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 More Than $50,000 in COVID-19 Emergency Funding to Date

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF) is actively partnering with its local donors and other area funders to address the critical needs of local citizens who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing funding to a wide variety of area nonprofit organizations that are delivering essential services for their clients and families.

To date, the PACF has awarded more than $50,000 in COVID-19 emergency funds to help local nonprofits continue their critical services and programs.  Food, rent and utilities assistance, and purchase of hygiene and school supplies are just a few of the things that these grants have supported and will continue to support as the PACF provides additional grants in the coming weeks.

“Many of the requests we are receiving are to support food access for area residents,” said Marian Clowes, PACF’s Associate Director for Community Leadership.  “Through the quick action of the Foundation and with the help of our donors, we’ve responded swiftly to support agencies working on the front lines through this pandemic.”

One local nonprofit organization that received support recently wrote to the PACF regarding its grant support saying, “Thank you for coordinating support for our families.  As the person working directly with the recipients, I want to say that it was a real lifeline for some families who were caught in the unemployment limbo.”

Grants thus far include:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg:  $5,000 for direct food assistance, in partnership with Piggly Wiggly, to club member families impacted by COVID-19.
  •  Calhoun County Schools :  $3,000 to purchase hygiene and school supplies to distribute to families in need, awarded in partnership with the Sisters Health Foundation (SHF).
  •  Children's Home Society:  $4,620 to supply food boxes for youth in their Transitional Living Program who lack access to food due to COVID 19, awarded in partnership with SHF.
  •  Community Resources:  $5,000 to buy food and provide operating support for their Thrive food pantry to meet significantly increased demand.
  •  Friendship Kitchen:  $2,000 to purchase food to meet greatly increased demand for their meal program, awarded in partnership with the SHF.
  • Mountaineer Foodbank:  $6,000 to support food purchases and operations at the food bank that serves feeding programs in all PACF service counties.
  • Normantown Historical Community Center:  $1,000 to purchase food to stock their food pantry to meet increased demand in the Gilmer County community.
  • Old Man Rivers:  $5,000 to buy food to meet increased demand for home meal delivery and food pantry services, awarded in partnership with the SHF.
  •  Parkersburg Urban Ministries:  $5,000 to purchase food and hygiene products to supply this pantry to meet increased demand, awarded in partnership with the SHF.
  • SW Resources:  $7,500 to help clients who are facing financial hardships to meet their basic needs (including rent and utility assistance), awarded in partnership with SHF.
  • The Gathering Church:  $1,000 to secure food for home food box deliveries to individuals impacted by COVID-19.
  • Wood County Senior Citizens Association:  $5,000 to purchase food and related supplies to expand its home meal delivery program.

“Children’s Home Society (CHS) is extremely grateful for the emergency funds received from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and the SHF during the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Shelley Plauché-Adkins, Children’s Home Society of WV’s Regional Director.  “Many of the formerly homeless youth served through our Transitional Living Program have lost employment and are struggling with food insecurity.  These funds will enable Children’s Home Society to provide food boxes to 22 youth and their children over the next 12 weeks, which will ensure that our youth are being fed and greatly reduce their stress and worries during this difficult time.”

Funding to support these programs is made possible by generous donations from individuals and businesses to the PACF’s Hunger Fund (addresses food insecurity for local people) and Safety Net Fund (supports basic and emergency needs).  These two response funds concentrate on relief efforts in the Foundation’s 11-county service area. 

“We are very thankful for our community’s continued support of the Hunger and Safety Net funds,” said Clowes.  “These significant grants are only possible because of our great community support.  We anticipate making more distributions soon and we encourage the community to continue supporting these important charitable funds. We are very grateful for our donors’ help, enabling us to meet needs in our community.”

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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