United Way works to raise phoenix through fundraisers

By Ryan Cornell

The United Way of Front Royal-Warren County has a full slate of events planned this summer to raise money for its Phoenix Project.

The Phoenix Project strives to reestablish services for individuals in Warren County experiencing sexual assault and domestic violence.

Harmony Place, a United Way agency, provided these free services — including emergency shelter, counseling, safety planning and rapid rehousing — for more than 30 years before closing last October.

Because the agency was closed due to bankruptcy, it lost its nonprofit status and dissolved. Lee Smith-Osina, executive director of the United Way of Front Royal, said they hope to be ready to apply as a 501c3 early next year.

“The bad news is that we have to start all over again,” she said. “The good news is we’ve been here before.”

As of May 1, the United Way has been able to restart some basic services for the Phoenix Project through significant funding from Zachry, the firm constructing the Dominion Power Plant.

Smith-Osina said a staff of one full-time and one part-time employee currently work on providing adult services, child services and sexual assault and domestic violence services to individuals in Warren County.

“Instead of getting you to a shelter, we’re sheltering in local motels,” she said. “That’s not the ideal situation, but it’s all we have right now.”

A local hotline, which had ended when the agency closed, is back up and running, she said.

Individuals with any kind of emergency can call 540-313-6009.

The United Way is hosting a variety of fundraisers to revive more of these services.

Recently, a benefit concert at Downtown Front Royal’s gazebo kicked off efforts to “raise the phoenix from the ashes.”

Another fundraiser benefiting the project is the 23rd annual Million Dollar Golf Tournament at the Bowling Green Country Club on Sept. 5. The tournament, which concludes with a chance to win $1 million with a hole-in-one, supports a different cause each year, and proceeds from this year’s tournament will go toward the United Way.

Then on Sept. 20, the United Way will host its annual Shrimp, Oyster and BBQ Fest. For $50, guests can load up on all-you-can-eat shrimp and oysters catered by The Apple House. The event will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Volunteer Fire Hall on Commerce Avenue.

Last year the event raised $27,000, Smith-Osina said, and she hopes to top that this year.

“This is a multi-year project,” she said. “If we want these services here, we are locally going to have to support these services.”

To order tickets for the shrimp and oyster fest, contact the United Way office at 540-636-3636.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com