Publication: ChasGazette
Category: Metro East
Page: P1
HEADLINE: Local groups to hold Clendenin fair on May 14
Byline: Clint Thomas


The Regional Family Resource Network and 25045 A New Clendenin will sponsor the 25045 Community Services Fair on Saturday, May 14.


Taking place from
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the fair will be held on the grounds of the old Clendenin High School, across from the Clendenin Volunteer Fire Station on Koontz Avenue.


Along with representatives from more than two dozen various regional agencies, the fair will feature health screenings and door prize giveaways donated by area merchants and agencies.


Susan Izzo, a volunteer and information specialist with the
United Way of Central West Virginia, has been recruiting agencies to participate in the fair. In an invitational letter submitted to prospective participants, Izzo stated, "The goal of the Community Services Fair is to educate community leaders, local churches, schools, emergency workers and concerned citizens of the valuable resources that your agency and programs can provide to individuals and families in the Elkview, Clendenin, Roane and Clay county areas."


According to
Michele Baranaskas, the executive director of the Regional Family Resource Network, the RFRN is a nonprofit, community organization that contracts with the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families to provide collaborative assessment, strategic planning and evaluation to Boone, Kanawha and Putnam counties.


Family Resource Networks do not provide direct services, she explained, but they work with direct service providers, families and nonproviders such as businesses and the faith community to more efficiently provide services to the families and children, by working together to fill gaps in services.


"Anyone is welcome to come to our monthly community meetings, which take place in each county, to strategically plan ways to fill these gaps," Baranaskas said. "Quite often, task teams or committees are formed to work together on specific areas. The group that is working on planning the 25045 Community Services Fair is called the Kanawha Community Development Committee.  Years ago the committee went by the name of the Welfare Reform Committee and they developed a long-term plan of reaching out to the rural and/or underserved communities of
Kanawha County:  the Upper Kanawha Valley (November 2000), the St. Albans area (February 2002), the Sissonville area (July 2003) and the Clendenin/Elkview area.


"In addition, an outreach event was held in the East End of Charleston last summer. The committee has evolved over the years and now has completely different members than it did five years ago.  However, they have continued with the vision of the original group.


"The goal of the committee is to increase awareness among families and communities about resources and services available to meet increased need due to welfare reform.  The committee seeks local leaders, be they faith community leaders, or local community group leaders to be a part of the planning of an outreach event.  The local community decides what type of event they would like to have, using their expertise as community leaders to determine what type of event the community is likely to embrace.


"Experience has shown us that various communities produce different outcomes with these events.  We try to coordinate the events with very little funds and with as little cost as possible to the community leaders, providers who exhibit and provide screenings, and families who attend.  Very often the providers who provide screenings have outreach activities included in their mission.  Their services are provided as an in-kind donation and are very much appreciated.


"Donated funds are very welcome.  We don't often know the full impact of these outreach events, but we all agree that if one person is helped by finding housing, or by becoming aware of a previously undiagnosed health problem, or by getting linked to services that they didn't realize existed, then our efforts were worthwhile," Baranaskas said.


Founded in December 2003, 25045 A New Clendenin is a coalition of area business owners and residents endeavoring to stimulate and revitalize the economy of the town and surrounding areas. Last year, the group was given the former
Clendenin Middle School building by the Kanawha County Board of Education, with plans to re-establish the property as a small business incubator.


As of presstime for this edition of Metro East, the following agencies, organizations and companies had been scheduled to take part in the fair:


* The Appalachian Center for Independent Living


* Automated Health Systems


* Carelink


* Central Child Care


* The
Elk Valley Improvement Council


* Express Mortgage Homeward Bound Program


* Family Service of
Kanawha Valley


Kanawha County 4-H


* The Good News Mountaineer Garage


* LifeBridge AmeriCorps


* The Make A Wish Foundation of
Southern West Virginia


* The Mental Health Association in the Greater
Kanawha Valley


* The
Nutrition Outreach West Virginia University Extension Service


* The Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health


* The Problem Gamblers Help Network of
West Virginia




* The Regional Family Resource Network


* The Roane Family Resource Network


St. Francis Hospital's Breast Health Program


* The Senior Corps Program


* Special Olympics
West Virginia


* Unicare Health Plan of
West Virginia


* United Way Information and Referral


West Virginia Birth to Three


* The
West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence


* The
West Virginia National Guard, Drug Demand Reduction


* The
West Virginia Prevention Resource Center


West Virginia State Police


* The
West Virginia State University Extension Service


* The WVMHCA/Peer Recovery Network


* The YWCA ENCOREplus Breast Cancer Education and Support Program.