FAIRMONT — This week marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of a nonprofit peer recovery center downtown.
In the past year, Friendship Fairmont has become a haven for more than 200 people a month, and it has recruited numerous volunteers and recovery coaches to aid those in need.
“Since we have started, we have seen 20 to 25 people a day, and set a record high last month, assisting 280 individuals in October,” Rochelle Satterfield, program coordinator for Friendship Fairmont, told the Marion County Commission Wednesday. “We could not have done this without the wonderful area that the County Commission has helped us with our clients.”
Satterfield thanked commissioners for the space the county made available for Friendship Fairmont in the entire fourth floor of the Marion County Court Annex Building in Fairmont. She presented the commissioners with a special certificate Wednesday as a gift of appreciation for its support of the center. She said after the meeting that the project has surpassed her expectations.
“I was expecting to get around 50 a month, so it surpassed expectations,” Satterfield said. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to provide that, especially considering how difficult and challenging COVID has made this year.”
County Commissioner Randy Elliott said that although the commission was unsure of how well the project would work in Marion County, it has come to be an asset to anyone in need of help or even just shelter.
“We were skeptical at the beginning because we didn’t know if it was going to be a good fit or not,” Elliott said. “It turned out that it worked really, really well, it was a good fit and they help a lot of people.”
Also at the meeting, the commission motioned to give $1,817 to Mannington Bark Against Drugs, to top off the $20,000 needed to bring a new police dog to Mannington. Elliott said the project is worthy of the county commission’s support, because the dog will be trained to sniff out drugs and help clean up the city.
“Everybody worked so hard on this project to raise a total of $20,000 to cross train dogs that is so badly needed in all our communities,” Elliott said. “The businesses and the community, they came to bat for them; worked very, very hard to raise this money and what a success it was. I never saw a community come together the way they did recently in Mannington.”
Ray Shadrick, mayor of Mannington, thanked the commission for its donation to the fund, and said the Mannington Police Department will be made better with the addition of the K9 unit.
“We have worked, like Randy said, a lot on this project,” Shadrick said. “The guys that we have assembled in Mannington as a police department now are working great, and much needed for this dog.”
Also at the meeting, George Batten, director of the Union Mission, gave an update on the low-barrier shelter the organization was building with support from the county commission. He said the coronavirus pandemic limited the abilities of the shelter slightly for now, but it will still function as a safe haven for people in need of a warm place through the winter.
“We originally had in mind 10 beds, but because of the social distancing thing and all that, we can only put eight in right now,” Batten said. “We can’t afford to become a hotbed for infection, but at the same time, it’s cold that demands we do this now, this year, to make sure people are provided for.”
Elliott also praised the low-barrier shelter, saying that now people who have difficulty with substance abuse problems have a safe place to stay.
“If you are cold and you are homeless and you want a place to get warm, it’s where you go,” Elliott said. “You read about it a lot, the homeless who have problems, and it worked out really well.”