In the fall of 2010, I was lucky enough to be hired by the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless as Programs Coordinator. Although my employment at the Coalition was far more brief than I would have liked, I cherished the months I spent there and the people I met. Like most people, before I worked there, I thought that the Homeless Coalition was primarily a shelter for the homeless, when in fact, it is not. While the Coalition does work in conjunction with several other agencies, including local shelters, it's primary function and goal, is to end homelessness. When a person who is homeless becomes a client of the Coalition, they avail themselves to, many programs that have the potential to truly change their lives. The Coalition staff works closely with individuals to provide them with immediate shelter, and for those who qualify, help in finding long-term housing and even permanent housing, all while providing education and support in essential life skills, such as securing employment, learning to budget and navigating the often-confusing path to earned government benefits. The staff at the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless are a rare bunch, always ready with a warm greeting and a cup of the city's best coffee. They truly are the kindest, most compassionate people I have ever worked with, treating each client with respect and dignity. Every employee makes it his/her mission to identify the best, most effective options available to help each client find his/her way to a better life. Clients who ask for, and receive, assistance are required to actively partake in making life changes, in educational opportunities, and to serve their own hours of service to better their living environments or that of those in the community. They are constantly seeking out new programs that may benefit the homless population of the Ohio Valley, or crafting new ways to pay for the continuation of programs that have proven successful in the past. In short, any individual who finds themselves down on their luck and chooses to step inside the doors of the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, has already taken the first step to a better life.
I have volunteered through unpaid internships at the Coalition twice, and have had a positive experience each and every time. The Coalition is one of those agencies that takes their mission to heart; everyday, the case managers and staff focus their work towards ending the cycle of homelessness permanently in the community. I was blessed that I had the opportunity to intern here, and be inspired by the strength and resiliency of Coalition clients, supported continually towards achieving their goals by skilled, caring staff.
Married couple homeless for 8 years, traveled the U.S. working day labor, construction, clean up disasters. Came back home to Wheeling, stayed at the Salvation Army. We then went into the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless' residential program where the staff helped us get our WV identification cards, our birth certificates, marriage license and WV medicaid mental health services and a doctor. We are now receiving SSI and just moved into a private market apartment.
I have been homeless at least 8 times before 2008. In October of 2008, I got into the Residential program at the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, it saved my life.
I am a student at a nearby university. I am volunteering for this non-profit as a receptionist, making coffee, signing clients into the agency and answering the phone, as well as doing any filing or odd jobs that need completing while I'm here. It has been extremely rewarding as I get to interact and speak directly with clients on a regular basis. I have always felt welcome and appreciated as a volunteer by both clients and Coalition personnel alike. Volunteering at the Coalition has proved genuinely enjoyable, and has given me valuable insight into the way non-profit agencies operate and provide aid to clients. The Coalition has provided me with ample training and guidance to best help them.