MARIETTA — Organizations across the Mid-Ohio Valley gathered Sunday afternoon to educate the public on the services they offer at the Resource Fair at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta.
“We have close to 50 vendors today,” GoPacks founder and director Heather Warner said. “We’ve had a steady stream of people come in.”
The fair started last year after Warner realized GoPacks could do more than host an open house for enrollees in its food program with Marietta City Schools and Washington County Career Center.
“We realized it wasn’t that much extra work to open it to the public,” she said.
Vendors from environmental sustainability, credit counseling and health services, among others, were present during the fair. Warner said it was designed that way.
“We’re trying to make sure we have something for everyone that comes here from our community,” she said. “We have something for seniors, kids, for someone who wants to do community service.”
Sebastian Walker of the Changed Plate greeted visitors outside the ballroom lobby and distributed cookie samples. The Charged Plate is in the Memorial Health System Belpre Medical Campus at 803 Farson St. It serves breakfast and lunch and is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Walker also teaches cooking classes through the organization for a variety of ages and needs such as diabetic and bariatric.
Walker said he likes to show the community that cooking is not intimidating.
“I want to show people that it’s not hard to eat healthy. They can cook at home,” he said.
Another organization focuses on sustainability. Lindsey Rudibaugh and Travis Harding co-founded Tenderfoot Learning in 2019 in Athens with a goal to teach all ages how to sustain resources.
“We teach sustainability from all angles: environmental and social,” Rudibaugh said.
Tenderfoot Learning Lab offers workshops for individuals and groups upon request. Topics include food preservation by dehydration, sustainable textiles and fashion and life with less plastic. For more information, its website is
A first-time attendee was Angel’s Harbor, an inpatient drug rehabilitation program for women. Outreach Coordinator Vanessa Goins said she is a graduate of the program and wants to spread hope for others.
“I’m here for community awareness,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know about us. We want to have a healthy community.”
United Way Alliance of the Mid Ohio Valley promoted 211, which covers all 55 counties in West Virginia. Callers can reach a representative and talk to them about finding health and human resources including financial, legal and mental health needs.
Andrea Parsons, SNAP Outreach Coordinator said talking to a person can help.
“It’s one resource that allows access to information,” Parsons said. “Sometimes people need more than a search. They need a conversation.”
Kristen Hainkel can be reached at [email protected]