Grant provides opportunity for locals to utilize resources through ‘Open Table’

A few months ago, The Open Table was presented to Craig County as a new opportunity to help people who have gotten ‘stuck’ in life or fallen through the cracks with no hope. Now, this opportunity is knocking hard, as a considerable donation has been given to get it started. All community members are encouraged to attend the meeting at the VFW in Craig on September 26 at 6 p.m.

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

People need help. Sometimes it’s obvious, and they share their need outwardly, while others hide their needs and fears, suffering quietly without hope.

For those who have ever said, “I wish I could do more to help my community, but I don’t know how to get started or what would be helpful or what is needed,” there is now an open opportunity for residents in Craig to help one another.

Through a grant, Craig is being offered the opportunity to build sustainable relationships through businesses, faith communities, farmers and friends to implement a project called The Open Table.

“The Open Table is a nationally recognized volunteer program model grounded in evidence-based practice centered around the importance of individuals’ prioritizing their own needs; learning to manage life on their own; and building natural support networks to help sustain them once formal services end,” Cheryl A Wilkinson, Director of Care Coordination for Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare , said.

She added, “People experiencing poverty and other life challenges need more than clothing or food to make a lasting improvement to their situation – they need positive, supportive relationships. And sometimes, these families have burned a lot of bridges with their families and friends and need their community to reach out and offer a helping hand.”

Already support is being garnered by two local businesses: Unique Hair Fashions owned by Amy Horton, and Dent Crafters owned by Jason and Danielle McAlwee.

Joanna Ryan has also agreed to help by bringing awareness and sharing information in the community about this opportunity and by being willing to lead one of the ‘Tables.’ “But we need your help too,” Wilkinson noted.

The model educates volunteers who can be anyone in the community or faith-based organization. The volunteers form a ‘Table’ that is guided by the individual or families ‘Life Plan’ that is based on their own vision and desire for a better life.

Over the course of a year, a group of eight to 12 trained volunteers meets with an individual or family seeking support to create positive change.

“A principle understanding in the Open Table model is the importance of establishing a personal, trusting relationship between the volunteers and individuals served,” Wilkinson noted. “The relationship is one such that the participants refer to each other as “Brothers and Sisters.”

To learn more about The Open Table, people are invited to an orientation meeting on September 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the VFW in Craig County.

“No commitment is required, just an opportunity to hear what it is all about and to learn how Craig, as a County, can work together to create opportunities and develop resources to support those in need living right here,” Wilkinson said.

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