“Weathering the Storm” Video
Our most recent documentary was produced by Mike Youngren, an extraordinary volunteer and former television producer. Local musicians, Bob Thompson and Ron Sowell, provide narration and music, respectively. Thank you all for your time and energy in creating “Weathering the Storm.” Watch Weathering the Storm Part I and Part II
The Creation of Covenant House of West Virgnina, an Oral History
In late 2012 Julie Pratt interviewed many people about the very beginnings of Covenant House.
“When current director Ellen Allen asked me to interview people about the earliest history of Covenant House, I immediately thought of Barb and Pat. But Ellen said, no, I mean before Barb and Pat. I was intrigued. Covenant House was well–‐established by the time I moved to West Virginia in the late 1980s. What was this “before”?
I began peeling back the layers of history to the late 1970s, when a small band of people from downtown Charleston churches and Temple Israel decided to do something about homelessness. There was no grant to do this, no master plan, and no guarantee that their considerable work would reap any benefits.” Read more here
In late March of 1981, Covenant House was incorporated and opened its doors as a drop-in center. A centralized food pantry, clothing closet and emergency assistance fund were also established. Also during March of 1981, the first co-directors, Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey, were hired, but could not begin work for several months. In the interim, Pat Perelman from Christ Church United Methodist volunteered as the Director, keeping Covenant House afloat until the new directors arrived. On September 1, 1981, Pat & Barbara took over leadership of the organization, expanding the fledgling organization to new heights of service over the next 26 years.
The First Decade: 1980’s
1981: Provide free office space to Kanawha Hospice to get established and become its own independent organization.
1982: Assist with organizational development and free office and operational space for West Virginia Health Right (a free health clinic).
1982: Take a leadership role in the formation of Sojourners, a shelter for women and children, providing personnel, organizational development and financial assistance.
The Second Decade: 1990’s
1990-1991: Assist with the incorporation of Harts Community Development, an organization created by low-income people in Lincoln County. HCD became financially independent in 1991 and HCD’s first home, built by volunteers, was dedicated that same year.
1991: Launch a Single Mothers’ Program aimed at “breaking the cycle” of poverty for families living on welfare. The following year, participants moved into a newly renovated home and apartments.
1991: Produce “A Time To Care”, a video celebrating the lives of five Covenant House program participants in commemoration of the organization’s tenth anniversary and services of Covenant House.
The Third Decade: the 2000’s
2000-2002: Began planning a new building for Covenant House at 600 Shrewsbury Street, Charleston. Within 22 months of beginning the capital campaign for the new building, the goal of $2.25 million was realized, making Covenant House debt-free. In 2001, Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church hosted a groundbreaking ceremony attended by City and State officials, neighbors, supporters and program participants.
2000: Staff a new outreach program or those living in homelessness, in collaboration with five Kanawha Valley Collective partners.
2001: Complete construction of the new Covenant House in September, and programs become fully operational on October 5, 2001. Charleston Renaissance awards Covenant House with “Best New Development Award” for 2002.
The Future: 2010 and Beyond