by JAMIE NULL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
By JAMIE NULL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — On April 9, residents of the West Virginia Manor in Bluefield will have access to the first-ever satellite food pantry through the Bluefield Union Mission.
The program is a result of Bluefield State College senior baccalaureate nursing students Stephanie Atkins and Martha Aldridge’s BSN senior capstone project.
Aldridge, 62, from Bluefield, said the project originated from a fall class where students provided health education to the residents of the manor.
“This was an opportunity to get to know several of the residents and become involved in the community,” Aldridge said. “Several of the tenants at the West Virginia Manor have problems with mobility and have trouble getting to the Bluefield Union Mission for food and supplies. Why not bring the Bluefield Union Mission to the West Virginia Manor?”
Aldridge and Atkins, 45, from Princeton, performed an initial assessment of the environment of the manor to determine a need. A survey was given to the residents. The students discovered that residents desired a pantry.
Aldridge and Atkins, with Angela Reed, service coordinator at the manor, and Craig Hammond, director of the Bluefield Union Mission, formed a committee. Together, they decided on a system to stock the pantry and keep track of staples. Currently, the satellite pantry will stock canned foods.
Reed said there isn’t room for frozen foods yet.
Beth Pritchett, Bluefield State College baccalaureate nursing program director, said the satellite food pantry will service residents who are on a low income, disabled, elderly or do not have transportation to the Bluefield Union Mission.
Pritchett was thrilled with the students’ project.
“I think what impressed me the most is how they have reached out to others in the community that are willing to participate. Stephanie is doing a food drive at the hospital where she works. Martha has involved Bluefield High School students for a food drive. It really helps to get others involved in the community where there is a need,” Pritchett said.
Aldridge said the Bluefield High School JROTC started a food drive and challenged Bluefield Middle school and Bluefield Intermediate School.
“Thompson Chapel on John Nash Boulevard has also started a canned food drive as well for the residents of the West Virginia Manor. Stephanie has initiated a canned food drive at Princeton Community Hospital as well. There are many generous people in our community that are willing to help,” she said.
Atkins does most of the paperwork and on her days off from work, she attends committee meetings and works in the pantry. Aldridge, a retired nurse, does more of the legwork and plans tasks each week to complete for the project.
The manor service coordinator for five years, Reed said many of residents run out of food throughout the month.
“It happens all the time,” she said. “That is why they rely on the local food bank.”
Reed said the manor has room for 150 residents. She is happy that those residents who run out of food will have a food pantry now.
An open house is planned for April 9 at 1 p.m. Aldridge said donations could be taken to the West Virginia manor.
At Bluefield State, Aldridge and Atkins will be required to write a formal paper and give an oral presentation in May.