By Taylor Boyd
Legacy Wellness LLC, a mental health skill building company, has recently opened its doors to help Patrick residents in need of service.
Legacy strives to help the homeless communities and those suffering with mental illness, according to CEO Shannon Huffman, who started the agency in January 2021.
“We do mental health skill building, we do intensive in-home for children, and then we also have a program called Legacy Recovery in which we help people who are in homeless situations in addictions, anything that you could recover from that is what that is for,” she said.
Participants in the recovery program visit the Stuart site during the day to get help with finding permanent housing solutions, get food, work to find case management free of charge.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Huffman said, adding that she decided to start Legacy because she was tired of working for companies whose main purpose was to gain a dollar, but never offer their employees proper wages or benefits.
“I started Legacy so that all of us who have been in this field for a long period of time could have a place to come to and know that they’re going to be taken care of and they don’t have to worry about a paycheck,” she said.
Huffman said several companies give mental health skill building a bad name because of a failure to keep their promises to help those who ask for assistance.
“We wanted to be different, and we wanted everyone in the community to have a place to come to if they needed help,” she said.
Ariel Johnson, Stuart Program Director and Regional Director of the company, said the clients in most of the skill building companies she has worked for have always just gone with the flow. “But our clients consistently in each area that I visit always say that their lives have been tremendously changed within the year that Legacy has been involved,” she said.
Within the last three months, Legacy has helped house around 20 clients, many of which are also in recovery from their addictions.
Huffman said the largest area the organization covers is at its Martinsville site, which opened in October 2021.
“We’ve helped over 100 people just in Martinsville alone,” she said, adding the group has helped more than 200 individuals overall across all of its facilities.
The organization currently offers its services in five locations: Stuart, Danville, Roanoke, Martinsville, and Hillsville. Huffman said she is looking to expand to more areas “as there is a massive need for our services throughout the region.”
In addition to teaching mental health skills, Legacy also helps clients with transportation, finding doctors, creating medication regiments, and learning about nutrition and budgeting. “Any type of skills training that they need, whether it be parenting, job skills training, or resumes we help with all of it,” she said.
The group also assists with finding the homeless places to live, and provides duplexes in Martinsville to those who need a transition place to stay.
To further assist with homeless clients, Legacy recently began offering a program called ‘Shelter During the Day’ at its Stuart site, which is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5-5:30 p.m.
Once people arrive at the site, Huffman said they are welcome to get breakfast, hang out and see case management for any resource.
“We can help you with laundry and you can take a shower. We feed you lunch, and you are able to watch TV, play games, read, and just relax,” she said.
A clothing closet and a pantry with food and hygiene products also are available to provide necessities to clients.
After closing, clients have the option to go to the Warming Center in Martinsville-Henry County. Johnson, who also serves as the center’s director and often drives clients to the center from the Stuart location, said the warming shelter is an overnight respite for folks experiencing homelessness when temperatures drop to 35-degrees or lower.
“Normally in the Warming Center we serve maybe 12 at the most. This year our max was 24. We’ve doubled capacity, and that’s not even folks that are consistently there,” she said.
Huffman said the day shelter and the assistance it offers are just stepping stones to the next step. “Normally, people who come into day shelters are not there very long. For example, one fellow came into the Martinsville day shelter, and he came in on a Monday, and by Thursday he was housed,” she said.
Johnson said she believes Legacy will see an increase in clientele after COVID-19 regulation protections are lifted. “Right now, there’s still those pieces of protection where you can’t get evicted,” she said.
Monetary donations can be made to P.O. Box 1035 in Stuart. Donations of food, clothing, and other items can be dropped off at the Stuart or Martinsville sites.
The Stuart site is located at 120 E. Blue Ridge St. Stuart, VA, 24171. The site is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information, go to Facebook.com/LegacyWellness, or www.legacywellnes.care, or call the office at (276) 692-2299.