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W House director thankful for path

July 30, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- Erin Tack said she still was a college student when she knew she wanted to help people.

So when a position as a counselor opened up at W House two years ago, she jumped at the opportunity. Since then, the Ohio native has become executive director.

A United Way agency, W House is a halfway house that helps and houses women struggling with alcohol and drug addictions as they work their way back into work, family and community life.

Because of the current economy, W House also has been struggling. But Tack said a strong core of dedicated volunteers and contributors has kept things on an even keel for the most part.

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"We currently have 14 women living in the house," Tack said of the W House location at 519 N. Locust St. Five other women, described as transitional clients, have moved into W House-attached apartments.

Government spending has been cut and that is having a direct effect on W House clients, Tack said.

The economic downturn also has affected employment opportunities for the agency's clients, whom Tack described as challenged because of their past addictions.

Efforts to encourage additional employers to take a chance on W House clients is a never-ending challenge.

"Many are having trouble finding work," Tack said.

As far as living expenses at the W House, Tack said there always are needs. Right now, a lawnmower is needed, as well as paper products and toiletries of all kinds. Nonperishable food also is appreciated.

"Our women also often need nice clothing so they can get and then keep a job," Tack said.

A nationally certified counselor, Tack and her husband live in nearby Pennsylvania. She earned her master's degree in community counseling from Marymount University in Arlington, Va.

It was at Marymount that Tack first interned in the residential department at Trumbull County Social Services. She also took a turn at CASA of Washington County as a child and shelter therapist.

"I'm thankful each day that I chose the path I chose, and feel that I am right where I am supposed to be in life," Tack said in the W House spring newsletter.

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