Consider the organizations operating there in your holiday giving.
A round-the-clock Monongalia County warming shelter has opened at Hazel’s House of Hope in the former Ramada Inn on Scott Avenue. The organized, early-in-the-season announcement stands in notable contrast to the cold-snap scrambles of previous years. It’s just one more sign that the facility is growing into the community’s vision for it—a vision that combining everything from feeding to sobering to re-housing and more under one roof would serve people in need efficiently and ease their paths to self-sufficiency.
Operations began ramping up at Hazel’s House of Hope in March 2021, when Bartlett Housing Solutions opened in the facility. Since then, multiple organizations have followed:
- United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties, 2021: boxing and distribution of food to food pantries by its Helpful Harvest program
- The Salvation Army, 2021: Hope Cafe, serving a hot, nutritious lunch and dinner every day
- Catholic Charities West Virginia, February 2022: a statewide social services agency providing parenting skills classes, utility assistance, and much more
- Hope Hill Sobering Center, August 2022: a supportive environment where the intoxicated can shelter and be connected with services
- Lauren’s Wish, October 2022: an addiction triage center
Coming soon is behavioral health provider Crittenton Services, and hopes are high for the inclusion of an organization that serves veterans in 2023.
The facility’s location away from downtown was seen as a challenge from the beginning. But a Mountain Line bus route from Westover down Don Knotts Boulevard to Walmart, stopping at Hazel’s House of Hope every half-hour until 8 p.m.—free to riders through the support of the city of Morgantown, Monongalia County, and participant organizations—has made it much more accessible.
Representatives of the organizations have begun meeting monthly with the aim of exploring ways to dovetail their operations, says Maureen Tennant, business manager for Morgantown Community Resources, or MCR, which manages the facility. “There are so many different ways they can help each other, and I think we’re just starting to see that coming to fruition.”
The synergies that are beginning to show up are a source of optimism for Deana Morrow, president of the Hope Hill Sobering Center board of directors. “Having all of these services localized in one place I think can potentially be a tremendous benefit to people in need.”
The new warming shelter is one productive outcome. MCR, of course, is providing space, and The Salvation Army is allowing the use of some of its space and providing cots, meals, and kitchen access. Lauren’s Wish is providing staff training and support. Catholic Charities of West Virginia will oversee invoicing and payroll.
Organizations outside Hazel’s House of Hope are also part of the collaboration, including Morgantown Community Kitchen, First Presbyterian Church, and Morgantown RAMP, along with the city and county and a cadre of individual volunteers and donors. Contributions for the warming shelter are collected by the United Way.
The growth continues. Currently under construction are laundry facilities and a community bath house, says Tennant, as well as an expansion of the Salvation Army space.
And the exterior will get some attention in 2023 through Congressional funding obtained with the assistance of Senator Shelley Moore Capito, including landscaping, new signage, and a freshening coat of paint.
“The goal is to have a welcoming environment,” Tennant says, to let clients know they are respected and “part of the family.”
As far as MCR is aware, there’s not a similar social services hub anywhere in West Virginia. “Many communities have gone to this model in other parts of the country,” says Terri Cutright, who serves as counsel to MCR. “Maureen gave tours when the West Virginia Municipal League had its annual conference in Morgantown in August. It would be an excellent model for the rest of the state.”
Hazel’s House of Hope is the culmination of years of visioning and hard work by people all across Morgantown and Monongalia County. Consider the organizations involved as you carry out your year-end giving. You can reach the individual organizations at the links above. To donate to MCR for Hazel’s House of Hope, call Tennant at 304.319.0751—donations to MCR of over $500 are eligible for a $250 West Virginia state tax credit.