Buckhannon Rotary Club learns about Parish House

The Inter-Mountain photo by Sarah Goodrich Alicia Rapking, director of Upshur Parish House, spoke to Buckhannon Rotary Club members Tuesday about programs offered to those in need within the community.

BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon Rotary Club members learned the value and importance that the community has on the Upshur Parish House, and vice versa.

Alicia Rapking, director of the Upshur Parish House, spoke to club members Tuesday about the many programs offered, and how the staff and volunteers try to meet emergency needs of families in Upshur County.

“Sometimes these needs are very small. Sometimes they come to us from a family that may be working hard to make ends meet pretty much all the time, but then they have some devastating occurrence in their family, and they just can’t get over the hurdle without some help,” Rapking said during Tuesday’s regular Rotary meeting.

She added the Parish House also sees people who are “chronically poor” in “devastating circumstances.”

“We see them quite often and we know them quite well, and sometimes … I think to myself, ‘What more can this family take?'” she said.

As the director of the Upshur Parish House for the past eight years, Rapking said many of the clients are placed in “not-your-average” situations.

“They come to us expecting us to be able to help them, also knowing that there’s only so much we can do,” she said. “And it astounds me every time I think about this, that these people are willing to trust us, strangers really, to be able to help them to get to the next hurdle.”

Rapking also shared some statistics of this past year to members.

She said the Upshur Parish House spent about $3,000 less in 2017 than in 2016.

“That may not sound like a lot to you, but $3,000 less means that there were some of our families who were doing a little bit better than they had before,” she said.

The organization’s cash payout for emergency assistance was about $107,000, which represents about 100 families per week.

“Sometimes the assistance is minute. Sometimes we have to work with Salvation Army and Chapel Hill and every other agency who can pull money together to help some of these families get across a hurdle and have their lives returned to normal,” Rapking said.

Funds for emergency assistance helped with heating, electric, propane, food and “any other kind of emergency that you could think of that could (push) a family into a dire situation.”

Rapking said communities will always have people in need.

“That doesn’t mean that the poor won’t always share their lives with us and help us realize that even in the midst of the poorest conditions, there can be joy,” she said. “Even in the midst of the most dire situations, there is a current of joy that can run in our lives, and when we can tap into that, we can do amazing things.

Though staff and volunteers play a huge role at the Parish House, Rapking said, “It takes everybody.”

“What we do we cannot possibly do without the generosity of Upshur County,” she said. “And Rotary has been instrumental over the last few years, giving us money to do home repair for folks, giving us money to purchase food for our food pantry. We can’t do it without groups like you, and I thank you so much.”