MARIETTA - There are a variety of assistance programs and services offered in Washington County that residents may not be aware of, including some that provide food and others aimed at improving homes and providing transportation.
Washington-Morgan Community Action, for example, administers the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) in which homes in the county, including the cities of Marietta and Belpre, receive much needed repairs.
"It provides whole home rehabilitation or emergency home repair," said Dawn Rauch, the agency's director of planning and development. "The goal of the program is to improve the housing stock in the communities for use for future generations."
Rauch said residents must meet income requirements in order to participate. The income for a household of two cannot exceed $34,050, while the income for a household of three must be at or below $38,300. To obtain the income requirements for households of four or more, contact Rauch at (740) 373-3745.
She said once it is determined that a family does meet the income requirements, the agency's rehabilitation specialist inspects the home and writes up specifications.
"The home needs to be brought to the state's residential rehab standards and those are pretty high standards and then we bid out the work to local companies," Rauch said. "It depends on what the home needs but typically we stay under $25,000 for a full rehab."
Rauch added that only a home's "major systems" such as siding and plumbing are addressed under the program and home additions are not included.
While Washington-Morgan Community Action's Marietta bus routes are heavily utilized, what some residents may not realize is that the agency's buses also travel to Parkersburg, Belpre, New Matamoras and Macksburg on certain days of the week.
Rauch said there were 5,350 riders on the Marietta routes from January to March, while there were only 161 riders on other routes during that same time period.
There is service to New Matamoras and Macksburg on Thursday, with the first bus departing from Marietta at 8 a.m. and the last bus arriving at Marietta at 4:30 p.m.
"On Friday the bus line goes to Belpre and then goes to Parkersburg and meets up with the Easy Rider system," Rauch said.
While home repair and transportation services are important, so are programs that provide food to people in need.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a United States Department of Agriculture program offered through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Through the program, people 60 and older who meet certain income guidelines can get free packages of food containing commodities such as cereal, powdered milk, pasta, cheese and canned vegetables.
Lisa Valentine, director of the Washington County Retired and Senior Volunteer program, said the boxes are given away at the Washington County Fairgrounds the first Monday of every month from 2-6 p.m., as well as the first Tuesday and Wednesday of every month from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
"It's a box of staples and it just helps seniors make their food dollars last a little bit longer," Valentine said, noting that the program is operated locally by RSVP volunteers Joe Kurtz and Garry Bonnette.
Applications can be obtained at the RSVP office, located inside the O'Neill Center at 333 Fourth St. in Marietta. Applications must be submitted to the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action office at 3 Cardaras Drive, P.O. Box 220, Glouster, OH 45732.
"They get assigned to the place closest to their residence," Valentine said, noting that there are other places in the county where the boxes are distributed.
Belpre Area Ministries (B.A.M.) offers the boxes, according to Barry Cheuvront, coordinator of the B.A.M. thrift store. He said they are distributed at 2310 Washington Blvd. in Belpre.
"We're open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 (a.m.) to 2:30 (p.m.)... they're available every other month," Cheuvront said.