Williamson Daily News

Energy Express is a statewide eight-week summer program that focuses on reading and nutrition for children living in low-income communities. Energy Express goals are to enhance or maintain reading levels through read aloud, one-on-one reading, creative art, drama and vocabulary.

Children are provided breakfast and lunch to ensure that the youth across the state are fed each day.

Mingo County offered four Energy Express sites: Dingess, Gilbert, Matewan and Williamson.

The Williamson site in particular successfully went above and beyond to help the youth in the Williamson community. The Williamson site had seven mentors, one community coordinator, one site supervisor, two bus drivers, one custodian and one cook. Each staff member went through extensive training to prepare for the summer.

The Williamson site also completed two community service projects. The first community service project was a school supply drive at Walmart. The site collected more than $300 in school supplies. The second project was a blood drive. With the help from the American Red Cross, 14 pints of blood was donated.

The mentors help improve the children's reading and writing skills, while also making sure that they receive two nutritious meal each day. During this summer, the Williamson site served 3,462 meals. On average, that is 37 children, 13 staff members and 13 volunteers daily.

The community coordinator invited community members to guest read to the children. A few examples of guest readers were the farmer's market, University of Charleston honor students, Joe Manchin's assistant Michael Browning, the RD Bailey Lake staff and Bill Richardson. The community coordinator also brought in teen and adult volunteers to help aid the site with reading, writing, art, and other needs.

In total, the volunteers completed 1,575 volunteer hours.