BUCKHANNON – The Upshur Parish House has been tending to the requests of neighbors in need since 1992, and on Thursday, executive director Kristi Wilkerson announced the return of one service and updated hours for another.
“Beginning Thursday, April 21, 2022, the Parish House will begin having evening hours,” Wilkerson shared. “The Parish House will be open from 5 to 7 p.m. That will be a time when neighbors in need can come to the food pantry. We have not yet figured out how we will offer help with utility payments during our evening hours, but we will be working on that.”
Wilkerson said neighbors who would like to take advantage of the new evening hours do not need to make a prior appointment.
“They just need to come in and they will meet with our help desk volunteer and our food pantry volunteer, and they will get their monthly food package ready for them,” she said. “They can do that as an evening option now.”
Wilkerson said adding evening hours once a week came about because Parish House workers have heard some neighbors in need were not able to visit the Parish House during their regular hours, which are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We were hearing those hours were not always convenient for the neighbors, especially younger families who are working,” Wilkerson said. “We knew there was a need, we identified there was a need, and we wanted to address that in some way. Since Fall 2019, we have been offering at least an evening or Saturday option for our Holiday Food Box Program and that has been very successful. Those neighbors in need who come and ask us about it have responded positively to that option.”
Wilkerson said once the pandemic seemed to be in an end-stage, Parish House employees and volunteers knew they wanted to open one evening a week for the food pantry.
Another favorite service is starting back at the Parish House. Beginning Wednesday, April 27, the Parish House will resume offering take-out lunch each Wednesday, beginning at noon. Wilkerson said as the service gets up and running, other days will be added to the schedule, but it will start just on Wednesdays.
“Hopefully, before long, we will be up to offering free lunch three days a week,” Wilkerson said. “Folks who are in need of a lunch can come to the Parish House on Wednesdays. It will be take-out only to begin with. The lunches will be provided by Holy Rosary Catholic Church of Buckhannon. Lunches should be picked up no later than 1 p.m. or until the food runs out.”
Wilkerson said prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Upshur Parish House would serve hot meals three times a week to between 30 and 40 people.
“If there is a family in need and even if we do not directly say we help with that, have them call us or stop by and we will at least try our best to refer them to an agency that may be able to help, or we will figure out a way that we may be able to work as well,” Wilkerson said. “We reopened our building to the public Jan. 1, 2022, and that has been going well. Folks can come in, just like they did before the pandemic. They can still call us to receive services and check in to see what they may be eligible for.”
The Parish House is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or call 304-472-0743. The Clothes Closet thrift shop is open for shopping Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Parish House is located at 68 College Ave. in Buckhannon and the Clothes Closet is located at 47 Sedgwick St. in Buckhannon.
“We are currently accepting donations for the Clothes Closet and those can be preferably dropped off at the back porch during working hours,” Wilkerson said. “Neighbors in need of clothing vouchers should come to the Parish House first to make application and can redeem those at the Clothes Closet. Vouchers are available quarterly.”
Wilkerson said the Parish House is winding down with their Easter Food Box distribution, which has been successful this year.
“We have distributed Easter Food Boxes to approximately 440 families this time,” Wilkerson said. “It went really well, and we had great community support as we always do. The boxes included potatoes of some kind, canned vegetables, a dessert, macaroni and cheese, walnuts, dried milk, granola bars, Easter Eggs and hand sanitizer. They also received a carton of eggs and a ham.”
Wilkerson said the Parish House is excited to be back up and seeing their neighbors in person.
“We are excited to get back to where we were pre-pandemic,” Wilkerson shared. “It is so exciting to be able to visit with everyone again.”