The We Care program is a grassroots initiative. It is a community organization that continues their quest to make community schools safer, and proactively take steps to guard against tragedies, such as deadly school shootings that have plagued the country.
Being a fairly new program, at just two-years-old, We Care has grown in leaps and bounds. Originating in Ravenswood, it has grown to now include all of Jackson County.
One major undertaking of the We Care program is to provide door security in every classroom in Jackson County by fitting them with security devices.
The device would allow a door to be secured from inside the classroom, keeping intruders from entering, while allowing time for law enforcement to arrive on the scene.
Their goal is to place a device on each door, in every school in the county, including all elementary, middle, and high schools; a grand total of 600 doors. Each device costs approximately $100.
“We actually received a waiver from the governor to install these,” Dee Scritchfield said. “We are two-thirds of the way in achieving that goal for every door, in every school in Jackson County.”
Blaine Hess, Jackson County Superintendent of Schools, said the maintenance crews are making good progress with the installation of the door barriers.
“A number of our outlying schools have already been outfitted with the devices,” Hess said. “We are starting to move closer to town. Our goal in starting was to get those schools that were furthest away from law enforcement response to be covered first.”
Kerry Casto, Market President of United Bankshares, Inc., recently presented the We Care program with a check for $5,000 from United Bank. This donation will cover the cost of 50 devices, used to protect 50 rooms in Jackson County schools.
Casto feels the We Care program is a great asset to the community and he along with United Bank are proud to support something so important; the youth of Jackson County.
“It’s too important to not be a part of,” Casto said. “If you can’t support our children, then who are you going to support.”
Each donation gets the We Care program closer to reaching their goal.
“We’re making excellent progress and donations such as today’s donation really speed up our efforts,” Hess said.
In addition to physical deterrent measures, We Care is also pursuing the adoption of schools by local churches for a variety of purposes; both financially toward security and safety, and to provide BOE-approved volunteers as mentors.
Pastor Chris Skeens of Freewill Baptist Church is a member of the We Care program.
“The part that the churches and clergy play is a mentoring role,” Skeens said.
He said that they look at the model of YoungLife, another organization that helps today’s youth.
“Specifically teaming up folks from our congregations that would like to be involved with mentoring a student, being a smiling face in the hallways of our school, another set of eyes to watch over our children, or being a greeter,” Skeens said. “That all comes within what our churches are being invited to do through our pastors.”
According to Scritchfield, the We Care program focuses not only on security and mentoring, but training as well. She said they have offered classes in the schools, such as the “Hear Something, Say Something” program as well as others to help train students to be proactive.
“It’s a holistic approach if you will,” she said. “It’s intervention, prevention, and security.”
Donations can be made to We Care through the Jackson County Community Foundation, 108 North Church Street, Ripley, WV 25271 or contact 304-372-4500.