Monthly News & Updates

October 2023

2023 People First Conference

We had a great time at our 30th Annual People First of WV Conference at Jackson’s Mill in early September. There were 130 people who joined us for this special event which was the first in person conference in 4 years. We were honored to have Julian Wang as our Keynote Speaker, as well as Matthew Gallagher from the WV Secretary of State Office, Ryan Weld WV State Senator, and Riley Moore WV State Treasurer speak. They shared their insights and experiences with us. Along with our individual class on Fire Safety, Matthew Reed from the WV State Fire Academy gave everyone tips on how to prevent and handle fires in our homes and we had a fire drill to practice how to get out of a public building in case of a fire or emergency. 

We also held our annual Advisory Board meeting where we discussed some important matters including selecting on the dates for the next three advisory board meetings, which are November 15, 2023, January 16th, 2024, and May 15, 2024. We will let you know the place and time for each meeting later. We also agreed that the 2024 Conference will be held at Jackson’s Mill again. We also reviewed and approved a change to the Bylaws and another change has been proposed to be voted on at the November training. You can find the current Bylaws and the proposed changes on our People First website. 

Click Here for our Website

Disability Employment Month

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month this years theme from U.S. Department of Labor is “Advancing Access & Equity. Then, Now and Next”. It is to celebrate the passage of the Rehabilitation Act a half-century ago and its importance in prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment by federal agencies, federal contractors and recipients of federal funds, and in the delivery of federally funded programs and activities. ODEP will use the theme to promote activities to mark passage of the act, the first federal legislation to address access and equity for people with disabilities.The Rehabilitation Act laid the foundation upon which the more comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 now stands. These laws continue to be vital tools used to advance access and equity for workers from historically underserved communities

Click Here for more information on Disability Employment Awareness Month

Message from Melissa

After seven years of service, Melissa Southall is stepping down from her role as the Self Advocate Coordinator. Her health is her main priority right now, so she has decided to leave her official position. However, she will still be active in People First and support our office during special events. We are grateful for her contributions and dedication, and we hope to continue collaborating with her in the future. Her final day is October 14th, 2023, and we wish her all the best.

Fair Shake Network Survey

The Fair Shake Network is working on their Disability Agenda for the upcoming Legislative session starting January 2024. They would like input on what issues are important to people with disabilities. Please complete the survey by letting us know which top 5 issues mean the most. They need the survey turned in no later than November 30th.

Click Here for the Fair Shake Network Survey

How Do You Advocate?

You’re invited to share your stories of advocating for yourself or others by creating a video, writing a story or call us on the phone. We want to know how you are using the self-advocacy skills that you learn from People First so we can share them with others!

Email your stories or share a link to your video to: or call 304-422-3151.

People First of WV Meetings and Events:

Meetings are held in person and on Zoom. Click Here for a list of meetings.

Check the People First Facebook page for last minute changes.

Opportunities to Give Back

You are invited to give back to your community through joining boards and committees or volunteering with a group. There is a list of different groups throughout West Virginia on the People First Web Page. For more information: Click Here

COVID-19 and Vaccine Resources

For resources on Covid-19 including related Local, State and Federal resources.


Each month, several organizations provide online webinars.

AAIDD: Click Here

Additude Mag: Click Here

AUCD: Click Here

PACER: Click Here

WVABLE: Click Here

WVU CED: Click Here

US Senators:
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R):
Senator Joe Manchin, III (D):

US House of Representatives:

Carol Miller (R) – District 1: 

Click Here

Alex Mooney (R) – District 2:

Click Here

To find your State Representatives:

Click Here for members of the State Senate

Click Here for members of the House of Delegates

For more information, log on to

or use the contact information below:

Contact Information:


The Arc of West Virginia

People First of West Virginia

1917 Dudley Avenue

Parkersburg, WV 26101

Phone: 304-422-3151

Toll-Free: 877-334-6581

Fax: 304-865-2072