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HUNTINGTON — Harmony House has announced award recipients to be honored at the 13th annual Hometown Breakfast, a virtual event scheduled for Feb. 25.

They are: Dr. Marianna Linz, Heart for the Homeless; Dr. Sydnee McElroy, Volunteer of the Year; the McElroy and Smirl families, Community Partner of the Year; and Longhorn Steakhouse, Business Partner of the Year.

Harmony House added a new award this year, The Spirit of Community Award, which is intended to recognize a community partner with a multi-year record of collaboration with Harmony House in efforts to address homelessness from a systemic level. The award will not be given every year. The inaugural Spirit of Community Award winner is the Huntington City Mission.

Linz, chair of the Department of Psychology at Marshall University, created and facilitates Chat and Create, a non-directive mental wellness group at Harmony House focused on arts and individual expression. She provides training to staff in areas including self-care, trauma-informed care, and the impact of poverty on the brain. She has been a critical component in launching Harmony House’s new program for youth experiencing and at-risk of homelessness, The Center. Linz frequently cooks meals and special treats for clients and staff and regularly checks in to ensure staff mental health needs are met.

McElroy, assistant professor and family medicine physician with Marshall Health, has been providing free medical care as a volunteer for approximately 18 months, addressing the urgent care needs of persons living on the streets. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Huntington, McElroy has provided essential assistance in developing protocols and has remained on call since April for the non-congregate shelter, answering staff and resident questions. Prior to the start of the pandemic, McElroy also assisted in preparing and serving meals at Harmony House.

The McElroy and Smirl families have been named Community Partner of the Year. In 2019 and 2020, the McElroy Family Candlenights fundraiser (which includes members of the Smirl family) has benefitted Harmony House, raising more than $250,000. Mary Smirl and Riliegh Smirl recently joined with Holly Smith Mount to execute the Huntington’s Holiday Road Fundraiser, which raised more than $5,000. Mary Smirl regularly conducts in-kind donation drives to collect items for Harmony House. Prior to the pandemic, she regularly cooked and served meals at Harmony House, while recruiting new volunteers unfamiliar with its programs to assist. Her 5-year-old granddaughter, Charlie McElroy, has also assisted in preparing and serving meals and snacks. In all, 13 members of these families have given of their time to provide assistance to Harmony House.

Longhorn Steakhouse has been named Business Partner of the Year. The business donates large quantities of steak and baked potatoes each week, as well as other items when available. This food enables Harmony House to provide hot meals to persons living on the streets and provide some food for persons as they move into housing to cook for themselves.

Harmony House is a 501©3 nonprofit organization serving those experiencing homelessness in Cabell and Wayne counties. It operates a day shelter on 4th Avenue in Huntington where clients can access emergency shelter and affordable housing programs, as well as hot showers, laundry services, clothing and hygiene donations, and lockers and document storage.

The Hometown Breakfast was previously Harmony House’s largest annual in-person fundraising event. In its 13th year, the breakfast will go fully virtual, featuring segments from award winners, persons who have benefitted from Harmony House programs, and comments from Mayor Steve Williams and Harmony House Executive Director Amanda Coleman. Funding is raised through sponsorships from individuals, community organizations and businesses.

For more information about sponsoring Hometown Breakfast or Harmony House in general, contact Marissa Clark at 304-544-9365, or marissa.clark@harmonyhousewv.com.

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