FRN updated on COVID-19, community programs


By Brittany Hively - bhively@aimmediamidwest.com



POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The Mason County chapter of the West Virginia Family Resource Network (FRN) met this week with updates including Pleasant Valley Hospital’s current COVID-19 status and upcoming Christmas gift assistance.

During the meeting, representatives of different organizations around the Tri-State shared updates including upcoming events, expansions and COVID-19 impacted changes.

Pleasant Valley Hospital’s CEO, Jeff Noblin, FACHE, spoke on the hospital’s service area and the impact COVID-19 has had on the facility and the staff.

“We have been obviously dealing with a lot of COVID issues here at the hospital,” Noblin said. “The past few weeks have been very taxing for staff and physicians. We’re continuing to see the number of COVID positive patients increase across Mason County, and really across the state.”

Noblin said it is possible that the peak of cases is on the horizon.

“We’ve pretty much got our hands full and just trying to manage day to day,” Noblin said. “The indicators across the state seem to suggest that we may be nearing the top of the curve. We may be cresting, in terms of number of positive cases. If that’s true, that’s good news.”

Earlier in the meeting, Debbie Hon, community development coordinator Aetna Better Health of West Virginia, had encouraged everyone to take care of their health with preventative care such as well-checks and updated vaccinations. Noble reiterated the importance of what Hon had said.

“I want to reemphasize what Debbie mentioned at the beginning, well visits and preventative health care is very important,” Noblin said. “Even in these trying times, you’ve got to be able to keep up with your health and so make that a priority. The other thing is, if you have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, please consider strongly doing that. That’s probably our best defense against it. So, I just encourage everybody to give that strong consideration.”

FRN President, Bree Ramey, gave updates on the Mason County Baby Pantry.

“We are continuing on in the midst of all of this,” Ramey said. “We decided that we are not closing down the Baby Pantry again, we are leaving it open. We are requiring masks for all who come in, vaccinated or not.”

She shared that Christmas sign-ups have begun.

“We have started our Christmas sign-ups,” Ramey said. “Jassica [Legg] is doing it a bit differently this year. She is requiring that the families do an interview with her to go over their information. [One] reason that we did that this year is because we can get a better idea of kids we’re sponsoring — personality, sizes, things like that. Last year we had a really hard time, especially with shoe sizes of knowing if it was a kid size or an adult size… This is a good way for us to get all of that nailed down.”

Ramey said sign-ups have started and while the organization always takes referrals, it hopes to have the bulk of sign-ups by Oct. 1.

The Baby Pantry is now a foster closet, Ramey said. There has already been a number of people assisted through this program and Ramey said the numbers are continuing to grow.

Greg Fowler, executive director FRN, said Teen Institute is being postponed until “probably after first of next year,” due to COVID-19.

Ramey spoke on the back-to-school bash that took place in the county. There were “a number of backpacks” given out at the event in addition to 17 backpacks requested by a foster care agency.

A report on blessing boxes was given by Ramey. She said there was “an extra little bit of money, kind of last minute,” that they were able to use for supplies to fix the box at Day Report and any future boxes that made need repairs. Ramey said they were also able to purchase some extra nonperishable items to restock some boxes.

Ramey said she recently found out her contact for the Roosevelt Elementary box was no longer at the school and Legg was working to seek permission for that box’s placement. She also said once Jackson Avenue Baptist Church finishes some construction projects, there is a box built and ready for placement there.

Fowler reported the FRN has been approved for 500 gifts through the Greenbrier program, Dream Tree for Kids, in exchange for five hours of volunteer wrapping. Fowler asked Hon to potentially organize wrappers for that project.

“It looks like we’ve almost got that covered,” Hon said. “But anybody that wants to go is welcome to go, as well.”

Fowler reported some of the grant funding needs to be spent by the end of September and the organization is working on appropriate expenditures for that. He said there is one year left in the grant that has currently been funding the organization.

Roxanne Smith with Heart of Appalachia reported the program was granted another five-year grant to continue work. She also said she has a number of GED study guides available for anyone studying for the test.

Sherry Bond with Career Connections said they were looking for a career specialist for the Mason County area and are always recruiting.

“We’re always recruiting,” Bond said. “We work with young adults with barriers for employment to help give them job training and development.”

The FRN meets the third Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. The meetings are currently being held virtually.

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By Brittany Hively

bhively@aimmediamidwest.com

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.

Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.