New Partnership directors focus on building a positive community for kids

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County Partnership’s Executive Director Kristen Gingery and Director Robin Langenstein began their new positions at the helm of the organization this summer.

The Morgan County Partnership’s new administrators are Director Robin Langenstein (left) and Executive Director Kristen Gingery. (right)

The Morgan County Partnership works together with local government, organizations, schools, businesses, churches and individuals to create a safe, healthy and drug-free community and to empower young people to make smart decisions. Their programs are designed to help young people build the personal skills and assets they need to meet life’s challenges.

Morgan County Partnership programs include the Positive Actions Program, Morgan County Teen Court, Too Good for Drugs and Violence, 40 Developmental Assets-Positive Actions, Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and the Parent Child Academy. Their youth group programs include the Teen Court Club, the Berkeley Springs High School Bully Prevention Team and the Morgan County Youth Coalition.

Kristen Gingery was the executive director of the Family Resource Network of the Eastern Panhandle for the last two and a half years.   The network encourages resource development and community and organization collaboration in the tri-county area and assesses needs and resources as they emerge, Gingery said. Before that, she coordinated summer camps for the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital and worked as an English as Second Language tutor.

Gingery has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Shepherd University and minored in Fine Arts. She has a graduate certification in child and adolescent psychology and will finish her Masters of Arts in Psychology next spring.

Gingery said her interest is in child and adolescent psychology research to promote positive outcomes for youth. The Morgan County Partnership assesses community youth needs and targets programs for the community and schools.

With her background, Gingery can explore the research, request grants, provide curriculum and assess curriculum outcomes. The organization has several high school clubs where they get direct feedback from kids and can see the impact of their programs, which is rewarding, she said.

Langenstein’s work experience is in office management and medical billing in the health care field. She worked for seven years at Tri-State Community Health Center in billing and also as a case manager. Langenstein also has volunteer experience working with youth groups and counseling through First Church United Methodist Church and the Refuge Community Church.

Langenstein is a board member of Life or Drugs, Tri-State Support which created the Team Hope support group for ages 10-16.   They meet weekly at the Refuge Church and deal with topics like grief, stress and bullying. Langenstein has a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from West Virginia University. Langenstein said the Morgan County Partnership is a great community resource.

“This was an opportunity for me to help my community attack the drug problem. It’s always been my passion to work with youth,” Langenstein said of her new position.

Teamwork

Gingery and Langenstein said they work as a team with other staff and are very collaborative on the organization’s vision and approach.

Gingery coordinates grant-writing and oversight of state and federal grants, writes grants and creates their strategic plan and action plans for grants. She also chairs the Adolescent Health Task Force and co-chairs the high school bully prevention club and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter.

Langenstein oversees programs and manages staff, does community education and works with the bully prevention club and youth coalition. She chairs the Underage Drinking Prevention task force, which does compliance checks in local businesses, and promotes the 40 Developmental Assets program in the community.

Those assets are building blocks or positive experiences or qualities that help children grow up to be healthy, caring, responsible and successful adults and make good decisions.

The Partnership conducts two surveys in Morgan County Schools to determine the positive experiences and assets students have in their lives, kids’ opinions on drugs, bullying and peer pressure and their risk for drug and alcohol use and suicide.

Gingery said they’re evaluating the results of the 2018 student surveys. She’d love to partner with a local university to assess their student data from the past six years to see the long-term impact of their programs.

What’s new

Their Positive Action program is now in all Morgan County Schools except Pleasant View Elementary, where it will be coming soon, Gingery said. Positive Action builds student character and life skills and promotes a positive school environment through teaching goal-setting, conflict resolution, healthy choices, cooperation, respect, honesty and empathy and reduces bullying and school absenteeism.

The Promise Neighborhoods initiative also began this past year to help create strong networks of support and solutions for children and families in distressed communities.

The Morgan County Partnership has focused on the North Berkeley community and Morgan County Starting Points has focused on Paw Paw with meetings, block parties and assessments of needs, resources and gaps in service, Gingery said.

The Partnership is also looking to expand the Warm Springs Middle School news team program into Berkeley Springs High Schools and Paw Paw High School by student request, Gingery said.

Gingery said anyone in the community is welcome to join their taskforces, which include the Prescription Drug Prevention taskforce. They invited community members to attend the Morgan County Partnership breakfast that’s held on the last Friday of every month at 8:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church.

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