PARKERSBURG - A local woman has been lending a hand at a local charity and now calls on valley residents to help out as well.
Teresa Farrow, 65, of Vienna, has found a new obsession to fill her spare time. Since September, Farrow has been offering her time and arranging for donations to the House To Home day shelter charity.
House To Home is at 413 E. Eighth St. in Parkersburg. The emergency day shelter helps those in the area who don't have a place to call their own, Farrow said.
House To Home is at 413 E. Eighth St. in Parkersburg. The emergency day shelter helps those in the area who don’t have a place to call their own.
From 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, House To Home provides a warm, clean environment for those who need help, said Jess Towner, director of House To Home. Anyone who needs assistance can take a shower, wash their clothes, cook meals and use the Internet to apply for jobs... no questions asked, Towner said.
House To Home serves 40-75 people on a daily basis, Towner said.
The shelter is designed to help those who are homeless, as well as those who are just down on their luck and need a hand, Towner said. Even those who have places to stay, but are in need of assistance, are welcomed at House To Home, she said.
For the past several months, Farrow has been offering her services to House To Home, filling in the gaps that Towner has been unable to manage by herself, Towner said.
Farrow "has been absolutely wonderful to us since she started volunteering here," said Towner. "I just don't know what we would do without her assistance," she said.
Farrow explained her desire to help at House To Home as "an obsession, something that I just can't get out of my mind."
"I know that these people need my help, and I feel that God has led me to this, and to spreading the word that they need this help to others," Farrow said.
Towner is often so busy with the needs of the shelter and those who frequent it that she is unable to retrieve the donations waiting at area businesses, said Towner.
House To Home is almost completely donation driven, Towner said. Since the day shelter does not physically provide shelter to people overnight, it does not qualify for the majority of state or federal grants, she said.
Because of this, every donation counts, Towner said.
Farrow "goes out and gets those donations for us, and brings them back to the shelter," said Towner. "Every single item we have donated to us is accounted for before it arrives and used very quickly," she said.
Aside from the items that have already been donated, Farrow has made herself useful by arranging for new donations from other sources, Towner said.
When Farrow asked how she could help the charity out back in September, she was told House To Home was in need of several basic items, including a freezer for storing food, Farrow said. A few days later, Farrow met with the management at the local Home Depot and explained the day shelter's need for a freezer on-site.
"Later that same day, the Home Depot truck pulled into our driveway and unloaded a brand new freezer for us," said Towner.
Farrow has also arranged for several donations of goods from locally owned businesses, including a donation of 20 backpacks from a family-owned shop in Vienna, Farrow said.
"I feel God in all of this," Farrow said. "God knows what these people need, and he has chosen me to get it to them," she said.
Items that cannot be used in the House to Home shelter are donated to the Salvation Army every week, Farrow said.
"I just want people to understand that this is a clean place full of grateful people who are so thankful that they will even help you unload your donations from your car," Farrow said. "It isn't the type of place that most people associate with the homeless," she said.
Currently, the House To Home day shelter is in need of a full-sized refrigerator or cooler.
"Since the number of people we serve has gone up, our ability to store enough food for them all is being strained. That new refrigerator would be a wonderful help," said Towner.
Other items that are in high demand at House To Home include backpacks, warm weather gear, winterized rain coats, sleeping bags, tents, propane tanks and propane-powered cooking surfaces and heating units, Towner said.
"Since the weather is getting worse, we need ways to keep these people warm," Farrow said.
"Keeping the people we serve warm and dry means that they aren't getting sick," Towner said. "When they are healthy, they don't end up in the emergency room," she said.
Items that are in constant demand year-round are paper products of every kind, including plates, cups, bowls and cutlery, as well as trash bags, laundry detergent, toiletry items and copier paper.
"If you use it at your home, we could use it here," Towner said. "We are grateful for every single item that comes through our doors," she said.