April 5, 2014
By John McVey
MARTINSBURG – A staple of Catholic Charities West Virginia’s program is to provide emergency services, including utility termination, rent and prescription assistance, to families in need, but with the opening of the Promise House Family Resource Center in Martinsburg, the organization wants to help families bounce back.
“We call it trampoline services,” Trina Bartlett ,WVCC Eastern Region director, said during a tour of the Promise House on Friday. “We don’t want to stop at emergencies. We don’t want the families to have to come back. We want them to be able to help themselves.”
In addition to filling gaps in social services that are not available in the community and partnering with other agencies to provide services, the Promise House will offer a hand up to families in need.
“It pulls all the pieces together for a family – it’s a longterm commitment to the family,” Kathie Campbell, Promise House coordinator, said Friday. “Our goal is to help people become self-sufficient. And it’s according to their goals. We don’t tell them what they want. They decide what they want to do.”
In meeting with social workers and their clients to find out what the needs are in the local area, Campbell has learned that transportation is a huge problem, as is inexpensive car repair.
Getting to work, a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store can be an extreme challenge for someone without reliable transportation.
“Debt is one of their biggest challenges, so they’d like to have a budget buddy to help them with a debt-reduction program,” she said. “We want to pair them with a mentor with experience in personal finance. We want them to become more capable of making responsible decisions.”
Other areas in which the Promise House will work with families include housing, education, health care, employment and more.
Campbell has worked in the social services field for more than 30 years. She was named coordinator of the Promise House in January.
She seemed genuinely happy with her new job.
“I’m tickled,” Campbell said. “My role is to offer support, be an advocate, be a cheerleader, resource developer, resource researcher. This is something the community has needed.”
The Promise House had been in the planning stages for more than a year. It is located at 224 S. Queen St.
Catholic Charities is 80 years old and has had a presence in Martinsburg and the surrounding area for several years. It was once called Catholic Community Services.
The Eastern Region serves seven Eastern Panhandle counties. The regional office recently was moved to Martinsburg from Romney. There still is an outreach office in Romney.
Bartlett also was recently named the regional director. She has worked in the social services field for more than 20 years.
“Catholic Charities West Virginia’s primary focus is to help people out of poverty, that’s our main goal,” Bartlett said. “There are lots of forms of poverty. It’s not only for low-income families. We support all families.”
Catholic Charities is the social services arm of the Catholic church, she said, but when families come to CCWV for help, they are never asked about their religion or if they are religious.
It is a nonprofit organization that is separate from the Charleston-Wheeling Diocese, but it gets a lot of support, both financial and in-kind, from the diocese, Bartlett said.
CCWV is funded through a grant from Mission and Ministry Inc., which was established by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, as well as a grant from United Way of Eastern Panhandle, private donations, fundraising events and other funding sources.
It receives no government funding.
“We just got a $30,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Martinsburg to renovate our kitchen, so we can have cooking classes for our families,” Bartlett said.
Mark Sliter-Hays, CCWV executive director, called the Promise House a wonderful one-stop shop for family services.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to partner with other agencies to bring another level of holistic services to families,” he said Friday.
For more information about the Promise House and its services, contact Campbell at 304-267-8837, ext. 7, or
– Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128.