Community Resource Fair Benefits Mid-Ohio Valley Organizations and Residents | News, Sports, Jobs

Karri Schilling, left, an adoptive parent recruiter for COAD, shows an award box to Katherine Lynn as fellow COAD recruiter Amanda Herron speaks with Lynn’s mother, Tabatha Norris, at the Community Resource Fair Sunday in the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

MARIETTA — Over the past few years, the GoPacks organization has hosted an event for the families of students it has provided food to learn about other services available to help them.

For 2022, founder and director Heather Arnold wanted to expand.

“We realized it really wasn’t much more work to expand it and open it up to the public,” she says.

So that’s what they did on Sunday, bringing together some 40 entities at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta for the first Community Resources Fair. The effort was appreciated by many who set up tables and those who checked out what they had to offer.

“We need things like that. It allows people to network,” said Washington County Suicide Awareness Alliance board member and volunteer Marshall Kroll.

Marshall Kroll, left, with the Washington County Suicide Awareness Alliance, chats with Marietta resident Billie Wilson during the Community Resource Fair Sunday at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

The group’s mission is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and to provide suicide prevention education and awareness and support for those affected by suicide.

“I’m actually a suicide survivor, so that means a lot,” Kroll said. “It’s a difficult subject, but people have to understand that it happens.”

Alliance volunteers meet at 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at 1115 Gilman Ave. at Mariatta.

Kroll was chatting at the event with Marietta resident Billie Wilson, who said she enjoyed what the event in general and her organization in particular had to offer.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful, and we need to be more active in our community,” said Wilson. “Mental illness affects every person on the face of the Earth.”

About 40 organizations providing services related to health, nutrition and more for children, adults and seniors attended the Community Resource Fair hosted by GoPacks on Sunday at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Representatives of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County were touting their after-school programs, which were recently expanded to Fort Frye and Noble Local school districts. Not only did they interact with people who might use their services, but they crossed paths with other organizations with whom they could collaborate.

“By working with the other partners, I create a better program,” said Jenna Stewart, program director of the club’s Marietta site.

Karri Schilling of the nonprofit Appalachian Development Corporation of Ohio was there to publicize the need for foster families. There are more than 16,000 foster children in Buckeye State, but only 7,200 foster homes, she said.

“So there is a huge need for foster homes in Ohio,” Schilling said. “Our children are being placed out of state and out of county.”

People who want more information about foster care can contact Schilling at [email protected] or 740-865-7799.

Barry Backus, left, community outreach coordinator with the Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities, sets up a virtual reality headset for Marietta City Schools Superintendent Brad Silvus at the Community Resources Fair in Sunday at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta. The simulation “places the user in the role of a direct support professional” helping someone with a developmental disability, Backus said. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Concluding his fourth week on the job, Marietta City Schools Superintendent Brad Silvus said he appreciated the opportunity to get to know people and agencies in the community. The district had a table where people could get information about the school lunch program, now that the costs of all meals will no longer be covered by the federal government as they were the past two school years. The traditional free and reduced meals program and eligibility standards are back. More information is available online at

“It’s good because I meet some of our parents and families,” Silvus said. “Today I was able to put a name with a face.”

Marietta resident Tabatha Norris said she wanted to meet with Silvus and voice her concerns about the district.

Norris was among 71 people who attended the event, as was Marietta resident Maggie Miller.

“It gave me a lot of good resources that I didn’t really know existed in Marietta,” she says.

Warner said she was pleased with the first-year turnout and also received positive feedback from the organizations about their interactions with each other.

“We will look to do it again” she says.

Evan Bevins can be reached at [email protected]

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