Submitted by Moriha Buck

Our Community's Foundation - The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) and the Regional Affiliate Foundations of Doddridge, Ritchie, Pleasants and Jackson counties - held its Annual Meeting today at the Blennerhassett Hotel, celebrating the start of the Foundation's 39th year of service to the Mid-Ohio Valley. Over 180 persons helped the Foundation acknowledge this past year of growth at a luncheon joining Foundation supporters, local community leaders, and past and present Foundation Board members. From a humble beginning in 1963 with a contribution of $5,000, the Community Foundation has grown substantially, today administering over $9.5 million in assets held in more than 200 different named funds. It has awarded more than $3 million in grants and scholarships to organizations and individuals since its inception. The Foundation is a non-profit public charity created by the community for the good of the region. It functions by building permanently endowed funds from which the earnings are periodically drawn to meet current and future local needs.

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation is now known as, "Our Community's Foundation," according to Executive Director, Judy Sjostedt, as it represents the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation but also includes the Regional Affiliate Foundations of Doddridge, Ritchie, Pleasants and Jackson counties. Mrs. Sjostedt noted that during the Foundation's most recent fiscal year, "More than $550,000 was returned to our region in the form of distributions from named funds, community action grants, and student scholarships across the nine West Virginia and one Ohio counties that we serve. This number represents grants to 15 WV Humane Societies, 70 area charitable organizations in both Ohio and West Virginia, and 159 scholarships to deserving students."

During the Annual Meeting, Foundation leaders reflected upon the organization's accomplishments and growth in many areas. Edwin L. D. Dils, retired retail executive and community leader, delivered the meeting invocation. Mr. Dils has been continuously involved with the work of the Foundation since its founding. Foundation Chairman Thomas E. Weyer, managing director of American Express Tax and Business Services expressed the organization's gratitude to those who contributed to enabling the impact of the Foundation to grow throughout the region. The number of funds managed by the Foundation again grew by over 20 percent by the close of the Foundation's most recent fiscal year for the second consecutive year, and as Chairman Weyer noted, "Creating a fund, helping in the Foundation's work, or committing of time or other resources to the Foundation for these past 38 years is what makes everything possible. The work of the Foundation is a credit to all of those who have helped to build it to provide a permanent legacy for our area."

Cleveland Lynch, an Ohio Valley College student and previous recipient of a Foundation scholarship, represented the college and provided musical entertainment for the event.

Dr. James Denova, Program Officer for the Benedum Foundation was present. According to Chairman Weyer, "Benedum's ongoing support lets us reach out to help our neighboring counties organize and craft the affiliate foundations. Without Benedum's help, our affiliates would be without staff to directly assist them in creating awareness of the opportunities that the affiliates make possible. PACF is simply not yet large enough to generate the administrative income to support staffing across the region --- we hope to be --- but meanwhile while we're working towards that end, we're very grateful to have a strong regional partnership with Benedum." Weyer also expressed gratitude to the McDonough Foundation for its ongoing support of the central foundation's staffing needs through its expansions.

Foundation Personnel Committee Chairman, Jim Crews introduced incoming PACF Board Members Diane Balderson, Jerry Villers, Linda McLean and Richard Hudson, and new Foundation staff appointed in the past year as Regional Foundation Services Representatives, Jane Young (Pleasants County), Paul Daugherty (Ritchie/Doddridge County) and Jane Winters (Jackson County). Affiliate Foundation Chairmen were introduced; Becky Ingram of the Pleasants Community Foundation, Everett Leggett of the Doddridge County Community Foundation, and Fred Shipley of the Jackson County Community Foundation. Judy Terrell of the Ritchie County Community Foundation was not able to be present.

Vice Chairman Barbara Fish reviewed the Foundation's progress in the past year, and Board Member Linda McLean offered reflections on the "year ahead" for the Foundation. In keeping with the Foundation's theme, of "Touching the Future Today," supporters present were asked to consider "what matters most to them" as a reading of a poem called "The Oyster" was read in closing the meeting. According to Executive Director Sjostedt, "Some Foundation funds have been created as the result of circumstances that were difficult to deal with at a particular time, such as a loss. Yet, somehow the donor found the personal strength to reach out and to craft something precious to be used to help others to honor his or her loved one. In essence, they made a pearl in the form of a legacy for our community." As a special surprise for attendees, Diane and Carl Balderson, Jr. generously contributed a pearl and gold ring, as an attendance prize to remind those present of this year's theme and to encourage others to consider working with the Foundation for the good of our community. Table decorations for the event honored those individuals in whose name Foundation funds were initiated in the past year, using a patriotic theme of blue vases and red roses with white baby's breath flowers.

The Lilian and Leo Levey Fund of the Foundation underwrites meeting costs of the Annual Foundation luncheon. Mr. Levey, a former Foundation Board member and community leader generously provided for this need through a bequest in his will.

Our Community's Foundation central office is located in space donated by United National Bank, on the first floor of the United National Bank in downtown Parkersburg. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and drop-in visitors are welcome. Persons may contact "Our Community's Foundation" at 304-428-4438 or toll-free 1-866-428-4438.

To learn more about the Foundation, call or stop by the office or visit the website at http://www.pacfwv.com

Affiliate Foundation Offices are located in St. Marys, Harrisville and Ripley. Inquiries are always welcome at any of the Regional Foundations' mailing addresses (Ritchie County - Post Office Box 178, Harrisville, WV 26362, Doddridge County - Post Office Box 92, West Union, WV 26456, Pleasants County, Office Box 420, St. Marys, WV 26170, and Jackson County - Post Office Box 565, Ripley, WV 25271) or the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation's main office at Post Office Box 1762, Parkersburg, WV 26102-1762.

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