FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Friendship Fairmont has reopened its doors in a new location but with all the same services.
“It’s a mental health and substance abuse drop-in center,” Program Director Chuck Vankirk said. “We just want to get people help and point them in the right direction to get them to the help and the resources that they need.”
The nonprofit is an extension of Milan Puskar Health Right. Its Executive Director Laura Jones said the history of drop-in centers goes a ways back. In Morgantown, for example, they date back to 1964, and the positive impact they have is well documented, Jones said.
“We are very excited,” Jones said. “And, we’ve had this service here in Fairmont. But, we have moved to a new location, and we were closed for a period of time, so this is kind of the reopening of Friendship Fairmont.”
After closing the old location in May of 2021, Jones said, Friendship Fairmont found the new 10 Locust Ave. (corner of Jackson St. and Cleveland Ave.).
The nonprofit moved in in July.
“But there was a ton of work that needed to happen,” Jones said. “And Maggie and Chuck have worked together and a church group and a number of people painting, cleaning, organizing so that now we have this great space.”
Now that the Fairmont Friendship is reopened, it’s time to get to work.
Vankirk said the nonprofit will have a lot of resources to offer to whoever stops by.
“We have groups like art groups,” he said. “We connect people with people like the help to end homelessness coalition. Yeah, we just point people in the right direction and try to give people the help and resources that they need.”
Jones said she really believes Vankirk and his team can help people because they don’t just talk the talk.
“Both Chuck and Maggie and Frankie, who is an intern with us, are all peer recovery coaches and have plenty of experience to be able to help guide and work people through whatever life situation they’re involved in,” Jones said. “And that’s really the key. It’s to have peer recovery coaching and being able to understand and really empathize with where people are coming from.”
Friendship Fairmont is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Its phone number is 304-368-1341.
Vankirk said you can call or drop by anytime if you want to learn more.
Plus, Jones added, there are always volunteering and donating opportunities.
“We are always looking for volunteers and you can call or stop in,” Jones said. “And we need people to volunteer to help with cleaning, with listening and talking to people. That’s really important — doing a puzzle, games whatever.”
She continued, “We accept donations of warm clothing, snacks that are prepackaged, any kind of snack foods oatmeal that is prepackaged, granola bars, nuts, those kinds of things. We definitely want to make sure that people have enough nutrition, especially when it’s cold because you use up more calories when you’re spending your time outside in the cold.”