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Community Resources Explains Their Services

By Staff | Oct 15, 2008

Community Resources Inc. is more than a thrift store. That message, along with the wide scope of their services to the community, is what they are trying to get across to area residents through a concerted marketing campaign.

Three representatives of CRI spoke to the Wetzel County Commission Oct. 7 about their public relations efforts and various services.

Theresa Shepherd, CRI’s Community Service Block Grant Program Director, explained to the commissioners that CRI does assist with community and economic development efforts, even though it hasn’t been too involved in that area in Wetzel County. She said the latest figures show the county’s unemployment at 8.6 percent and rising, a real concern for the community at large. Given the change in the economy and the length of time since the last assessment, CRI is hoping to do a new community needs assessment so they can see better how to serve the community.

“We want to be sort of the go-to agency,” explained Shepard. They provide employment services and crisis intervention.

So far in 2008, four families in Wetzel County have secured jobs with CRI’s help. While the number may not seem big, “That’s four families on their way to self-sufficiency,” noted Shepard.

CRI also provided free income tax services to 166 people in Wetzel County this year. They target people who can receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, many of whom are unaware of the financial boost available from the credit. The EITC gives eligible filers about $180 to $250 more in their return. “That’s a huge return on investment,” said Shepard.

Crisis intervention services provided through CRI include things like help with utilities, food, and rent. In Wetzel County, 100 families received those services in the past year.

Also, the weatherization program has helped 17 homes. “The majority (of the work) is to make homes more energy efficient,” explained Shepard. Not only does it make a home more environmentally friendly, but it saves the occupant on their utility bills.

Shepard said that the typical low-income family spends 10 percent of its income on utilities, while a typical mid- to upper-income family only spends 3.5 percent of its income on utilities.

CRI primarily focuses on installing insulation and efficient furnaces. The majority of homes lose the most heat through the walls and roof. The Weatherization Program has a heat loss sensor that can show them where trouble areas exist.

“With the economy the way it is, people should take advantage of this,” said Heather McAbee, CRI’s regional manager for the northern counties. The weatherization program is available to people whose income is at 150 percent of the poverty guideline. “More people meet this than realize,” noted McAbee.

The weatherization program is one of the things she plans to highlight with a special day Oct. 25 at the CRI location, located at the southern end of the downtown area of Main Street, New Martinsville. In conjunction with the Chili-Fest, CRI will be hosting an Energy Awareness Day complete with the fire safety house from the New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department, live radio remote, free giveaways including smoke detectors, and of course information on CRI’s various programs. People will even be able to sign up then for assistance.

“What a better time to make people aware we have more than a thrift store,” said McAbee.

That is exactly the goal of Lynn Garber, CRI’s community services manager. Rather new to CRI, Garber is the first person in the organization specifically focused on public relations and marketing. “We’re hoping to make great strides in that area,” said Shepard.

Already, the group is putting its logo on everything from brochures to vehicles to buildings. This is the first time they have ever had a professional brochure to introduce their services. The women left some with the commission so they could become familiar with what CRI has to offer and some could be put in the information rack in the courthouse.

Shepard also asked the commission to consider appointing another representative of the county to serve on the CRI board of directors. The last appointee, Shirley Michael, has resigned. The board meets in Parkersburg on the third Thursday of the month from 7-8:30 p.m. Members are reimbursed for their mileage to and from the meeting.

CRI serves Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler Wetzel, Wirt, and Wood counties. Without representation, Shepard said it is more difficult to get as much attention. There are also currently no representatives on the board from Tyler and Pleasants counties, meaning the northern part of the service area is underrepresented.

For more information visit the CRI location on Main Street in New Martinsville, go to www.cricap.org, or call 304-485-5525 or 1-866-585-5525.