Minority affairs workplace kicks off listening tour on COVID reduction cash

WELLSBURG, W. Va. – The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA) starts in Brooke County on Wednesday evening 16-month nationwide audio tour to hear what communities need and how the state’s $ 1.6 billion pandemic aid can help.

HHOMA officials will be at the Wellsburg Volunteer Fire Department in Wellsburg at 6:30 p.m. to check the American Rescue Plan Act of Assignments 2021.

Jill Upson, the executive director of HHOMA, told MetroNews that this will be a real listening tour with no management speeches planned. She said she would then take everything she heard to Governor Jim Justice’s office.

Jill Upson

She said she had already met with Wellsburg Mayor Dan Duley on topics that have come up during the pandemic.

“They will tell me which areas are hardest hit by the pandemic, they will tell me what are the greatest needs in their community,” said Upson.

The tour will visit all 55 counties from this week through December 2022. HHOMA stated that the HHOMA team will meet with local community leaders at each stop, followed by public forums where all community members will be invited to receive information and share their ideas.

Topics for discussion include: pandemic challenges, targeting the greatest need, making impact, sustainability and pooling resources.

“Everyone is invited to groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the general public by the elected local leaders. Just so we could give as much information back to the governor as possible for his final recommendations, ”Upson said.

Upson said the state had until December 2024 to spend the incoming funds. Therefore, the schedule is stretched to get the assignments right and to be transparent.

On Thursday, the tour ends at 6:00 p.m. at the Weirton Millsop Community Center in Hancock County. Next week, the tour will take place on Wednesday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Laughlin Memorial Chapel in Wheeling and on Thursday, August 19 at the VFW Mound Post in Moundsville at 6:30 p.m. Upson plans on every stop to be.

The rest of the 2021 schedule includes Wetzel 6-10 September, Monongalia 20.-24. September, Marion 27.-Oct. 1. Taylor and Preston 4-8 October, Barbour and Tucker 18-22 October, Jefferson and Berkeley 1-5 November, Morgan 9-12 November, mineral 1.-3. December 13-17, Hampshire December.

Specific dates and locations will be published on the HHOMA website.

“This is a one-time funding that will not be continued. We want to make sure we are doing things carefully and gathering as much information as possible from the public, ”said Upson.

Girls, veteran and minority restaurant house owners lose COVID reduction cash after lawsuit

Money intended for women, minority and veteran restaurants was taken away after a group of white men filed charges of discrimination.

SEATTLE – A federal aid program designed to help women, minorities and experienced restaurant owners survive the pandemic backfired on them.

It was all Chelley Bassett could do to keep the doors of her beloved Murphy’s pub open during the pandemic.

“It was really tough,” she said. “We did everything to stay open. We reduced the staff to myself, my business partner, the chef and a cook.”

With her money from the paycheck protection program, Bassett petitioned the federal agency Restaurant Revitalization Fund and received $ 89,000.

She thought it was a godsend that would help keep the drinks flowing at the Seattle pub like they have for the past 40 years.

“I was so happy because it was the last little boost we needed to keep things going,” said Bassett.

But that hope soon turned into fear. As quickly as the federal government approved this money, it took it away again.

The funds gave priority to restaurants owned by women, minorities and veterans in the application process. Some white male-run businesses in Tennessee and Texas alleged discrimination. You sued and won.

Now Bassett and about 3,000 other restaurants have nothing.

“I wanted to advertise. I don’t have the money to do it now,” said Bassett. “We want to give people a raise. We can’t give a raise. What should I do?”

CONNECTED: Some restaurants are struggling to find staff as Washington allows the return to full capacity

Anthony Anton, who heads the Washington Hospitality Association, says the pandemic left the average restaurant $ 150,000 in debt.

Anton urges people to get Congress to redeem all of these grants.

“The court’s decision is the court’s decision,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Without the return of the Restaurant Relief Fund, we’ll see more restaurants close. That’s just the truth. Debt is pretty high for many small businesses and there is only a limited amount that you can do keep it up.”

A bipartisan law has been introduced in the country’s capital to fund any restaurants that have asked for help. It remains unclear whether this is possible.

Back at Murphy’s, Bassett and all these other women, minorities, and veterans find themselves at the bottom of the line if Congress decides to run another round of funding.

“We are the industry that is hurting the most and we survived through fighting and now this is happening,” she says. “That is not right.”


Grant cash used to supply psychological well being sources to native minority communities

CINCINNATI – Deaconess Associations Foundation awarded grants totaling $ 635,000 to 18 local organizations, and one of those organizations uses its money to provide mental health resources to minority communities in the tri-state.

The healthcare connection is an organization that provides health services to underserved and uninsured people in the area. They received about $ 100,000 from the Deaconess Associations Foundation and plan to use that money to hire three new psychologists for their team.

They will hire a behavioral medicine director to oversee mental health services and a case manager to deal with social determinants such as race and socioeconomic status to improve access to medical care.

The third position will be a behavioral medicine specialist at their school-based center in the Princeton School District. This specialist will help students examine mental and behavioral warning signs so they can identify problems and address them early.

“We are only just beginning to understand the challenges the pandemic has brought with it,” said Jolene Joseph, CEO of Healthcare Connection. “Physical health is not isolated from what we see of mental health and drug use, so it is incredibly important to intervene with young people early on.”

Some of the other organizations that have received part of the grant are the Behavioral Medicine Services in the Greater Cincinnati Area, Northern Kentucky Children’s Behavioral Health and Lighthouse youth and family service.