2014-2015 Accreditation Ratings Reflect Higher Standards for Students and Schools All Schools Fully Accredited in 22 Divisions

From Va. Dept. of Education

The percentage of schools meeting state accreditation standards declined for a second consecutive year as a consequence of the growing impact of more rigorous reading, writing, science and mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) tests introduced since 2011, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) announced today.

Sixty-eight percent, or 1,246, of Virginia’s 1,827 public schools are rated as Fully Accredited for 2014-2015 compared with 77 percent for 2013-2014, and 93 percent for 2012-2013. The number of schools Accredited with Warning rose to 545, an increase from last year’s total of 393. The drop in accreditation came despite statewide improvements in mathematics performance and hundreds of schools that also saw incremental gains in reading, writing and science.

“In every school division I have visited, I have been impressed by the determination of teachers, principals, superintendents and other educators to meet the higher expectations we now have for our students and schools,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “The challenge now is to move beyond the temporary disappointment of an accreditation rating and work together – school divisions shoulder to shoulder with the department – to share best practices and implement the instructional strategies that will move our students toward college and career readiness.”

2014-2015 State Accreditation Ratings
Grade Span Fully Accredited Accredited with Warning Provisionally Accredited Conditional (New Schools) Accreditation Denied To Be Determined
Elementary 796 346 7 5 5
Middle 192 106 1 4 4
High 232 71 2 1 5
Combined 26 22 1 1
Total 1,246 545 2 10 10 14

Virginia students began taking more challenging mathematics assessments in 2011-2012, and more challenging reading, writing and science tests the following year. The tests require students to apply content knowledge and critical-thinking skills to solve open-ended problems. Three-year averaging of performance in each subject area in the calculation of ratings provides less mitigation with each subsequent accreditation cycle as school ratings increasingly reflect achievement on the new tests.

“The SOL tests students began taking 16 years ago established a uniform floor across the state. Now the floor is being raised so all students – regardless of where they live, who they are, or their family’s income – will have a foundation for success in an increasingly competitive economy,” Board of Education President Christian N. Braunlich said. “These new tests represent higher expectations for our students and schools and meeting them will be a multiyear process.”

“Virginia’s students are among the highest performing in the nation on the national reading, mathematics and science tests,” Secretary of Education Anne Holton said. “I am confident that the teachers, principals, superintendents and other educators who have brought our schools and students this far are up to this new challenge and, moving forward, we will see more and more schools regain full accreditation.”

Ten schools in six divisions are denied state accreditation for 2014-2015 because of persistently low student achievement:

  • Alexandria – Jefferson-Houston Elementary for a third consecutive year
  • Henrico County – L. Douglas Wilder Middle, which had been Accredited with Warning for three consecutive years
  • Norfolk – Campostella Elementary, which had been Accredited with Warning for three consecutive years; William H. Ruffner Middle for a third consecutive year; Lake Taylor Middle, which had been Accredited with Warning for three consecutive years; and Lindenwood Elementary for a second consecutive year
  • Northampton County – Kiptopeke Elementary, which had Conditional Accreditation for the last three years
  • Petersburg – Peabody Middle for a ninth consecutive year and A.P. Hill Elementary for a second consecutive year
  • Richmond – Fred D. Thompson Middle, which had been Accredited with Warning for three consecutive years

Schools denied accreditation are subject to corrective actions prescribed by the state Board of Education and affirmed through a memorandum of understanding with the local school board.

“We recognize the significant challenges confronting educators in these schools but cannot continue to accept these results as inevitable,” Staples said. “Our expectation is that student performance can and must show improvement and the partnership between VDOE and the local divisions is one means to accomplish this goal.”

The status of 14 schools will be determined by the Board of Education in October. Under Virginia’s accountability program, a school that has been on academic warning for three consecutive years and fails to meet state standards for a fourth consecutive year can apply for Conditional Accreditation – if the local school board agrees to reconstitute the school’s leadership, staff, governance or student population. A reconstituted school can retain conditional accreditation for up to three years if it is making acceptable progress. Schools seeking conditional accreditation are, by division, as follows:

  • Dinwiddie County – Dinwiddie County Middle
  • Hampton – Jane H. Bryan Elementary
  • Lynchburg – Sandusky Middle
  • Newport News – Newsome Park Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary and Willis A. Jenkins Elementary
  • Norfolk – Booker T. Washington High and Tidewater Park Elementary
  • Petersburg – Vernon Johns Junior High
  • Portsmouth – I.C. Norcom High
  • Richmond – Armstrong High, George Wythe High and Thomas C. Boushall Middle
  • Virginia Beach – Bayside Middle

Two Richmond high schools – Huguenot High and John Marshall High – are Provisionally Accredited for 2014-2015. These schools met all requirements in English, mathematics, science and history and came within two points of the graduation and completion benchmark required for full accreditation for high schools.

Ten newly opened schools are automatically rated as Conditionally Accredited for 2014-2015.

All schools are fully accredited in 22 of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions, compared with 36 divisions last year. The divisions with all schools fully accredited (other than new schools that automatically receive conditional accreditation) are as follows:

  • Bland County
  • Colonial Heights
  • Craig County
  • Falls Church
  • Fluvanna County
  • Fredericksburg
  • Galax
  • Goochland County
  • King William County
  • Lexington
  • Manassas Park
  • New Kent County
  • Poquoson
  • Powhatan County
  • Rappahannock County
  • Richmond County
  • Roanoke County
  • Salem
  • West Point
  • Williamsburg-James City County
  • Wise County
  • York County

For a school to earn full accreditation, at least 75 percent of students must pass reading and writing SOL tests, and at least 70 percent must pass state assessments in mathematics, science and history. High schools must also meet a benchmark for graduation and completion.

Accreditation ratings also may reflect credit earned by schools that successfully remediate students who failed reading or mathematics tests during the previous year. Adjustments also may be made for students with limited-English proficiency and for students who have recently transferred into a Virginia public school.

Accreditation ratings for 2014-2015 and updated online report cards for all schools and school divisions are available on the VDOE website.

Under a flexibility waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Education, supports and interventions under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act – also known since 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) – are focused on the lowest-performing Title I schools. These schools are identified as either Priority or Focus schools. Like state accreditation ratings, the federal designations are based on achievement on SOL tests during 2013-2014.

Priority schools – comprising the lowest-performing five percent of Title I schools – must engage a state-approved turnaround partner to help design and implement school-reform models that meet state and federal requirements. The 36 schools identified as Priority schools for 2014-2015 are as follows:

  • Accomack County – Metompkin Elementary
  • Albemarle County – Benjamin F. Yancey Elementary
  • Alexandria – Jefferson-Houston Elementary
  • Buckingham County – Buckingham County Elementary and Buckingham County Primary
  • Danville – J.M. Langston Focus Alternative School
  • Franklin – Joseph P. King Jr. Middle and S.P. Morton Elementary
  • Hampton – Jane H. Bryan Elementary
  • Henrico County – L. Douglas Wilder Middle
  • Lynchburg – Dearington Elementary/Innovation and Perrymont Elementary
  • Martinsville – Albert Harris Elementary
  • Newport News – Horace H. Epes Elementary, Newsome Park Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary and Willis A. Jenkins Elementary
  • Norfolk – Campostella Elementary, Chesterfield Academy Elementary, Jacox Elementary, James Monroe Elementary, Lake Taylor Middle and Lindenwood Elementary
  • Petersburg – Peabody Middle
  • Richmond – Binford Middle, Blackwell Elementary, Elkhardt Middle, Fred D. Thompson Middle, G.H. Reid Elementary, Ginter Park Elementary, Henderson Middle, John Marshall High, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle, Oak Grove/Bellemeade Elementary, Richmond Alternative and Woodville Elementary

Focus schools (comprising 10 percent of Title I schools selected on the basis of achievement gaps) must employ state-approved, school-improvement coaches. Focus schools retain their designation for a minimum of two years – unless they are subsequently identified as Priority schools or no longer receive federal Title I funding. The 72 Focus schools for 2014-2015 are as follows:

  • Albemarle County – Agnor-Hurt Elementary, Mary Carr Greer Elementary, Paul H. Cale Elementary, Scottsville Elementary, Stony Point Elementary and Woodbrook Elementary
  • Alexandria – Patrick Henry Elementary and William Ramsay Elementary
  • Alleghany County – Mountain View Elementary
  • Amherst County – Madison Heights Elementary
  • Augusta County – Beverley Manor Elementary, North River Elementary and Riverheads Elementary
  • Bedford County – Moneta Elementary
  • Bristol – Washington-Lee Elementary
  • Buena Vista – Enderly Heights Elementary and F.W. Kling Jr. Elementary
  • Charlottesville – Clark Elementary
  • Chesapeake – Norfolk Highlands Primary
  • Chesterfield County – Marguerite F. Christian Elementary
  • Clarke County – Boyce Elementary and D.G. Cooley Elementary
  • Cumberland County – Cumberland Elementary
  • Fairfax County – Annandale Terrace Elementary, Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Herndon Elementary, Hutchison Elementary, Sleepy Hollow Elementary and Woodley Hills Elementary
  • Frederick County – Apple Pie Ridge Elementary, Indian Hollow Elementary, Orchard View Elementary, Redbud Run Elementary and Stonewall Elementary
  • Grayson County – Baywood Elementary
  • Halifax County – Cluster Springs Elementary and Sydnor Jennings Elementary
  • Hampton – John B. Cary Elementary
  • Harrisonburg – Smithland Elementary
  • Henrico County – Charles M. Johnson Elementary, Dumbarton Elementary and Lakeside Elementary
  • Lexington – Harrington Waddell Elementary
  • Lunenburg County – Kenbridge Elementary
  • Lynchburg – Heritage Elementary and Paul Munro Elementary
  • Manassas – Baldwin Elementary and Jennie Dean Elementary
  • Mecklenburg County – Clarksville Elementary and LaCrosse Elementary
  • Newport News – Carver Elementary, L.F. Palmer Elementary, Lee Hall Elementary and Magruder Elementary
  • Norfolk – Richard Bowling Elementary, Tanners Creek Elementary and William H. Ruffner Middle
  • Patrick County – Stuart Elementary
  • Prince Edward County – Prince Edward Middle
  • Prince William County  – Belmont Elementary
  • Radford – Belle Heth Elementary and McHarg Elementary
  • Richmond – Lucille M. Brown Middle and Overby-Sheppard Elementary
  • Rockbridge County – Natural Bridge Elementary
  • Shenandoah County – W.W. Robinson Elementary
  • Spotsylvania County – Spotswood Elementary
  • Staunton – Bessie Weller Elementary
  • Suffolk – Elephant’s Fork Elementary
  • Sussex County – Sussex Central Elementary
  • Virginia Beach – College Park Elementary
  • Waynesboro – Wenonah Elementary

Additional information on the progress of Virginia schools and divisions toward meeting the goals of the commonwealth’s NCLB flexibility waiver is available on the Federal Accountability page of the VDOE website.

US to assign 3,000 from US military to fight Ebola

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is ramping up its response to West Africa’s Ebola crisis, preparing to assign 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the afflicted region to supply medical and logistical support to overwhelmed local health care systems and to boost the number of beds needed to isolate and treat victims of the epidemic.

President Barack Obama planned to announce the stepped-up effort Tuesday during a visit to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta amid alarm that the outbreak could spread and that the deadly virus could mutate into a more easily transmitted disease.

The new U.S. muscle comes after appeals from the region and from aid organizations for a heightened U.S. role in combatting the outbreak blamed for more than 2,200 deaths.

Administration officials said Monday that the new initiatives aim to:

— Train as many as 500 health care workers a week.

— Erect 17 heath care facilities in the region of 100 beds each.

— Set up a joint command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to coordinate between U.S. and international relief efforts.

— Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week.

— Carry out a home- and community-based campaign to train local populations on how to handle exposed patients.

Meanwhile, a Senate panel scheduled a Tuesday afternoon hearing on the Ebola crisis. Expected to testify were Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Kent Brantly, an American physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia but recovered after treatment with an experimental drug.

The Obama administration officials said the cost of the stepped-up effort to combat the disease would come from $500 million in overseas contingency operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, that the Pentagon already has asked Congress to redirect to carry out humanitarian efforts in Iraq and in West Africa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans on the record ahead of Obama’s announcement

The officials said it would take about two weeks to get U.S. forces on the ground.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, applauded the new U.S. commitment. Coons earlier had called for the Obama administration to step up its role in West Africa.

“This humanitarian intervention should serve as a firewall against a global security crisis that has the potential to reach American soil,” he said.

Hardest hit by the outbreak are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The virus also has reached Nigeria and Senegal. Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick patients, making doctors and nurses especially vulnerable to contracting the virus, which has no vaccine or approved treatment.

The U.S. effort will include medics and corpsmen for treatment and training, engineers to help erect the treatment facilities and specialists in logistics to assist in patient transportation.

Obama’s trip to the CDC comes a day after the United States also demanded a stepped-up international response to the outbreak. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called Monday for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, warning that the potential risk of the virus could “set the countries of West Africa back a generation.”

Power said the meeting Thursday would mark a rare occasion when the Security Council, which is responsible for threats to international peace and security, addresses a public health crisis.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to brief the council along with World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan and Dr. David Nabarro, the recently named U.N. coordinator to tackle the disease, as well as representatives from the affected countries.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest, responding to criticism that the U.S. needed a more forceful response to the outbreak, said Monday that Obama has identified the outbreak “as a top national security priority,” worried that it could contribute to political instability in the region and that, left unchecked, the virus could transform and become more contagious.

He said the administration responded “pretty aggressively” when the outbreak was first reported in March.

“Since that time our assistance has steadily been ramping up,” he said.

The Senate was also weighing in Tuesday with a hearing to examine the U.S. response. An American missionary doctor who survived the disease was among those scheduled to testify.

Four Americans have been or are being treated for Ebola in the U.S. after evacuation from Africa.

The U.S. has spent more than $100 million responding to the outbreak and has offered to operate treatment centers for patients.

While at the CDC, Obama also will be briefed about cases of respiratory illness being reported in the Midwest, the White House said. Public health officials are monitoring a high number of reported illnesses associated with human enterovirus 68 in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and elsewhere.

After leaving Atlanta, Obama planned to travel to Florida to visit the headquarters of U.S. Central Command in Tampa. He will meet with military officials about the U.S. counterterrorism campaign against the Islamic State group. Central Command overseas U.S. military efforts in the Middle East.

10 Things to Know for Tuesday

The Associated Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

1. US WILLING TO INVOLVE TEHRAN IN FIGHT AGAINST MILITANTS

Secretary of State Kerry rules out any military coordination, however, with its longtime foe against the Islamic State group.

2. EXTREMISTS SET RULES FOR SCHOOL

In Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, the Islamic State militants decree a ban on art and music among other classroom prohibitions.

3. ODILE TEARS UP MEXICO’S BAJA PENINSULA

Along the corridor between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, the hurricane damages homes and businesses, shatters countless windows, and topples trees and power poles.

4. WHY MICROSOFT’S $2.5B BET ON MINECRAFT CARRIES RISK

Gamers are a fickle bunch and today’s popular hit could be tomorrow’s dud.

5. STUDY: FRACKING NOT TO BLAME FOR TAINTED GROUNDWATER

The contamination in several highly publicized cases in the U.S. was instead caused by problems with pipes and seals in natural gas wells, scientists say.

6. WHERE SMOKING’S ON THE RISE

As smoking rates fall across the U.S., 16 percent of adults in New York City smoked in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2010, government figures show.

7. MIGRANT DEATH TOLL SPIKES

The number of people killed this year fleeing Africa for Europe across the Mediterranean is pushing toward a record 3,000.

8. WHAT’S MAKING FINANCIAL REGULATORS NERVOUS

Federally insured reverse mortgages — which because of high default rates have cost the government billions — are again gaining in popularity.

9. APPLE RELEASES ‘DELETE’ TOOL FOR U2 ALBUM

A webpage is set up to help iPhone users get rid of the album after some people complained when the tech giant added the songs for free to 500 million iTunes accounts.

10. WHICH NFL STAR’S BEEN CLEARED TO PLAY

Running back Adrian Peterson, accused of child abuse, returns to the Minnesota Vikings after being benched one game.

Governor, lawmakers announce Va. budget cuts

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican lawmakers are planning to fill a $882 million budget shortfall by tapping the state government’s rainy day fund and making cuts to various agencies, universities, and local governments. The plan won’t affect K-12 school spending and will not include any increase in fees or taxes, they said.

The Democratic governor and leaders of the GOP-controlled House of Delegates announced at a Capitol news conference Monday that they have agreed to cuts of $192 million to state agencies, $90 million for higher education, and $60 million for aide to local governments over the next two years.

The budget plan calls for using $705 million from the state’s rainy day fund during the next two years. The fund currently holds about $940 million.

McAuliffe called Monday’s announcement a “great day” for Virginia and praised Republican lawmakers for working with him in order to “send a signal to Wall Street” and preserve Virginia’s creditworthiness among bond rating agencies.

“Nothing is more important for us than preserving that triple-A bond rating,” McAuliffe said.

A greater bond rating allows Virginia to borrow money at lower interest rates.

McAuliffe and Republicans have frequently clashed since he took office in January, most often on whether the state should expand Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults. The General Assembly is set to hold a special session on Medicaid later this week, where lawmakers will also take up the new budget cuts.

Officials said their budget agreement will give localities and state agencies flexibility for where to make cuts. McAuliffe said he hopes to avoid having to eliminate state jobs.

The cuts for state agencies amount to roughly a 4 percent reduction, which Virginia Governmental Employees Association spokeswoman Johnna Cossaboon said “greatly lowers the potential for state employee job losses.”

Jim Campbell, executive director of the Virginia Association of Counties, said he was disappointed that the proposed budget focused solely on cuts and did not include additional revenues. He said certain tax preferences, like the elimination of the state’s estate tax, need to be revisited. Campbell said by focusing solely on cuts the state has “chosen to push the monkey onto the backs” of localities, many of whom have had to raise taxes in recent years in order to balance their budgets.

McAuliffe announced in August that the state’s budget deficit was $2.4 billion over the biennium, after the General Assembly had passed a budget in June that predicted a budget gap of about $1.5 billion. McAuliffe has blamed slower federal spending and changes in federal tax policy affecting capital gains taxes for the budget deficits.

The budget agreement announced Monday also calls for McAuliffe to come up with additional cuts and other measures totaling $272 million for fiscal 2016, which the governor will present to the General Assembly during next year’s legislative session.

Warming Station planned for homeless this winter in Pulaski

By LINDA WILLIAMS

Staff Writer 

Taking It To The Streets Ministries in Pulaski has been working for months to help the homeless in Pulaski and now its efforts are entering a new phase.

The street ministry first arrived in Pulaski in 2008 and began its service to area residents, in phase one through youth rallies, healing services, a 60-day crusade, and an 84-day revival. Efforts to feed and clothe the needy and provide dynamic evangelistic services were conducted at the ministry’s location at 223 N. Washington Ave.

Charlie Barbettini, pastor of Taking It To The Streets Ministries, who is a licensed and ordained street minister through Healing Wings Ministries and is licensed and working toward ordination in the International Pentecostal Holines Conference through the Appalachian Conference in Dublin, said that in 2010, God birthed “phase two” of the ministry.

“Prayer and donations for a bus began. After being led by God in 2013 a gospel recording group donated a 1973 Silver Eagle Bus to the ministry. Work began to revamp the bus and it is nearing completion. The bus will be used for disaster relief and ministry (youth and adult) locally and around the country.

Now Taking It To The Streets is working to answer God’s call to expand its Homeless Project by adding meals, relief and temporary overnight lodging for the homeless, bringing the ministry to a three-fold concept to combat homelessness in the surrounding area by opening the Warming Station in downtown Pulaski.

“This is not a homeless shelter. I want to be very clear about that,” said Barbettini, pastor of Taking It To The Streets Ministries.

According to Barbettini, the Warming Station will fill a seasonal need for those who have no means of warmth or shelter during the colder months of the year.

“In 2013 God led the ministry along with others to address the needs and concerns of the homeless people in downtown Pulaski and surrounding communities thus birthing the Homeless Project,” explained Barbettini. “Now God is giving clear directions in how He wants to take the Homeless Project to the next level. At this level arrives a Warming Station.”

Barbettini said the facility will be open October through March and allow relief for the homeless when temperatures fall below 40 degrees. The facility will be staffed with volunteers and will include one meal, bathrooms, and overnight lodging.

The homeless will have these accommodations from 7 p.m. the evening until 7 a.m. in the morning.

“We will help them in seeking help from local agencies for housing and long term stay,” said Barbettini.

“We have secured leases on two apartments located at the back of our facility, which is located at 223 N. Washington Ave. in Pulaski,” said Barbettini. “There were funds left in our Homeless Project account from last year so we were able to use that money to get the project started,” said Barbettini. “We knew last year that we needed to be prepared for cold weather this year.”

According to Barbettini, men and women will be separated with one apartment being used for the men and one for the women. Those staying overnight will be assisted by trained volunteers in making sure that they have a bed for the night, and are fed a hot meal.

“We will also refer the homeless to agencies in the area to help identify individual needs with the ultimate goal being permanent housing,” said Barbettini.

“We feel this is a good solution to a potentially tragic outcome, but we can do nothing alone. We need people of all walks of life to volunteer to help and churches to volunteer to feed the homeless during this time.

Last year with the monetary donations received from the community we were able to temporarily house the homeless at local motels in the town when the temperatures were most frigid and assist with permanent housing. With other donations we were also able to give the homeless who wanted to stay in the tents better sleeping bags and tents, blankets, shoes, clothing and food,” Barbettini recalled.

“Last year, local law enforcement was instrumental in helping us locate the homeless during some of the most un-seasonally cold weather in years.  The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department helped us locate and bring the homeless out of tents located along railroad tracks in the town limits and place them in a warm motel. Without their help the outcome would have been tragic. Thanks to God and what He has provided we are better prepared to meet those needs this year,” said Barbettini.

Through the Homeless Project program, he noted, the ministry has developed a relationship with law enforcement and he is hopeful law enforcement’s burden has been eased as well.

“We have a place, but now we need volunteers. Volunteers are absolutely vital to the success of this program,” stated Barbettini. “We need at least four husband and wife teams who are willing to be trained to supervise and handle the needs of those staying overnight at the Warming Station from 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. in the morning,” said Barbettini.  Volunteers will stay in a separate area within the apartment.

“We prefer husband and wife teams, but individual male and females volunteers to form teams is acceptable. We just need proper supervision for the two apartments through the night,” Barbettini said.

“I humbly ask people to pray and look deep into themselves and consider volunteering for this program,” he said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to show God’s love for your fellow man. God can birth this project and we can answer the call, but it takes every one of us to be God’s hands and feet. It’s like I said before, before there can be any real change in the lives of the homeless they need to be fed and kept warm. We want to show them the love of Christ unconditionally. That is how Christ loves us, unconditionally. We do not have to get everything just right. He loves us where we are right now, said Barbettini.

“People are quick to judge. The why and how they got to this place isn’t nearly as important as how we can get them out. Some people find it very hard to love or be concerned about people like this, but we should follow Christ’s example. He loved and forgave the very ones who crucified Him,” said Barbettini. “Some may say ‘they deserve it! They’re drunk and they don’t work! Anything I do for them won’t do any good and if I give them anything they will just sell it for booze.’ Yes, they may do just that, but we will have shown them the love of Christ at one of the lowest points in their lives. We as people shouldn’t be willing to let them freeze to death on a cold winter’s night or go hungry just to prove a point,” Barbettini said.

“Everyone’s life has been affected by addiction and unemployment in one way or another. Wouldn’t you appreciate someone reaching out to your child, a brother or sister if they were beyond your reach and giving them a meal, a warm bed and an opportunity to find the help they need? We all need to think about that. If we do not show them the love of Christ we have failed,” he added. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Barbettini said the ministry is also asking churches to prayerfully consider providing meals for the homeless staying at the Warming Station.  “There are many churches in the area and if many participate the burden is lighter for all,” said Barbettini.

“We are so new at this and there are many things we will learn as we go along, but if one church at a time commits to providing meals for just one week that would be very helpful,” he added.

“For example, one church might consider providing hot soup and sandwiches, that church could bring enough soup and sandwiches for the first two nights, then on the  third and fourth nights bring something like spaghetti, salad and garlic bread, and so on like that until the week is complete.  We all eat leftovers,” said Barbettini with a smile.

“We have the apartments, now we need to furnish them. We are reaching out to the community one more time. We are in need of some necessary items in order to open the Warming Station in mid-October. Leases for the apartments have just recently been finalized so we are in a tiny bit of a time crunch. We have five weeks to furnish the apartments,” he noted.

“We are not sure when the temperatures will be below 40 degrees, but we want to be prepared when they are,” he said.

Items needed for the apartments include:

-Cots with pads and plastic covers

– Plastic totes to stow bedding in the morning and personal property overnight

-Couches and chairs in good condition

– Lamps and tables

– Microwaves

– Coffee pots

– Sleeping bags

– Pillows

– Bleach

– Disinfectant spray

– Anti-bacterial soap

– Soap

– Deodorant

-Toothbrushes and toothpaste

– Disposable shavers for men and women

– Socks and flip-flops for showering

– Monetary donations from clubs, organizations and businesses to help secure the things needed would be greatly appreciated as well. Donations will also be used to help with utility costs and rent.

“We know this is a big undertaking and that it will take a lot of God’s people joining together to make this a success, but we can help fill this need in our community if we all join together,” said Barbettini. “God bless you and we look forward to partnering with the communities to carry out God’s commission.”

If you would like to volunteer please call Charlie Barbettini at (276) 620-4293.

Taking It To The Streets Ministry is a 501c3 ministry. If you feel led to send a tax deductible gift please make the donation to Taking It To the Streets – The Homeless Project/Warming Station, P.O. Box 30, Pulaski, VA 24301 or go to www.streets4god.com and use the PayPal account. Taking It To The Streets is an interdenominational ministry.

‘Jane Doe’ tells of her life as a homeless woman

Then homeless Jane Doe is seen here talking with Charlie Barbettin of Taking It To The Streets Ministry at her former home on the railroad tracks.

Then homeless Jane Doe is seen here talking with Charlie Barbettin of Taking It To The Streets Ministry at her former home on the railroad tracks.

By LINDA WILLIAMS

Staff Writer 

“Charlie bought help and got me and a couple of other homeless friends out on Jan. 6, of this year. It was the coldest night I can remember but since Jan. 10 I have been living in an apartment of my own and I am blessed to have it,” said Jane Doe, a former homeless woman who had made her home along the railroad tracks in the Pulaski town limits for a year and nine months.

“I’m from Salem. I graduated from Salem High School in 1979. I have been a licensed CNA, attended college at Virginia Western Community College, I was enrolled in the nursing program and was a Sunday school teacher as well, if you can believe that,” Jane laughed. “I have a deep faith, but I don’t count on it or draw from it,” she offered as if choosing something of great value to her.

Behind the laugh is obvious regret for missed opportunities. But there is a certain grace about this woman and a personal knowing that her life hasn’t turned out the way she had planned.

Yes, alcoholism has played a part in her story.

“I have always had a problem with alcohol, but strangely enough when I work I do not drink. I’ve always been that way. My father was an alcoholic. I started sneaking around drinking when I was 14 or 15 years old. I got married when I was 16. I was married when I graduated high school. I wasn’t going to have a baby. I just did it because my mother let me. I don’t know why she did that any way. Of course that marriage ended in divorce. I was a wife, I had to ask my husband for lunch money,” she laughed. He worked and we were poor.

“I worked in a sewing factory. That was not for me. Then I worked at a nursing home where they trained me to be a CNA,” she said proudly.

“When I attended Virginia Western Community College I was in the nursing program. I got married and dropped out and never went back to it. I just had six months to go,” she offered.

Jane Doe and her husband had three children – two girls and one boy. “I didn’t drink heavily when I was raising my children and I am thankful to tell you none of them drink or smoke,” she said with relief. “I was a soccer mom, a basketball mom, I did all of that stuff,” said Jane.

Then what caused the descent into homelessness?

“I did not start drinking heavily until my children were grown. I found out my husband who worked for the railroad at the time was unfaithful to me and that was the beginning. I was at home doing what I was supposed to being doing, but not him,” she offered.

“When he did that to me I started drinking, drinking and drinking in order to cope.” That was the beginning.

How did Jane come to make Pulaski her home?

“To be perfectly honest about it, I was on a big drunk in Salem. I got in a car with some people from here and didn’t go back to Salem for a while. I went back to Salem and I come back to Pulaski. I had met a lot of people I liked here so I stayed.” She stopped drinking.

At some point after Jane stopped and was sober for two years she started working again. “I worked with a man here in Pulaski and we laid tile for a living. He got sick and later died of cancer. I lost my job when he died. I didn’t have transportation to a job, no income, and no means of providing for myself. I didn’t know about the services they have now,” she said.

“I was desperate and hopeless. My landlord at the time let me stay as long as he could, but I had to leave the apartment. I can remember thinking, ‘I have a tent, it is March it will be warm soon, I’ll camp out for a while. This is only temporary,’” Jane said. But in reality she remained on the street for a year and nine months.

When she is asked if she still drinks she is quick to say, “Yes, but I haven’t had a drink today, not yet, she is quick to add.”

“It is crazy when you get in that cycle. It is hard to get away from people who drink because all of your friends drink too,” Jane said.

“When I was homeless and lived on the tracks, we all drank. It was like a big watering hole down there. People who had homes would bring alcohol to us and just visit and Joey and Big John, two other homeless men, would hustle alcohol when they could. That is how we got the alcohol most of the time,” she said. “I thought a lot about looking for a job, but I had dirty fingernails, couldn’t shower, no clean clothes. I did wash my clothes in the creek sometimes. The more I thought about that the more I drank. Who wants someone like that working for them? You drink to stop the pain, but then you drink to stop withdrawal if you try to stop drinking. So it goes on and on,” she offered.

“I really didn’t ask for help out of my situation. My son still will not speak to me, my daughters have families of their own. My mother and brother live in Salem. They are hoarders of the worst kind so there is no room for me there. It was hopeless I thought. So I just resigned myself to this life until one day me and a couple of other homeless friends went to Taking It To the Street Ministry for church. I knew what church was about,” Jane said.

“When we walked in you could take one look at us and know we were homeless, but Charlie Barbettini, the pastor there welcomed us in. He didn’t care what we looked like. I didn’t tell him our situation because I thought it was a shameful thing to live in a tent and not have a home, but one of the other men did. That is how Charlie knew who we were and where and how we lived. He, Jack and Mary Ellen Byrd and David Simpkins started visiting with some of us on the tracks. We didn’t trust anyone, but had a good relationship with them. I didn’t think anyone cared until they started caring about us,” she said.

“As the weather became cooler they were always checking on us to see if we were okay and offering us lodging when the temperatures dipped. That was really appreciated,” she said.

“On Jan. 6, when the weather turned so cold, Charlie and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department came and picked me and a couple of others up.”

Little did Jane know that that ride was her ride out of homelessness and despair.

“I was given an apartment to live in. I went back to my tent a few months later just to see what had happened to my things. All of my things were gone and what they didn’t steal they burned. They burned my Daddy’s Bible. Who does that kind of thing,” she asked.

“I recently heard that Taking It To The Streets is starting a Warming Station in Pulaski. A place where people like me can get warm and have a bed for the night, get a hot meal and a shower. That would have been wonderful for me. A place like that might lift a homeless person’s spirits and give them hope and a place to get cleaned up to go look for a job. This will be a good thing,” she said.

“If it had not been for the donations sent in Taking It To The Streets I would not have been warm those last days on the street. Without those donations Charlie told me, I couldn’t have gotten an apartment. Some of that money was used to pay my deposit for my apartment. I am grateful for that,” she said. “I must admit it was strange walking into an apartment after so long in the tent. I thought, I have water, electricity … I really didn’t know how to act. When I got my first pot and pans and Mary Ellen took me shopping, I gradually adjusted and can say I am happy now,” she said.

 

“I want to thank everyone who donated money, blankets, food … it made a difference in my life and my homeless friends’ lives as well,” she offered.

“I would like to say one more thing, I would appreciate a job. I know I drink, but like I said when I have a job I don’t drink – even on weekends. I just need someone to believe in me and take a chance on me,” said Jane.

Call Charlie Barbettini at 276-620-4293 to contact Jane.

Jane would like to also thank David Simpkins, Shirley Ridpath, Janet Johnson, formerly of New River Community Action, Jenny Curtis of NRCA, Mike and Tina Jones, Officer Tony Meredith and the Sheriff’s Department.

Warner leads Gillespie in new poll

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A new poll shows U.S. Sen. Mark Warner enjoying a dominant lead over his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie.

A survey released Tuesday by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows Warner, a Democrat, up 53 percent to Gillespie’s 31 percent among likely voters.

Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis polled at 5 percent.

Polls have consistently shown Warner, a former governor seeking a second term as senator, with large leads over Gillespie since the former Republican National Committee chairman and lobbyist entered the race in January.

There were 819 voters interviewed between Sept. 2 and Sept. 7 for the poll, which reported a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

One injured in small plane incident on I-77

9-10-14 I77 Carroll Co Plane CrashFrom the Va. State Police

At 1:12 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 10), Virginia State Police were called to the scene of a plane crash along Interstate 77 near the 5 mile marker in Carroll County, Va. A 1939 J3 single-engine aircraft was flying south along Interstate 77 when it came in contact with some of the tree tops in the median and crash landed into the mountain that makes up the median of I-77 at Fancy Gap. The plane never made contact with the interstate.

The 67-year-old pilot was transported to Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries. He was the only occupant of the aircraft.

The area of the crash was experiencing dense fog and limited visibility in the area at the time of the crash. Visibility on the ground was approximately 500 feet. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Both the FAA and NTSB have been notified.

Only one northbound lane of I-77 is closed to through traffic at this time.