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Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of stories featuring United Way of Harrison County agencies.

CLARKSBURG — Since 1967, Central West Virginia Community Action has been helping low-income and elderly individuals become self-sufficient.

“We were formed with about 1,000 agencies across the country through President Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty,’” Executive Director Shannon Cunningham-Snead said.

The organization has several initiatives that help address the root causes of poverty in the communities it serves.

“Our largest program is Head Start,” Cunningham-Snead said.

Head Start provides services for children ages 3 and 4 from low-income families and helps prepare them to be successful, self-sufficient adults.

Community Action also has case management services in which it will work with clients who have had a utility disconnected, lost a job, received an eviction notice or are confronted with other financial crises.

The services focus on setting up household budgets, addressing the immediate crisis and helping stabilize families with a focus on moving them forward.

Transportation services also are available through Community Action to help low-income individuals get to medical appointments, pharmacies and grocery stores.

“Every family is different,” Cunningham-Snead said. “Every family’s needs are different, and we try to meet the families where they are and move forward.”

The United Way of Harrison County helps directly support customers who need assistance with utility bills. It also provides gasoline and clothing that may be needed to start a job, as well as gasoline purchases and vehicle maintenance for the transportation program.

Thanks to the funding from the United Way of Harrison County, there exists a team of AmeriCorps LifeBridge members teaching financial literacy workshops that teach the basics of money handling and maintenance so people can learn how to live on budgets.

United Way of Harrison County Director Tina Yoke said the organization’s work is vital to the community.

“Their primary goal is to help community members to become self-sufficient, and I think that’s an important role to play,” she said.

In 2018, Cunningham-Snead said Central West Virginia Community Action received $115,000 through the United Way of Harrison County as well as additional support from the United Way of Gilmer, Upshur and Lewis.

In the coming year, Cunningham-Snead said she hopes to use funds to expand the work of the financial literacy programs and offer more long-term intensive case management services.

“The agency’s overall budget is just under $4 million; most is restricted funding through grants,” she said. “United Way funding comes in to help us with complementary programs to round out what we offer to our customers and for our community.”

The 25 agencies the United Way of Harrison County assists are the American Red Cross, Bi-County Nutrition Program Inc., Boy Scouts of America Allohak Council, Central WV Community Action, Empowerment Through Employment, Family Service of Marion and Harrison Counties, 4-H Leaders Association of Harrison County, Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council, Harrison County CASA Program Inc., Harrison County Child Advocacy Center, Health Access Inc., HOPE Inc. Task Force on Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of West Virginia Inc., Camp Catch Your Breath, People’s Hospice, Susan Dew Hoff Memorial Clinic, YMCA, Progressive Women’s Association, Read, Write, Graduate!, Stars & Strides Therapeutic Equine Center, Literacy Volunteers of Harrison County, Learning Options Inc., Harrison County Family Resource Network Inc., Homes for Harrison and The Arc of Harrison County.

Donations to the United Way can be made at the organization’s website at unitedwayhcwv.org. A link to the site can also be found on the organization’s Facebook page.

Some employers will allow employees to make donations via automatic payroll deductions, and similar arrangements can be made with some banks for automatic monthly donations to the organization.

Other forms of donation can be arranged by calling the United Way office at 304-624-6337.

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