Stories

Positive Podcast aims for community connection

From the front lines to those at home; whether you are remote working, virtual learning, or home schooling here in West Virginia, across the country, or around the world, there is a new Positive Podcast available from the Morgan County Partnership with an important objective: community connection. Connecting communities with Positive Actions, Positive Podcast is hosted by Angie Hott and Sheima Benzidour, Positive Action & Digital Media Facilitators for the Morgan County Partnership.

The Partnership is a "coalition made up of local citizens united in a shared vision of building a supportive network for our young people, their families and others connected to create a safe, healthy, and drug-free community. The Partnership includes all sectors of the community, such as area nonprofits, government groups, agencies, volunteer organizations, school district, churches, businesses, parents, and youth. Seeking community connection and following six years of presenting character education in the classroom, Ms. Hott and Ms. Sheima bring a weekly feature convenient in a new podcast format, adding to the school year's daily instruction on the "Daily PAWsitive Action Community Vlogcast". Weekly Positive Podcast will feature wellness tips, Positive Action core value words, stories of community kindness, local and community news, and resources for addiction and abuse. Hosts will share parenting stories from potty training, home schooling, pandemic parenting, and more! Whether you live in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle or Mars, Ms. Hott and Ms. Sheima's Positive Podcast is available to connect the community in this new thing called life because we are all #AloneTogether! Positive Podcast's seeks to provide encouragement for children and families who are struggling as well as celebrate daily accomplishments.

During the current health crisis, the Positive Podcast will include evidence based advice from the Child Mind Institute to help communities recognize need and locate qualified resources. The Child Mind Institute also provides daily coping tips with doctors who are "dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health." They provide the "highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain and empower parents, professionals and policy makers to support children when and where they need it most." Grab your device and hit play! While folding laundry, cleaning house, or driving the car, the Positive Podcast will engage you, encourage your day to day tasks, and connect you with family and community.

Upcoming programming includes original music from community musicians, tips from Morgan County Social Workers, new activities happening locally, and wellness suggestion working around the world. On Friday, May 15, 2020, a sound bite from the Capitol with Senator Shelley Moore Capito was featured. Senator Capito was recognizing student's Positive Actions with Ms. Christie Butts, 4th grade teacher at Warm Springs Intermediate School in Morgan County who spear headed the "Adopt A Senior" Citizen Letter Writing activity with Summer Goller, MC After 3 Director.

To include your community story, music, or news on the Morgan County Partnership's weekly Positive Podcast, contact Angie Hott at [email protected]. Weekly Positive Podcasts are posted on the free mobile APP available from Apple Store and GooglePlay.

Positive Podcast For Morgan County WV By The Morgan County Partnership With Ms Hott And Ms Sheima

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SUMMER S.T.E.A.M.! with the Morgan County Partnership (Berkeley Springs, WV)

All around the United States, communities and school districts are feeding thousands of students while schools remain closed; but in Morgan County, there is a little bit of S.T.E.A.M.! and a whole bag of fun added to the weekly delivery of free meals.

In Morgan County, WV, there are 2362 students. 875 students are receiving weekly free meals prepared in a partnership with the Morgan County Board of Education and Cacapon State Park in order to meet the needs of a hungry community. Each week meal delivery includes five healthy breakfasts and lunches, or a weekly total of 4,275 meals. The number of students participating in the program since schools have been closed include 280 for Widmyer Elementary; 275 for Warm Springs Intermediate and Warm Springs Middle Schools; 110 for Paw Paw Schools, and 110 for Pleasant View Elementary.

All seven schools in the Morgan County District are served at these pick up locations, to include Berkeley Springs High School. Summer Goller, Executive Director for the MC After 3 Program, has added a program that feeds not only their bellies, but also their brains! Summer S.T.E.A.M.! is an activity created and hosted by the Morgan County Partnership. According to Ms. Summer Goller, "STEAM supplies are a cooperative effort between MC After 3 and WVU Extension and feature simple kits students can use to perform science experiments, create art, and have fun with mathematics, technology and engineering. Kits are usually coordinated with the Monday segment of Summer STEAM, part of Positive Actions MoTo Mondays, featuring short how-to videos aimed at keeping kids curious."

Beginning in late April, Summer's STEAM kits included sidewalk stained glass, with chalk and tape, followed by mentos magic, with experiment supplies. Next, students will receive coffee filters to create parachutes and learn about aerodynamics. Carmen Winarski, STEM Ambassador for the Morgan County Extension hosts a "how-to" video. Next, students may expect a lesson on "The Science Behind Bubbles" for the week of May 18, followed by "Carmen's Paper Flowers" for the week of May 26. For, June 1, there will be "Paint Night w/Ms. Ruggierio." In all, Ms. Goller prepares about 400 Summer S.T.E.A.M.! kits each week, currently for students in third through eighth grades. She hosts a feature video along with students from previous MC After 3 events.

Additional supplies provided in free meal distribution may sometimes include free books for kindergarden through second grade at Widmyer Elementary. This is provided through Title One. Providing Summer S.T.E.A.M.! kits engages students in academic hands on learning, while having fun. The program is scheduled to continue as part of MC After 3 for each MoTo Monday throughout the 2020 summer calendar, with the exception of holidays and as long as meals are provided.

Positive Actions like Summer S.T.E.A.M kits raises students developmental assets, improves academics, and engages social and emotional wellness. Instructions on the science experiments may be found in an engaging "how-to" video provided each MoTo Monday on the Daily Pawsitive Actions Community Vlogcast at positiveactionsmcp.blogspot.com as well as the Morgan County Partnership's new, free, mobile APP (available on the Apple Store and GooglePlay). For more information, please email [email protected].

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Student Gallery - A Showcase of Morgan County Students

Student Gallery - A Showcase of Morgan County Students Join the Morgan County Partnership in celebrating the academic accomplishments of Morgan County Students as they continue studying during virtual and distance learning. The Positive Action program invited teachers to nominate their students to be showcased in a virtual gallery.

Available on the Positive Action YouTube channel, submissions were filmed or photographed and emailed to Angie Hott, Positive Action & Digital Facilitator. "I felt it was so important for the community to recognize and celebrate their achievement while working from home during this COVID19 pandemic, and beyond too! When students see their academic efforts are noticed, it helps to raise their valuable developmental assets today so that they become successful students tomorrow," Angie said. It is our hope to instill in children the continued importance of education so that they remain eager to learn and ultimately make positive decisions about their futures.

Featured in the Student Gallery in it's premier week is Kara Novak, 1st grade student from Ms. Stotler's class at Widmyer Elementary. Kara enthusiastically shares her knowledge, a positive action, about the Polar Bear. Her facts are relayed with a love of learning that will surely put a smile on anyone in the community during these difficult times. Also nominated and available on the Student Gallery YouTube Playlist, are Sofie Riggleman, from Pleasant View Elementary singing the school song; Isabella & Kimbra Welch, from Widmyer sharing animal projects on the African Elephant and Snowy Owl; Kamryn Buck from Warm Springs Intermediate School making language art from Positive Action Core Value Words; and Leah Boyce. Leah is a 1st grader from Ms. Christie's Pleasant View room, who recites the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thank you for sharing the students' stories! Coming soon, students will "Adopt a Senior" with Ms. Butts 4th graders, who are writing letters to residents at Autumn Acres.

Widmyer Elementary - Student Gallery Showcase of Positive Actions

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Cheryl Gregory sews masks for hospice workers

Cheryl Gregory sews masks for hospice workers. She is also sewing gowns for them as well. When protective equipment and other essential items were scarce, our community stepped up. Dentists, veterinarians and friends of HOTP donated masks, protective equipment, sanitizing wipes and more.

Hospice volunteers and community members sewed more than 1,000 cloth masks and are now making gowns. Churches and groups dropped off goody bags and food to encourage our staff. Others have financially supported hospice care as we are faced with a sudden surge in the number of patients we are caring each day. Without our volunteers and community support, we could not safely care for our patients and their families. 

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Locals sewing masks, making sanitizer for medical practices

A shortage of masks and other protective gear for medical personnel and first responders amid the spread of coronavirus cases has sparked an effort here and nationwide for individuals to make and donate fabric masks, booties and gowns.

Helping Hands in Berkeley Springs – Let’s Sew is one such effort. Organized by Berkeley Springs resident and business owner Jules Rone, the social media “event” has shared templates for medical masks and mobilized donations of fabric, elastic and other sewing supplies.

“Right now the world is in need of medical masks, booties and gowns, and we can actually make these while we’re at home social distancing,” Rone posted.

Rone’s store, Jules Enchanting Gifts, has been the drop-off point for supplies that are being donated for those willing to sew the masks.

The masks will go to local medical practices, War Memorial Hospital and whoever else needs them. Organizers said hospital workers expressed a need for mask covers, which could prolong the life of the medical masks they do have.

“I know of one local medical practice that definitely needs gowns and booties, and I’m sure there are more,” Rone said.

The public event can be found on Facebook along with patterns. Rone can be reached through her website or social media pages.

Other local people have said they are sewing masks for medical personnel as a backup to the national supply and for those in the community who need them to go out.

Clinics ask for masks

Area medical practices have put out a call for anyone able to sew masks.

Staff at Tri-State Community Health Center this week posted on social media that they had received a donation of fabric masks from a staff member’s mother in McConnellsburg, and were looking for any additional masks that people could sew. The health center has a template they hope to post online.

Tri-State also asked if hardware stores, contractors or painters had extra N95 masks they could donate to the medical offices. Tri-State has clinics in Hancock and Berkeley Springs. Melody Stotler can be contacted at 301-678-5187 ext. 230 or by email at [email protected] for more information.

A shortage of publically available hand sanitizer for public health nurses sparked Lisa Darsch to make containers of the sanitizer for the Morgan County Health Department staff.

Darsch, herself a nurse, said she reached out to the Health Department nursing staff to see what she could do to assist them. She said she found out that nurses there were making their own hand sanitizer in the evenings since they could not buy it and the state supply was lacking.

“They are buying the supplies with their own money to keep themselves safe,” Darsch said.

The recipe for hand sanitizer includes grain alcohol, aloe gel and essential oils for scent. A local liquor store kept her notified of shipments of the grain alcohol so she could get that part of the recipe. She bought aloe gel online.

“It was easy to do and everyone helped,” Darsch said.

She has urged elected officials to release more supplies for those in the medical field to protect themselves so they can continue to treat patients.

“Give them the much needed supplies to protect themselves and others. We are a nation of bounty. We need to spread our supplies to all areas of the country now,” said Darsch.

Article courtesy of The Morgan Messenger

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Local woman making masks to fill gap in medical supply

Since last Friday, Tina Crawford has been making masks that could help people protect themselves against coronavirus.

So far, Crawford has delivered about 40 masks and has another 30 waiting for elastic and is still sewing. Some have been made with ties as wells.

The masks are made from tightly woven cotton, which every quilter has a stash to work with, she said.

“I have made some with pockets for filters to be placed in if desired,” Crawford said by email.

She added her mother has started making them as have several friends for their local hospitals.

“We completely understand they are not as protective as the medical grade but they are better than asking nurses and patients to wear bandanas and scarves,” Crawford said.

The masks are being given away, she added, as it’s the least she could do for those “who are so important in the fight.”

Crawford said she saw a post on Facebook groups where hospitals were requesting the fabric items because of the shortage of medical masks.

The original idea was to make the masks for patients, but then she saw the shortage was so great the nurses started asking for them.

Right now, Crawford’s masks are for the medical profession and filling specific requests, but she said they could certainly be used for someone going out and about.

Her crafting the masks isn’t just local, it’s nationwide.

Crawford said someone from Texas contacted her after seeing her posts on Facebook.

“I have mailed one shipment to her and more to follow,” she said.

Crawford added her church makes pocket prayer squares to carry with them and included some for the nurses in Texas.

Some masks have headed to Meritus Health in Hagerstown and there have been requests for some for first responders in West Virginia.

If anyone would want one of Crawford’s masks, she said they can find her on Facebook or email her at [email protected]

Clinics ask for masks

Area medical practices have also put out a call for anyone able to sew masks.

Staff at Tri-State Community Health Center this week posted on social media that they had received a donation of fabric masks from a staff member’s mother in McConnellsburg, and were looking for any additional masks that people could sew. The health center has a template they hope to post online.

Tri-State also asked if hardware stores, contractors or painters had extra N95 masks they could donate to the medical offices. Tri-State has clinics in Hancock and Berkeley Springs. Melody Stotler can be contacted at 301-678-5187 ext. 230 or by email at [email protected] for more information.

Article courtesy of The Hancock News, written by Geoff Fox.

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Spring Mills Primary School kindergarten teachers find new ways to reach students

First came jokes about being late due to the long commute and heavy traffic, then someone else chimed in about needing a big cup of coffee to start the school day.

Soon, however, an April 21 online staff meeting hosted by Spring Mills Primary School Principal Nicole Krause with kindergarten teachers was in full swing with a discussion about "sight words" that help students learn to read. 

It’s definitely not business as usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially because everything from teaching to staff meetings now happens remotely since schools were closed in mid-March.

But the new normal has some benefits because teachers — and the school’s approximately 500 students in pre-K to second grade — are getting to know each other in a different way, Krause said proudly.

During the online meeting, the kindergarten teachers smiled as, one after another, they talked about how their young students react to seeing them teaching from a computer screen.

Using a videoconferencing app like Zoom with excitable youngsters is a whole new experience, they agreed.

One teacher recalled a youngster taking her on a tour of his home while holding his mother’s phone, while others spoke about being introduced to a child’s favorite toy or even a pet.

This is another way that teachers and students are learning about each other in a new way that enhances their relationship, Krause said.

“I already knew how fortunate I was to have such a great staff and amazing teachers, but what they are doing now to reach the kids is really a gift," she said. "Being out of class doesn’t mean they are out of our students lives."

The weekly staff meetings give teachers a chance to discuss innovative ways to reach students virtually, new activities and any concerns about the future, she said.

Alicia Shaffer said she has been encouraging additional student participation by posting their creations on a “shoutout board.”

“Even if it’s just silly little things like losing a tooth or learning to ride a bike, up on the board it goes because I really want to have that positive communication,” she said. “It pulls them in big time.”

She also jokingly credited “Instagram research” for finding a postcard in the shape of a rainbow with math problems on it that she is mailing to students.

Lori Clark planned to make rain sticks with her students and had invited another teacher to join in the fun by singing a song.

“It’s so much fun, that I say, 'come one, come all,'” she said with a laugh.

Monica Gillions had made an alphabet countdown that features a letter per day that will end with Z on the last day of school, she said.

“It gives the kids something to look forward to and it’s fun for them,” she said.

Participants also discussed the additional academic help that kindergarten students might need before moving onto first grade in the fall.

“We are already thinking about a possible learning gap next year," Krause said. "So at the very beginning of the next school year we’re going to do vertical planning'

“We’ll have you touch base with first grade teachers to talk about the chunk of learning they might have missed this fourth nine weeks (grading period)."

Courtesy of The Herald Mail, written by Jenni Vincent; photo submitted

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Parent’s post to get Musselman seniors ‘adopted’ goes viral

Janelle Sperry now knows the power of social media, and is amazed how quickly people responded to an online plea to help honor local graduating seniors.

In just about 24 hours, about 800 people joined her Adopt a Musselman Graduating Senior Class of 2020 Facebook page, and that number increased to more than 1,000 supporters Thursday afternoon, Sperry said.

"This has all happened since Tuesday because it was posted an hour after they closed the schools for the rest of the year," she said.

Since then, Hedgesville, Martinsburg and Spring Mills high schools also have started similar online campaigns that have garnered a lot of support.

Sperry said it was painful to see her daughter, Elizabeth Sperry, upset that her commencement was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But she also wanted to reach out to the other soon-to-be graduates, and quickly came up with a plan that resonated with other parents and even community members, Sperry said.

The goal is for each graduating senior to be adopted, and students also can be adopted by more than one person, she said.

"Right from the start, I got all of these comments, questions and offers from people who wanted to do even more. It has just been amazing," she said.

"My heart is so full right now. I told my husband through tears that we would never live in a city. What we have in our community is worth more than a city could ever put a price on."

The group is private, but individuals need only request to join, and that gives them access to seniors who can be "adopted."

Other group members — often parents — post the student's pictures and a paragraph or two about high school accomplishments and future plans, Sperry said.

Adopting a student means different things to different people, and could be something as simple as sending a handwritten note of congratulations or a graduation card, she said.

Others are planning to send a gift card, while some have made plans to have gifts delivered to the students' homes, she said.

"It really is the thought that counts because I think young people today would be touched to get something in the mail letting them know they aren't forgotten, even though the coronavirus has definitely changed their graduation plans," she said.

Elizabeth Sperry said she also has heard from friends and fellow classmates who are happy about the effort.

"A lot of my friends are really upset about this situation, so they have been really excited when they got adopted, and even used that word," she said, noting that a close friend's mother adopted her. "It's just so nice because it's caring about one another."

Heather Myers-Stevens, who organized the public Adopt a Martinsburg Graduating Senior 2020 Facebook page, said she didn't want her daughter, Deysia Harris, and friends to miss out despite the canceled graduation plans.

"Our seniors all deserve recognition, no matter how big or small of a gesture, because they've worked so hard so many years to have their day and special moment," she said, noting that about 50 seniors have been adopted so far.

Shannon Crawford, a past band booster president at Spring Mills High School, said it is important to reach out through social media since many people in the community are new to the area.

She also has contacted her community homeowners' association to help spread the word, as well as various yard sale sites to help bring attention to the Adopt a Spring Mills High School Senior–Class of 2020 public Facebook page, which currently has about 150 members.

The Adopt a 2020 Hedgesville High School Senior public Facebook page was created Thursday and has seven members.

"This is a difficult time for everyone, so let's show our seniors some love," the page states.

Article courtesy of The Herald-Mail, written by Jenni Vincent; photo submitted.

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Horses make special visit to Fahrney-Keedy during pandemic

As the region struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff at Fahrney-Keedy Senior Living Community has been doing what it can to bring enjoyment to residents there.

But residents have had to cope with the fact that visitation has been cut to the facility due to the new coronavirus and the center can't offer group activities.

Then, the center received a telephone call one day.

It was from Hagerstown resident Erin Hershey, who offered to bring two of her family's horses to the senior community to help lift spirits.

The leader of the center agreed, making for a memorable experience Wednesday for the residents and Hershey's family.

Hershey said the seeds for her idea were planted when her 14-year-old daughter, London, received an email from the boarding school she attends in Middleburg, Va., about service to the community.

Hershey then started hearing from equestrian groups about how people were taking horses to nursing homes in Kentucky and Tennessee to spread some joy during the pandemic.

Hershey said she called Steve Coetzee, the leader of Fahrney-Keedy, about bringing her horses to the center. She said Coetzee thought it was a "wonderful" idea.

So Wednesday, Hershey and her daughter loaded up their Tennessee walkers named Silver and Charlie for a ride to Fahrney-Keedy.

Hershey and her daughter took their horses around the grounds of the campus. At times, Silver and Charlie walked up to windows to see residents inside, and the residents reached out to the animals if they were touching them.

"It was pretty emotional," Hershey said Sunday.

Some residents were able to come outside, where Hershey and her daughter gave a talk about horses and what they do with Silver and Charlie. 

Many Fahrney-Keedy residents were farmers, and it triggered memories for them, said Shannon Kelbaugh, director of activities at the facility.

She called the experience "amazing."

"It seems like a little thing, but with everything going on, it really lifted some spirits," she said.

Hershey said it also helped her because her family has been in a "COVID funk." She said the stables where her family keeps their horses are closed and they have been missing rides with them.

Kelbaugh said there have been no cases of coronavirus at Fahrney-Keedy, which serves about 165 people. The facility includes skilled nursing, assisted living, a memory-care unit and an independent living area.

People have kept a watchful eye over nursing homes during the pandemic, particularly since older people are more at risk of contracting the disease.

Tennessee walking horses originally were bred for utility work on farms and plantations in central Tennessee in the late 1800s, Hershey said.

Today, they demonstrate their versatility as great show, trail, and pleasure horses. They are known for their smooth, easy gaits and their docile temperament, Hershey said.

Hershey said Silver and Charlie are especially calm horses and have a knack for "knowing what needs to happen." 

Article courtesy of The Herald Mail, written by Dave McHillion; photo submitted.

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Kilmer’s Farm Market is impacting lives one meal at a time

Thousands of West Virginia children are receiving nutritious meals while school buildings are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the efforts of a local business owner. 

Derek Kilmer, owner of Kilmer’s Farm Market at Inwood, West Virginia, delivers meal boxes to children in 10 counties in the northern part of the state. His work is part of a statewide effort to serve 1.4 million meals to children each week during the crisis in partnership with the West Virginia Public School System.

“With schools closed due to the pandemic, I had fruit spoiling and little need for my employees,” he said. “An updated business model made it possible to deliver complete meals to children who may otherwise go hungry.” 

Kilmer received a Payroll Protection Program loan with the help of CNB Bank that allowed him to keep his workforce intact. The program is designed to help small businesses keep their workers employed during the coronavirus outbreak. The loans from the Small Business Association will be forgiven if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. 

“CNB Bank is fortunate to be in a position to help people when they need it most,” said Mark Harrell, President and CEO of CNB Bank. “Not only are people keeping their jobs but the added benefit in this case is that thousands of children in West Virginia can look forward to complete meals thanks to Kilmer’s Farm Market.” 

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