The Gabriel Project of West Virginia is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization founded in Wheeling in 1997.
Now serving more than 25 counties in West Virginia, they are committed to protecting and honoring life by providing immediate and practical support to pregnant woman and families with infants and young children under two years of age.
Marla Jackson is the Gabriel Project coordinator for Ravenswood. With the help of Helen Kelly, three other volunteers, and other local churches, Jackson keeps the program alive in Jackson County.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, Jackson and Kelly can be found at the Grace Episcopal Church located at 405 Walnut Street in Ravenswood assisting those in need by providing them with everyday essentials to keep their babies and young children happy and healthy.
The home office for the Gabriel Project is located in Charleston and Jackson works with their director Donna Hawkins to facilitate the project in Ravenswood.
Our Savior Lutheran Church hosted the Grabriel Project for many years until it closed and then Grace Episcopal Church decided to become the home for the project’s continuation. With the closing of the Gabriel Project at the Nazarene Church in Ripley, Ravenswood is now the only location in the county.
The Gabriel Project is unlike any other women and children service organization in that they do not base their services on the financial status of a family.
On the first visit the family will complete a form and list any others who may be picking up items for them in the future. During this visit, personal identification is required.
Participants are able to attend once a month to get what they need.
Diapers, formula, wipes, baby wash, and clothing are always free; however, some items are limited. Diapers are limited to one package of 25 per month or 10 packages per year and each child is allowed five outfits per month.
The only items that are not free are pack and plays ($25) and car seats ($10) due to the requirement that these items must be new.
Donations are always accepted and appreciated.
“We have families who use the items they need and then return them once they no longer have the need for them,” Jackson said.
The Gabriel Project accepts new and gently used clothing and other baby related items. Formula is one of their greatest needs and monetary donations are also accepted. Checks can be made out to Marla Jackson with Gabriel Project written on the memo line.
Kelly noted that anyone who is expecting, whether it be a pregnant mother, a soon to be grandparent, or whomever, if they have someone expecting and will let the Gabriel Project know around the eight month of pregnancy, they will put together a package to have ready for when they do come in once the baby is born.
“The best year for me was the year we had four or five sets of twins,” Kelly said. “We had them from the time they were born to the time they out grew us by age. I see a set of them around town every once in a while and it’s a joy to see how much they’ve grown and know that in some small way they were helped by this small group here.”
“These families that come in, you get attached to them,” Jackson said. “Some of them it just breaks your heart and we do the best we can for them. They are really appreciative. These days it’s not just pregnant women, it’s single dads, single mom’s, grandparents raising their grandchildren, we are a starter program for anyone who needs help through Gabriel Project.”
For more information on the Gabriel Project, visit their Facebook page under Gabriel Project of West Virginia or the website at gabrielwv.org.