CASA has new home, thanks to BDC

WEIRTON – As executive director of A Child’s Place Court-Appointed Special Advocates, Rhonda Stubbs has seen many children placed in foster homes.

The concept of foster homes is to provide a temporary but secure place where children may stay until a more permanent home is identified, she noted.

And recently, thanks to the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and Brooke County Commission, A Child’s Place CASA has found itself in a similar situation, Stubbs revealed at a press conference held at the BDC’s Weirton office and attended by members of all three groups.

Stubbs said when the nonprofit group was unable to pay the rent for its office on Charles Street, the BDC stepped in and offered the former office of the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Credit Union in Beech Bottom.

“They offered it to us at the absorbent rate of a penny a month,” Stubbs said with a laugh.

She said the minimal rent will help the group to get back on its feet financially.

A Child’s Place CASA trains volunteers to represent the interests of children involved in abuse and neglect cases in Brooke and Hancock counties.

This year it served 187 children, the highest number since it was formed in 2000. And at a time when the group experienced a drop in private contributions typical for summer, federal funding for it was delayed by the government shutdown, Stubbs said.

She said she came to the county courthouse seeking help and found County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi.

Andreozzi noted Stubbs harbored no malice toward her former landlord, noting the group had been behind in its rent for more than a few months.

Andreozzi said while they were talking, he received a call from Pat Ford, the BDC’s executive director.

“When Pat called, a lightbulb went off in my head because he knows about vacant buildings in this county,” he said.

With the former credit union office in mind, Ford agreed to take A Child’s Place CASA’s request to the BDC board.

Until the move was approved officially, Stubbs referred to the BDC as the group’s “Secret Santa.”

BDC board member John Frankovitch said, “Given the circumstances and timing of it, we felt we had to do something.”

He said the arrangement with A Child’s Place CASA underscores the benefits of maintaining good communication with the BDC’s partners, including the Brooke County Commission.

Ford said the BDC will use its contacts to help A Child’s Place CASA to find a more central location, noting the group serves Brooke and Hancock counties.

Stubbs said the county commission and the Brooke County Museum board also have helped by allowing the group to store records and other materials at the museum’s former site, as space is tight at the credit union office.

Stubbs said Beech Bottom officials also have been very supportive. She said Beech Bottom Councilwoman Becky Uhlly sent food from the village’s Christmas party for volunteers who were helping the group to move in that same day.

Stubbs added Mayor George Lewis quickly arranged for water to the office to be turned on.

“I love the village of Beech Bottom,” she said.

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