Neighbors helping neighbors… Bend Area residents develop plan of action

By Mindy Kearns - Special to the Register

BEND AREA — Bend Area residents needing basic needs assistance due to the Coronavirus now have a telephone number to call, following a meeting Wednesday of representatives from religious, government, school and community sectors.

Organized by the Bend Area Ministerial Association, the meeting was facilitated by Pastor John Bumgarner.

It was announced that Walmart in Mason has donated a cellular telephone that will be used to field calls from those living in the areas from Lakin to Letart who are in need. At risk individuals who are without a support system can call 304-373-4065 to connect with a volunteer, who will make sure basic needs such as groceries and medicines are met. Those calling the phone should leave a name and contact number.

School representatives were on hand at the meeting to give an update on children being fed while school is not in session. Superintendent Jack Cullen said food is currently being prepared and distributed by the schools, but spring break begins March 30, at which point employees will not be working.

New Haven Elementary Principal Walter Raynes said on Wednesday, over 300 meals were requested and delivered or picked up. He commended the school staff for their work, as did Wahama Principal Melissa VanMeter, who applauded her staff, saying they looked like a factory assembly line as they prepared and delivered the food.

There was concern, however, over spring break for the needy children who regularly receive backpacks of food on Fridays to feed them throughout the weekend. Raynes said he has 83 children who receive the backpacks, while VanMeter reported over 30.

It was decided that Northbend Church will be assigned to assist Wahama, and Faith Baptist Church and Mason United Methodist Church will aid the New Haven school. The elementary backpacks are assembled at the Methodist church. Susan Yeager said donations of food or money can be dropped off at the church from 8 a.m. to noon each day, or at the Zerkle house, which is a ministry of the church. Food donations should be individually packaged items that require no refrigeration, and are easy for children to prepare.

New Haven Mayor Greg Kaylor and Mason Mayor Donna Dennis offered their services. It was mentioned that the town workers might know of people in need and can make supply deliveries, as well.

Mason County Library Director Pam Thompson said though the libraries are closed for gatherings, staff will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist those needing it. She said wi-fi will be made available to students with school assignments, and staff can make copies, fax paperwork, or perform other services as needed. Thompson said people can call the library ahead of time, or simply knock on the door.

Also in attendance were New Haven Police Chief Dave Hardwick, St. Paul Lutheran Pastor Patrice Weirick, Pastor Jason Simpkins and Heath Rickard representing Northbend Church, Marty Yeager from Mason United Methodist Church, New Haven United Methodist Church Pastor Paula Napier, Pastor Josh Waybright and Worship Minister Isaiah Pauley of Faith Baptist Church, and Mason County Board of Education member Rhonda Tennant.

© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

By Mindy Kearns

Special to the Register

Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at

Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at