About Our Programs

The Drop-In Center

The Drop-In Center is the “heart and soul” of Covenant House and is our longest-running program. On average, over 100 people walk through the doors each day to access a variety of services, referrals and programs.

  • Open weekdays, 8 am – 4 pm
  • Safe space
  • Mail service/phone
  • Laundry facilities
  • Showering facilities
  • Emergency assistance with utilities
  • Vouchers for food pantry and clothing closet
  • Help with obtaining official documents
  • Referrals to employment, education, counseling services, and other assistance
  • Creative Expression classes in art/creative writing
  • 30,651 client contacts in 2010

Randy Elsea, Drop-In Center Coordinator

304-344-8053, ext. 12 relsea@wvcovenanthouse.org

Jill Gormley, AmeriCorps Member

Drop-In Center Assistant & Dollar Energy application coordinator

304-344-8053, ext. 49 jgormley@wvcovenanthouse.org

Leah Smith, AmeriCorps Member

Drop-In Center Assistant

304-344-8053, ext. 46 lsmith@wvcovenanthouse.org

Food Pantry

The Covenant House Food Pantry is located at First Presbyterian Church and is open weekdays from 9:00 to 12:30 pm. With a referral from the Drop-In Center, families and individuals in Kanawha County can access food once a month without fear of judgment.

In 2010, the Food Pantry transitioned to a “Choice” pantry, which allows people to pick the items of their choosing and is a more dignified, shopping-like experience.

5,592 people were served by the pantry in 2010.

Each year, most of the pantry items come from “Canstruction”, a national design and build competition that raises awareness about hunger. Local engineers and architects compete to create artistic structures from canned food, but at the end of the competition, the Covenant House Food Pantry is the real winner.

The Pantry also relies on groups and individuals to donate food, which may be dropped off at First Presbyterian or at Covenant House’s main office. Please click here for a list of popular foods. (Document called “Needs List-Food Pantry”)

To organize a food drive, contact Development Director, Loretta Young.

For general questions about the Food Pantry, contact Programs Director, David Bennett.

Clothing Closet

The Clothing Closet is located at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church and is open weekdays from 9:00 to noon. Clothing and household goods are sold to the general public at thrift store prices, and given to those who have a referral from our Drop In Center.

2,662 served in 2010

Questions? Contact Programs Director, David Bennett.

Emergency Assistance

Covenant Hosue’s Emergency Assistance program offers financial help to low- and no-income individuals who are facing eviction or utility shut-off. Funds to support these efforts come from individual donors, the faith community, foundations, the City of Charleston, and the federal government’s FEMA program. In cooperation with other social service agencies, staff fills service gaps and makes referrals when necessary.

To receive emergency assistance, a client must live within Kanawha County and visit the Drop-In Center presenting state-issued photo ID, proof of income, and a current termination or eviction notice. Funds are released for this program on the first business day of each month and are available until they run out.

For more information, contact Drop-In Center Coordinator, Randy Elsea.

Housing Assistance & Programs

  • Permanent Housing

Covenant House, and our subsidiary organization, Community Housing, operate four residences in Charleston providing permanent housing for those experiencing both homelessness and certain disabilities. Two of these houses are funded through HUD’s Section 8-11 program, one is operated through private donations, and one through HUD’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA).

This latter HOPWA house was Covenant House’s first permanent housing program. Launched in 1989, the HOPWA residence provided housing to people with HIV who had been rejected by family and friends fearful of this terrible disease. As other doors were closing for many with HIV and AIDS, Covenant House was opening its doors to allow people with AIDS a place to live — and in some cases die — with dignity.

For more information about vacancies in our Community Housing program, contact Property Manager, Phil Hainen.

  • HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS)

Covenant House’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program is part of the West Virginia Coalition for People with AIDS — a statewide housing and advocacy group.

Funded by HUD, as well as State and private sources, services available to qualified HIV-positive individuals include financial assistance with rent, utilities, medication, and other housing related costs.

Carrying a caseload of more than 300 clients in 22 southern West Virginia counties, Covenant House HOPWA case managers offer supportive services, housing information and referrals, and educational information. They can assist participants with Living Wills, Medical Power of Attorney, and completing forms required by government and insurance. Services also are available to families and life partners.

Contact HOPWA case managers, Michael Vincent or Cecelia Johnson for more information.

  • HPRP (Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program)

This Recovery Act-funded program helps families and individuals experiencing homelessness or who would become homeless but for this assistance – and – who are likely to achieve stable housing after program participation concludes. Services include financial assistance for housing-related costs and/or housing relocation and stabilization services.

A very popular program, HPRP assistance is not intended to provide long-term support for program participants, nor is it able to address all of the financial and supportive service needs of households that affect housing stability. Rather, assistance is focused on housing stabilization, linking program participants to community resources/mainstream benefits, and helping them develop a plan for preventing future housing instability.

For more information, contact HPRP case managers, Briana Martin or Jilian Kuntz.

  • Housing First

Our newest program launched in April 2011 and is based on the concept that providing housing first, before any other intervention or requirement, is both more cost effective and remarkably successful at addressing chronic homelessness.

The model is simple: provide housing first, and then add supportive service options in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment. Housing is provided in ”scattered site” apartments, which fosters a sense of home and self-determination, and helps speed the reintegration of clients into the community.

Our Housing First program is comprised of 8 single-unit transitional housing vouchers, and 10 permanent housing vouchers (6 single-unit and 2 two-bedrooms units for families).

For more information, contact Housing First case manager, Beth Lazear.

  • Benefits Assistance (SOAR)

Following the national SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) model, Covenant House’s SOAR Program helps people who are mentally ill and homeless obtain social security benefits as a first step toward their long-term recovery. SOAR is a critical step toward ending homelessness for people with disabilities in Charleston, offering a way to recover and become successful, contributing citizens. Receiving monthly disability or supplemental security income creates options for housing, health care needs, and ultimately, an individual’s recovery.

Covenant House also offers technical assistance and training workshops on the SOAR protocol, with the next 2-day workshop on September 15-16, 2011.

Please contact Wilsie Herlihy, SOAR Case Manager, with any SOAR training or disability questions.

HIV Prevention

Rapid Response HIV Testing

On the first Wednesday of each month from noon until 4:00 pm, Covenant House offers free Rapid-Response HIV testing – a simple and painless cheek swap.

Free, confidential, and it only takes 20 minutes.

HIV counseling available. Call Dave Bennett at 344-8053, x 24 or Sherra Cates at 344-8053, x 45 to schedule a confidential and free appointment.

HIV Support Group

On the second Thursday of every month, Covenant House hosts an HIV Support Group in our Community Room from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM.  We offer a confidential, safe environment for anyone who would like to reach out to others for support and/or socialization.  All HIV positive individuals and their loved ones are welcome to attend.   These meetings are free and light refreshments are served.

Smoking Cessation

The Covenant House Smoking Cessation program is an educational campaign to encourage members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community to stop smoking and to adopt a clean air policy for their home and other social settings. This campaign will utilize both traditional and non-traditional media, including materials that promote the West Virginia Tobacco Cessation Quit Line.

Contact Michael Vincent for more information.


As advocates, Covenant House staff members work to ensure those with the fewest resources have a voice in the policy-making process. Educating the general public and decision makers (from the local to the federal level) is a constant priority.

We work in coalition with partnering agencies across the county, state, and nation whenever possible, particularly fellow member organizations of the Kanawha Valley Collective. [www.kanawhavalleycollective.org]