News & Events

News & Event

Esbenshade Advised Fund Supports Reading Program in Response to COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in which public education is being delivered, a strong educational foundation for future success is more important than ever. Studies show that reading makes a big difference in a child’s educational achievement. To ensure that area students have access to books during the pandemic, the Esbenshade Advised Fund, administered through the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF), has awarded a significant grant to Wood County Schools to provide a summer reading program for middle and high school students.

This grant to Wood County Schools complements other major grants awarded by the Esbenshade Advised Fund, Tri-State Roofing and Sheet Metal, The Spartan Foundation, and the Esbenshade Foundation in recent years to support a variety of educational programs benefitting the region. Other programs supported include the ArtCart program in Wood County Schools, a summer reading project for Jefferson Elementary School students in cooperation with Read Aloud West Virginia, and renovations and book purchases at the Vienna and Parkersburg/Wood County Public Libraries. “Reading and education are the cornerstones for future success in life,” said Hap Esbenshade. “We support reading and education as a lifelong process for personal growth.”

This major grant will enable Wood County Schools to purchase books and distribute them weekly in the summer to middle and high school students through pick-up sites at area schools.  “Wood County Schools hopes to promote a reading culture in our schools each day, and we understand that access to reading materials is crucial to our efforts,” said Ashlee Beatty, Curriculum Coordinator for Wood County Schools. “Thanks to the generosity of the Esbenshade Advised Fund, students will receive additional reading material. It is our hope that students not only improve their reading abilities, but also fall in love with reading!”

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is touching every aspect of our community, and students have been particularly impacted. We are pleased to partner with the Esbenshade Advised Fund to promote reading,” said Marian Clowes, PACF’s Associate Director for Community Leadership. “We hope that the students are inspired to read throughout the summer.”

Further information about the book distribution program will be provided to area students by Wood County Schools beginning in June.

Solvay and its Employees Step Up to Support Citizens in Need

Solvay, the Belgian chemicals company with a specialty polymers manufacturing plant employing 350 people locally, is known for its innovative solutions and emphasis on cultivating sustainability.  Its local leaders recently offered to match gifts made by Solvay employees to support their area community foundations’ COVID-19 relief fundraising in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) Executive Director, Judy Sjostedt Ritchie, said that community foundations have a history of working collaboratively to create innovative and sustainable solutions for some of the most pressing concerns in their communities.  She said, “We welcome partnerships from civic-minded companies like Solvay Specialty Polymers.  While their facilities are located across the river from Parkersburg, the company’s interests and those of its employees span both sides of the river.  Thanks to the support of Solvay and Solvay employees, the PACF received an additional $7,050 for our ‘Hunger Fund.’  Since Solvay awarded its matching check to us on May 5th, the same day that we were also participating in Philanthropy West Virginia’s (PWV) “Take Five to Give Five” challenge, the Company’s gift also generates an additional $1,760 from PWV.” 

Wally Kandel, Senior Vice-President and Marietta Site Manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers said, “We applaud our employees’ generosity in responding to the needs of their fellow citizens.  We are proud to partner with our local community foundations in Marietta and Parkersburg to help to provide relief to our communities.”     

Sjostedt Ritchie added that the gifts that PACF has received are being swiftly distributed from PACF’s Hunger Fund and Safety Net Funds, to help meet essential individual and community needs.

“We are very grateful to our area’s citizens. Because of their generous help, we’ve been able to grant more than $108,000 to date to address hunger relief and support emergency needs related to COVID-19,” Sjostedt Ritchie said.

To contribute to the PACF’s regional Hunger Fund, mail a check (payable to PACF, with “Hunger Fund,” on the memo line) to PACF, PO Box 1762, Parkersburg WV 26102 or make an online gift at

Parkersburg Area Community Foundation Awards Another $38,150 in COVID-19 Emergency Funding

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF) has awarded $38,150 in the third round of its COVID-19 pandemic response grants, bringing the total awarded to date to $115,026.  With these most recent grants, the Foundation is providing funding for the purchase of much-needed supplies and support for seven area organizations.

“As the pandemic continues and unemployment increases, we continue to work to help area agencies that are providing critical direct relief services to those impacted by COVID-19,” said Marian Clowes, PACF’s Associate Director for Community Leadership. “Support for our Hunger and Safety Net Funds has enabled the PACF to respond quickly to provide assistance to these agencies, who are on the front line every day helping members of our communities.”

Agencies that received funding during the PACF’s third round of grants include:

  • Normantown Historical Community Center - $1,000 to help stock food pantry.
  •  Community Resources, Inc. - $2,000 to support food pantries in Doddridge and Roane counties.
  • Wirt County Ministerial Alliance - $2,000 to help stock the Hope Shop Food Pantry.
  • Community Resources - $16,300 to support the collaborative Individual Emergency Aid Program to provide rent and mortgage assistance to individuals impacted by COVID-19.
  • Consumer Credit Counseling Services - $1,000 to support start-up costs for the collaborative Individual Emergency Aid Program to provide rent and mortgage assistance to individuals impacted by COVID-19.
  • Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home - $10,000 to support increased operating costs and address revenue loss to ensure that residents can remain safe and in recovery.
  • Parkersburg YMCA - $4,250 to support operating costs for provision of essential services, including child- care (from the Ray L. and Mabel S. Vannoy Youth Recreation Fund)
  • Ritchie County Family Resource Network - $600 to purchase supplies to make masks for distribution to nonprofit agencies in Ritchie County.
  • The Gathering - $1,000 to purchase food for home delivery food boxes

The PACF is actively contacting regional nonprofits to assess COVID-19 impact on their clients and communities and identifying ways to respond to the needs.  Agencies seeking assistance should contact the PACF at 304-428-4438 or by email to

Donations to support the PACF’s Hunger Fund and Safety Net Fund are tax-deductible.  To learn more about these funds and the work that the Foundation is doing to address COVID-19 in our region, visit


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