Salvation Army, Red Cross receive funds

PARKERSBURG – Governor’s Community Participation Grant awards were handed out to the Salvation Army in Parkersburg and the Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The $3,000 Red Cross grant is for the purchase of equipment for the local Red Cross unit.

The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter received a $6,000 grant. The funds are to be used to complete repairs to the shelter including purchase of new wall-mounted heating/air-conditioning units and other materials as funds permit.

“The homeless population in our area has doubled,” Poling told Wood County commissioners. Poling presented the awards to the entities during Monday’s commission meeting.

“We are seeing more who need shelter. We are working together with the Latrobe Street Mission as well, to see what we can do to help the people, get them back onto their feet and into society again,” said Salvation Army Lt. Mechelle Henry.

“We are seeing all kinds of issues, domestic violence issues, some individuals, for whatever reason, have been kicked out of their apartments, some are just not physically able to find or do work. We are trying to find out what their needs are, provide some stabilization for them, a job we can get them into. We are also trying to do some renovations and upgrades to the shelter which was established in 1985,” said Henry.

“We want to be not just a place where they can stay. After renovating, we want to offer life skills programs so we can get them back into society, helping with resources,” she said. Henry said she’s been at the local Salvation Army for about seven months.

“With the statistics themselves, has something changed, are we seeing more homeless come into the area from other places,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

Henry said efforts are being made to better monitor the numbers to get a true picture of the homeless population.

“We don’t want to see people sleeping on the streets anymore, we have a shelter, come to the shelter,” she said.

During the survey reported this month of area homeless, statistics showed the number of homeless individuals had nearly doubled since the same time last year. Westbrook Health Services conducts the survey in January and July each year. The information is forwarded to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Another homeless shelter, the Latrobe Street Mission recently opened its doors. The mission currently provides shelter, food, a hot shower, toiletries, and information about support groups or program.

The Latrobe Street Mission has housed, to date, about 135 people since opening in December, according to the shelter manager.

Officials who work with the homeless say they have noticed more families affected by homelessness in the past few months, some have experienced rising rent costs, job loss, and find themselves with no where to go.