Ellen Allen Building upon the progress together

Ellen Allen: Building upon the progress together

If our neighbors are better, happier, healthier, we are like that. Similar to proving a negative, the crucial work of prevention of Covenant House is often invisible, but no less important — and perhaps the most meaningful of all.

Approximately 1,243 people are living on the streets in West Virginia, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Despite reports to the contrary, 90% of West Virginians are relocated by our changing – even crumbling – economies, from the Southern coalfields, impacted by our drug epidemic or exhibiting long-term trauma as well as untreated mental health problems.

If you walk through the downtown areas of our cities and towns, it may not look or feel like homelessness is declining, but that’s what our data as well as daily experience tells us. The most important advances in Western Virginia were people with chronic homelessness and veterans with homelessness.

The Service Center provides many essential services to those who are most vulnerable to homelessness — those who suffer extreme poverty. Access to laundry as well as shower facilities, emergency support with food vouchers, utility payments, clothing as well as diapers, HIV screenings, job referrals, education and counseling services, and on-site health care and job search assistance are among these services.

West Virginia Health Right has made a substantial and long-term investment in street medicine by providing the most vulnerable population of our community with low barriers and easy access to health care through the Covenant House Service Center. West Virginia Health Right offers, in addition to basic healthcare, harm reduction, HIV as well as HCV testing, pharmaceutical services, behavioral health, and addiction as well as care for recovery.

Covenant House’s Service Center serves as a safety net for our entire community as a critical tool for West Virginians facing seemingly insurmountable pressures.

The Service Center benefits all of us by seeking to ensure the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our community and by providing them with accessible ways to make positive contributions of their own. Because we are like that when our neighbors are safer, healthier and happier.