Pocahontas County Family Outreach and Education Center Celebrates Grand Opening In Marlinton
Marlinton,WV – The Pocahontas County Family Outreach and Education center celebrated its grand opening on Friday afternoon. The center, located on Third Avenue in Marlinton, will provide a number of services to help children grow up free from abuse and neglect. Program director Marion Wright says the goal is to strengthen families.
“It’s family oriented, I would say, because we have a lot of stuff with families,” she said. “We have family fun nights once a month, where families come in and do things together. We had a movie night. We go snow tubing. We went to the Cass Railroad last year. It’s really about strengthening families.”
Wright says families in Pocahontas County face difficult challenges.
“They’re strong, but in Pocahontas County, we do have a high poverty level,” she said. “High poverty levels put us at risk for such things as child abuse and, then, for medical care,” she said.
The program director says volunteers and local groups helped get the center opened.
“We have so many volunteers, but we also got support from clubs in the area, which is amazing,” she said. “The Women’s Club has been awesome. We just had a house-warming party on Wednesday with the Women’s Club. The Rotary Club is always there for us. They’re doing in July, with that HOG rally, they’re doing a breakfast and doing a fundraiser for the FRN.”
Family Resource Network director Laura Young said it’s been a long process to get to grand opening day.
“Well, I wrote a grant to open an outreach and education center and I got it funded on July 1, 2011,” she said. “So, this has been kind of a long process of finding a space that we could use, where the community could come in and bring their children, and just kind of hang out and spend some quality family time with them. This is also a space where community organizations can come in and have their meetings.”
Young says it was amazing good fortune for FRN to find the space it needed.
“Our newest partner, of course, is Community Care of Marlinton,” she said. “They are running the clinic upstairs.”
“They wanted this to be a community place, but they didn’t have the staff or furnishings to make it a place where people would want to come in,” she said. “I wrote the grant, had the money to staff it and put furniture in it, but I didn’t have money for the rent and utilities. So, it was really a marriage made in heaven and it just dropped into my lap and I’m so happy. They’re thrilled that we’re here and we’re thrilled to be here.”
The director says parents are challenged with economic realities.
“Well, I think that our parents are under a great deal of stress, now,” she said. “It takes two people – two incomes, really – to make a good living. If you have small children that are in school, you don’t get off work until five o’clock. That period after school is really vitally important because – what we know is that – most children, if they’re going to get into trouble, that’s the time that it happens – when they’re at home, by themselves, unsupervised. They call them latchkey kids.”
After-school tutoring will be offered at the center.
“Kids really don’t have a whole lot of extracurricular or recreational places around Pocahontas County that’s indoors, where they can come if it’s snowing or raining,” she said. “We hope to do some after-school programs, maybe sometime next year. We plan on setting up some tutoring stations and maybe having some kids come in, a couple times a week, for some tutoring after school.”
Young says kids 14 and older can hang out without a parent.
“This is not a babysitting service,” she said. “Teenagers can come in, if they’re 14 and over, and watch TV,” she said. “We have a Wii set up and a DVD. So, they’re welcome to come after school for an hour or so. If anyone wants to use the center, like for a birthday party, we can also do that.”
The center is funded by a grant from the West Virginia Children’s Trust Fund. To donate to the fund, see wvctf.org on the Internet or call 304-558-4637.