Kathy McMurray, executive director of Mountain CAP of WV, speaks at the July 19 meeting of the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Mountain CAP of W.Va. is planning to open a Family Support Center on Main Street, tackle homelessness among teens, adults

BUCKHANNON – The executive director at Mountain CAP of WV updated the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur on their existing and developing programs.

Kathy McMurray, executive director of Mountain CAP of WV, spoke during the July 19 Rotary meeting and described the various programs Mountain CAP offers the community. Two initiatives in the works are opening a Family Support Center on Main Street and pilot project to address homelessness among teens and young adults.

“Our singular mission, so to speak, is building foundations for families and communities through programs and partnerships like the Family Stability Program and increased economic opportunities,” McMurray explained.

Mountain CAP employs about 55 people across 11 programs in nine different counties.

“We do a community needs assessment every three years that informs our work and our programs, and we use those to address causes and conditions of poverty within the community so we can help individuals bridge out of poverty into economic security, or at least stability,” McMurray said. “We’re also charged with working with the community to create a better ecosystem for people so that there’s opportunities in the community, and that people have the opportunity to engage in them.”

For example, Upshur County Schools approached Mountain CAP to find a way to address child and family mental health within the school system.

“We provide social workers who work with the teachers, they work with the students in the classroom, and they also work in the home, so if there are stressors in the home or parents aren’t sure how to be responsive to behavioral concerns, we provide that education to help them with parenting tools and/or to release stressors,” McMurray said. “It could be an economic stressor in the home and if so, we can come up with some rent assistance or something else that may be lacking.”

Mountain CAP’s Family Support Program is designed to provided economic assistance to families.

“We really, really work to prevent homelessness and/or to rapidly rehouse people who are already homeless, which prevents homelessness,” McMurray said. “All of that economic assistance really came about because everything was just so exacerbated with loss of jobs or reduction in work hours and disruptions to childcare. There were so many things that were happening that made it stressful and of course, inflation is not helping. Things are really not getting better yet; there’s still a tremendous need in our communities for economic support.”

Mountain CAP’s Child Advocacy Center specializes in working with children who are suspected or potential victims of abuse or severe neglect.

“The center gives them a safe place to go, where the child and the not offending caregiver can receive the support they need through that process,” McMurray said. “They work with a multi-disciplinary team and are able to record interviews by specifically trained forensic interviewers who are on our staff to investigate those potential claims of abuse or neglect.”

Their Multi-Family Rental Program is in seven different counties, with 108 units in total.

“We own and manage the properties and lot of people don’t realize there’s only six units here in Upshur County, which are in the Rock Cave area,” McMurray said. “There are 24 as far away as Raleigh County, there’s eight over in Harrison County almost to Doddridge County and Salem, so they’re spread out. We actually do all of the tenant selection and they’re based on criminal and background checks, references, and of course meeting eligibility requirements but pertaining to the size of the family.”

Another program, the Emergency Repair/Replacement Program, assists qualified people in repairing or replacing malfunctioning equipment that provides heating or air conditioning.

“Please share that this program exists with your neighbors because it’s a simple application, and we’d like to help with that as much as we can, especially during his time with temperatures heating up and when you have no heat in the winter,” McMurray said. “It’s important to have cooling for health, and there’s another program that’s similar to that, which is the Energy Crisis Intervention Program, which is again, if someone’s heat isn’t working, and they’re under 200 percent of the poverty guidelines, which is very generous.”

One of their new programs includes a Family Support Center, which will most likely be located on Main Street soon.

“It’s really a place for people to be able to come in and start learning about services or receiving services that we do offer and all of our other programs so it’s quick access and a referral to other related resources,” McMurray said. “The purpose of a Family Support Center is to strengthen parent-child relationships and to provide support.”

In October, Mountain CAP is organizing a demonstration project that will address homelessness in teens and young adults.

“We understand there are a lot of teens, especially ages anywhere from 16 to 24 who might be couch surfing, so they might be staying with friends and family, or they might be literally homeless and there are so many reasons for that right now,” McMurray said. “We are helping to make a program, working closely with the school system and others, to find out if a child is actually homeless. Are they in foster care? What’s going on with the family? If they’re over 18, for example, we might be able to help them get into a housing unit and be able to get that security deposit and some rent assistance to get them established in their own apartment.”

Its main office is located at 26 N. Kanawha St., Ste. 201 in Buckhannon. Mountain CAP of WV may be reached by calling 304-472-1500.

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