POINT PLEASANT — A local homeless shelter can house those in need within Mason, Jackson, and Roane counties.
The Mason County Homeless Shelter, located in Point Pleasant, has been in operation for 25 years. Director of the Homeless Shelter John Machir said individuals from Mason, Jackson, and Roane counties are referred to the shelter by West Virginia Department Health and Human Services (WVDHHR). He added individuals out of those counties, must be approved by him. The shelter can house a maximum of 13 individuals with one family room available. Machir commented the shelter is an emergency transitional shelter permitting an individual to stay up to six months; however, if an individual is showing effort to find work and a home, an exception will be made.
Machir said when individuals seek residence at the shelter, they are asked general screening questions. He stated individuals may have no sexual offences or other extreme criminal charges on their record. He shared he will practice diversion by asking individuals if this is the only option they have. If the individuals pass their screening and assure the shelter staff this is their last option, they are given a bed, a home.
Machir shared the residents of the shelter follow a schedule. On Monday through Friday the residents wake-up at 7:30 a.m. and then have their productive hours from 9 a.m. to – 2 p.m. consisting of job hunting, house hunting, and running important errands. The curfew varies such as on Sunday through Thursday residents must be home by 9 p.m., on Friday and Saturday the time is extended to 11 p.m. Residents are fed three meals a day.
Machir said residents with children must maintain responsibility of their children and if they need parenting advice or to learn effective parenting skills he and Senior Team Leader Teresa Gleason can assist them. He commented the staff is also able to help the residents get enrolled for benefits and will provide them with mock interviews.
Machir said that if residents bring in alcohol, illegal substances, or are violent they are sanctioned from homeless shelters for 12 months. He commented that if a violation is minor the resident is sanctioned for 30 days; however, if the violation occurs again, the resident is sanctioned for six months.
Machir shared the shelter has a noon meal open to anyone on Monday through Friday. The meal consists of soup and a sandwich. Gleason is the only staff member as of now with a food handler’s license, so she is the house cook. Machir said he wants people to know that they can come in and have a solid meal for the day if they need. However, if an individual comes off the street and is need of food outside of the noon meal, food will be provided to the individual.
“We don’t let anyone go hungry,” said Gleason.
Machir commented that individuals can also be provided with a food box if they receive referral and a slip from DHHR. Gleason added that in emergency cases if an individual could not receive a slip, but needed food, the staff will provide the individual with a food box.
Machir and Gleason said that people can donate items to the shelter at anytime as staff work around the clock. They shared the shelter currently needs: pop top soups, pop top fruits, pop top veggies, cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, winter hats, winter coats, and gloves.
“We appreciate support from the community,” said Machir.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.