Sentara Community Impact: Our Community Place

Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 9:04 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - “Whether they need food, hot meals showers, groceries to go home internet access job applications, and in recent years, we have tried to focus on trying to provide longer-term support for folks,” Sam Nickels explained. Nickels is the executive director for Our Community Place.

That support stretches to helping people with Medicaid, disability income and housing, especially over the course of the pandemic.

“Mostly with the partnership of the housing authority and their voucher program but also funding that we can obtain for folks through the Mercy House’s rapid re-housing program. All of these agencies work together and we have especially been happy with our housing program over the last few years. In the last three years, we have placed over 131 people experiencing homelessness into housing,” Nickels explained.

To support these efforts, Our Community Place was awarded a $14,000 Sentara Cares Fall grant.

“It will go specifically to our case management program. That will allow case managers to visit folks in their houses. It will help cover transportation costs. So we can work with people in their housing to resolve issues and keep them housed,” Nickels said.

Nickels said the money will also help those in crisis and rental assistance. He added that to participate in the housing program, it takes a combination of local agencies three to six months and sometimes years depending on the challenges the person may face.

“We make a commitment to try and get to know the folks and evaluate the situation to see if they are appropriate for our housing program to see if we can be effective at working with them,” Nickels explained.

If you are not in need of services but would like to help out, Our Community Place is always accepting donations or volunteers.

“We have folks who have critical medical appointments at UVA, Augusta [Health]. If a volunteer can take somebody on a two-hour round trip and then stay with them for three hours for appointments, that saves our staff a lot of time and a lot of costs so we can be working with other folks during that time,” Nickels explained.

For more information on Our Community Place, click here.