The music is down home, too, featuring Southwest Virginia’s own Folk Soul Revival and Mountain Soul with Chris Rose and Angel Mefford, who are donating the performances. Angel is Mountain Soul’s bluesy lead singer and an advocate against domestic violence for FCSS.
The concert starts at 5:30 p.m. and celebrates FCSS’ 36th anniversary of helping families in crisis. It’s also an appreciation event for supporters, partner agencies and volunteers. Executive Director Marybeth Matthews-Adkins says the intention “is to demonstrate our promise to the community, which is to selflessly serve and create a home for each and every person.”
The Norton-based nonprofit agency was founded in 1982 to help families at risk who were facing homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault. Beginning with a 24-hour crisis hotline and a domestic violence shelter, FCSS was able to expand its services due to overwhelming community support to include two thrift stores, a sexual assault program, a homeless shelter and a volunteer program. The service area includes Wise, Scott, Lee, Russell, Dickenson and Buchanan counties, and the city of Norton.
The idea of staging a free concert celebrating “home” had long been percolating with Marybeth. Before becoming the FCSS executive director six years ago, she’d worked in adoptions and child protective services. “My whole life I’ve heard that when people are hurting, it’s like, ‘I just want to go home.’
“Over the years I became a Folk Soul Revival fan. There’s a song called ‘Homesick’ that they wrote. It talks about being homesick for Southwest Virginia. Home has a different meaning for every one of us, but it’s always about safety and security and family,” Marybeth explained.
Partnering with various human services agencies and schools in the area, Marybeth says that when her agency needs something, “this community pulls together. It’s like having family. A homeless shelter is a home that can provide security, safety, basic hygiene, food, just living necessities. For a child in foster care, it’s the same thing - it’s a temporary home. For people who are dying, they’re ‘going home.’ This thing of going home has resonated for my whole career.”
To bring her concert dream to life, Marybeth had to find sponsors to pay for lighting, sound and other costs - and she succeeded, attracting the support of Marty Adkins, Attorney at Law; Anthem Healthkeepers Plus; Sykes; Ballad Healthcare; Lisa’s Touch; Wolfe and Farmer, Attorneys at Law; Innovative Printers and others.
“They were magnificent! Everybody in this community does so much for us,” she said. Several food trucks will be on the street, including Sugar Hill Brewery, Dough and Joe, Lincoln Road Cold-Brewed Coffee and Snow Shack. The vendors plan to donate 10 percent of their proceeds to the center’s domestic violence shelter.
Besides the homeless shelter and help for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, Marybeth says her staff of 19 is “educated and compassionate,” helping people in the community with cut-off utilities, medication costs, transportation, education expenses and food. They also assist with job applications, interviews and housing.
With a program called Rapid Rehousing, “I can help them establish a residence,” Marybeth says. “I can do the housing deposit and assist with rent. Then we taper off, not enabling but helping them get on.” The program is grant-funded through the Department of Community and Housing Development.
Through the thrift stores - the Red Barn in Norton and Twice as Nice in Clintwood - FCSS provides vouchers to the community and Department of Social Services “so that anyone who can’t afford clothing can go with a voucher and get clothes for free.” Last year, Marybeth gave out 493 vouchers. The stores are staffed by six full-time volunteers, who also visit the shelter to help with meals and children’s activities.
People trying to get on their feet face two especially tough challenges, notes Marybeth. One is lack of transportation; only a single transit system serves Wise, Scott and Lee counties. The other problem is that people coming out of regional jails and prisons find “the job market is limited. And having a felony offense prohibits them from getting into public housing.”
Marybeth and her staff, with the help of volunteers, tackle these and other problems with spirited determination.
“It takes all of us working together ... to help the people in need in this community.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Family Crisis Support Services or the anniversary celebration, call (276) 679-7240.