FRN hosts community needs assessment

By Erin (Perkins) Johnson -

POINT PLEASANT — The start to the monthly Mason County Family Resource Network (FRN) meeting was a bit different on Wednesday as a Community Needs Assessment was held.

The purpose of this Community Needs Assessment was a way for different entities around the community to come together and discuss what sorts of changes needed to be made within the community and how they can all do this together. EPIC Mission’s Managing Director Jeremy Turner led the seminar discussing different aspects of the community such as health, education, and human basic needs and the vision they all had for the ideal community.

A major topic of discussion at the meeting was the various back to school events held around the county. At the end of July, the FRN and Mason County Prevention Coalition (MCPC) hosted a back to school event and the members reported they had a “huge” turnout. Food was served for an hour-and-a-half and many positive comments were given to the members such as many of those who attended commented on their enjoyment of having D.J. Rockin’ Reggie there playing tunes. Bree Ramey of Workforce West Virginia Career Center wants to plan an even bigger event for next year, similar to an event that was held in Athens County, Ohio. At this event, children who registered were given brand new Nike tennis shoes, a t-shirt with their schools name on it, and food boxes. Also, free hair cuts were offered to the children and school supplies were given out.

Chelsea Zuspan, CASA volunteer supervisor, suggested utilizing The Backpack Program for next year as well.

Ronie Wheeler, MCPC prevention coordinator, shared he attended the New Haven Elementary as well as the Ashton Elementary back to school events and they were both successful with lots of children and parents in attendance with events, giveaways and refreshments.

Recently, the quarterly Career Connections event was held, the theme being “Making Good Choices.” To start the event, Greg Fowler, FRN executive director, talked about his own life and the choices he made throughout it and how the outcome has been. The students got to help an independent caterer make a meal and participated in a “Making Good Choices” game as well as a group activity about what items they would take with them should they be stranded on a desert island. Also throughout the event, prevention talks were given.

In other business, the Mason County Baby Pantry received a $200 donation from the First Church of the Nazarene in Point Pleasant. Ramey commented they will be saving this for their Christmas season. Also, the baby pantry is in desperate need of clothing donations ranging from ages zero-adult for both men and women. Donations can be dropped off to Ramey at her work office or at the baby pantry when they are open

Ramey discussed with members a new incentive which will be offered to employees who are recovering drug addicts.

A Teen Institute is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24 and an “Escape the Vape” escape room may be a feature of the event.

Mason County CASA welcomed a new volunteer and they are still in search of more volunteers. Zuspan commented she would like to have at least 15 volunteers by the end of December, as of right now she needs eight more volunteers to reach her goal.

Mountain State Healthy Families will be holding an event at Krodel Park on Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 1-3 p.m.

Unicare is offering its members “healthy rewards” and Aetna members are undergoing a Diabetes Health Pilot Program for Mason County where individuals who are 21 or older with Type 2 Diabetes are eligible for two oral health check ups a year.

United Way is participating in a “Read-a-palooza” where representatives throughout the county are being given a bulk of children’s book for various ages to be given to the children of the county. Mason County’s shipment went to the Mason County libraries so they could be given out.

John Machir, housing director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter and SIMMS Housing, shared he and his fellow staff at the homeless shelter recently completed and submitted their Affordable Housing Grant (AFG) for $650,000. They should know by December if they have received the grant, they are needing their total sum of funds raised for the new homeless shelter facility will top $750,000. Currently, they have raised $106,000 with the help from the community. If the grant is received, they will be able to break ground on the new facility in spring of 2020. A benefit dinner will be held for the homeless shelter on Oct. 5 from 4-6 p.m. at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Haven, each dinner will be a baked steak dinner with dessert and the cost will be $12 per meal. The homeless shelter staff is still in search of a new housing coordinator. The interested party should have a bachelor’s degree in social work, sociology, psychology or a related field and can submit their applications online at

On Sept. 27 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the West Virginia University Parkersburg (WVUP) campus the 2019 Mid-Ohio Valley Career Fair will be held which is hosted by Senator Joe Manchin and WVUP.

By Erin (Perkins) Johnson

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

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