FAIRMONT – This week’s storms remind Julie Sole of the floods she and her staff suffered in June, but this time she has hope, a new building and a community behind her.
Sole, director of Fairmont’s Disability Action Center, met on Wednesday to formally finalize the purchase of the center’s new building at 448 Leonard Ave.
She was with officials from Valley HealthCare System, the organization currently renting space in the Leonard Avenue building, and Nick Fantasia, the former landlord of the property.
In June, the DAC’s current location on Benoni Avenue was flooded in heavy rain, severely damaging both the interior and exterior of the building.
There followed a big push by the community to move the DAC to a higher level.
“God closes a door, but he opens a window,” said Fantasia. “I wish I could tell you there was a plan, but all of these pieces just went together.”
City, county, and state officials helped in one way or another. The City of Fairmont offered to buy the DAC’s old building on Benoni Avenue once it moved out, and Senators Bob Beach, D-13 and Mike Caputo, D-13 donated $ 200,000 to the effort.
Last week, the Marion County Commission added another donation and presented Sole with a check for $ 50,000.
This “window” included massive community funding, government donations, and the collaboration of several organizations working for the benefit of their customers.
The happiest coincidence, however, was how perfectly the availability of multiple buildings opened up to ensure that neither the DAC nor the Valley had to miss a single day of service.
“I was amazed at how many people have made this a priority over the past few months,” said Sole. “Our customers have always been in the foreground. Valley won’t have an interruption in service, and neither will we. It is really remarkable. “
Now that the building on Leonard Avenue is officially owned by the DAC, Valley will move to a temporary location at 111 Elkins St. by the end of September.
In October 2020, Valley broke ground for a new $ 7 million complex on Crosswinds Drive in Pleasant Valley. Upon completion, this location will be used for residential programs and will also serve as Valley’s new office in Marion County.
Valley will continue to operate from Elkins Street until the Pleasant Valley complex is completed in the summer of 2022.
The Valley HealthCare System’s Marion County office serves approximately 2,500 people annually. Many of their customers are also looked after by the DAC. Caring for their customers is of the utmost importance to both companies and this series of actions benefits everyone.
“This step is something we have to take. It started as something devastating that happened to us and that we are turning into something good, ”said Sole. “Valley was more than gracious. We work with many of the same populations and we know we can do it. “
“Everything we do is about the customers we serve,” said Gerry Schmidt, Valley chief operations officer. “It took a lot of cooperation internally. Many pieces had to collapse and they did. “
The DAC doesn’t have an official date on which to start operations in the new building, but Sole says their goal is for it to be up and running by November. Until then, the DAC will continue to operate from its location on Benoni Avenue.
Fairmont’s Valley HealthCare System is part of a larger company serving Monongalia, Marion, Preston and Taylor counties, serving people with substance use disorders and mental health problems. Valley looks after around 6,000 customers annually in these four districts.
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