Wood County Society opens new building and programs

PARKERSBURG–Citing abundance, accessibility, inclusion and compassion, the Wood County Society Thursday dedicated and held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of its new building at 317 Eighth St.

“With the Mid Ohio Valley community we are very blessed to continue to have their support because they allow us to be a catalyst for change,” Society Executive Director Brandon Gress said.

The Society serves residents with physical and developmental disabilities. According to the Society website, in more than 60 years of service, it “has touched the lives of nearly 1,625 individuals with disabilities and their families – one program at a time.”

Along with several residents, a representative of Sen. Joe Manchin was present to participate in the festivities. Manchin sent a greeting that said “one of the many things that makes our state so special is the strength of our communities and our people to always willing to help a neighbor in need. Indeed it is by standing together in our communities that we can truly make a difference and provide people with disabilities every opportunity they deserve.”

Gress then said “we are overjoyed to be able to provide an opportunity for accessibility and inclusion and create abundance and compassion here at Wood County society.”

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, Gress invited the group to take a tour of the new building.

Services for the autism community will be available at the new facility. Currently the Wood County Society provides sensory sensitive movies and events like treat or treat and Santa meet and greets.

It also collaborated with Marshall University West Virginia Autism Training Center to bring services to the community.

The services offered are categorized by a tiered system, according to Autism Specialist Joanna Stansberry. The first tier involves enrollment with Marshall University and getting information. The participants are given various tools and “books to gain knowledge in certain areas that maybe their child or their friend is struggling with,” Stansberry said.

The second tier offers training and social groups along with the use of the new Sensory Room that is located in the new building. The room will “assist in sensory processing disorders,” Gress said.

Tier three is person-centered direct services and intensive intervention. The room is designed to help individuals pinpoint sensory issues and to be able to succeed in the workplace or classroom. The Sensory Room can help give individuals “something mindless to do for five or 10 minutes to go back to whatever task,” Stansberry said.

Due to the complex nature of the autism spectrum, “treatment plans are tailored to each individual who is enrolled in the program,” Gress said. The age range is from 2 to adult and an autism diagnosis is required for services.

For enrollment information for Autism services, contact Wood County Society at (304) 428-4280.

Along with the new building, the Artbeat Project recently kicked off after a year long collaboration with Creative Abundance. The studio opened on Tuesday with hopes of encouraging creativity by providing up-cycled materials for participants to create works of art.

All the work in the studio is collaborative. Each piece is created by many different individuals who work collectively toward a finished product. Gress hopes that the studio will “promote inclusion, mindfulness and true compassion for all those who partake in this program.”

Patty Mitchell, CEO of Creative Abundance, said participation in the new studio “has been extraordinary.

“We invited people to come in and they have been making and laughing and it’s just been so joyous,” she said. “It’s a dream, really, to see it happen.”

Mitchell said the studio will impact the community.

“Your community is already rich with possibility and to give space and invitation for people to share their skills and to learn or participate in the making of things can really brighten all kinds of opportunities,” she said.

Potential projects include painting street banners in the downtown and providing artwork to display at the hospital and restaurants and for auctions.

“You basically create the visual evidence of the spirit of your community with a space like this,” Mitchell said.

Passion Flowers, a product made by Creative Abundance, are available for sale on site to benefit the Wood County Society. The studio is open from 9:30-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday with the exception of holidays.

An open house and dedication was held Thursday evening.

The keynote speaker was Stacy DeCicco, executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid Ohio Valley. Entertainment was provided by pianist Jane Irvine and vocalist Jesse Eaton from Parkersburg High School.

Belair’s Bistro provided catering and decor was provided by Premiere Productions, Crown Florals and Gift Gallery of Vienna.

For more information on the Wood County Society, go to its Facebook page or woodcountysociety.com or call (304) 428-4280.

Candice can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com


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