WVSOM signs lease with Montwell Commons Barn, to be named Clingman Center for Community Engagement

LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) is further investing in rural and community health by signing a long-term lease with the Greenbrier Valley Restoration Project to operate programs and activities at the Montwell Commons Barn, situated just two blocks from the WVSOM campus. In partnership with the Greenbrier County Health Alliance (GCHA), the Barn will be used to deliver new programs, services and opportunities for residents to learn skills and practices to actively improve and manage healthy lives.

The Barn will be named the Clingman Center for Community Engagement in honor of Gwen Clingman, who was known for her big-hearted devotion to and nourishment of WVSOM students and the Lewisburg community through generous meals lovingly served for decades at Clingman’s Market downtown. A shared-use teaching kitchen is under construction with plans in the works to offer cooking classes for families, youth, and people living with chronic health conditions. Workforce training and culinary medicine programs along with community engagement and outreach initiatives are also being developed.

The Clingman Center will serve as headquarters for the Waste Not/Want Not local food justice program currently in its second year. GCHA sponsors this gleaning project to buy fresh, unsold produce from farmers at a reduced rate at the end of the market day to be shared with those in need. With the generous support of local farmers, this surplus provision provides nutritious food to seniors and low-income residents across Greenbrier County. Moreover, local farmers are cultivating a demonstration garden adjacent to the Barn, and free weekly gardening lessons are underway.

GCHA is currently establishing a schedule of workshops at the Barn that will offer free, weekly skill-building sessions to improve self-management of diabetes, chronic pain and This unique collaboration also presents opportunities for public health research and evaluation to track Barn activity, progress and outcomes and plan next steps. In partnership with WVU Center for Health Services Research, a referral system using WV Health Connection software will link patients and providers who are interested in program activities to the Clingman Center from Robert C. Byrd Clinic and surrounding health care partners.

Montwell Commons is a unique and dynamic place where people work together in new and empowering ways to ensure that everyone in the community has the opportunity to be heard and to be active in their health. James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, stated, “This partnership is creating an intersection between health and the community where everyone is encouraged to visit and engage in healthy activities. WVSOM is excited about this collaboration and the opportunity to be working within the community.”

A dedication of the Clingman Center and schedule of activities will be coming soon.

This collaborative project is made possible with funding from the Benedum Foundation, The Peyton Foundation, The One Foundation, The Hallowell Foundation, a USDA Rural Business Development Grant, The Disabilities Opportunity Fund and the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Generous local donations were received from the Withrow, Attar, Linquist, Woodward, Soukup and Peyton families, with additional local contributions, in-kind labor and technical support provided by Greenbrier Valley residents.

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