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

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. The WVSOM Center for Rural and Community Health, in partnership with the Greenbrier County Health Alliance (GCHA), will utilize the barn 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 devotion to and nourishment of WVSOM students and the Lewisburg community through 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 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.

This unique collaboration presents opportunities for public health research and evaluation to track 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.

James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, said, “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.”

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.

Date Added: 
Friday, July 19, 2019