Jobs. Health. Transportation. Housing. Drugs. Food resources. Child care. These are major issues in our community. They may not be giant robots or inter-dimensional deities, but they are real issues effecting people in our community each and every day. A single issue is a massive undertaking for just one organization in our community, and working to fix them all at once feels impossible. Not unlike many popular comic book heroes, there is a group of organizations working together to tackle these concerns. Meet the Avengers of the Eastern Panhandle.
The Health and Human Services Collaborative describes itself as “a diverse group of more than 40 organizations, along with concerned citizens, who have a common vision: meeting the health and human service needs of the citizens of Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties.“ The website for the collaborative notes that:
The Eastern Panhandle Health and Human Services Collaborative (HHSC) brings together a broad cross section of the community to mobilize working groups to create sustained changes in the community. The Collaborative is a community-based initiative that grew out the need for the community to come together to identify and address issues that no organization could address alone.
A client needs assessment was completed between November and December of 2015 through a variety of locations and identified each of the stated issues above as major concerns in the Eastern Panhandle. The HHSC recently held their quarterly meeting and reviewed the results. They discussed the services that are missing in the area as well as the barriers to having these needs met. The HHSC is able to work on all of these issues by breaking down into “work groups”.
To my knowledge all the work at the HHSC is volunteer, and all the work groups collaborate to meet their own individual goals. What I enjoy about these work groups is the tangible results seen within the community. For example, I attended the Homebuyer Education and Credit Counseling class before purchasing my first home. This provided the resources and knowledge I needed before making such a large purchase.
The HHSC and the organizations that participate work hard to bring awareness and resources to the community. They are always looking for community members who are interested in making the Eastern Panhandle a better place for families and the community at large. Each work group gives a person the opportunity to work with their strengths. It is a relief to know that you do not have to be a super hero to make a difference in the Eastern Panhandle.
The full HHSC meets quarterly on the first Friday of February, May, August and November in the Berkeley County DHHR conference room. The next quarterly meeting will be on Friday, May 6, 2016, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Berkeley County DHHR, 433 Mid-Atlantic Parkway, Martinsburg, WV 25404. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for refreshments and networking.
Behavioral Health Work Group
The mission of the Behavioral Health Work Group is to “facilitate addressing the mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment needs and resources for adults and children in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.” During the quarterly meeting, this work group discussed the implementation of a Community Behavioral Health Resource Fair and implementing Mental Health First Aid classes in order to reduce stigma in the community around substance abuse and mental health.
The Behavioral Health Work Group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 9:00 a.m. in Classroom B at Shenandoah Community Health Center, 99 Tavern Road, Martinsburg.
KIT (Kids in Transition) Collaborative
The mission of the KIT collaborative is to “To collaborate in the coordination of services that promote healthy children, families, and communities.” During the quarterly meeting, this work group discussed its work on developing an alternative education resource for at-risk children in the community and developmental asset work through the 40 Assets Community subcommittee.
The KIT Collaborative meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:00 noon in Berkeley County DHHR, conference room C.
Health Work Group
The mission of the health work group is “Identifying and linking resources in the community to promote health and wellness across the lifespan.” During the quarterly meeting, this work group discussed continued work with WV211 to share resources and wellness programs with the community.
The Health Work Group meets the third Thursday of each month at 9:00 a.m. at the Berkeley County Health Department, 122 Waverly Court, Martinsburg. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 17, 2016.
Self-Sufficiency Work Group
The mission of the self-sufficiency work group is to “To identify needs and advocate for access to resources that ensure families can reach their fullest potential.” During the quarterly meeting, this work group discussed their Money Matters program to assist individuals and families with financial information and education.
The Self-Sufficiency Work Group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 9:00 a.m. in the Berkeley County DHHR conference room. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Housing Work Group
The mission of the Housing Work Group is to “To foster availability of housing through education and advocacy through a partnership of community resources.” During the quarterly meeting, this work group discussed interest in implementing the Homebuyer Education and Credit Counseling classes to assist community members with their housing needs. They also discussed the implementation of the Successful Renters Program.
The Housing Work Group meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. in the conference room at the Telamon Corporation located at 67 Aikens Center, Martinsburg, WV. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, 2016.