Pfost, with special guest Elizabeth Loring. Pianist Meaghan Hartin will be playing in the Gallery’s third-floor ballroom during building tours.

For more information, find Windwalker Underground Gallery on Facebook.