By Matthew Young, RealWV
RAINELLE, W.Va. – “God’s Way Home started a little over three years ago as a sober living facility. They realized that their residents – and the population here in western Greenbrier County in general – really needed assistance with becoming work ready.”
That’s what the Meadow River Valley Association’s (MVRA) Dara Vance told RealWV on Monday, after learning that God’s Way Home had been approved for a $100,000 federal grant. Among other things, the funding will be used to supplement the “Valley Works” program through the creation of a “drop-in center and soup kitchen” for the more than 5,000 residents of the Meadow River Valley.
“People need help overcoming barriers to employment – such as getting your driver’s license or navigating the DMV system to find out if you have any fines or anything,” Vance explained. “We’re also dealing with a lot of individuals who are not only in recovery, but are coming out of incarceration. They have a lot of challenges with finding employment.”
While some are certainly facing obstacles presented by the DMV, Vance explained that others may be in need of a safe place to shower or wash clothes before going to work or a job interview.
“It’s also for the whole community,” Vance said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced the funding-approval on Friday. The announcement came as part of the FY2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding bill.
In a subsequent statement released by his office, Manchin said, “This funding bill strengthens our fight against the ongoing drug epidemic, supports a systematic approach to rural broadband deployment, and funds critical nutrition programs.”
In all, the funding-requests of 22 projects throughout West Virginia have been approved in the bill, for a total of $12,075,000.
“We are all God’s Way Home – we all operate under the same organization,” Vance noted. “But our mission as Valley Works really focuses on re-employment and economic development.”
“You might ask, ‘Well, what does a soup kitchen have to do with that?’” Vance added. “Well. we are ready to meet people’s needs at any level – meaning that if you need a hot meal or if you need clothes, whatever you need, we’re going to help you with that.”
According to Vance, the drop-in center and soup kitchen will be much more than simply a place to get a hot meal, explaining, ‘Let’s say you’re housing-insecure – or let’s say you don’t have water or electricity at your house – you can come and see us to clean your clothes, or take a shower, or do whatever it is that you need to do. Then you can get a meal and be ready to go to work.”
Vance added that the drop-in center will also serve as a warming-station during the winter months, noting that, “There aren’t really warming centers available on a regular basis throughout Greenbrier County.”
“We own the facility that God’s Way Home operates out of,” Vance continued. “Across the street we have two more buildings, each one is 5,000 square feet. We also own a second home that we are going to open very soon as a second recovery facility with eight beds. The drop-in center [will be] located in one of the 5,000 square foot buildings.”
While Vance does not yet have a firm date that the drop-in center will be fully operational, she noted that a team of volunteers is currently working to make it ready. Vance’s expectation is that the drop-in center will be functional, “at least in some capacity,” by the winter months.
“The money from Senator Manchin is going to enable us to do some hiring, so this is going to be a jobs creator as well,” Vance added, in further explanation of the center’s value to the community. “What receiving these funds means is that I can look at someone who is in recovery, or who has an incarceration record, and I can hire them to help build their resume and experience.”
RealWV will provide updates regarding the status of the drop-in center and soup kitchen as additional information is made available.