New WATTS executive director continues to seek permanent location

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Robyn Miller, the new interim executive director of WATTS (Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter) Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Robyn Miller, interim executive director for the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), said the charity is “constantly” working on several leads for a permanent, year-round location to shelter the area’s homeless.

“Housing in Winchester just gets more and more expensive,” Miller said on Tuesday. “We’re displacing people all the time.”

WATTS, a nonprofit group, partners with local faith-based organization to provide overnight shelter to people who need a warm place to sleep when the weather turns cold. The program rotates through various churches, a week at a time, for 20 weeks.

Miller, a WATTS board member and former volunteer, recently succeeded Marion Schottelkorb, who died last month. Miller is acting as interim executive director until Jan. 1, at which time she will solidify her position.

She said she would like to be the director that sees “Marion’s vision” of a permanent, 365-day-a-year shelter become a reality.

Progress is being made on that vision, Miller said. The Salvation Army has offered to donate some land, while several churches have offered buildings, she said.

Miller declined to say exactly where the land and buildings are because WATTS’ expansion committee is still studying each site, she said. But it is a primary project the 15-member board is undertaking.

There are more immediate concerns, Miller said. Fundraising is a constant worry, as it takes $130,000 to put on the 20 weeks of programming. The WATTS program will begin Nov. 9.

Expenses include the bus WATTS owns, medical supplies and pay for the night watchmen who stay with the 35 sheltered guests.

Also, First United Methodist Church is moving from downtown, so that location will not be available this year, Miller said. The board has to find another location for that week.

Miller said she would also like to chip away at the stigma of homelessness. While some of the WATTS guests are people with mental illnesses and physical disabilities, more than half of them are people who work jobs in construction or restaurants, she said.

“They go to work every day,” she said, adding that the competition and cost of housing in the area can be so intense that working people cannot afford a place to live.

A member of Braddock Street United Methodist Church. Miller said she was looking for a volunteer opportunity and ended up helping when Braddock Street UMC hosted WATTS. She became a board member about a year ago, she said.

Miller is the only full-time employee of WATTS. Her salary is $52,000, she said.

WATTS can only take 35 people, Miller said. They frequently have to turn people away “and it’s awful.”

She said she was immediately enamored with WATTS’ mission when she started volunteering and hopes to continue maintaining and growing the organization.

“It’s just a meal, a bed and fellowship,” she said. “And it makes such a huge difference in the community.”

— Contact Onofrio Castiglia at ocastiglia@winchesterstar.com
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Schottelkorb’s compassion, leadership celebrated at WATTS fundraiser

A portrait of Marion Schottelkorb and her husband, George, was displayed as part of a tribute to her at Saturday night’s fundraiser for Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS) at West Oaks Farm Market in Frederick County. Marion Schottelkorb was involved with the nonprofit organization for nine of its 10 years and was its executive director when she died July 6. Photo by BRIAN BREHM/The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The legacy of Marion Schottelkorb loomed large Saturday night at an event she was helping organize when she died last month.

The event was A Wizardly Evening in Oz, a “Wizard of Oz”-themed fundraiser for Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), the nonprofit overseen by Schottelkorb for nine of its 10 years.

“She was a person of very deep passion and commitment to anything she was involved with,” said Opequon Presbyterian Church Pastor David Witt, who headed the task force of local churches that created WATTS in 2009. “That certainly involved a deep commitment and loyalty to the WATTS ministry.”

WATTS is a program that provides a warm, safe place for homeless people to have a meal and sleep during cold weather, from November to March. Twenty participating churches offer shelter for one week at a time, and shuttle services are provided to transport clients to and from each week’s location. Guests check in at 7 p.m. each night and leave by 7 a.m. each day.

“Our WATTS shelter may be open 20 weeks during the year, but it requires a year-round effort,” Witt said.

Many of the volunteers and donors who keep WATTS running attended Saturday’s banquet at West Oaks Farm Market at 4305 Middle Road in Frederick County. Sue Nixson, who handles marketing for WATTS, said Schottelkorb was key in choosing the location following last year’s fundraiser at the Cloverdale Barn on Cedar Creek Grade.

“We just picked up where she left and continued on with the plans for tonight,” Nixson said on Saturday.

Schottelkorb’s spirit also drove the creation of a new award to honor an individual for his or her outstanding support of the nonprofit organization. The first Marion Schottelkorb Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Jon Eye, president of Mover Dudes in Winchester.

In announcing the award winner at Saturday’s fundraiser, WATTS board member Robyn Miller said Eye was “truly the man behind the curtain” — a nod to the fictional “Wizard of Oz” character created by author L. Frank Baum.

“Most volunteers have never met him, but he has been to every one of your shelters and is crucial to your success,” Miller said.

Eye and his moving company volunteer each week during WATTS season to transport the nonprofit’s bedding and equipment from church to church.

“If we had to pay a mover to do this, it would cost us $354 a week. That’s over $7,000 a shelter season,” Miller said. “He has done it for free the past three years.”

“It’s easy to do things for the community when you have such an awesome leader like that,” Eye said, referring to Schottelkorb, who died on July 6.

Since WATTS is a faith-based organization, Witt offered a prayer thanking the woman whose compassion and example inspired all of the attendees at Saturday night’s fundraiser.

“Marion has left us a sincere and genuine legacy,” Witt said, “and we pray that we would take that baton and go into the future.”

By BRIAN BREHM The Winchester Star
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Longtime WATTS leader Marion Schottelkorb dies

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WINCHESTER — Marion Schottelkorb, longtime executive director of Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), died Saturday at her home, surrounded by family and close friends. She was 72.

She had been battling cancer.

For 10 years, Schottelkorb headed WATTS, joining the nonprofit organization shortly after its founding in 2009.

WATTS provides overnight, cold-weather shelter for homeless people in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties.

The Rev. David Young, who was Schottelkorb’s pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church in Frederick County, described her as full of energy and an inspiration to others.

“She’s one of those unsung heroes in our world that not everybody knows of, but once you find what they do, you are amazed at what the human spirit can accomplish,” Young said on Sunday. “That’s what Marion was. She was a breath of fresh air and a whirlwind of strength, energy and compassion.”

Laurel Coleman, president of the WATTS board, said that during the first season of WATTS in 2009, only a handful of churches were willing to offer their facilities to accommodate the homeless. She credits Schottelkorb for increasing awareness about WATTS and getting more people involved in the cause. Due in part to Schottelkorb’s efforts, WATTS now has 20 churches that host homeless people from November to March on a weekly rotation.

“She had such a passion for WATTS and helping people,” Coleman said. “I truly admired that about her and her determination to make a difference.”

Schottelkorb’s responsibilities as executive director included bringing churches together, organizing fundraisers and guiding committees. She envisioned raising enough money so that WATTS could have a permanent location that would enable WATTS to shelter people year-round. Coleman said the organization’s dream is to be able to renovate a location for $50,000 to $100,000.

“As her pastor, I’ve been able to witness her dedication and love and care for those who are homeless and it has been inspiring — not only for our congregation, but for people throughout Winchester,” Young said. “She has brought an earnestness and a real leadership to caring for people in need and working so hard to find a place where WATTS can find a permanent home.”

Young said Schottelkorb was a fun-loving jokester who loved having a good time with her husband George and their friends.

“She loved her New England Patriots,” Young said. “She loved her Lord and she fought to serve her God by serving those who were less fortunate. And she did that with a true, genuine leadership and joy.”

A celebration of life service for Schottelkorb will be held in the near future, but Coleman said arrangements have not been finalized. In lieu of flowers, it was Schottelkorb’s wish that people make donations to WATTS online at watts-homelessshelter.org.

Coleman said WATTS’s 15-member board is trying to figure out how to move forward without Schottelkorb.

“I just feel the community has lost a fearless and tireless supporter for WATTS,” Coleman said. “She fought with grace, humor and passion. Her determination was truly to be admired, and WATTS will continue, but we will definitely be missing an element of enthusiasm and spunk.”

WATTS will host a Wizard of Oz-themed fundraiser on Aug. 10 at West Oaks Farm Market from 7-10 p.m. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/2019-watts-the-wizard-tickets-64435841336. Coleman encourages the public to turn out in honor of Schottelkorb.

In addition to her husband, Schottelkorb is survived by daughters Christyn and Tracey and eight grandchildren.

By JOSH JANNEY The Winchester Star
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The Wizard of Oz Fundraiser

Join the gang from the Wizard of Oz at this year’s annual fundraiser on August 10 at the West Oaks Farm Market & Event Center from 7 – 10 pm.

We’ll have a magical, wizardly evening in Oz partying with life-sized characters like the heartless Tin Man, the brainless Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy. We’ll dance to rock and roll hits from The Movin’ On Band. Enjoy delicious cuisine from the Fresco Kitchen featuring Glenda the Good Witch chicken pasta and the Wicked Witch of the West pasta primavera… to name a few.

Thank you to our sponsors

Wonderful Wizard

The Gale Guild, Uncle Henry and Auntie Em

The Dorothy Gale Society

The Covenant Witches, Glenda & Almira Gulch

The Endearing Munchkins

For more information on this event, contact event chairperson, Janie Dickens-Bowman, at jdickensbowman@thevillageatorchardridge.org.

 
 

An interview with The Valley Today with Janet Michael on The River

 

 

An interview with Barry Lee of WINC 92.5 FM for his early morning show, Community Corner.

 

Here are some scenes from last year’s event at the Cloverdale Barn:

The Marion Schottelkorb Volunteer of the Year Award

Celebrating the Heart to Serve

Do you know a volunteer who has given their heart to our homeless?

WATTS is powered by volunteers, and each year we celebrate a volunteer who is making a difference in our organization and the homeless community we support. The Marion Schottelkorb Award recognizes an outstanding volunteer who has made a significant contribution to WATTS.

In August, the recipient will be honored at the annual WATTS dinner. The winner will receive a trophy, a name plate on a plaque in the WATTS’ office, and their name will be included in press releases and the WATTS website.

If you know a volunteer we need to celebrate, please fill out the nomination.
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1puYXasdWxzFGEFLIb3cPMnLXOxCsDk5uQjbSe3UToY8/edit

All applications must be received by June 30, 2019 by 11:59 pm.

Meet Our Amazing Bus Czar – Graham Taylor

So where to begin telling you about this gracious, giving man? Graham has a long history of working with the homeless. He says, “helping with the homeless effort is in his blood”. He was a Homeless Coordinator for the Department of Social Services in Maryland; has been chair of the COC and has helped with a women and children’s shelter in Front Royal, VA.

After 47 years of marriage, Graham’s wife passed away 7 years ago. God’s Amazing Grace lead him to Opequon Presbyterian Church where he joined a grief support group but Graham’s involvement in this group was only a part of God’s plan for him. In the fall of 2010 Pastor David Witt introduced Graham to Opequon Church’s lead volunteer for WATTS. Kendra quickly put a very willing Graham to work. Graham served as an overnight volunteer then teamed with Kendra as co-lead volunteer for WATTS. Upon Kendra’s move to North Carolina several years ago, Graham, of course, stepped up as lead volunteer.

Graham was not quite content to just serve as lead volunteer, his passion for working with the homeless lead him to attend committee meetings and board meetings. In addition to serving on numerous teams at Opequon Presbyterian Church Graham is also a WATTS Board member and Chair of our Operations Committee.

I cannot express my gratitude to Graham for all that he has done to support WATTS and to support me. I do have to say that one of the things I am most grateful for was his willingness to be our “BUS CZAR”!! I am clueless when it comes to bus knowledge other than it is big, yellow and has a go peddle and a stop peddle – REALLY!!!!

Graham helped “vet” the bus, taking an entire day to travel to Lynchburg with a mechanic. He has coordinated bus moves, making sure the bus is where it is supposed to be and that drivers are returned to their vehicles. He makes sure the bus is running, responding to driver concerns and coordinating necessary repairs. He even responded, without complaint, to my early morning call – “What happens when gasoline not diesel is put into a bus”. (I did say I knew nothing about buses). THAT was an OH, OH moment but handled it was! As was the most recent early AM call “Graham you are not going to believe this one”. Our bus was broken into and vandalized. Czar Graham was on the scene, handled all issues, within a week the situation was addressed at very minimal costs. He even got a lock placed on the door and a bike rack installed in the process!

So I am VERY grateful that God’s plan for Graham was to send him to WATTS and I really look forward to continuing to work with him. Thank you – I love you BUS CZAR!