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A Story About Recovery

National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. Now in its 31st year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those living in recovery.  Today, we reflect on the accomplishments in our region and the opportunities for the future.

Amidst the national opioid and substance use disorder crisis, Huntington, WV, often made headlines for the many challenges its community faced, including some of the highest overdose rates in the U.S. Today, Huntington is making headlines again – but this time for its successful progress and pioneering recovery programs. Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader shared the news and process of her community’s initiatives with the PACF.  Rader’s passion and commitment to helping those in the Huntington area – including individuals with substance use disorder and the first responders who care for them in crisis – inspired the PACF, and our community, to action.

“Huntington’s example of leadership and innovation motivated the PACF to consider what role we could play in bringing our community together to address this issue in the Mid-Ohio Valley region,” said PACF Board Chair Cynthia Brown. “We are partnering with other local foundations and organizations to explore the ways in which we can all work together to offer leadership and resources to collectively address our concerns. The PACF also created the Fund for Recovery from which grants can be made to support programs that encourage prevention, support treatment and foster re-entry to society. This Fund also delivers resources to help meet the needs of persons such as children or grandparents whose lives have been affected by the substance use of family members.”

The PACF has devoted a variety of resources to address this issue, including a $5,000 grant to the Fourth Circuit Public Defender Corporation to provide safe, effective transportation to clients with substance use disorder to enable them to seek treatment.

“I had no will, no ride, and no family or friends who were willing to help.” said one client. “Thanks to the Fourth Circuit Public Defender Corporation, I was able to get a bed in treatment and was transported to and completed a six-month treatment program. I graduated from the program and am now back in the community doing well.”

In addition, a $12,750 PACF grant to the Mid-Ohio Valley Drug Court supplied dentures for drug court graduates made possible by a number of charitable funds of the Foundation.

“Poor dental health is an unfortunate side effect of drug use. It is exceptionally difficult to find work with a felony. Imagine adding to that the challenge of finding employment with rotten or missing teeth,” said Kat Boggs, Drug Court Probation Officer. “While we can give drug court participants all the tools to remain clean and sober for a lifetime, we do not have the funds to erase the physical cost of their substance use disorder. Those we have been able to aid in obtaining dentures have had amazing transformations, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. The increase in their self-esteem is priceless.”

One recipient expressed his gratitude for his new dentures, “It was the best thing that has ever happened to me,” he said. “It feels good to be able to smile with how I’m living my life today! True happiness!”

The PACF has taken an active role to address the region's substance use disorder by convening community organizations,  joining with other partners to learn more about services currently offered locally and gaps to be addressed, and creating the Fund for Recovery  - a flexible grantmaking fund of the Foundation which helps persons and families in crisis and combats substance use disorder.  In addition, the Foundation helped form the Substance Use Disorder Collaborative, an action-oriented collaborative focused on reducing the stigma and adverse effects associated with substance use disorder for individuals and families in the Mid-Ohio Valley and its surrounding communities.

“Our community is mobilizing,” said Cynthia Brown, “and we are committed to helping provide the leadership needed to bring everyone to the table  to find new solutions to these critical issues here at home.”

To support the Foundation's work addressing substance use disorder in our region, please donate to the Fund for Recovery or contact us to learn more about how you can get involved.  

Arts and Culture Sector is Struggling – the PACF Takes Initiative

Wood County’s arts and culture sector is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a big way. Area agencies and artists are dealing with cancellations of shows and closure of venues, and for many, these cancellations are putting a financial strain on organizational operations.

For example, the Smoot Theatre and the Actors Guild of Parkersburg had to cancel numerous performances and programs that provide income.  The Parkersburg Art Center’s income has been impacted significantly due to the cancellation of classes and the inability to rent their venue space.  At the same time, these organizations have taken innovative approaches to continuing to offer services in new ways.

While many of the area’s cultural and arts institutions were able to access federal CARES act loans and grants to help them through this challenging time, more support is needed to ensure that these critical community organizations can remain sustainable. The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) is stepping up to help.

The PACF recognizes the importance of investing in our community’s arts and cultural resources as they play a major role in community development and tourism, personal and community enrichment, and individual well-being. Several arts organizations are anchors for downtown Parkersburg development and revitalization.  Recently, the Foundation reached out to Wood County’s arts and culture community to identify needs and opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation then recruited assistance from participants in its Civic Leaders Fellowship Program to review each organization’s needs and award relief grants.

Last week, the PACF awarded a total of $16,000 in operating support grants to five area agencies: West Virginia Symphony Orchestra – Parkersburg, Smoot Theatre, Artsbridge, Parkersburg Art Center, and Actors Guild of Parkersburg

These grants will provide needed and immediate assistance to help each of the organizations during this unprecedented time. With the many unknowns facing our country and community in the upcoming weeks and months due to the pandemic, the PACF encourages area citizens to continue supporting area arts and culture programs.

There are a variety of ways to continue to engage with these important community organizations - participate in online classes, workshops, and performances hosted by area arts groups, donate tickets to cancelled events and membership dues back to the organization in lieu of a refund, donate directly to your favorite agency, and encourage friends and family to get involved.

Individuals who would like to make an impact in the region’s arts and culture community are encouraged to contact the Foundation at 304-428-4438 to discuss options and opportunities to make a meaningful difference.

Parkersburg Area Community Foundation Awards Scholarships

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) is pleased to announce that a total of $368,439 in scholarship support was recently awarded to 198 area students to assist in their pursuit of post-secondary education.  These scholarships are made possible by the generous support of individuals and businesses who believe in the importance of education and who have partnered with the Foundation to create permanent scholarship funds.

“The average cost of college at both public and private institutions continues to increase annually.  Not only are students and parents worried about tuition and fees, but they are also concerned about costs for books, housing, transportation, and much more,” said Rachel Brezler, PACF’s Regional Scholarships Officer. “We’re here to help parents and students easily navigate the scholarship process and provide meaningful financial assistance for college.”

Brezler believes that the scholarship funds managed by the PACF are extremely helpful for students working to achieve their academic goals.

“Scholarships are sent straight to the college/university to be directly applied to the student’s account,” said Brezler. “This approach minimizes administrative details for students and eases financial worries as well as makes sure that the funds go for their intended purposes.  While most existing scholarships are directed to graduating high school seniors, a few exist for students whose undergraduate degree program is already underway or for graduate level education.”

As the cost for post-secondary education continues to rise, the PACF encourages individuals concerned about the academic future of our region’s young people to partner with the Foundation.  Individuals can volunteer on the PACF’s Scholarship Fund Committee, donate to build a current scholarship fund, or create a new scholarship fund. Together we can make a meaningful difference for our community’s next generation.

To see a full list of the 2020 scholarship awards and to learn more about the PACF, visit the Foundation’s website at www.pacfwv.com/scholarships or call 304.428.4438.

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