Helping Pocahontas County Families in Need
There is an organization located in Marlinton, West Virginia whose sole purpose is to extend helping hands to Pocahontas County’s low income families with children.
I recently interviewed Laura Young, the Executive Director of that organization –the Pocahontas County Family Resource Network, and she tells us about their mission.
“The Family Resource Network is really just a group of people from the local community who care about family and children” Laura says. “We try to make sure that parents have what they need to educate and protect their children, and that can look like a lot of different things in each individual community”
Laura talks about one of their big annual programs.
“We’re getting ready to gear up for our Project Christmas” said Laura. “What we do is serve about 250 low income kids every year. We try and make sure they have coats and boots and school supplies. And then of course they get some toys and things that are donated. We normally start working on that around the first of November. We get our names from DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources) so we know these are kids that are low income. And we also work with the school counselors (they) give us the names of some kids they think may need something.”
Laura talks about the Angel Trees which are a big part of Project Christmas.
“It’s really a good project, and it’s all run from community donations” Laura says. “We don’t get any grant money for that, it’s all through the benevolence of our neighbors. What we try to do is put the angels out on the Angel Tree and people come in and pick the angels up and we’ll have some suggestions on the back. If the child needs a pair of boots, we’ll tell them what size, or maybe a coat, but we try and hook that up with the family right before Christmas. It’s a good program.”
Project Christmas is not the only program to help families and children that the Network runs. Laura talks about another on-going project.
“One of the other things we are doing is our Harvest House Food Pantry” said Laura. “We’ve been doing that for almost two years now. This was a project that we took over from North-Central Community Action.”
Laura explained that the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway, West Virginia receives donated food from large grocery food stores and sends a truck once a month to the mini-park in Marlinton to supply food to three organizations, the Senior Citizens, the Food Bank in Durbin and the Harvest House Food Pantry. The Pantry’s share of the food is unloaded and taken to the Family Resource Network offices and stored. Laura explains what happens next with the food.
“The following day families can come in and they tell us how many people they have in their household and we distribute that food based upon the number of people in the household” Laura says. “It is income sensitive; those families need to be living below the poverty line. Normally if they are eligible for Food Stamps, they are eligible for our program”.
Laura points out that although most of the food from Mountaineer Food Bank is free, there is a delivery charge and there is a charge for meats. Harvest House Food Pantry is dependent on the generosity of donors from the community to keep providing this service, and Laura asks for the community’s help to keep the Pantry operating. They appreciate both donations of money to help them buy food and donations of food, perhaps excess food from your garden.
The network is also involved in other helpful programs for families. Laura talks about one of these.
“We are, of course, running our Baby Pantry” says Laura. “Parents that have young children that are still in diapers can come once a month to our ‘About Babies and Children Program’ and we just have a peer to peer support group- we meet for about an hour. And then parents can leave with diapers and wipes for their infants.”
The diapers and wipes are provided by the “Partners in Prevention Grant” and purchased by Becky Campbell using grant funds.
Laura also talked about a fire safety program where the Network collaborates with the American Red Cross to offer the installation of 200 smoke detectors in Pocahontas County to try and reduce fire deaths by 25% over the next five years. Laura describes this program.
“So there’s probably going to be about 60-66 homes in Pocahontas County that are going to receive smoke detectors” said Laura. “We’re planning on installing those on October 9th and 10th. If anybody has a need for smoke detectors, if they would give us a call at 304-799-6847, we’ll see if we can get them on the list.”
Laura says they probably have enough still available to do about 15 more homes and they would like these to be from the upper end of the County. The volunteer fire departments will help with the installations.
If you can help out with donations to Project Christmas, or with money or food for the Harvest House Pantry, you can reach the Family Resource Center at 304-799-6847 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also drop by their offices at 821 3rd Ave in Marlinton.