These organizations lift Morgantown up through their compassion and dedication.
Morgantown has a huge roster of organizations that harness volunteer and donor generosity for the benefit of the less fortunate. Nonprofits across town direct financial, manpower, and professional resources where they’re needed most. Fall is a great time to consider sharing your own resources as you’re able—here are just a few of our favorite organizations and the ways you can help.
Responding to need
All through the year, but especially as the holiday season approaches, the mission of Christian Help is to respond to need with immediacy and simplicity.
“The genuine commitment and compassion of this team is contagious,” says the organization’s executive director, Colleen Lankford. “They are called to and extremely qualified for their roles.”
Serving Monongalia County since 1977 and voted Best Charity/Nonprofit by Morgantown readers in 2016, 2017, and 2018, Christian Help seeks to help those in need through donations that are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those donations come in many forms. “Aid was and continues to be provided through financial assistance; in-kind support such as clothing, infant needs, food, housewares, and linens; and job readiness and financial educational services to improve outcomes,” says Lankford. “All products and services are given with no charge to the person receiving them in order to facilitate their financial stability.”
No matter their background or predicament, no person in need is turned away. “All are welcomed at Christian Help,” says Lankford. “Our services and products are available to everyone, as they are available, without regard to income, personal demographics, religious or other affiliations.”
Christian Help also offers a financial sustainability course as well as nutrition classes to help its client base find its way to a more solid footing. “It’s about neighbors helping neighbors, in whatever way that may be,” says Lankford.
Christian Help is located at 219 Walnut Street downtown. Donations of time, talent, and treasure are all appreciated. motownchristianhelp.com
Improving the lives of children
Many programs provide services for adults who struggle with substance use. But the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center goes to the need for comprehensive, family-centered treatment that addresses the impact of parental substance abuse on children. “Our vision is for every child in our community to be happy, healthy, and safe from abuse and violence,” says Marissa Russell, the program’s director of awareness.
Growing its expertise since 2005, the MCCAC provides forensic interviews, therapy, and support groups for abused children and their non-offending family members. Its broad range of services include and go well beyond mental health screenings, parent training, advocacy for abused children, and crisis intervention. The organization provides case review, prepares children to testify in court, coordinates the multidisciplinary teams of professionals who work together on child abuse cases, and offers referral to needed services for child abuse victims. It also provides consultation to schools on creating trauma-informed environments.
Now, to help the growing population of children in out-of-home placement due to a parent’s or caregiver’s substance abuse, the MCCAC is launching its Drug Endangered Children Project. “The DEC will expand access to comprehensive, family-centered treatment and provide direct services to drug-impacted families that are both evidence-based and trauma-informed,” Russell says.
MCCAC services are available at no cost to any family in Monongalia County where a child has suffered abuse, neglect, or other trauma. Families can access the MCCAC’s services by calling 304.598.0344. To support the MCCAC’s mission, send a donation to: 909 Greenbag Road or donate online at moncocac.org.
Winterizing seniors’ homes
Each fall, as cold temperatures and snowfall approach, a group of volunteers fans out across Morgantown and Monongalia County to weatherize senior citizens’ homes.
“Everything we do is at no cost to the senior,” says Eleanor Green, the founder and organizer of the Winter Weather Posse. “We bring all of the supplies and certainly the manpower. It’s an all-volunteer force of people ages three to 83.”
Just over a decade ago, Green challenged herself to find a way to give back to her community. Her first hopeful call for help identified 15 households in need and drew 45 volunteers to the task; through word of mouth alone, it’s become a huge annual pop-up event that weatherizes more than 100 homes through the industry of more than 400 volunteers.
Posse volunteers rake and bag leaves, trim shrubs, weed flower beds, clean gutters, and weatherstrip doors and windows for residents over 65 who need the help. The event is only “pop-up” in the sense that it emerges suddenly one fall morning and is done by nightfall—in fact, it’s a major operation coordinated through several months’ effort. “In my wildest dreams, never did I ever have an expectation that we’d keep on doing it, but it’s become such a huge blessing,” says Green. “Nothing is better to me. If we have kept a senior citizen in her home for an extra year or two or five, that means everything.”
This year, the Winter Weather Posse rides on November 3. Those needing assistance next fall can email Green by early October; willing volunteers can still join this year’s posse by contacting her at email@example.com.
Written by Kaylyn Christopher
Featured photo courtesy of Christian Help