Community Helps To Feed the Homeless
Noticing an increase in homelessness in Wetzel County, the personnel of the Wetzel County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and Wetzel County Museum have recently been distributing lunches and warm hats and gloves to these people in need. The museum and CVB staff have subsequently noticed an outpouring of generosity from residents who wish to help their neighbors in need.
The CVB’s executive director, Robby Parsons, said he and fellow staff noticed there were many people who would complain about the homeless problem; however, there were not many people inquiring about how to help the homeless. This inspired Parsons to do something.
Parsons explained how the area’s homeless would often stop at the museum to partake in the offer of free coffee, as well as seek warmth inside the facility. Parsons said he was getting to know these individuals, who he describes as “decent human beings.”
He admitted some of the folks do have drug problems and other issues going on in their lives; however, this is not the case with all of the homeless. For instance, Parsons explained, one individual who stops at the museum regularly is a former commercial truck driver. The man reportedly lost his job recently because of a DUI that happened years ago. Parsons explained the man is not a “junkie” or a bad person.
Parsons explained how the man had overheard a conversation about the desire to have a shed built to the side of the museum’s building. He took it upon himself to start work on the shed. A couple days later, he was joined by several others who wished to offer their services.
Parsons then asked one of the men what they needed, and what could be done by Parsons and other community residents. The man responded by saying the crime rate in New Martinsville would decrease if people did not have to steal for food. He stated one meal a day would make a world of difference.
Thus, lunches were handed out at the museum. This charity extended with the distribution of gloves, hats, and socks. These clothing items are placed nearby, tied to a fence adjacent to the museum; they disappear quickly.
Hand warmers have also been distributed.
Parsons described fellow community members, who have generously given to the cause, as “amazing.” The CVB/Wetzel County Museum originally purchased all necessary items for the lunch and clothing distribution. Since then, community members have donated what is given.
Wetzel County Convention & Visitors Bureau President Sandy Hunt has spoken with New Martinsville Mayor Steve Bohrer about the homeless issue, according to Parsons, who noted there are people trying to figure out a way to organize a homeless shelter.
In the meantime, social media has served as a powerful tool. Parsons said he thinks that the fact that residents know about the distribution is inspiring others to help, and it seems people are willing to help, instead of complaining about the problem.
Parsons stated he believes the number of homeless individuals has grown for several reasons, one being drugs. Parsons also noted the price of rent due to the oil and gas industry. He said although he appreciates what the oil and gas industry brings to the town, the locals also suffer from parts of it.
The Wetzel County Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturdays. Folks from the museum and CVB are handing out lunches six days a week. Items that are usually needed the most are juice boxes. There is also always a need for bread and peanut butter; any donation is appreciated.