FAIRMONT — Nursing students at Fairmont State University will help improve living conditions for area residents who do not have permanent shelter using funds from a $40,000 grant from the Morgantown-based Milan Puskar Foundation.

The university’s School of Nursing and its Nursing Homeless Outreach Program will provide health and safety kits for the homeless in Marion and Harrison counties under terms of the grant.

“One of the major directives that Milan Puskar wished to address through the Milan Puskar Foundation is the growing issue of homelessness in West Virginia,” said Kyle Pratt, the foundation’s president. “The grant to the Nursing Homeless Outreach Program will help provide basic healthcare needs to the homeless and education to nursing students and RNs on how to better understand the challenges that such individuals face in order to improve the healthcare they receive.”

Pratt said the Milan Puskar Foundation board members hope the grant will result in significant personal connection and interaction with homeless individuals that improves their lives by helping to meet some basic health care needs.

“We also hope that the educational sessions for the nursing students and [registered nurses] that treat the homeless and provide awareness on COVID, including mask use and care, handwashing, and an array of other imperative information, will be valuable training that results in other meaningful and life-changing impacts,” Pratt said.

Pratt said the goals that Fairmont State University presented were thorough, measurable, and the Milan Puskar Foundation believes that this grant will help the school improve the lives of the homeless in North Central West Virginia.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to provide our students with a comprehensive nursing education while assisting those in need within our local communities,” said Laura Clayton, Fairmont State School of Nursing dean. “This project will allow us to further serve our mission to improve the health of West Virginia and the global community through a commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching, scholarship and service.”

The grant will provide valuable first-hand learning experiences to nursing students.

“Experiential learning is the hallmark of a Fairmont State education,” said Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University. “This generous gift will not only give our students real-world opportunities to apply classroom knowledge, but it also gives them the chance to do what Fairmont State does best: Change lives. With the help of this grant, the Nursing Homeless Outreach Program will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of so many in our community.”

This gift was made through the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., the nonprofit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of the Fairmont State University.

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