News & Event
George Penn was affectionately known throughout the community for his volunteering and commitment for many local organizations. Born in Alexandria, VA, George moved to the Parkersburg area in 1992 where he worked for UPS and Dover Products. A devout Christian, Penn was a United States Marine, a disabled Army veteran, and a member of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Menelik Lodge #74 Free and Accepted Masons. In 2010, George Penn and his wife, Josepha “Chris” Penn, opened the doors to Voices of the Streets – Essentially Yours.
“Essentially Yours was created to fulfill a basic human need that George and I identified in our community,” said Mrs. Chris Penn. “The need to provide the essential home good items required to improve the quality of life for referred families and individuals transitioning from homelessness into a dwelling. Currently, the referring organizations that provide housing and furniture vouchers to homeless individuals do not provide the basic living essentials necessary for establishing a ‘home’.”
After George Penn died on March 1, 2017, an anonymous donor established the Voices of the Streets Endowment Fund in his memory. This permanent support fund becomes one of more than 350 component funds of Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) and will forever provide monetary support to allow Voices of the Streets – Essentially Yours to continue to serve its mission.
“Through Essentially Yours, we raise our clients’ self-esteem and their desire to do better for themselves,” said Penn. “We are so thankful for this anonymous donor who thinks so highly of what we are doing that he or she has established a permanent source of funding for our cause. We are extremely dependent on charitable donations to continue to provide this important service for our community.”
Persons who wish to honor George Penn and to support the long-term efforts of Voices of the Streets – Essentially Yours are encouraged to make a donation to the Voices of the Streets Endowment Fund online or to mail a gift by check to PACF, PO Box 1762, Parkersburg, WV 26102-1762 (made payable to PACF, memo Essentially Yours).
The PARS Brain and Spine Institute was founded in 2005 with a vision of increasing the access to highly specialized neurological and neurosurgical care for the Mid-Ohio Valley’s citizens. While PARS has grown tremendously, its core values remain focused on promoting comprehensive, compassionate and patient-centered care. To celebrate more than ten years of service to the region, PARS established the PARS Brain and Spine Institute Charitable Fund with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF).
Originally founded by Houman Khosrovi, M.D., Rammy Gold, M.D., and Abdi Ghodsi, M.D., PARS has grown to include five board-certified physicians, nine mid-level practitioners, and over seventy highly trained medical professionals. Each year, over 3500 new patients are referred to PARS with a variety of neurological disorders. With multiple locations, most patients travel less than twenty-five miles for specialized care typically only offered in major metropolitan areas.
“Our community has been very supportive of PARS and we are so appreciative,” said Dr. Khosrovi. “Because of this support, we feel it is imperative to give back to the place we have called ‘home’ for many years. We are excited to launch this charitable giving partnership with the PACF so that as the fund grows, we can address important needs/causes in the region through grantmaking and community engagement.”
Established in 1963, the PACF is a single 501(c)(3) public charity that manages more than 350 charitable funds established by individuals, families, businesses, and civic or nonprofit organizations with the goal of making a positive and permanent commitment to a better future for our community. The new PARS Brain and Spine Institute Charitable Fund of the PACF allows PARS to address key community issues while gaining the community grantmaking expertise, administrative management and investment services offered by the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.
“One of our first endeavors is to assist in engaging the region’s unserved youth, primarily elementary students, with art and music and connecting them to educational opportunities,” said Lynn McCormick, Director of Community Outreach and Charitable Giving at PARS. “We are currently working to establish a free after-school program at Jefferson Elementary in Parkersburg that will begin in September. At PARS, we fully believe that music education is an integral part of development of a child’s mind and we want to take a proactive step to ensure music and art education is available to all elementary students. This is a grassroots effort to help battle drugs, improve attendance at school, grow children’s talent, improve self-esteem, expand higher-cognitive creative thinking skills, and help children find their personal voice through creative expression.”
To learn more about the PARS Brain and Spine Institute’s charitable giving program, please contact McCormick at (304)865-3602. To learn more about the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, please contact Julie Boyce at (304)428-4438.
The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) celebrated the successful completion of its sixth year of its Civic Leaders Fellowship Program. A celebratory gathering was held at the Foundation’s office – Vasan Center for Philanthropy – with members of the community, PACF Board of Directors, Civic Leader Hosts, Civic Leaders, and program funders in attendance.
This summer, twenty-five students were placed with host employers throughout the PACF service region to gain meaningful work experience in their respective fields. During the seven week Program, first-year Civic Leaders spent their Mondays engaging with one another, learning about the community’s needs and issues, and exploring personal and professional development opportunities. Second-year Civic Leaders used their Mondays to further their leadership studies, visiting area nonprofit organizations and assessing community needs, and learning about community grantmaking. Third year students participated in shadowing activities and developed networking skills in preparation for work following graduation.
Katie Hoover, a recent West Liberty University graduate from Mineral Wells, received her bachelor's degree in human biology and plans to attend optometry school.
“I participated in this Program to gain experience in my field of interest and to learn more about what my community has to offer,” said Hoover. “This Program introduced me to the different opportunities this area can offer for a young person, the nonprofits that serve our community, and how civic engagement can lead to a better community. I also learned more about the optometry field and how an optometry office operates with my placement at Vision Care Associates.”
During the reception, a few participants in the Program spoke regarding their experiences. First-year Civic Leader, Emily Athey, shared about her experiences with Mountain River Physical Therapy. Jacob Daley discussed his second year with Program and his placement with Wood County Schools. Tiffany Harvey, who was placed with the Wood County Extension Office, spoke on behalf of the third year class.
The seven second year Civic Leaders visited many different area nonprofit organizations over the course of the summer evaluating where to award $5,000 in grant funds. After much deliberation, the second year Civic Leaders announced that they are awarding a $5,000 grant to Calhoun County Family Resource Network to purchase outdoor playground equipment, picnic tables, toys, a greenhouse, and other supplies for their new Family Education Center. The new center will offer child care for children ages 0-5, before and after school care, and family programming.
“The Civic Leaders Fellowship Program is the Foundation’s deliberate effort to address our community’s out-migration of educated young people,” said Judy Sjostedt, the PACF’s Executive Director. “This is a highly collaborative effort involving many different funders, private individuals, and business leaders who recognize the importance of investing in our region’s next generation. We have had some great success stories from this Program over the past six years and I know this year’s graduates will go on to do great things in our area”.
Students completed the summer inspired to contribute to their communities and more knowledgeable about their fields of interest. Those wishing to learn more about this Program are to call the Foundation at 304.428.4438 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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