Champion a cause in Brooke County, Ohio County, Marshall County, Wetzel County, and Tyler County in West Virginia, and Belmont County in Ohio. Be the hope for some and inspire others! Create a community of finding solutions and building a stronger Ohio Valley by letting your voice be heard.

Want more information before deciding to donate your money to or advocate for the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley — Check Out our Community Success Stories


Anyone Can Champion the Cause

Whether you’re speaking out to improve education, income, and health, reaching out to members of Congress, or wearing the LIVE UNITED shirt to show your support, you can help inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow in your community.

So go ahead and advocate in a LIVE UNITED world. Do it in public. Be visible. Be loud.

Email or call (304) 232-4625 for more information on how you can advocate for the United Way of the Upper Ohio valley in Brooke County, Ohio County, Marshall County, Wetzel County, and Tyler County in West Virginia, and Belmont County in Ohio.

Get Informed

Everyone deserves opportunities to have a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.
That’s why United Way’s work is focused on the building blocks for a good life in Brooke County, Ohio County, Marshall County, Wetzel County, and Belmont County:

  • Education – Helping Children and Youth Achieve Their Potential

  • Income – Promoting Financial Stability and Independence

  • Health – Improving People’s Health

Advancing the common good is less about helping one person at a time and more about changing systems to help all of us. We are all connected and interdependent. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, when people are healthy.
United Way’s goal is to create long-lasting changes by addressing the underlying causes of these problems. Living united means being a part of the change. It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED.

When Insurance Doesn't Cover The Costs

On a cold December 2018 morning, we received a call that a family’s home caught fire and the family needed assistance. DAT (Disaster Action Team – a group of volunteers on call 24 hours a day) responded and met with the family. The head of household, at first, was not willing to accept the assistance as he felt embarrassed. Then he realized that assistance was needed more than he imagined after learning that the insurance wouldn’t be out until the next day. We provided immediate DCA (Direct Client Assistance – cash assistance) for more than $600 to assist with the family’s immediate needs. We also issued blankets, comfort kits, and our Moving Forward Booklet (designed to walk a client step by step through the recovery process). We closed the case after follow-up was complete as the clients stated that their needs were met. The wife then called and stated that the insurance was not going to cover the costs for their replacement dwelling as expected and asked if we could help with some of the costs. We reopened the case and issued Supplemental DCA for $300 to help with those costs. The family appreciated the assistance provided by the American Red Cross.


-American Red Cross

"...They had recently arrived from New York via a Greyhound bus and didn't have anything to eat or any place to go..."

Late after a Friday staff meeting – after all the neighbors at the Neighborhood Center had left – a family of six knocked on the locked front door. They had recently arrived from New York via a Greyhound bus and didn’t have anything to eat or any place to go. We were able to work with our community partners to find temporary housing for them until we could do more in-depth case management the following Monday. Additionally, thanks to our pantry we were able to provide food for them for several days. They were incredibly touched that someone would welcome strangers, find them food and shelter, and promise to continue working with them. It is only through the generosity of donors like the United Way that we are able to provide this kind of emergency assistance to families in need.

-Catholic Charities of WV

"...She had been left to raise their four children, with no family that was able to help..."

The father of a two-parent family suddenly caught pneumonia. He just continued to get sicker and
sicker and then passed away. He was the bread winner of the home and his wife did not work since high
school. She had been left to raise their four children, with no family that was able to help. They arrived at
our homeless shelter right after Thanksgiving and we had a room available for them to stay. The
children were able to go to same area school and be bussed from our shelter to school. The mother got a
full- time job within a month and signed up with our Homeless Prevention Program and we found her
an apartment to fit their income budget. We signed the family up for our Christmas Angel Tree and
the children received gifts. We were able to get their first month’s rent paid and their deposit. We
gave them food from our pantry, some start up furniture and household items. The family continues
to use our services.

-The Salvation Army Belmont County

"A client's family home was slipping away from them inches at a time."

In April 2018 a client’s family home was slipping away from them inches at a time. The hillside where the house sits was sliding, and the foundation walls and basement floors were cracking. The house was deemed unsafe to live, but there was no one who could assist the family in moving out of the home. The insurance company stated that this type of damage or threat was not covered on the home. The client was concerned about the costs to move, and what could be done for their home. American Red Cross issued immediate DCA (Direct Client Assistance – cash assistance) for more than $600 to help meet the immediate needs. The family was able to secure another home in the same area, and, to help with the costs in getting into that home, we issued Supplemental DCA, for several hundred more. According to the county Office of Emergency Management, the client was in tears of joy when we left the scene that day because everyone told her that there was nothing they could do, or how they could help.


-American Red Cross

"...when she saw the Gabriel Room, Miss Lisa's Boutique, she started to cry."

A young mother who learned about us from one of our previous high school volunteers, is married at age 19 and has a 6-week-old baby girl. She is no longer working but her husband works part time and is in college. They are planning to make all fresh baby food, she is a nursing mother and they are trying to use cloth diapers. She was so proud to share with us that they really want to do what is best for their baby as well as what is best for the environment. She came to us asking about clothing and what other ways she could receive help. When services were explained she stated she would not need formula, baby food or disposable diapers. However, when she saw the Gabriel Room, Miss Lisa’s Boutique, she started to cry. She asked if she could bring in her daughter’s clothes as she outgrows them. As she continued to talk to our volunteers, she not only walked out with clothes for her daughter but with a huge smile as she was so happy to know that we are there to offer support to others. Our mission doesn’t always have to provide everything to every family, but we make a difference by meeting their specific needs the best we can.

-Gabriel Project of WV

"The survivor experienced horrific sexual trauma from an intimate partner, who had coerced and manipulated them into believing that the abuser loved them."

The survivor appeared at a local hospital for a forensic medical examination late one evening. The survivor
experienced horrific sexual trauma from an intimate partner, who had coerced and manipulated them into
believing that the abuser loved them. The individual took all of the right steps. They didn’t shower, brush
their teeth, change clothing, or use the restroom. All of the evidence was intact. They appeared with a
friend who had experienced something similar. The advocate appeared and explained the process of
reporting to law enforcement. The survivor decided that it was the best decision for their healing
journey. The gentle SANE nurse and advocate worked together to ensure there was no further trauma
by reliving the experience, so they called a specific law enforcement officer who was trained to assist this survivor. The survivor emotionally was able to talk about what had happened to them. The case is still ongoing, however, the survivor mentioned how thankful they were to have supportive people who believed them. The survivor is currently working with law enforcement to assist in the investigation, and working with the advocate to heal. Having a supportive group of professionals is imperative to the well-being and healing journey of each and every survivor SAHC serves.

-Sexual Assault Help Center

"The girls and their grandmother state that life wouldn't be the same without being a part of their Girl Scout sisterhood."

One of the families that is able to participate in Girl Scouts because of financial assistance is a grandmother who is the primary caregiver for two granddaughters. The grandchildren were removed from the parental home by CPS, and the grandmother was looking for activities for the girls to participate in to try to provide them with normal childhood activities and experiences. The grandmother is retired and on fixed income, and is not financially able to provide multiple activities for two girls. The financial assistance available to the girls through Girl Scouts provided the girls with a fun activity that they were able to attend on a regular basis. They were able to make new friends in their Girl Scout Troops. The fact that Girl Scouts is able to provide financial assistance also allowed the girls to attend a camp program and a council sponsored activity. The girls and their grandmother state that life wouldn’t be the same without being a part of their Girl Scout sisterhood.

-Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council

"She could no longer lift her arms to wash and comb her hair."

Ms. B, I02 years old, lives alone in a senior high rise. She had someone coming twice a month to clean for her and paid her $50 each time for about 4 hours of cleaning per day. She received home delivered lunches from our nutrition program. The person she had cleaning has stopped coming, because she needed more hours of work and Ms. B could not afford it. We have our In­ Home Care Provider going in 3 times per week for 2 hours each day, helping her with personal care (she could no longer lift her arms to wash and comb her hair). We also clean her apartment, do her laundry, fix her a meal for dinner, and do her shopping. She was never married, has no children, and her extended family does not live in the area. She is saving money because she only has to pay the minimum required by the state of $1.50 per hour (for the Lighthouse Program – 6 hours per week for 4 weeks per month= $36). She continues to donate for her home delivered lunches.


-Brooke County Committee On Aging

"She came to the clinic as a new patient, and as many people who are in recovery from substance abuse do, needed significant health care – and oral health care. She had lost nearly all of her teeth from the methadone use, and the teeth remaining needed to be extracted."

G was a resident of the YWCA WIND program who was in recovery from drugs and was rebuilding her life. She came to the clinic as a new patient, and as many people who are in recovery from substance abuse do, needed significant health care – and oral health care. She had lost nearly all of her teeth from the methadone use, and the teeth remaining needed to be extracted. She then needed to heal and be fitted for dentures.

Relevant background/side note: YWCA regularly send residents to Wheeling Health Right for treatment and we are always grateful for the referral and the positive partnership that results from working with this sister United Way agency. YWCA programs focus on job rehabilitation as just one aspect of recovery and reentry into productive society. They have recently held several fundraisers to help their residents who need dentures pay the nominal $500 fee. Wheeling Health Right finds it necessary to pay the labs that make our dentures. (We pay and charge materials fees only. This is to provide a sense of pride of ownership and care for the dentures. Many of our patients make payments on their dentures until paid off.)

During the course of G’s extensive treatment, she showed significant interest in the dental clinic operations. She expressed a desire to learn how to act as a dental assistant. Our dental staff is certified at a level that they can teach students who are interested in becoming a “chair-side dental assistant.” Which in essence, acts as an assistant to the assistant or hygienist by helping with instrumentation, sterilization and supplies inventory. They offered G a position to train under them and she accepted, performing so well and consistently, that she was qualified to be hired at a local dentist’s office. Upon receipt and adjustment of her new dentures, she began her new career and has been enjoying her new lease on life since October 2019.

-Wheeling Health Right

A Forever Home

“Thank you so much for coming today. Our adoption would not have happened without you. You saved this boy, and I will never forget that. You also listened to me complain throughout the whole process, which I will also never forget. Seriously you are what every CASA should strive for.” This was the adoptive father for a 12 year old boy who had been in residential care for the past 3 years. The CASA on the case got to know him, investigated why he had been lingering in the foster care system, advocated for a new social worker and attorney to be assigned to his case, made sure his profile was updated to showcase his true character, which led to facilitating the meeting with a potential family and which was successful in creating a forever home.


-CASA For Children, Inc.

A Single Dad Trying To Make Ends Meet

A man and his family arrived at our homeless shelter a month ago. The man is single and has 3 children. He lost his wife and the mother of his children due to a drug overdose a year ago. He was working at a local business, but they had to close and layoff their employees permanently. He received a small severance and gets unemployment, but he has been unable to keep up with his rent, so his landlord had to evict them. He like many other of the employees lost their jobs after working there for many years. He and his children were scared at first to stay in our homeless shelter but after he was given a tour of our facility, they saw that it is clean, and family orientated. Our staff helped them settle in and have had weekly meetings with him. He met with the Homelessness Prevention person, who uses an office in our building once a week to meet with our homeless residents. He currently has a part time job and has applied for a grant to go to truck driving school for his CDL. He is also looking at houses to rent and once one is found he can use Homelessness Prevention Funds to pay his first month’s rent and deposit.

-Salvation Army – Belmont County

"In November I attended the United Way agency meeting and spoke of my concern for one of my workers who had a severe mold problem in her home. I was trying to determine how we could help, when a man decided to take a look at the home on behalf of his company. After looking at her home, it was determined that it needed $20,000 to $30,000 in mold remediation and then that much in additional repairs to make it livable again. At this point we realized that we were going to have to find her a new place to live."

In November I attended the United Way agency meeting and spoke of my concern for one of my workers who had a severe mold problem in her home. I was trying to determine how we could help, when a man decided to take a look at the home on behalf of his company. After looking at her home, it was determined that it needed $20,000 to $30,000 in mold remediation and then that much in additional repairs to make it livable again. At this point we realized that we were going to have to find her a new place to live. Normally, The Seeing Hand is mainly focused on employment and programs but this situation truly had a potential health hazard that needed resolved. Miss D did not have family or a support system, so The Seeing Hand and other United Way agencies started working together to help her. She literally had to leave everything she owned behind. The YWCA gave her new clothes and shoes. The Salvation Army of Belmont County invited Miss D to come to their warehouse and pick out household items. Youth Services System’s free store offered items. Information Helpline went to work getting an application to help her with rent. Many organizations such as the Warwood Lions Club and her church gave cash donations. Many other individuals gave furniture, dishes, pot and pans, etc. After much hard work, $1,190 in cash donations and many items donated, she now had a completely furnished new apartment. The director, workers of The Seeing Hand, and volunteers worked very hard to move everything into her apartment. They assembled the bed and microwave stand, picked up and moved in the furniture, hung pictures and curtains, and organized the kitchen and bathroom. It was truly a labor of love from 24 different people and organizations. Without the help from The Seeing Hand and all of the support of the community, she would have had to live in an unhealthy environment. The more we review what we do the more we realize that we at The Seeing Hand serves the needs of the entire or “whole” person. While we serve all of the areas of the United Way’s mission of health, education, and financial stability, we realize we also are like family to our workers, in addition to providing basic needs.

-The Seeing Hand Association

Assistance In A Time Of Need

Our Weirton office received a desperate call from a single father who was trying to make ends meet since being laid off from his job with the oil and gas industry. A few months ago he was making great money, paying off debt, and supporting his son independently through that income. Unfortunately, as frequently happens with the oil and gas industry, he was laid off because a job was completed earlier than expected. Because he had only worked there for a few months, he was ineligible for unemployment. Immediately following the layoff he was injured and was beginning to see medical bills piling up, as well. When he called us, he was overwhelmed and even embarrassed to be utilizing the help of a social service organization. Our Case Manager reassured him that we completely understood and we were there to help. We invited him in for an initial appointment to learn about our services and he decided to enroll in Case Management. He was then guided through the process of enrolling in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), helped to pay off some of the bills that were mounting and assisted with his job search and building a resume while working with a local temp agency. He is now employed again, but our work is not done. Catholic Charities continues to work with him to build a savings account and pay off debt so if any unexpected events occur in the future he will be financially stable enough to overcome the situation.


-Catholic Charities of WV

Determined To Seek Justice

Two years ago the Sexual Assault Help Center received a referral for a mother whose daughter had been sexually assaulted just a few days prior. The woman was able to escape from her offender, an intimate partner, and seek safety with her extended family. She called law enforcement immediately to report the incident and they encouraged her to go to the local hospital for a sexual assault forensic examination where they would be able to collect the evidence. She did as they recommended and found that the examination was completely reliving her abuse. The hospital was not able to complete the forensic examination due to the lack of knowledge. Although she waited in the emergency room for over 6 hours, she was determined to do what she could to seek justice. Law Enforcement was eventually able to apprehend the offender for a small amount of time; however, they sought powerful counsel that was able to get him released. She went to seek a protection order and was unjustly interrogated by the offender counsel because she did know her rights and did not have her own counsel at the time. Her mother reached out to SAHC shortly after the incident to obtain advocacy. The advocate was present for the next hearing and was able to provide support during this horrible situation. The advocate assisted her with the victim’s compensation fund, knowledge of what events would be happening in the future, and overall supportive counseling. The offender was indicted almost a year later but her case never made it to trial. Throughout the system failure that this woman experienced, she is resilient. She has worked with the advocate for the last two years to heal and discover what her journey looks like. Her response to what happened to her is that she wants to be a voice for the Upper Ohio Valley, the advocate, and the change so that victims are able to seek justice and receive the respect they deserve. She continues to fight for her freedom against her trauma and wants to be a public speaker to inform the community that sexual violence is prevalent and exists in our part of the Appalachian Mountains.


-Sexual Assault Help Center

"Don came to the Neighborhood Center while sleeping in his van."

Don came to the Neighborhood Center while sleeping in his van. He had fallen on extremely hard times after a job loss and considerable health concerns, and was unable to qualify for many services because of not having proper identification. He came to the Center during the winter for a hot meal and a shower, and with the hope of getting a new ID. While there, he learned more about our case management program. For months, Don met with the Case Manager weekly. During that time, he went from emergency housing to permanent housing, overlooking serious health problems to meeting with a team of medical professionals on a regular basis, and being unemployed to holding a full time job. Also, when Don moved into his new place he was sleeping on the floor. His Case Manager immediately began looking for a bed fit for a man of his stature (6’5″), and found one! Don is now an active member of a local church and uses his incredible voice in the choir. He regularly comes in to drop off food donations for the Neighborhood Center’s pantry. During the Christmas holiday, he rearranged his work schedule just to sing for our two-day Christmas distribution. He was a hit!


-Catholic Charities of WV


"...she felt comfortable enough that she could share her own story of abuse..."

Ten years ago, a now adult woman, attended a Harmony House presentation.  Through the message of the presentation, she felt comfortable enough that she could share her own story of abuse to a staff-person at her school. From that moment things began to change.  Her disclosure was made, criminally prosecuted and she obtained services from Harmony House at that young age.  Upon her discharge from Harmony House services, she was reminded that she could reach out at any point if she needed additional support.  A decade later, with some additional long term trauma issues, she did just that.  During one of her visits, sitting in the waiting area, this survivor also extended an additional piece of information of great importance to both Harmony House and the United Way.  Based on the time period that everything transpired initially, it is believed that the presenter of the presentation that provoked action was likely given by a woman by the name of Kate Stewart.  Kate left Harmony House some time ago but just recently returned to Harmony House as our Community Education Coordinator, a position that was made possible by this year’s United Way allocation.

Everything was against her, but she never gave up.

A young woman, L, was referred to us in the fall by a local university for services. She had been in an abusive relationship, was left homeless, dropped out of college, and was living at the YWCA. She came to us for services related to Case Management. In addition to suffering from PTSD from a long-lasting abusive relationship, she had also suffered childhood abuse and was battling an eating disorder. Our Case Manager learned of these things as she worked to gain L’s trust, and before beginning to focus on goals and referrals. The two met on a weekly basis, and eventually L accepted the offer of a bus pass to get her to counseling sessions with a licensed psychologist. She also began setting goals that included obtaining permanent housing, securing a job, and enrolling back into school. After a few months of hard work and financial assistance from Catholic Charities, L moved into her own apartment. She also re-enrolled as a full-time student, continued to meet weekly with a counselor, and interviewed at several places for part-time work. Our Case Manager looks forward to supporting L as she continues to make strides toward obtaining all of her goals.


-Catholic Charities of WV


Achieving His Goals

It is hard to comprehend that we hire employees and train them only to hope they can find a better job in the future.  I was reminded of this last week.  Dan worked at The Seeing Hand for years as a shop tech.  He has a degree in Criminal Justice and is working on his masters.  He had plans to be the lead for our extinguisher project.  Dan worked with the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) and expressed to them he had a desire to better his career options and make more money.  Through much determination he found a job at a Community College in Utica, NY as a disability advocate.  He moved to Utica with his service dog Mickey and lives in his own apartment.

Last week I went to Charleston to attend an awards ceremony because Dan was the DRS client of the year for the Wheeling district.  We think the years he spent at The Seeing Hand taught him a good work ethic and the patience and fortitude to press forward and go for his goals and dreams.  As a business it makes no sense to train our best employees to only encourage them to move on but that is our goal; to make as many of them as possible, independent and financially secure.  Dan is a true success story!

-Seeing Hand Association

"The baby is sleeping in a box, but has outgrown it."

A new client came into our Marshall County office and asked our volunteer whether or not we had cribs for sale. She had heard from the local DHHR office that we helped get cribs for babies. The volunteer replied “yes”, and then asked if the baby had been born yet. The woman replied, “Yes, in January.” When the volunteer asked what the baby was currently sleeping in, the woman replied, “The baby is sleeping in a box, but has outgrown it. I’m afraid the bottom may fall out when I try to pick him up”. Our volunteer said we would be happy to help and explained our procedure. The volunteer stated that she could take the crib and new mattress with her that day if she had transportation and someone to help load it. The young mother was thrilled and immediately contacted her boyfriend who had a truck. She said that he would be down to the site when he was off work. The young mother asked if he could come down later in the week and the volunteer agreed to meet the boyfriend at a time convenient to him. The young mother stayed at our Moundsville site and had the opportunity to “shop” for other baby items in our Gabriel Room. She also explained that she needed diapers and asked if we could help with wipes. We learned that this young mother and father had recently moved here as the baby’s father worked for the pipe liners. The young mother had never expected to receive the warm welcome that she did from our volunteers in West Virginia. She explained that they have lived in other states following the work and had not always been so well received. Our volunteer explained that we are here to help and to provide her with things her baby needed. This young mother continues to come each month as needed to get diapers, wipes and clothing. She has told us that the crib is beautiful and she is thankful for all our help. Our volunteers expressed our appreciation that things are going well and how much we appreciate seeing the baby grow.


-Gabriel Project of WV


She's All Smiles

Betty worked a full-time job most of her adult life until she got ill with major gastrointestinal issues. She eventually found herself on permanent disability support and without health insurance.  She found Wheeling Health Right and registered as a primary care patient for help with her prescriptions and general health management.

Due to her stomach issues and lack of dental care for more than 20 years, Betty developed multiple dental problems.  These were compounded when she broke her front tooth. She had heard that Wheeling Health Right had opened the new dental clinic and made an appointment as soon as she could.

Hiding her mouth behind her hand as she spoke, she shared stories of all the life experiences she had missed due to her embarrassment of her poor oral health. We reconstructed her tooth on the spot and restored the rest of her teeth. She confidently went to a family wedding – which she had intended to skip – sporting her new smile. This was the first social event she had attended in years due to her embarrassment about her poor oral health.

“I love to smile again. This has changed my life in every way you can imagine,” Betty said. “It’s improved my marriage because I would refuse to go out with my husband and I lacked so much confidence. My husband is so proud of me, my outlook, my smile and my new enthusiasm for life.”

That wasn’t the end of Betty’s journey to oral health here at Wheeling Health Right. Over the past two years, she’s had several root canals, crowns, extractions, fillings and now has a partial denture thanks to our partnership with the WVU School of Dentistry’s endodontic, prosthodontic and oral surgery residents who visit the clinic on a regular basis. She is the first patient to be declared “Finished” with all dental care and be placed on the “Maintenance” category. This means she will now be seen for examinations and cleanings, having “graduated” from the dental clinic’s comprehensive reconstruction in August 2018. United Way funding directly supports the partnership with WVU and we are so grateful for both of these partnerships!

-Wheeling Health Right

"She truly is a picture of what hope and support can do for a child who has been through trauma."

S is a 17-year-old female who came to Harmony House, a United Way agency, from Wheeling, WV. She was removed from her home approximately 8 months ago for sexual abuse by a family member, as well as emotional and physical abuse by both of her biological parents. She was referred for a forensic interview by Child Protective Services and brought to Harmony House by an adult sibling. The Child and Family Advocate greeted them at the door and discussed Harmony House’s policies and procedures. A Forensic Interview was completed and attended by Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services. The Multidisciplinary Team recommended follow up mental health counseling and a sexual assault exam by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). The SANE exam was completed at Reynold’s Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine, in Glen Dale, WV. She was referred to Harmony House for trauma focused therapy. Her CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) worker encouraged S to begin therapy. Currently, S has been attending individual therapy at Harmony House for several months related to her trauma experiences. She had difficulty at first being open about her experiences, and her feelings in general, but eventually became more comfortable. She is an excellent role model to her peers, maintaining a near perfect GPA, perfect attendance, and maintaining a part time job. She also assists her older sister in the care of her nephew. She has a positive, funny attitude, and would be described as resilient and strong. She also has an honest attitude and does not like to be described as a victim or survivor. She was asked to be a part of the Save The Children Journey of Hope Teen Group at Harmony House to demonstrate and discuss her positive coping skills and ways in which she handles her experiences. Sarah, since coming to Harmony House Children’s Advocacy, has expressed becoming better at utilizing feeling words, and expressing her emotions to others she is close with. She has taught the other peers in the group what it means to be leader and how to be resilient despite whatever experiences you have been through. S will continue to attend individual therapy and also continue utilizing the services at Harmony House. She truly is a picture of what hope and support can do for a child who has been through trauma.


-Harmony House


When Agencies Come Together

On 12/18/2018, one building of the North Park Apartment complex caught fire, causing the evacuation of all residents.  American Red Cross was notified by 911 and several volunteers were on the scene, addressing immediate needs of clients’ safety and security while firefighters continued to work on extinguishing the fire. The fire department declared the building unsafe for resident immediate return. American Red Cross provided a team of nearly a dozen volunteers to address the needs of immediate shelter, food, clothing, health and mental health services.  21 cases were opened within 24 hours (a few of the residents had left the scene and Red Cross volunteers had to track them down to offer service) with a total of 37 persons assisted (one did not return multiple attempts to contact). Working closely with the property manager, Red Cross was able to determine who did and did not have alternative choices of lodging (such as electing to stay with relatives), who could secure other apartments within that property, and who had special health needs.  Red Cross volunteers set to work providing thousands of dollars in direct financial assistance (final amount for this one event in excess of one quarter’s United Way funding payment) in the form of Client Assistance Cards used to address emergency needs such as food, clothing, lodging, etc.  After determining which community partnerships would best serve additional needs (needs beyond the scope of Red Cross mission such as Christmas), referrals were made for the clients to seek the help and included other United Way agencies such as Catholic Charities, Information Helpline 211, and Salvation Army. Referrals were made to other agencies beyond the United Way partnerships such as House of the Carpenter and Housing Authority. Property management was able to assist 17 unit residents back into their stabilized apartments or into new apartments.  Others have moved into new apartments or have opted to continue to stay with family members they make up their minds to move.  Finally, Red Cross provided financial assistance for burial expenses to the family of the resident who died in the fire. The success of this response event was due to the volunteer training and dedication, the partnerships of various United Way and other community agencies and the funding provided by the United Way. 

Specifically, from a client’s point of view, a single mother of 2 left the scene and town to stay with friends before we could issue her assistance. Red Cross sent her card overnight through FedEx so that she would have the assistance. She expressed great thanks and stated that “Me and my babies barely made it to my friends to stay and I had no idea how we were going to get by, and then I received the card that you all had sent us and it was very helpful in purchasing the necessary things that we otherwise would have went without.” This client also decided to not take the transfer unit from North Park because she wanted to move closer to her parents. We issued further assistance so that she could afford the $600 Security Deposit. On top of that, she called when she was trying to get furniture from a Salvation Army outside of our service area and they would not give her the furniture until they received a referral form from the Red Cross. We promptly issued one.  This is but one example of the complex service provided to these many clients who lost so much one week before the Christmas holidays.


American Red Cross


This year, Harmony House, a United Way agency, met a small and scared seven-year-old boy named “Sam.” His initial referral came from the Sherriff Office due to potential stalking and domestic violence of his mother. A forensic interview was scheduled but was then rescheduled by his mother due to some “behaviors” the child was displaying. It was at that time we were informed that Sam was a child diagnosed with autism. At the time of the appointment, Sam was shy and verbalized feeling worried about coming to Harmony House. His mother expressed concerns due to an increase in problematic behaviors at school, and at home, after the alleged incidents. Upon their arrival, the Child and Family Advocate met with Sam and his mother to explain the process and what to expect while at Harmony House. While Sam’s mother completed all necessary paperwork, the Advocate played with Sam to help ease his apprehension. The Interview Specialist then met with the child to answer any of his questions and allowed him to explore the interview room. A forensic interview was completed and was observed by the detective involved from the observation/meeting room at Harmony House. Sam was amazing and expressed afterward that he felt so “at home” he was not ready to leave. Sam and his mother met with the counselor and a Trauma Assessment was completed to determine if any symptoms of trauma were present. The Multidisciplinary Team met and recommended follow -up mental health services for Sam. Since his mother was affected by domestic violence and stalking, the Advocate provided supportive counseling to her during Sam’s interview, made a referral for mental health services for the mother, assisted with accessing the Family Violence Prevention Program at the YWCA, and connected her with a support group for grief and loss due to her husband and son’s death’s. She disclosed that she had no family that lived in the area for support. The advocate continued to follow up with the mother regarding Sam and her own concerns of safety. At the preliminary hearing, the advocate accompanied the mother for support. At Sam’s first counseling session, he had previously felt so comfortable at Harmony House that he insisted on spending time with everyone there. He continues to keep us up to date on school, friends, and his favorite TV shows.


-Harmony House


"The daughter that had no friends and was shy, has blossomed into a talkative young lady that has gained self-confidence and made numerous friendships."

Upon helping with programming in one of the Service Units (communities) in my Region, a mom approaches me knowing that I am a staff person to let me know how the Girl Scout program was able to help her daughter gain self-esteem.  She said without the financial assistance that her daughter received she would not been able to bond with other girls, learn social skills, learn good values, and contribute to her community.

The mom wanted me to know that she was a single, divorced mom raising two children on a fixed income and that she did not receive support from their father being he decided not to work.  She mentioned that she did have a paying job and although Girl Scouts was not expensive she still didn’t have the extra funds to cover the cost of her daughter’s membership so she applied for the financial assistance and received it.  She was so happy for her daughter to be able to be involved with other girls.  She went on to mention that her daughter wanted to attend a council event that the troop helped paid for but again she came short with funds.  She mentioned that her daughter’s leader encouraged her to pay a few dollars towards the camp and being the troop was paying towards the camp that the leader mentioned that she could ask for financial assistance from the Girl Scout council to cover the remaining cost.  Again, she was thrilled that the council offered that type of support for her daughter and her daughter’s financial assistance was approved for the camping trip.  The daughter came over to speak to her mom and upon listening to our conversation; she started talking to me about the camping experience.  This young lady had the best camping experience and she even met more girls that were not in her local area.  The daughter now has a Pen Pal from another part of the council that she writes to from that camping trip.

The mom continued talking to me as her daughter went back to the activities with her Girl Scout friends in her troop.  The mom was wanting me to know how she and her daughter appreciated the support the council had given them.

The daughter that had no friends and was shy has blossomed into a talkative young lady that has gained self-confidence and made numerous friendships.  Both mom and daughter have gained lasting memories from the Girl Scout program.

-Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council


Susan is a 56 year old female who resides in one of our residential homes. She is transported daily to and from work by RNS staff. She has been employed with Watch for 14 years. She has been diagnosed with mild mental retardation and seizure disorder controlled by medicine. Her speech is somewhat difficult to understand, and shows articulation difficulties. She receives speech therapy one day per week. Susan tends to speak loud and gets louder when excited about something. She enjoys going to dance class, participating in peer support at Russell Nesbitt Services and working at Watch. Susan is usually always happy and it’s rare to see her without a huge smile on her face. She greets everyone in the mornings and tells staff and friends to have a good night and she will “see you in the morning!,” as she is leaving for the day. Susan works in the training center working on contracts with local businesses. Whether she is cleaning coins for Wheeling Downs, packaging screws for Liberty Distributors or packaging nozzles for Silgan Plastic, she will continue to ask when we are going to be done with this contract. She absolutely loves working in the Greenhouse! She becomes very excited and happy knowing that she gets to work outside. She will plant seeds, water flowers and help the customers shop by taking a cart around so they can load it up with flowers. She also helps take their purchases to their car. Watch provides meaningful opportunities with individuals with disabilities. These different employments have helped Susan interact socially with peers and customers. She exhumes confidence when she is praised for a job well done and works well with the customers that she encounters.


-WATCH-A Division of Russell Nesbitt Services


"...this has allowed us to offer them a second chance at getting introduced back into society and hopefully back on their feet."

This quarter we began working with some individuals being released from the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office who had made parole. We had been working with them on work experience, but we had a couple of them parole to our facility. In doing so, this has allowed us to offer them a second chance at getting introduced back into society and hopefully back on their feet. With the United Way money helping with our shelter program, it allowed the three gentlemen who paroled here a place to come and be an individual and not just an inmate. We were able to help two of them get into housing and one of those two was even allowed to see his kids, in which he hadn’t seen since being incarcerated. It is because of the United Way and its donors that we are able to offer this service to those who are less fortunate in our community. 


The Salvation Army-Wheeling WV

Giving The Gift Of Christmas

It was a wintery day and it was extremely cold outside. This was no kind of weather for a family of five to be homeless in and nowhere to go. They tried to stay with family members and friends but there was no room for them at their homes. They had tried homeless shelters around the area and still there was no room for them either. To complicate matters it was just before Christmas and the stress of no home was mentally affecting all involved. They found their way to the Belmont County Salvation Army homeless shelter. We greeted them and told them that we had a family room that would accommodate their whole family. The cook had just made some delicious chocolate chip cookies and offered them to the family (he thought this would help them feel more comfortable). After they did there in processing they were brought upstairs to their room. The children were excited that they had a television in their new room and bunkbeds. The parents were happy too because they had a queen bed. It seemed their new home was just what they needed. The process of finding a new home had started. The family was given a caseworker (Ron Marple) and they were given a housing specialist (Shelley Cross, GMNCAC) to work with to find housing. The problem is that it was Christmas and the housing shortage in the area was not helping them to find a place before Christmas. The stress of Christmas and living in the shelter was still causing them anxiety. We assured them that they would be taken care of and they were. On Christmas Eve all the children received stockings to open and they eagerly anticipated Santa’s arrival that evening. The staff decorated the dining hall for a feast on Christmas day and the cafe was ready for breakfast. All that was left was Santa’s surprise on Christmas morning. The Salvation Army Christmas Elves put the gifts under the Christmas trees in our chapel and it looked like we had Santa’s whole workshop under our trees (we had gifts under the tree for all the shelter residents). On Christmas morning everyone from the shelter found gifts under the tree to unwrap. The family was very grateful that we made their Christmas special in a very difficult time in their lives. In February 2019 the family of five was able to move into their new home. They have been doing great and are one of our many success stories. The Salvation Army provides a holistic approach to social services that meets the needs of people physically, mentally, and spiritually. Without the United Way’s continued support, we would not be able to help out as much as we do.



-The Salvation Army-Belmont County


Making a difference in the lives of mothers and their babies...

In today’s climate we are seeing many mothers with drug addictions not being able to care for their babies.  We work closely with the WIND Program from the local YWCA.  We have become known by parent as well as grandparents that we are here to help babies.  DHHR also knows that we provide support to guardians.  DHHR sent us a referral of a middle aged father who was trying to secure necessary items to bring his daughter home from the hospital. His girlfriend of 17 years had become pregnant and they had opted for adoption.  However, when the baby was born the hospital recognized withdrawal symptoms for the baby.  DHHR had been involved from the onset of the pregnancy but we had not been involved since there was plans for an adoption.  After the baby was born the parent decided to keep the baby.  We worked with DHHR, the parents and the baby to be able to help them bring the baby home from the hospital.  Fortunately, the baby remained in the hospital during the withdrawal process.  We were able to get a crib, car seat and other baby items to meet the baby’s needs.  We continue to work with this family.  The baby is now about 4 months old. She is beautiful and Mom and Dad continue to come see us for diapers, wipes, clothing and support.  We continue to network with DHHR and other agencies to be sure we are all working together for the benefit of this little baby.

-Gabriel Project of WV


When Grandparents Step Up

An older couple came into the office asking if I could help them. I asked what kind of assistance was needed. They told me their electric was about to be shut off for non-payment. Both of them were on a fixed income. There was not enough to pay bills, buy food, and purchase medicine. They also told me they had been awarded custody of their two grandchildren. The children had been removed from the house because the mother was unfit to care for them. The couple was worried about the extra expense of having the grandchildren, but wasn’t going to see them in foster homes. I asked for all the information for the electric bill. I filled out the intake form, called the utility company, and made the pledge to keep the lights on. I also told the couple that I could sign them up for the Christmas food and gifts, for the children. They couldn’t believe all they received for the children for Christmas. They left with tears in their eyes as they carried everything out. Again without the help of the United Way, we at the Salvation Army couldn’t help with all we do.


-The Salvation Army – Moundsville, WV


"Grateful that the Salvation Army greeted them with open arms..."

Keeping families is one thing The Salvation Army strives for, unfortunately this isn’t always the case. A couple came to the shelter broken, scared, sad, and ready to give up on life. CPS had custody of their children due to an unfortunate circumstance. After arriving at the shelter they were able to get in contact with CPS and figure out what steps needed to be taken to get their children back. While they were staying at the shelter, they were able to obtain jobs through a local staffing agency. With flexibility they were able to start parenting classes. After a few months of working and saving paychecks, they were able to move into their own apartment. Through the kindness that they were shown they outstretched their arms to a fellow friend who was in the shelter and allowed that person to move in with them. This couple comes by daily to let us know how they are doing. They are very excited that they will begin overnight stays with their children after their next court hearing. They are grateful that The Salvation Army greeted them with open arms instead of shutting the door on them. They are excited that in the next few months they should be fully reunited with their children.


-The Salvation Army-Wheeling, WV

"A recent hire was a paralegal with a successful career and lovely home."

A recent hire was a paralegal with a successful career and lovely home. In 2014 she had strokes in the back of her retinas. This caused a severe loss of vision and a diagnosis of legally blind. She could no longer drive or see well enough to continue with her career. Because of this health crisis she was forced to sell her house. She moved to Colorado with her boyfriend but decided returning to Wheeling was the best option. Trying to adapt with her loss of vision has been very difficult. She did not think she would ever have a job again and lost confidence in herself. She was very depressed and lacked purpose until she joined our staff at The Seeing Hand. She had initially contacted us to see if she could work in an office position. We did not have any openings for office work but it is our policy to try to provide an employment opportunity for every visually impaired or blind worker. We asked her if she would be willing to accept employment in our workshop with the promise to look for other options for her. She decided to try it two days a week. She is very small and never did anything with tools or adaptive methods for production. She has learned how to clean chairs for caning, monitor the quality control for our extinguishers, helps make mops and supervises two of our workers with their cleaning duties. She recently started making phone calls to area businesses to promote our fire extinguishers. Marketing the fire extinguishers has been a great fit for her and gave her the opportunity to work three days a week. In addition to the extra hours, she has the opportunity to make commission on each unit sold. She is doing a great job and has excelled in the environment of The Seeing Hand. The Seeing Hand has added much value to her life. Obviously, her position provides income but it gives her so much more. She said joining our team has restored her self-worth, given her life value and purpose, has educated her, and given her a sense of empowerment. The Seeing Hand has helped her form new friendships which have greatly enriched her life. One thing she absolutely loves is our fitness and wellness program and she said it has given her strength and helps her keep a positive attitude. She said it has helped with her depression and outlook. Since she cannot afford a membership to a gym and has no transportation, she would not be able participate in these kinds of activities. If The Seeing Hand did not exist it is certain that our employees would not have a place to go to help them with their finances, education, health, and wellbeing. All of them are thankful for the opportunity to work here.


-The Seeing Hand Association


" has been about two or more years since he's interacted with another blind person."

Imagine being born blind and never getting to see a sunset, comprehend the color red or see the face of your wife. These are the real circumstances for one of our part-time shop techs. In addition to the loss of vision, now imagine facing an unemployment rate of 70% and a lack of transportation to get to the workplace. The struggles are real for a blind person and if The Seeing Hand Association did not exist in our area it is quite feasible that our blind and visually impaired workers would have nowhere to work to make some income, or even socialize. This older gentleman joined our staff last year for a part-time position as a shop tech. The last time he had a job, besides playing his keyboard, was in 1996. He said he had given up on working because of the lack of opportunities for the blind. Although having more income is the biggest benefit to the job, he stated it gives him the chance to be with other blind and visually impaired individuals. He stated that until he came to work at our agency, it has been about two or more years since he’s interacted with another blind person. The Seeing Hand provides a work environment much like a family. To some of our workers their time at work may be their only outing for the week. Getting to interact with other peers who face the same challenges is one of the great benefits of working here. He is most thankful for the opportunity to learn new skills and to get to do something totally different than he has ever done before. He stated until he came to work at The Seeing Hand, he had never used any tools. We do our best to cross train employees and he is working in the chair caning station cleaning chairs, assisting in making mops and in the extinguisher station cleaning the refurbished extinguishers. Working in the shop encourages teamwork and support for each other. He said working gives him a chance to socialize and have a purpose. Working at The Seeing Hand helps to educate our employees with new skills, helps with their finances and even helps with their physical and emotional health and well-being. This employee loves our exercise program and participates with enthusiasm. Our workers attend an exercise class once a week at our agency. Although, he is totally blind, he can be seen marching in place, using stretch bands and weights and even dancing once in a while. It is next to impossible for our workers to go to a fitness center and we are most grateful to offer this program to them. Whether we are providing a place to work, a class to attend or a support group meeting, much of our worker’s lives are centered around their time at The Seeing Hand. He is an example of how important our agency is in helping him experience a life with the same opportunities as his sighted peers.


-The Seeing Hand Association


"...he began sending her pictures of her nude, unconscious body and him sexually assaulting her."

AR is a victim of sexual assault by a coworker. Within 72 hours she obtained a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) by a local hospital where SAHC’s hotline was called. Once the SAHC advocate arrived at the hospital AR was able to tell her story. AR was drugged, raped, and a victim of pornography. The offender beat her severely, photographed her body, and videoed himself raping her. Some of the videos contained violent and humiliating events that AR only watched when it was being shown during trial. AR told the nurse and the advocate that she awoke after being drugged and unconscious in bed naked with her coworker beside her. She inquired about where her clothes were and what had happened. He told her that they had sex. She asked about using protection and he replied that he did not. She told him that she would never have sex with someone without protection and furthermore, she was passed out so how was she able to give consent? The offender told her that she did and he would see her at work the following day. AR felt like something was wrong about the situation and knew that she would never consent to unprotected sex but didn’t remember the incident. Later, he began sending her pictures of her nude, unconscious body and him sexually assaulting her. Her perseverance and strength gave her the courage to report it to law enforcement even though the people around her were victim blaming and told her that because she had one alcoholic drink she had consented to what he did to her.

AR continued to see the SAHC advocate after the hospital accompaniment which helped her through the process. SAHC’s advocate assisted her with the victim compensation fund and other applications to get her assistance for her trauma. She was able to obtain a personal safety order to ensure no retaliation was going to be done to her. SAHC advocate was present for the protection order to provide emotional support. Throughout the investigation, AR had learned that she was not the only victim and that the offender was perpetrating on his clients which were individuals with major mental and health handicaps.

Her SAFE kit was at the police station for 5 months without being tested, creating a feeling of system failure in AR’s eyes. She remained in contact with law enforcement, prosecution, and the other agencies that were involved although there were many times that the system didn’t communicate with her leaving her feeling lost and out of control. She continued to fight for justice for herself and the other victims. Meanwhile, her story was posted on social media and in the news where they violated her rights to keep her identifying information confidentiality so she received a lot of backlash from the community.

The offender was charged with rape of unconscious victims, rape of substantially impaired person, sexual assault, unlawful dissemination of an intimate image and invasion of privacy. At trial, they showed the videos and photos of her in open court . The court found him guilty for pornography and not guilty for rape. She fully intends to provide a victim’s impact statement for the sentencing hearing and will continue to seek supportive counseling through SAHC and other resource’s from the community. Her healing journey will never end but she is optimistic that she will find her “new” normal.


-Sexual Assault Help Center

"Terrified that something was going to happen to her mother, the child never told a soul..."

MS was referred to SAHC by a Child Advocacy Center. She is the mother of a child victim of sexual abuse and the CAC encouraged MS to seek services for herself while moving through the process of healing with her daughter.

Her daughter is a victim of sexual abuse by her step-father. The child was sexually abused for years by him but never reported it. He would make threats about killing her mother and convinced her that she took part in the activities and would be in trouble if anyone ever found out. Terrified that something was going to happen to her mother, the child never told a soul until their divorce was final. Once the child felt safer with distance between her family and him, she told her teacher. The step-father disappeared from the community. Her mother was told about this through the school and it was reported to CPS and Law Enforcement. The child went to the CAC to obtain a forensic interview where the investigating officer told her that “something might have happened, but there isn’t enough evidence to go forward with an investigation.” After hearing this, MS and her daughter were devastated. Her daughter started seeing a therapist which she didn’t like and her mother saw a SAHC Advocate bi­monthly. The child continued down a path of destruction and ended up suicidal and in a residential crisis treatment center. The child also started becoming involved with boys through social media sharing nude photos.

MS continued to seek help through SAHC and the advocate would provide options to her in regards to her self-care, parenting, and how to help her daughter heal. MS felt that the therapist her daughter was seeing was not helpful and the SAHC advocate recommended supportive counseling with SAHC’s child advocate. During the transition, the daughter seemed to connect with the advocate much better and started to work on her healing journey. MS’s advocate helped her file the victim’s compensation fund and other applications to help her and her daughter.

Over a year later, MS and her daughter still came to SAHC for supportive counseling and started to get the feeling that the criminal justice system was not going to ever investigate the case further. Finally, there was a· shift in investigators and another law enforcement agency caught the step-father for a different crime. This investigator obtained the offender, charged him with sexual abuse by a custodian and placed him in jail. They gave him a polygraph test which he failed and then confessed to the crime s in which the child originally reported.

He currently is spending time in jail while he waits for his trial. The child has spoken to the investigator after a year to share her story. She feels a sense of safety now that he is in jail and hopes that he will “go away” for many years. The child still seeks supportive counseling through SAHC. MS is still going to supportive counseling with SAHC’s advocate as well. SAHC’s advocates will continue to attend any relevant proceedings alongside of the family.


-Sexual Assault Help Center


A New Smile

Holly is the mother of two who recently completed a recovery program and subsequent sober living program. She has regained custody of her children, secured permanent housing and got a job with the local division of a national distribution company. She is leading a healthy and productive life, but her methamphetamine abuse took a toll on her teeth and overall oral health. She wanted a smile to reflect her new outlook on life. She became a medical and dental patient of Wheeling Health Right. Our dental clinic coordinator/hygienist and dental assistant worked extensively with Holly and her new supervisor, who was amenable to flexing Holly’s schedule at work to accommodate her extensive oral health care needs. WVU dental students, oral surgery and prosthodontic students all worked as a team to advance Holly’s progress along the continuum. This quarter, Holly received her new dentures and now has a renewed outlook on life- and so many accomplishments to smile about!


-Wheeling Health Right

"...his son and daughter-in-law lost the custodial rights of the three children due to heroin..."

I was approached in February, 2018 by a grandfather of three children, he informed me his son and daughter-in-law lost the custodial rights of the three children due to heroin and he has been granted custody. He expressed to me he was on a limited income due to an injury that prevents him from working and had to work light duty every day to make ends meet. Being a working parent with two children of my own, at half this man’s age, I immediately felt sympathy for him. He said “Brian I have to work to support my grandchildren, even though I’m in pain but I have nowhere for them to go this summer and I can’t afford to put three children in day care.” He said, “I will volunteer for the YMCA as much as I can just to help offset the cost, I don’t want or expect anything for free, but any financial aid you could spare would be greatly appreciated”. I knew immediately he was in a big bind. The YMCA’s motto has always been we will never turn any child away for the inability to pay. I told him let me see what I can do for you! I took his phone number and the next day I called and gave him the news he was hoping for. I told him I will allow those children in for free. He didn’t say a word then he asked “Please don’t kid me, for free? Are you for real, free?” I replied it is our pleasure to help such a fine man like yourself and if you still want to volunteer for us we would love to have you! He said just let me know how I can help you! Since that phone call from me informing him the children may come for free, he has come down to the YMCA almost every Saturday or Sunday to help clean our facility. Since he is such a wonderful person, and the kids are so grateful, we also provided them with a family year membership so they always have a place to go and be a family! The financial assistance we receive from the United Way and other allies of the YMCA help us continue to help those in need and continue to impact children’s lives one day at a time!


-YMCA Wheeling

Impacting A Teen

Please allow me to take this opportunity to share one of my most memorable stories that I experienced in the 2018 “Y” 4 L.I.F.E program. A parent came to me before the program and stated she didn’t have enough money to allow her child to participate in my program but informed me her son could really use a program like this, she informed me her son had very low self-esteem, was overweight, and had a very hard time in school making friends, not to mention he was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s. I saw this as an opportunity to make an impact on a young teen’s life that could really use an uplift. I decided to waive the fee for this young lady as I could see she was desperate and really wanted what was best for her son, when I told her I would waive the fee for her son, she began to cry and say thank you so much, are you serious. I saw the weight of the world lifted off her shoulders knowing she had a great place to bring her child. I asked her if she could bring the young man in so I can meet him soon. The mom replied he is in the car would you like to meet him now. I said I sure would. The young man came in stood behind his mom and looked at the ground. I introduced myself to him and he just waived his hand abruptly and mumbled “Hi”. I spoke to him for several minutes explaining what the club was all about, he didn’t say a word but by his brief eye contact I could tell he was interested.


The first day of the club arrived and the young man was hesitant to come in to the YMCA, I went outside to greet him and brought several other club members who were in the club the previous year to help make him feel welcome. I decided to go back in the YMCA and see how things would transpire with kids his own age actually talking to him. Approximately 5 minutes later the young man came in with the other club members. I noticed he was talking and even saw a few smiles from the young man. When it was time for the club members to introduce themselves to the group, I could see the young man getting very nervous, once again, I did not want to intervene I wanted to see how this would all play out. One of the club members stood up and said hey guys this is “Blank” let’s all give him a warm welcome. The boy immediately smiled and stood up and said Hi everyone. To make a long story short, this young man is on the honor role at his middle school now, he lost 20 pounds, and he is going to out for the football team in 2018. This program since the very start has impacted many young people’s lives. I hope you will continue to support this wonderful program so the YMCA can continue to move our teens in the right direction and help mold them into strong young men and woman.


-YMCA Wheeling

Mentoring A Child

C.D. was referred to the Youth Mentoring Network by her grandmother. She was a fifth grader and attended a local elementary school. Her grandmother has custody of C.D. as a result of abuse/neglect. She, her sister and three brothers, all reside with their grandmother in subsidized housing. Neither parent is involved in C.D.’s life. C.D.s grandmother reported that a lot of her family has been involved with the juvenile justice system. Her grandmother is overwhelmed with little support from family, but is trying her best “to do right by her grandchildren.” As the oldest, C.D. helps her grandmother care for her siblings. From the trauma in her life, she struggles with anxiety and requires extra assistance in school.

C.D. was matched with Jill Eddy. They have common interests, like shopping. C.D. displayed anxiety upon the initial meeting. She was quiet, nervous, and said very little in the beginning. Since the match approximately a year ago, the relationship has grown. C.D. has begun to trust Jill. She reaches out to Jill if she is having trouble at home, or if something is worrying her about school. Jill has assisted C.D. with her anxiety and of transitioning to Triadelphia Middle School where she is receiving good grades. Jill encouraged C.D. to sign up for track which she did. They have enjoyed a lot of activities together from swimming, dining out, shopping, to trampoline parks. When C.D. isn’t talking to Jill, she’s facetiming her. This match has provided C.D. the extra support that she needs and also gives her an opportunity to be the young girl that she is.


-Youth Services System


"Drugs and alcohol became a solution to my fear."

Fear has been a dominating factor throughout my life. My first fear was the fear of abandonment. My father was addicted to alcohol and left when I was four years old. My coping mechanism was sucking my thumb. There is nothing wrong with thumb-sucking as a toddler, but at eight years old, I still did it every day. My kindergarten teacher wanted to keep me back a year because of my thumb-sucking. It was getting out of control. But it brought me ease and comfort, and I would hide it. I was a functioning thumb-sucker. Now, sucking your thumb as an 8-year-old is hard work. You have to escape being seen by friends and family members. For me, it was my two older brothers. They would harass me. They told me my thumb was going to fall off. But I couldn’t stop doing it. I didn’t know how else to cope with my emotions. Eventually, the pain of embarrassment caused me to stop.

The same emotional pattern affected me as a young adult when I started using drugs and alcohol a decade or so later. Drugs and alcohol became a solution to my fear. Why did I do some of the things I did? Much of it can be broken down to fear. Not healthy fear, like when you’re faced with life and death decisions. I’m talking about the fear that brings about feelings of extreme self-doubt and anxiety. When I was 22, my fear of abandonment was back again. This time, it was because I spent $200 my brother had sent me to get me home from Orlando, Florida. The second time he had sent me money in two weeks. I intended to use this money to escape the hell in which I was living, but I couldn’t stop using. Within a week or so of being home from Florida, I was arrested for federal felonies due to my addiction to prescription opiates. My arrest created many new fears. Fear of the future. Fear of staying sober. Fear of prison. Fear of not being able to get a job. Then I had a fear of going to 12 Step meetings. Especially young people’s meetings. Even after being in recovery for a few years, I was terrified to go. It felt like high school all over again, at least in my mind. Fear doesn’t go away because you get sober. You have to deal with it head-on. I wore a mask for years at meetings, acting as though I was comfortable in my own skin. I even stayed in the same job for eight years because I was afraid of what would happen if I tried to get another job. Who would want to hire a felon? My options seemed extremely limited. Instead, I went back to college. I got a degree. I eventually bought my first home in recovery. These were significant milestones for me. But now I had to face the reality of paying a mortgage. Money problems motivated me to face my fear of having felonies. I applied to a Fortune 15 company. I put the details of what had happened in my application where it asked, “Were you ever arrested?” During phone interviews, I shared everything. I told them about my problem with OxyContin and other substances; I told them my whole recovery story, probably too much. But the fact of the matter is that I had been in living in recovery for eight years at this point, doing the next right thing. I had nothing to hide and nothing to lose. And I wanted nothing coming back to bite me if they did hire me. I got the job. My options seemed limitless. There was a new hope for my life. But now, new fears arose. I had a fear of being found out and fear of success. But these were fears I could handle, at least for now. Fear had been there all along. It was debilitating at times. But I discovered that most of the things I feared never happened. Today, when there’s fear, it’s usually an indication that I need to take action. It’s uncomfortable at first, but the fear is gone. How do I face my fears in recovery? I ask questions. I seek counsel from people and mentors who can help. In the past, I would not share my fears, because I was afraid of appearing weak. I never asked for help. I just stuffed fear away and moved on. But it never goes away.

2 Steps to Facing Fear in Recovery Forgive Yourself

Stop beating yourself up about feeling fear. We all have fears. Learn to forgive yourself. It’s all part of the journey. I found that nothing in my life is wasted, not the good or the bad. It all gets used in some way; usually, in a way, that benefits someone else.

Take Action

Get out there and take action to confront your fears. Go up to people and say hello. Be curious and ask questions. Share your fears with another person. You’d be surprised by how many people struggle with the same fears. And if they don’t, they might know someone who can help you with yours. I’ve decided to face my fears in recovery. To live a life without regrets. Who knows? It might just work out. The more I face fear; the more life seems to expand. I used to ask myself the question, “How many opportunities have I missed out on due to fear?” Now, I ask myself “How many new opportunities will I receive if I face my fears?” When we change the questions we ask ourselves; we change our lives.


-YWCA Wheeling

Flooding Devastation

“When severe flooding began to impact areas of Northern West Virginia in July of 2017, American Red Cross volunteers did what they were trained to do – respond to the needs of those in near hopeless situations. Through two back to back weekends of rain deluge, those affected in six Northern West Virginia counties were given safe shelter, food and assistance to aid their recovery. One case had a direct connection to the United Way. A family home in McMechen was impacted by water and mud during both rain events. The family was unable to live in the house while cleanup took place. The United Way director George Smoulder and I were on an observation tour of the affected area and stopped to speak with this family. Red Cross had provided hotel lodging and financial assistance for other needs to this family. In speaking with the wife, she stated that when both she and her husband were employed, they participated in payroll deduction to United Way, but now in retirement they were unable to do that and instead had to rely on agencies like the Red Cross to help them. I explained that what goes around comes around as Red Cross is a United Way agency and that now it was their “turn” to be helped after they had helped others for so many years. She was very grateful for all we had done for her and her sick husband through the flooding.”

– American Red Cross


Fire Rescue

“A single mother and her two young little girls were displaced from their Brooke County home due to a fire. The clients had a place to stay with grandparents. But the affected family had other immediate needs and were issued financial assistance to assist with those needs. The family was provided  comfort hygiene kits (to save from having to use assistance money for these items). The children were given age appropriate toys and books. Disaster mental health was offered and provided to the mother. The counselor directed the family to other resources. Additional financial assistance was provided during client follow-up for new housing. Referrals for additional assistance was given for Brooke/Hancock Family Resource Network, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities. In the final follow-up call, the client states that her immediate needs had been met and she had appreciated all the assistance that was provided by the American Red Cross.”

– American Red Cross


Nutrition is Key

“Ms. M, 89 years old, was a very active senior who worked a part-time job until she was 87. After being retired a few months, she became short of breath and was taken to the hospital where they found a large “saddle” blockage (blood clot) in the area that divides off into both lungs. She was hospitalized for several weeks and returned to her home. She lives close to family members who worked and could not be with her during the day. She received home delivered meals and also had Lighthouse staff who came in to help her bathe, dress, and do some light housekeeping in her home. Family members took over in the evenings and on weekends. After approximately two months, she is able to do many of the things she did before but is very appreciative for the care she received. Because of the United Way, she was able to receive the home delivered meals and enjoyed the fresh fruit and vegetables from the Let’s Fresh Start grant.”

– Brooke County Committee on Aging

"Thank you for finding her ..."

“Ms. F, 96 years old, lived alone without neighbors close to her. We delivered meals to her five days per week plus frozen meals for the weekend. Her son lives three states away. When our driver arrived with her meal, she was not in her home but her dog was outside, which was unusual. After seeing her car in a detached garage with the car door open, the driver found Ms. F lying on the ground. She was deceased but she had been alive the day before when the driver delivered the meal. Although this ended tragically, her son thanked us for finding her and staying until emergency personnel arrived. He felt she might not have been found for several days if the driver had not been concerned. He stated he had wanted her to live with him but she refused to leave her home. He called her daily but would not have called her until that evening. He said his mother enjoyed the meals and the brief contact with the driver daily.” – Brooke County Committee on Aging


A Warm Home and Much More

“Kayla, Jeremy, and their four children (ages 2-13 years old) have resided in our Hospitality House. Late last year, they fell on hard times with job loss and the loss of familial support. Both parents eventually found themselves sleeping in a car and trying to have their four children couch surf at various friends’ homes. However, through connections with Kayla’s cooking background, she was able to obtain a secure job as a chef at a local restaurant and hotel, and secured a housekeeping job for her husband there as well. Kayla reached out to us for assistance and we knew they would be a wonderful fit for the Hospitality House.

The home provides a warm and welcoming environment for the family to be together in as they worked toward self-sufficiency. We also provide weekly case management services that included budgeting assistance, help with establishing a checking and savings account, assistance with filling out housing applications, enrollment for their three oldest children in new schools, free childcare for  their youngest, and worked with a local organization to provide services for their 13 year old with autism. We also offer them all necessary living expenses, including food from our pantry and on-site meal service, laundry and household cleaning items, gas and bus vouchers, and any ID or prescription assistance they may have.”


– WV Catholic Charities

"We assured her that we would support her through anything..."

“Peter 4 years old, and his sister Ali 7 months old, are just two of the many children that walk through the doors of the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center. Within the past year, their mother Erica, had fallen on hard times when her mother, and primary support system, had passed away and the house was repossessed by the bank. She moved into an area homeless shelter for several months. They found their way to the Neighborhood Center, and after some convincing, Erica decided to enroll in our Case Management program.

Over the course of several months, we provided the family with immediate assistance needs –diapers, formula, clothing, food, and more. Additionally, Erica set goals for her and her family and began meeting them through weekly and sometimes daily, visits with our Case Manager. However, over the course of her time in case management, Erica experienced complications from the birth of her daughter. She was in need of surgery and panicked about how she would care for her children in a shelter that required they leave a 7:00 a.m. every day. We assured her that we would support her through anything. By partnering with other agencies, we were able to secure comfortable lodging and in-home childcare for a few weeks, so that she could be with her family while she properly recuperated.

Because of Erica’s own dedication and the support of our Case Management program, Erica is now working, the family is living together in a secure and safe apartment, all while still receiving budgeting assistance and emotional support from our Case Manager. When Erica lost her mother, she felt alone and isolated. Now, she visits the Neighborhood Center often, just to check in and say hello to our staff – who she considers her adopted family.”

– WV Catholic Charities

Loving Help Provided

“Recently, a frantic son contacted us about help for his disabled father, Steve, who was living alone in Brooke County. The son, who resided in Youngstown, OH, was unable to help his father physically or financially, but hoped that Catholic Charities might be able to provide the support he could not. Because Steve was an amputee with no transportation, our Case Manager set up a home visit in order to better assist him.

Upon entering the home, our Case Manager couldn’t believe that Steve was able to live in such conditions – the house was frigid with only a single, small electric heater running. We were able to not only pay for his expensive heating oil to be replaced, we also registered him for our Home Care program to fulfill essential duties like cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene. Steve and his son were extremely grateful for the loving help Catholic Charities provided.”

-WV Catholic Charities

“Why go back when you can just go forward.”

A year ago, seventeen year old Alexa lost her mother to breast cancer. Through her grief, she has struggled to maintain her 4.0 GPA, work a part-time job to help her family, and complete graduation requirements to attend college. On the outside she may seem like she’s holding it all together, and she was, until a friend of the family broke into her home and sexually assaulted her.  Alexa was referred to Harmony House for a forensic interview. She and her family arrived at the CAC and were welcomed at the door by the child and family advocate. He walked the family through the process and policies of the CAC and answered all their questions to help ease the anxious feelings. They completed all necessary consent forms, and the advocate worked to make Alexa feel safe and comfortable at the center. The interview specialist met with the child and enabled her to tell her story one time in a child-friendly environment. While Alexa was being interviewed, the child and family advocate provided supportive counseling, a needs assessment with Alexa’s family, and information regarding victim assistance, while they were in the waiting room. The law enforcement officer observed the interview and afterward the team met to determine the best course for the child. The therapist met with the child to complete a trauma assessment to determine the child’s mental health needs. Referrals were made for a medical examination by a Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner (SANE) to complete a medical exam for Alexa to ensure the child’s physical well-being of her allegations and did not see the need to follow up with these services. Through intensive work with the advocate, her guardian agreed to allow her to follow up with services, but on her own. Harmony House’s Child and Family Advocate provided follow-up services to Alexa by checking in regularly, explaining victim rights and ensuring those rights were being afforded to her, education her about victim services that were available, and coordinating mental health referrals. Alexa followed through with both the medical examination and therapy referral and has maintained her own schedule of therapy appointments. The forensic interview specialist tracked the case through its ongoing investigation and continues to follow-up with the investigators and prosecutor’s office regarding information imperative to the investigation and ongoing treatment needs of Alexa.

Alexa continues to work with the therapist at Harmony House regarding her trauma and is in the process of completing her Trauma Narrative. Due to her intensive therapy, Alexa could avoid being enrolled in an intensive outpatient program and is now considered a role model in her school. She was recently accepted into a local college with both academic and sport scholarships where she will study social work. It’s been a difficult journey for Alexa, but now she sees the light and holds Hope for a brighter future, one that she creates. As she has stated, “Why go back when you can just go forward.”

– Harmony House

The Unimaginable

“On a Monday morning, just after arriving at school, Danny found the courage to tell his teacher that his step-father had been sexually assaulting him for the past year. He disclosed that the last assault had occurred that same morning, after his mother left for work. His teacher reported the abuse immediately to law enforcement and child protective services. The investigative entities made an emergency referral to Harmony House Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), a United Way agency, and an appointment was scheduled for the same day.

Danny arrived at the CAC with his mother after being transported by the children service’s worker. They were greeted by the child and family advocate, who explained the process and policies of the CAC to Danny and his mother. They completed all necessary consent forms, and the advocate worked to make Danny feel safe and comfortable at the center. Once the entire multi-disciplinary team was present, the forensic interview specialist completed a forensic interview with Danny. During the interview, Danny disclosed what he had told his teacher that morning and provided details about the many times he was sexually assaulted in his own home. While Danny was being interviewed, the child and family advocate provided supportive counseling and a needs assessment with Danny’s mother in the waiting room. It was during this assessment that the mother disclosed that she had been physically abused by her husband for the last year as well, but she never suspected he could be doing something as horrific as sexually abusing her child.

Once the forensic interview was completed, the multi-disciplinary team met with Danny’s mother to discuss the next steps that were necessary. The child and family advocate arranged for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to complete a medical exam for Danny that same day for the child’s physical well-being and because evidence may still be present. A medical referral was also offered to the mother due to the repeated physical assaults she had experienced by the same perpetrator, as well as a referral for services from a domestic violence service provider.

While the investigation was on-going, Harmony’s House’s Child and Family Advocate provided follow-up services to Danny and his mother by checking in regularly, explaining victim rights and ensuring those rights were being afforded to them, educating them about victim services that were available, and coordinating mental health referrals for both. The forensic interview specialist tracked the case through its entirety and assisted the investigators and prosecutor’s office with information imperative to the investigation.

Due to the strength of the case and the evidence that was obtained, the perpetrator decided to accept a plea deal that was offered to him to spare the victims from testifying at a trial. A sentencing hearing was scheduled, and Danny and his mother decided they wanted to read victim impact statements aloud during the hearing. Both came back to Harmony House, so the child and family advocate could assist them with writing their victim impact statements and prepare them for the hearing.

On the day of the sentencing, Harmony House staff was present while Danny and his mother stood in front of the courtroom and their perpetrator and read how their lives were changed and damaged due to the crimes committed against them. Doing this provided them a sense of empowerment and closure at the end of the case. Danny and his mother were also assured that Harmony House would be available if they had any needs in the future.”

– Harmony House

Easing a Heavy Burden

“The flu season in the winter of 2017-2018 was not just the usual nuisance, it was record breaking. Everywhere you looked, from the news to social media, it was filled with stories of how dangerous this flu season has been, causing several deaths. Most likely almost everyone you know had been knocked down by this year’s strain.

Our local area was saddened by the sudden death of a six year old autistic girl. This tragedy left her family devastated. As if that was not enough pain to endure, just a few days later her father suffered a major stroke and was hospitalized and transported to Pittsburgh, PA where he had to undergo emergency surgery.

The mother of the deceased child and wife of the debilitated man found herself lost. Her husband was the breadwinner of the family while she played the important role of mother and housewife. With her husband hospitalized and no longer bringing in any income, the bills were mounting. On top of that stress she had the daunting task of planning and paying for her daughter’s funeral. Grieving the loss of a child, worrying for the healing of her spouse, and juggling the household responsibilities all fell on this poor woman.

Two of the family’s neighbors came to Information Helpline in search of any available assistance for this grieving family. We were able to give them a gas voucher to take the wife to Pittsburgh to be with her husband during emergency surgery. We were also able to partner with YSS to assist in paying the family’s utility bills. Information Helpline paid the $700.00 electric bill to stop disconnection of services while YSS paid the gas and water bill – $852.00 total.

Through these small acts of kindness, Information Helpline was able to help ease the heavy burden in some way for this family in their difficult time of loss.”

– Information Helpline

Transportation Mobility

“At Russell Nesbitt Services, Inc., a variety of ages, diagnoses, and skill sets are served. However, as the years go on, we are finding ourselves serving an aging population in a society in which there are limited services for someone that is both aged and developmentally disabled.

Within the past year, we have seen two of our clients drastically decline in health and mobility. Currently, one client continues to be able to walk with the assistance of his walker and staff, however, he is expected to continue to decline in his ability to bear his own weight . The second client became very ill and, after a week in the hospital, discovered that he was completely unable to bear his own weight even with assistance.

Russell Nesbitt Services, Inc. purchased equipment for his home so that he could remain in our care for as long as possible, as he had already been with is for twenty three years and had become more like family that one of our clients. A bedside commode, Hoyer Lift, and hospital bed were purchased and placed in his home to assist with his daily care. However, because he was unable to bear any weight it was impossible for him to get into our vehicles to be transported to medical appointments or to be able to go out into the community.

After several discussions with the Board of Directors, Russell Nesbitt Services, Inc. was able to purchase a handicap accessible van. United Way funding assures that he is able to go to all of his medical appointments, including essential weekly wound care to address pressure ulcers that were obtained during his stay in the hospital. Additionally, the client can still go out into the community to enjoy the things that he used to—such as Pizza Hut’s buffet and shopping with his staff. The handicap accessible van will also be utilized for our other clients as they decline in health and mobility to ensure that we are always providing the best services and striving to improve quality of life as much as possible.”

– Russell Nesbitt Services

Life Saving Transportation

“At Russell Nesbitt Services, Inc. we serve the intellectually and developmentally disabled population, however, there are many times in which the clients are faced with severe medical diagnosis. Recently, one of our clients was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation and RVR (rapid ventricular rate), and the client was admitted to the hospital for three days. When both of these medical conditions are experienced together, the patient may undergo a rapid or fluttering heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or may even lose consciousness.

Less than a month later, this client was admitted to the hospital again with increased cardiac enzymes, congestive heart failure, and Atrial Fibrillation. Doctors were unable to get the client out of Atrial Fibrillation and were forced to conduct a cardio-version, which is an electric shock designed to convert a rapid, fluttering, or ineffective heartbeat back to its normal rhythm.

This client was then referred to a specialist at Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio because there were no doctors in the Wheeling, WV area willing to perform a heart surgery on the client due to increased risk. It was discovered that the client has leaking aortic and mitral valves in his heart and also has severe blockage. Since this referral, the client has been to Columbus on six different occasions and can expect return trips in the near and ongoing future.

Without United Way funding, these trips would not be possible due to the financial limitations of the client as well as the inability of Medicaid’s Title XIX Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Waiver to pay for services over thirty miles outside of the state border. These trips are very necessary for the client’s sustained life as the continued leaking of the valves and Atrial Fibrillation could result in cardiac arrest and possible death.”

– Russell Nesbitt Services

Advocate in Time of Need

“LM experienced many difficulties in her journey to healing and SAHC was there each step of the way. LM was sexually assaulted by a former romantic partner of hers during a college party. Her friends, upon hearing the news, immediately took her to the hospital to have a sexual assault forensic exam done. Unfortunately, the first two hospitals in the area she went to did not have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), nurses who have received specialized training to complete these types of exams. Upon her trip to the third hospital, she was finally able to see a SANE, at which time SAHC was contacted to provide hospital advocacy for LM. At this point, she’d been seeking medical attention for several hours and was exhausted with the process. SAHC was able to provide on-site crisis intervention service, in addition to referrals for follow-up care.

After the SAHC advocate reviewed all options with her, LM elected to press charges against her perpetrator and began the lengthy investigation process with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. Additionally, because she feared for her safety, LM decided to seek a restraining order to protect herself during the adjudicatory process and beyond. The existing judge that oversees this process was planning to retire and therefore his docket was well booked up at the time that LM sought this restraining order. She was compelled to appear to argue her case several times and face her perpetrator in the waiting room, only to find that the judge needed to push back the hearing each time. After this happened on six separate occasions, she began to lose hope in the judicial process. The SAHC advocate was able to refer LM to Legal Aid of West Virginia to obtain a lawyer to represent her through this process to allow for more complete advocacy on all fronts.

The SAHC advocate remained with her through this four month long process, during which time she only had an emergency restraining order, not one that was permanent. Supportive counseling and advocacy was provided through the entirety of the process, including discussions with her school and employer to seek arrangements to get counseling for her with SAHC’s contractual therapist without her being penalized for missing days. Finally, four months after her assault, she was ultimately granted a permanent restraining order and did not again have to appear in court or face her perpetrator each time she was called to reappear.

She will still face challenges in the future as she goes through the prosecutorial process, but she remains hopeful with the help of SAHC and the many resources provided to her in our community.”

– Sexual Assault Help Center

Consistent Support Base

“RS was a victim of familial rape when she was a teenager at the hands of her father and uncle. She had kept most of her past a secret from everyone she’d met and had experienced four decades of flashbacks, nightmares, and mental health issues from never having dealt with her trauma from the abuse. When the #MeToo movement came about, she ultimately decided that she would seek help and wanted some type of support or counseling, but that she was too nervous to do so in-person. She began calling SAHC’s 24/7 hotline when she had a flashback and either a staff member or dedicated volunteer advocate were able to provide her with crisis intervention over the phone. We realized her severe trauma when she was calling several times per day just so that she wouldn’t need to be alone with her thoughts and flashbacks. In addition to the support provided by staff and volunteer advocates, we were able to arrange appointments with SAHC’s contractual therapist to provide more intensive therapeutic sessions so that she had the most assistance we could offer her.

She is now several months into her treatment plan and no longer calls the hotline number multiple times per day. She does maintain her weekly appointments with the contractual therapist so that she doesn’t regress, but she is on the path to healing after repressing her issues for the majority of her life. She has a long way to go, but it is fulfilling to know that she is no longer controlled by her trauma and that she feels she can manage the issues she has without spiraling out of control. Having a consistent support base from SAHC has contributed to this immensely and we look forward to continuing with her through her healing.”

– Sexual Assault Help Center

"Doing the Most Good"

“It was evening time and everyone was cleaning up from our shelter dinner. A phone call came in from the Marshall County Sheriff’s office asking us if we had a room for a single mom and her family. We told them yes we did. A few minutes later a deputy brought a very young mother and her two infant/toddler children through our door. We welcomed them all into our shelter as we always do.

Complications with identification, birth certificates, and social security cards were just the beginning to our challenges. The mother was fleeing from an abusive relationship, the children had lice and the mother seemed to have scabies. Where do we begin? We began by feeding the family dinner, they were starving! The next step was to wash all their clothes and have them bathed. We treated the family for lice and the mother was brought to the emergency room for treatment. As far as their identification, it took us weeks to straighten this out because one of the children was born in Italy.

After a couple of months, we finally were able to get housing for this young family. On Christmas Eve 2017 they moved into their new home. When there was nowhere to turn the authorities and this young family found refuge at The Salvation Army. Our slogan is “Doing the Most Good,” and that is what our goal is to do with everyone who seeks our assistance.”

– The Salvation Army of Belmont County

Utility Assistance

“An elderly lady came into the office with tears in her eyes. She was nervous and embarrassed about asking for help. She said her electric was about to be terminated and she didn’t know what to do. She said she called the electric company and asked if they would wait until she got her check. They told her no the bill had to be paid. I told her everything I needed to do an application. She said she had everything in her vehicle. She went and brought all the paperwork to me. I did the application process, pledged the money and assured her we had taken care of the bill. Again, if it wasn’t for the United Way’s funding, The Salvation Army couldn’t help those in need in Marshall County.”

– Salvation Army of Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler Counties

A Well Needed Pit Stop

“There was a family that came to us to stay in our shelter. There was a mom pregnant with twins and 6 kids. They came to us by domestic violence, of course with that large of a family we had to move some individuals around and put them all in Dorm 4 to keep them together as a family. The children all went to local schools so we made sure they got to school, they stayed with us for close to two months, in that time we were working with other agencies to help her get bus tickets for her and her children to go to Colorado. Her father had passed away and left her a five bedroom house, a new car, and money in the bank to help pay the bills for up to 5 years. She and her family is living in Colorado and doing well. Sometimes God puts pit stops in your life to make you realize that he is always with us and never leaves us, even in our most dire times in our life. The Salvation Army helps thousands of people a year get back on their feet and find their way in life. When you give to The Salvation Army you are helping change a life.”

– Salvation Army of Wheeling

Employment and So Much More

“We had a case worker refer a client to us back in 1992. He still is an active client and employee of The Seeing Hand. This client resides in Rayland, Oh with his mother because he needs supervision and care. He is totally blind and has been since he was about 8 or 9 years old. He was diagnosed with retinal disease which caused massive scars in the retina. He also has other developmental disabilities and only completed school to the 7th or 8th grade. He does not have a GED. He states due to his problems he was placed in Special Education. He further has a diagnosis of depression which is very common among blind people.

He cannot recite his address or telephone number and keeps the information on a piece of paper in his wallet. Additionally, he cannot tell his right hand from his left hand.

Given the fact that he does not use any assistive technology and his capabilities are very limited it is quite the challenge to employ this person. Prior to his employment with us he worked unloading trucks at the Goodwill in Steubenville. The unemployment rate among individuals who are blind with additional disabilities is 90%. This client is blessed because he found employment with The Seeing Hand .

He has been with us for 25 years and really has never been productive. Because a large part of our mission is employment we have created many simple tasks for him to complete over the past 20 plus years. Although the tasks kept him busy he really was accomplishing very little. That is until now!

Our fire extinguisher project is designed to secure employment for our workers. Once the extinguishers are filled and processed through the hold stations they need to be cleaned. We thought this would be a good job for the above client. At first we had him removing old stickers and washing down the canisters. However, removing the stickers proved to be too difficult of a task for a totally blind person. We then partnered him with a worker with limited vision. She removes the stickers and then he cleans the product. This has worked out very well.

The benefit to his involvement with the project is he now belongs to part of a team. He plays a valuable role in the success of this new service. It has been a difficult journey because he was not used to being pushed or driven for results. For the first time in 25 years he has a list of essential functions for his job. He now has gone from being a challenge to employ to having a purpose. This new project has given him job security and new skills. This is a win for The Seeing Hand and for him.”

– The Seeing Hand Association

Angel Volunteer

“About a year ago we had a gentleman stop into our agency looking for volunteer opportunities. He is an educated adult who has a degree in economics. He lives in the Elm Grove area of Wheeling with his wife. He is both visually impaired and hearing impaired. He worked many years in the field of computer engineering. He came to see us because he was losing his sight due to macular degeneration. This is the most common eye disorder in the aging population.

He was frustrated because he was used to being very productive and felt with his disability he was no longer very productive. He wanted to know if we could use a volunteer and how he could help. We are always looking for new volunteers so it was decided he could help in our workshop one day a week. He enjoys woodworking and stated here helping to repair chairs that needed caned.

We were very blessed to have him as a volunteer. He quickly stepped up to support fundraisers and whatever needs arose in the workshop. We thought he would be a great addition to our staff and offered him a job. He agreed to take it but only wanted to work one day a week.

In the past six months he has helped us move forward with our new project of refilling the fire extinguishers. We had a few employees who were trained for the project who later resigned. This left us in a difficult situation because visually impaired people who want to work are hard to find. However, he agreed to work two or three days a week, as needed, to help get the project running.

He has taken the lead and is doing an exceptional job. He spends half of his day working on the caning of chairs and half of his day filling the extinguishers. He is handy with tools and this is a great job for him.

The greatest thing about knowing him is his positive attitude and sunny disposition. He just makes The Seeing Hand a nicer place to be. He now has a purpose and reason to get out of the house. He makes a little money and contributes a valuable skill. He will always have a job with us and we hope he works for many years to come.”



“Earl is a 59 year old male who resides in Wheeling with his sister and her family. He has been employed with WATCH for 24 years. He has impaired vision, but it is corrected by wearing eyeglasses. He does communicate verbally, but his speech is difficult to understand due to poor articulation. When he becomes excited about something he tends to stutter. He also can become easily frustrated if you do not understand what he is trying to tell you.

Earl enjoys talking and joking around with staff and his peers. Although he is a hard worker and always willing to help, he does have a short attention span. Staff at times have to redirect him and remind him to focus on his work.

Earl relies on WATCH or his sister for transportation daily to and from work. Through his years employed with WATCH, he has rarely missed work and has proven to be very reliable and dependable.

Earl works on many different contract jobs at WATCH. His favorite job is working in the greenhouse. WATCH and Nicky’s Garden Center have collaborated to plant and grow flowers for Watches Greenhouse, Grow. Clients go to Nicky’s 2 to 3 days per week and have been preparing soil and planting seeds for flowers. He is very proud of the work that he accomplishes and makes sure to tell everyone that enters WATCH how hard he works.

WATCH provides many meaningful employment opportunities for the individuals with disabilities with the goal to integrate these individuals to work in the community. These different employment opportunities have helped Earl to gain confidence in himself and the work that he has accomplished.”

–  WATCH – A Division of Russell Nesbitt Services



“Suzanne is a 57 year old female who resides in Wheeling with her sister and brother-in-law. She has been employed with WATCH for 11 years. She is diagnosed with Mild Mental Retardation and becomes easily frustrated and agitated at times.

When she sees you, she automatically will say “Good Morning,” ask how you are doing. She will always give you a hug to let you know she is happy to see you. She is very personable and enjoys telling you about her day. She enjoys receiving praise from staff for the work she has accomplished.

WATCH transports Suzanne to and from work every day. She has a positive attitude and strong work ethic which helps make her successful with her job. Suzanne works at Liberty Distributors gluing and stapling boxes for windows. She works diligently and sets goals for herself to complete more work than she did the day before.

She has also worked at the WATCH center with the bulk mailing process and packaging screws. No matter which job she is working, she excels and is dedicated to the completion of the job.

WATCH has provided Suzanne with meaningful employment opportunities and she works hard to achieve her own personal goals. She has gained more confidence in her work, especially from having consistency in her daily routines.”

– WATCH – A Division of Russell Nesbitt Services

Dental Patience Inspires Growth

“Chuck has been a patient of the Wheeling Health Right dental clinic since its inception in fall 2016. Through the year, he has had most of his teeth extracted; yet in his early 50’s he is still a productive worker and wants to maintain his health and dental health. He signaled Wheeling Health Right’s new phase of dental need – after extraction, now restoring mouths with dentures and partials to allow proper diet and aesthetics necessary for good self-esteem. Chuck’s case prompted us to begin work with the WVU School of Dentistry’s prosthodontia department to explore creating dental prosthetics for patients who want and need them.”

– Wheeling Health Right


“Beth had health care coverage until she was 18 years old but lost coverage when she left her parents’ home. By the young age of 24 after receiving no preventive health care for several years, she was struggling with obesity, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and depression. Beth heard about Wheeling Health Right and skeptically called to inquire about services. Finding that she qualified, she made and kept an appointment with the clinic and immersed herself in all the resources that were offered to her, including counseling and by participating in FARMacy, our prescriptions for produce program. Within the year, Beth found that she felt dramatically healthier; she had lost 50 pounds, her cholesterol and blood pressure had normalized and her blood work no longer showed signs of pre-diabetes. She is living a happy, productive and healthy life.”

– Wheeling Health Right

"I stopped going to the doctor because I couldn’t afford it."

“When Bill, a recently elected city official turned 26, he aged out of his parents’ health insurance policy. He kept getting sick with multiple ailments. “It was one thing after another and bills started racking up so I stopped going to the doctor because I couldn’t afford it. I chalked it up to just getting older.” He eventually found himself with two abscessed teeth and a severe sinus infection. Bill visited Wheeling Health Right shortly after his election win, because the clinic resides in the ward he represents. During his visit, he jokingly mentioned his abscessed tooth. “In a matter of minutes, I was in the dental chair with a diagnosis and an appointment with an oral surgeon. The entire time I was there, I kept thinking to myself that this was the most compassionate group of folks I had ever met.” Bill has since become a primary care and dental care patient of Wheeling Health Right and is proud to recommend the clinic to others. “I face the same struggles as 95% of people in my ward. I am very relieved on a personal basis to have care available to me that I know I can trust. But now as a councilman, it’s my pleasure and honor to be able to advocate for Health Right, or to refer people who need dental or primary care to them. This clinic is a true asset to our entire community.”

– Wheeling Health Right


"We Will Never Turn Any Child Away..."

“I was approached in February, 2018 by a grandmother of 4 children, she informed me her daughter and son-in-law lost the custodial rights of the 4 children and she has been granted custody. She expressed to me she was on a limited income and had to work every day to make ends meet. Being a working parent with 2 children of my own at half her age I immediately felt sympathy for this lady. She said, “Mr. Brian, I have to work to support my grandbabies but I have nowhere for them to go this summer and I can’t afford to put 4 children in daycare.” She said, “ I will volunteer for the YMCA as much as I can just to help offset the cost, I don’t want or expect anything for free but any financial aid you could spare would be greatly appreciated.” I knew immediately she was in a big bind. The YMCA’s motto has always been we will never turn any child away for the inability to pay. I told her let me see what I can do for you! I took her phone number and the next day I returned her call and gave her the news she was hoping for. I told her I will allow those children in for free. She instantly replied in a sobbing voice, “Please don’t kid me for free?” “Is this for real for free?” I replied it is our pleasure to help such a fine lady like yourself and if you still want to volunteer for us we would love to have you! She said just let me know how I can help you! Since that phone call from me informing her the children may come for free she has come down to the YMCA almost every Saturday or Sunday to help clean our facility and since she is such a wonderful person and the kids are so grateful we also provided them with a family year membership so they always have a place to go and be a family!

The financial assistance we receive from the United Way and other allies of the YMCA help us continue to help those in need and continue to impact children’s lives one day at a time!”

– YMCA Wheeling

Out of His Shell

“A parent came to me before the program and stated she didn’t have enough money to allow her child to participate in my program but informed me her son could really use a program like this, she informed me her son had very low self-esteem, was overweight, and had a very hard time in school making friends, not to mention he was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s. I saw this as an opportunity to make an impact on a young teen’s life that could really use an uplift. I decided to waive the fee for this young lady as I could see she was desperate and really wanted what was best for her son. When I told her I would waive the fee for her son she began to cry and say thank you so much, are you serious? I saw the weight of the world lifted off of her shoulders knowing she had a great place to bring her child. I asked her if she could bring the young man in so I could meet him soon. The mom replied, he is in the car would you like to meet him now? I said I sure would. The young man came in and stood behind his mom and looked at the ground. I introduced myself to him and he just waived his hand abruptly and mumbled, “Hi.” I spoke to him for several minutes explaining what the club was all about, he didn’t say a word but by his brief eye contact I could tell he was interested.

The first day of the club arrived and the young man was hesitant to come into the YMCA. I went outside to greet him and brought several other club members who were in the club the previous year to help make him feel welcome. I decided to go back in the YMCA and see how things would transpire with kids his own age actually talking to him. Approximately 5 minutes later the young man came in with the other club members. I noticed he was talking and even saw a few smiles from the young man. When it was time for the club members to introduce themselves to the group, I could see the young man getting very nervous, once again. I did not want to intervene I wanted to see how this would all play out. One of the club members stood up and said hey guys this is “Blank” let’s all give him a warm welcome. The boy immediately smiled and stood up and said hi to everyone. To make a long story short, this young man is on the honor role at his middle school now. He lost 20 pounds and he is going out for the football team in 2018. This program since the very start has impacted many young people’s lives. This is one of the many stories of how the United Way and other area businesses financial support has helped create such wonderful programs that have a strong impact on our youth and community.”


“Breezie and her sister, Kabreya were matched with their mentor, Vania in April 2014. They were 10 and 8 years old, respectively. The girls lived with two older sisters and their grandmother, Beverly, who was raising them. At the time of the match, the girls’ mother was not in a position to keep them and their father was incarcerated. Beverly would get overwhelmed at times, and wanted them to be matched with someone whom she could trust, and who would be good to them.

The primary reason that Beverly wanted Breezie and Kabreya to have a mentor was because that would provide her with someone who could help the girls, “to do things that their family isn’t able to do.” Beverly saw the potential in the girls since they were good students and were interested in participating in extracurricular activities.

There have been many activities that Vania, Breezie, and Kabreya have done together; some have become traditions. They have gone to the circus, out to eat, to the movies, they have participated in a paint class at the Centre Market, had a Easter and Valentine’s party at Vania’s home, made crafts together, and they scrapbook memories of what they have done together. Breezie and Kabreya spend Christmas Eve with Vania’s family, who consider the girls part of their family also. The girls even helped decorate for Vania’s shower.

Vania has been a very dedicated mentor, even through some trying personal times as well as working shiftwork in her job as a nurse. She has given birth to a premature baby and also had to take care of her ailing father. Even though she knew that she wouldn’t be able to see Breezie and Kabreya for a time, she would call and assure them that she wouldn’t forget about them. They understood the reason they would see her less, and treasure the times they do get to spend with Vania. According to Beverly, the girls always want to buy presents for “their little sister” (Vania’s baby). Their relationship is very solid and loving.

Beverly has come to rely on Vania. Once, one of the girls got into some trouble at school, and Beverly asked Vania to talk with her. Vania took her out to dinner and discussed some coping mechanisms that could be used in the future. Also, Kabreya has had some medical issues due to a congenital heart issue and has to undergo surgery in Morgantown. Vania, who is a pediatric nurse spent time with Kabreya there. She was invaluable in explaining to Beverly some of the medical procedures and terms, and calmed and encouraged Kabreya. Beverly feels that Vania has been a godsend to her grandchildren.”

– Youth Services System

Before Care Program

“One family that uses our Before-Care service is a teacher for Marshall County Schools, and her husband works the midnight shift.

They have two children that attend Before-Care, so Mom can make it on time to do morning duty at her school, while Dad is finishing up the night shift. The mother commented that the program is really helpful on days that there are two hour delays because she still has to report on time for her school. One of the children is prescribed allergy shots that are $450.00 monthly and they are on a tight budget. The children enjoy the program so much that even on dad’s day off, they want to come to Before-Care.

Parent’s Comments:

‘The Before-Care program at Elm Grove Elementary, provided by Youth Services System, is invaluable to my family; not only does it allow me to get to work on time without worrying about finding a high priced private babysitter, but it provides a warm and safe environment for my children. I have two children that attend Before-Care four days a week for two hours a day. To most children, an extra two hours of school might be a nightmare, but not for my children. Those first two hours are their favorite. The main reason for this is Miss Linda and Miss Sonia. These two wonderful women open their hearts and make my children and all children feel welcomed and loved. They start our day with a smile and are always willing to help. Without this program and these women we would be lost. Before-Care has become something my children look forward to, and a service that is near and dear to my heart.'”

– Youth Services System

"My friend had a bad reaction to a syringe of heroin and died in the car..."

“I was 16 when I started smoking pot with my friends. It quickly escalated from pot to different drugs. I tried cocaine and didn’t like it, but pain pills and heroin (now there is a drug) were more my speed. Pain pills are easy to get without much trouble, heroin is a little harder (only a little) to get. So my drug of choice was heroin.

The one thing that you don’t believe when you start is that it will change your entire life. You truly become stupid and do things that you would have never believed yourself capable of, and I don’t just mean selling yourself (that’s really the easy part) it’s truly the other situations that you find yourself in that today seem unreal and almost as if it was a different life or a movie.

On one of those stupid days, I agreed to drive to Texas to pick up some heroin and bring it back to my home town in exchange for some of the heroin. Well, I wasn’t going to Texas by myself so I took a friend who I liked to party with. On our way back, my friend had a bad reaction to a syringe of heroin and died in the car. I was caught.

I got arrested but eventually let out till my trial. Four months later I went to federal prison with a six year sentence, I was 24. My life, my good life, was over. Today I own that I messed up. My family is not to blame. My parents did what they could. I was my own person and made my mistakes all by myself but they suffered. Today I know that, then it was all about me and what I wanted.

I spent 3 years, 7 months and 6 days in jail. I joined the EDAP program for addiction and recovery while in prison and learned a lot. While in prison, I lost two friends to drug overdoses and was not able to go to the funerals. After I was released, my favorite cousin, who I partied with all the time, died of an overdose and I wasn’t able to go to his funeral either.

I am in the YWCA WIND Program. The only reason that I got out of prison in three years was because I did what I was supposed to while in jail and then I applied to the YWCA, was interviewed and accepted in the program and now I am working on my recovery. I missed so much. I am trying very hard to do the right thing. I’ve heard that three of my friends went back to jail since I have been in Wheeling. That will not be me. They have a recovery coach who helped me get a job, has taken me to all of my doctor appointments. One of the requirements of the program is to go to 90 AA/NA meetings in 90 days. They offer transitional housing for an additional 18 months after the 6 month program if I want it or need it. I don’t know what I will do when that time comes but I am sure that I will be clean. The support offered in the WIND Program is what has kept me clean. I won’t be one of the girls that go back to jail for using (at least I hope not).I am taking it one day at a time and with the support of the YWCA WIND Program, I think I can make it.”

-YWCA Wheeling

"My life has been affected by addiction. "

“My life has been affected by addiction. I am currently facing felony drug convictions. I am living without my children. I even get treated differently at the hospitals because I have substance use disorder. My mother has taken on the role of full-time grandma, and cares for my four children. My children are growing up without me right now, and don’t deserve to not have their mother around because of drugs.

However, I am trying to change my life and move in a positive direction. I moved into the YWCA as a self-pay and am attending meetings with the WIND Program, thinking that when I go to court things will work in my favor. I have changed my environment, including who I hang out with, where I spend my time, and what activities I allow myself to be around.

I gain inspiration on my toughest days from my kids and my boyfriend Kyle. One of the things that keeps me going is knowing that once I have stable foundation with my recovery, I will be able to have my kids back. We will be able to be a family again. I think of how far I’ve come and how many people I have to prove wrong. I am going to be someone someday. The kind of thinking allows me to stay positive, no matter what the situation.

One thing that I have learned on my journey to recovery is that not a single soul on this earth is invincible. We all can become victims of the disease of addiction. Substance use disorder is not prejudiced, by any means.

There are a few people I would like to mention, and give praise to for their help with my journey, the ladies in the WIND Program. They are the most admirable people that I have ever had the pleasure of being around. Although they each have their own stories, I have gained strength from listening to them and sharing their journey. The WIND Program pushes me and others to do more, to see things and opportunities that we have closed ourselves to. The hours of listening and support, transportation, food and clothing, and a bed to lay in, a room to call my own.

I put my family through hell the last year, but they never gave up on me. The YW family has worked to help hold me up when I was sad. They have helped restore my hope that there will be a tomorrow. If I could tell them one thing, it would be : thank you for everything that you have done, continue to do, and will do in the future for me or another woman needing help.

I hope my court hearing goes well and that I don’t have to spend much time in prison. I am truly hoping that since I joined the WIND Program I will get some grace. But I will serve my sentence and when released will once again apply to the WIND Program and work to get my children back. I hope they forgive me one day.

If I could enact one law in the United States, it would be to make all substance use treatment centers affordable and available to any individual, regardless of their background or income level. The moment that they say to themselves they are done living a life of insanity, and want to get on a path to recovery they should have access to help. All facilities would offer the same programming, prevention, and therapies. We all deserve the same level of respect, care, and opportunity. We all deserve a second chance at life in recovery.”


– YWCA Wheeling