PARKERSBURG - Getting to the Latrobe Street Mission is now easier for some with a new ramp and railing.
Greg Smith, a board of directors member, said the ramp was a move toward making the mission at 1825 Latrobe St. compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Smith said the mission statement of the Latrobe Street Mission is "to provide resources, opportunity and shelter to the homeless and developing community partnership demonstrating love for our neighbors."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Standing on the new ramp at the Latrobe Street Mission, are, from left, Rodney Roberts, board member; Connie Roberts, board member; Sister Cynthia Drennen, with the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund; Greg Smith, board member; Bob Newell, mayor of Parkersburg; Shad Martin, director; Rick Russell, welder; Roger Conley, owner of Conley Fabrication; Nathan Brown, board member and Randy Rapp, mayor of Vienna.
"We've been averaging in the mid 60s (number of people) staying here and we've had as many as 92, with 15 children," he said. "This is definitely a community asset. This is taking care of the homeless and children of our community."
Shad Martin, director of the mission, said the Latrobe Street Mission is about different organizations working together. He said the goal is to partner with more businesses and organizations to provide every asset to help individuals.
"About a year and a half ago the vision came that there was not a way, a real way, to get out of the situations they were in," he said. "We're developing the A to B Plan."
Martin said the plan is simple, with the mission as point A and housing as point B. He said the plan helps people navigate the roadblocks, helping to prioritize what they need.
So far, he said, they have been able to place families in permanent housing.
"We know most people need a job to get housing but without an ID you can't even begin to look for a job," he said. "We are developing that case management so we can work with our residents to get to the end point that is back in society, working, having their own place and contributing back into the community."
Martin said the mission has two more projects in the planning stages, a kitchen project and transitional apartments and dormitories on the second floor.
Smith said what the mission has been able to accomplish, such as helping seven people finds jobs, is humbling.
Many businesses are donating their time and effort to the mission, he said, and individuals are giving of their time. He said the cost of the ramp and railing would have been $40,000 for the railing alone and $7,500 for the labor for the project.
"This is a phenomenal asset this community has," he said. "Everybody is working together to care and show love for our neighbors and those in need."
Smith said the ramp and railing would not have been possible without help from Williamstown First Baptist Church, Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund and Conley Fabrication. Some of the money came from the mission's store, Twice As Good Thrift Store.
Sister Cynthia Drennen, of the St. Joseph Charitable Fund, said the mission is working toward a program similar to the Housing First movement. She said the movement is an acknowledgement that problems can't be solved if people are on the move.
"How can you get something mailed to you, get the forms filled, how can it follow you if you are on the move all the time," she said. "That sense of having a place, of having a home is very, very important and this is really the first step."
Drennen said the fund was able to give the mission a $5,000 discretionary grant to get the railing in place.
Roger Conley, owner of Conley Fabrication, said he was happy to be a small part of seeing the progress of the mission take place.
"I wanted to be more involved than just to simply help them to purchase some material," he said. "I looked over the facility and I was impressed with the work so many have done and I wanted my company to be part of that."