FRN discusses homeless shelter fundraising efforts

By Erin Perkins -

POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Family Resource Network (FRN) recently met discussing the results of the fundraising efforts for a new homeless shelter in Mason County.

John Machir, housing director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter and Simms Housing, shared with fellow FRN members that a generous donation from the Fruth’s Charitable Trust in the amount of $52,000 as well as another $10,000 donation has brought the grand total of community and foundation support towards the new facility to approximately $80,000.

Also, Machir is still waiting to receive $25,000 worth of outstanding grant monies to go towards the new facility.

Currently, Machir is in the process of purchasing the land for the new facility which will be located on Lewis Street, behind Appalachian Power and between the trailer park and the Housing Authority. The land is a little over an acre. With this new land, a few greenhouses may also be installed, so the residents can grow some of their own produce.

The new facility will have three family rooms and double the amount of the men’s beds, making it able to hold up to 24 people at a time which is double the current amount. Also, the new facility will have a conference area where meetings can be held as well as space to accommodate children at the shelter who are in need of tutoring from the school system. The pantry will be increased in size with a walk-in refrigerator and freezer.

In other business, Greg Fowler, executive director of the FRN, reported today (Thursday) a S.T.E.M training event will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Point Pleasant from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Youth will be attending from each school in the county. Bree Ramey, from the Workforce West Virginia Career Center, added a few of the activities will include the youth participating in drone activities, the youth building their own watershed and learning why clean water is important, and the youth attempting to solve an escape room based on health care careers.

On Saturday, June 8, the annual Fishing Rodeo will be held at Krodel Park in Point Pleasant. Fowler will be releasing more information on the event soon.

Founders day for Children’s Home Society will be held on Friday, June 14 at the Huntington office.

Fowler shared Drug Take Back Day was a success, both the Point Pleasant location and the New Haven location had a full trash bag full of drugs. Also, Synar visits to local businesses are coming up.

Recently, a training was held at Wahama Junior/Senior High School on juuling and vaping. Two presentations were held, one for the seventh-ninth graders and another for the 10th-12th graders. Fowler shared he and Amanda Lacey attended to speak with students on the matter. Fowler opened and closed and the discussion and Lacey presented a PowerPoint of information on juuling and vaping. He commented he would like to have a training such as this, but with some tweaks, for all three high schools next school year.

A career connections quarterly training was also recently held for 18-24 year old individuals from nine different counties. Folwer shared the group was split into two separate groups and while one group helped prepare lunch, the other group went to a discussion on pregnancy prevention and family planning. After an hour, the groups switched. In the afternoon of the training, the groups came together and heard stories from inmates at Lakin Correctional Center.

Debbie Hon, community development coordinator for Aetna Better Health, reported there are changes being made to managed care and any individual with a West Virginia Family Health plan will have to switch to another plan by June 17. If the change is not made by the individual, then the state will auto-assign a plan. However, an individual can switch their plan at anytime should they be unsatisfied with the state’s auto-assigned plan.

Jennifer Thomas, nursing director and administrator at the Mason County Health Department, reported the staff at the health department have been visiting the local doctors handing out information on ticks and mosquitoes.

A representative from the Department of Health and Human Resources shared changes have been made in the policy for individuals receiving SNAP benefits. Drug felons are no longer disqualified as long as they have not misused SNAP benefits, caused a loss of life, or caused physical injury to another.

CASA Volunteer Supervisor Chelsea Zuspan shared an informational meeting regarding Western Regional CASA will be held on Wednesday, June 5, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Mason County Library in Point Pleasant. Also, an upcoming training will be held in June for interested volunteers, the organization is in need of more volunteers.

Machir reported the public transportation system for Mason County is tentatively planned to start on Monday, July 1 and run three days a week. Tri-River Transit will be releasing more information on the matter soon.

Ramey shared the Mason County Baby Pantry is in need of donations of maternity clothes.

The Workforce West Virginia Career Center will be having a summer youth program this summer for youth who have recently completed their junior of senior year of high school, approximately 10 spots are still open. Ramey said she could still take individuals who are out of school as well. Orientation will be held on Monday, June 10 and work will be starting on Monday, June 17 at 40 hours a week, $8.75 per hour until mid-August. Those applying must meet income guidelines, yet some stipulations can make an individual qualify for the program such as if the individual had an I.E.P in school or has some sort of the learning/physical disability which needs accommodations.

Also, an EMS certified apprenticeship program will be starting in mid-July for Mason County through the Workforce West Virginia Career Center.

By Erin Perkins

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.

Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.