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Wood County Society provides resources amid pandemic

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Society, a local non-profit organization that provides programs, resources and advocacy for individuals with disabilities in the region, has continued to provide a variety of essential services and meet community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While a lot of programs and resources that Wood County Society offers are valuable in an in-person setting, Wood County Society has uniquely developed ways to make an impact,” said Executive Director Brandon Gress.

Since March, Wood County Society has provided services and programs to individuals with disabilities throughout their 11-county service region. With COVID-19 precautions in place, Wood County Society has realigned its mission to “provide valuable programming virtually and develop unique ways to provide essential therapeutic resources to youth and adults alike,” according to Gress.

Gress said “Wood County Society continues to be a catalyst for change in our community to ensure that specific needs are being met — even during the pandemic. While a lot of programming has been made available in a virtual format (including Wood County Society Temple Challenge, the Mid-Ohio Valley Autism Network, and American Sign Language classes) we have an obligation to meet the needs of our community in such a unique and uncertain time in our world.”

According to Gress, Wood County Society has collaborated with other agencies including the Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, SW Resources and Astrive Advocacy to assist in hunger solutions for individuals with disabilities in our region, collaborated with area agencies and WVU Medicine to assist in making PPE for local hospitals and clients, as well as aided in combating isolation of nursing home residents with inspirational signs to boost residents’ mental health.

“Wood County Society continues to develop ways to strategically meet the needs of our families,” said Gress. “We are delivering Summer Speech Therapy Bags to homes of youth who need additional speech therapy over the summer, we continue to deliver Artbeat Therapy Bags to artists who utilize the Arbeat Studio as well as have formatted our very own Assistive Technology program so that even more individuals can partake in our programs virtually, while giving them the capability of connecting with loved ones even through social distancing.”

Gress said Wood County Society is looking ahead to a potential recurrence and surge of COVID-19 and will continue to offer its programs virtually into the fall.

Among the many programs and resources Wood County Society has in place, it initiated a collaborative effort to develop the Community of Diversity Coalition.

According to Gress this is a coalition developed with area organizations including the Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Astrive Advocacy, REM Community Options, SW Resources, ResCare, Horizons, LINX Community Services, JCDC, Westbrook Health Services, the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, and Coplin Health Systems and is aimed to “examine disparities throughout the region and develop strategic plans and capacity within individual organizations and as a coalition to best meet the needs of the community.”

The Community of Diversity is working on expanding emergency preparedness.

“The coalition is striving to produce a proactive and effective approach to meeting the needs of our community through emergency preparedness. The COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened our alliances to further our collaboration(s) and to develop a concrete emergency preparedness plan that will allow the coalition to respond to man-made, natural and pandemic disasters in an efficient, proactive and unilateral expansion in services in the near future. We have an obligation to our community to ensure that all needs are met among individuals with disabilities throughout our region and the coalition is working diligently to make that happen,” said Gress

For more information on Wood County Society programs and resources and to enroll visit www.woodcountysociety.com, like and follow Wood County Society on Facebook or call Wood County Society at 304-428-4280 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Madeline Scarborough can be reached at mscarborough@newsandsentinel.com.

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