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The EnAct staff, from left, are Scotti Hager, food programs coordinator; Lonnie Skeens, Boone County community advocate; Carl Olian, CEO; Anita Perdue, chair; and Tamara Rizk, Community Service Block Grant coordinator.

NELLIS — Emergency help is available to Boone County citizens who are in need or facing a financial crisis.

EnAct Community Action looks to connect people with the resources they need, according to Carl Olian, chief executive officer of the non-profit. Now, it is doing so from its new home in the B.A.R.N. Community Center at Nellis.

“Our services are available to the entire county,” Olian said. “We selected this spot due to potential that it holds for our services.”

Previously, EnAct offices were located in Danville, but, Olian said, the office was somewhat isolated and didn’t provide the potential for growth that he sees for the organization.

“With a multitude of services that include utility assistance, rent assistance, car repairs and things of this nature, we have a lot to offer, and I want us to reach more people who need help,” he said.

Also serving Fayette, Clay, Putnam and Kanawha counties, the agency has found that its services are needed today as much as ever before.

During the roundtable discussion about the needs for Boone County, Olian and his staff said the area is in need of a homeless facility and identified a specific target of need.

“There are some young kids, from what I understand, who have become squatters and moved into deserted homes with no heat or running water, but yet they’ve been left on their own and trying to make it the best they can,” he said. “We have veterans in this area who are in need.”

Olian said the community needs are many, and he looks to take on as much as possible in the coming months to find a multitude of ways that EnAct can help.

Anita Perdue, who serves as chair of the EnAct board, said she believes the drug abuse epidemic is contributing to the increase in homelessness.

“I think the reason that the need is great now — family members have pushed people from their homes because of the drug use and they are tired of being stolen from,” she said. “Many of these people — not all of them — are active users and that is why we are seeing so much in recent years.”

Olian added, “The problem is there and it isn’t going away until it is addressed. I think you have to have that dialog we are having about the issues, but the money has to be there. Many of the factors involved in having a facility like that is staffing. You need bedrooms, a kitchen and people on the premises around the clock. Who is going to oversee the daily operations, coupled with the funding? How do we fund it? It always comes back to money and that is the biggest challenges we have.”

A food pantry offered by EnAct is built and maintained through partnerships with local grocery stores.

“We engage with other agencies and businesses to provide a food pantry,” she said. “We have partnered with B.A.R.N. and we want to partner with others around the county.”

The partnerships for the food pantries for all five counties will be managed by food programs coordinator Scotti Hager, whose office is located centrally in Kanawha County.

Lonnie Skeens serves as the Boone County Community Advocate, and hers will be the face seen the most in the office in Nellis. She will process local requests for help and bridge the gap between the client and the agency.

Some of the aid that EnAct can provide to individuals who qualify based on available funding to the community includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Emergency assistance to low-income families or individuals who have a termination notice or a court-ordered eviction.
  • No Heat Emergency Program accepts applications for the Emergency Repair & Replace Program (ERRP) in Boone and Clay counties in West Virginia.
  • Workforce development help offered for those who are working, seeking employment, or attending post-secondary schools. Applicants could receive help for tuition, books, employment supplies, and emergency transportation such as bus passes.
  • Wheel to Work provides funding for car-repair assistance for individuals who have been employed consistently for at least one year, meet income guidelines, and are in need of a vehicle repair in order to continue their employment.
  • TED Program — the Trades Education & Development Program — targets minorities and those who are hard to employ due to barriers such as incarceration, drug addiction, lack of education or skills.

A recent partnership with the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain located on Bigley Avenue in Charleston saw a tremendous positive impact via a food voucher program.

Tamara Rizk is the Community Service Block Grant director for EnAct.

“We complete a community needs assessment every three years,” she said. “This is our blueprint for how we create our services. When we created this for Boone County in 2018, one big issue we had was that five people showed up — and five people can’t represent the entire county. We had only five people representing what the county needs. In those instances, we need people to participate in those types of assessments so the needs can be met.”

EnAct is in the planning stages for another assessment later in 2021. The agency is looking to form additional community partnerships and encourages local business owners and organizations to reach out to them.

Perdue said the goals for EnAct and the B.A.R.N. Community Center — where she also serves as a board member — are very similar, so the partnership was obvious. B.A.R.N. is an acronym for Brushton, Ashford, Ridgeview, Nellis.

“B.A.R.N. is on a much smaller scale, but our vision is very similar,” she said. “I think when organizations come together, you become stronger. We offer clothing and food here and we are pulling for the same goals. It isn’t about us; it is about the people we are serving.”

To apply for services, go to enactwv.org and then Skeens will call and take an application over the telephone.

“Within 20 minutes you could get the help you need,” Rizk added. “It is an easier and healthier process during this time for everyone.”

Skeens concluded, “If people call in because they don’t have technology, we will mail them an application. Whatever the obstacle is, we will find a way to get the help to those who qualify.”

Visit enactwv.org for a complete list of services or call 304-414-4475 for more information.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry

@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.

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