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Memorial Fund Created to Forever Honor Bernardine McCusker

Clare Bernardine McCuskerWhen asked what was the most important gift that a person could receive, Clare Bernardine McCusker’s reply was “Education … definitely.”  Bernardine was a dedicated homemaker, wife, mother of five, and grandmother to seven with a great love for crafts of all kinds.  She was well-accomplished in ceramics but also enjoyed needlework, trunk restoration, community plays, and the symphony.  She was a founding member of the St. Monica Parish in Lubeck, West Virginia, and was a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in downtown Parkersburg.  She was active in her church and her community, the Parent Teacher Association, and volunteered as a tutor for elementary age students.

When she passed away in July of 2020, her husband, children, and grandchildren, carefully considered how to best commemorate her lifelong devotion to caring for others and to art in our community.  They decided to honor her by establishing the Clare Bernardine McCusker Memorial Fund with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.  With this memorial fund, Bernardine’s caring legacy will continue forever as her passion for arts and crafts is carried on with support available to the community in her name.

This new charitable fund will forever provide annual support to organizations that pursue the development and education of music, arts, and crafts in the Foundation's service area, causes which were near and dear to Bernardine’s heart.  Organizations may submit requests for funding from this new resource through the Foundation’s Community Action Grants process, which is currently open to applications until Feb. 15, 2021.  It’s envisioned that projects involving ceramic work, needlework arts, etc., may receive funding through Bernardine’s memorial fund.

Individuals who would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support this new fund are encouraged to send a check made payable to the PACF with “Clare Bernardine McCusker Memorial” on the memo line to:  PACF, PO Box 1762, Parkersburg, WV 26102.   Donations may also be made online by visiting www.pacfwv.com/donate.  Individuals wishing to learn more about this fund can call the Foundation at 304.428.4438.

PACF Reflects on 2020 and Welcomes New Members to Board of Directors

In lieu of its traditional large-scale in-person Annual Meeting, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates recently held its Annual Meeting virtually on January 15, 2021 which featured a “State of the State” address from its Executive Director, Judy Sjostedt Ritchie. 

Sjostedt Ritchie noted that 2021 marked the 22nd Annual Meeting that she has had the privilege of conducting.  The PACF’s grantmaking capacity has grown significantly over its history.  In 1964, one year after the PACF’s founding, the Foundation awarded $2,000 in community grants.  By contrast, at the end of its 2020 fiscal year, the PACF awarded $2.9 million in grants and scholarships.

“As a public charity, anything and everything that the PACF can do is directly to the credit of the generous local citizens who support it,” said Sjostedt Ritchie.  “Citizens working together founded this charitable foundation more than 50 years ago and it continues to be a wonderful work in progress.  As each new generation builds on it, it becomes an even more impactful force for good in this community.”

Cynthia Brown, PACF Board Chairman 2019 and 2020, was honored for two years of leading the PACF’s Board of Directors through an era of great service and significant growth.  A resolution commending her accomplishments and volunteer service was incorporated into the official meeting record.

New PACF Board Officers were announced as follows:

  • Chairperson, Robert L. Wright II of Warfield Realtors®;
  • Vice-Chairperson, Marie Caltrider, CPA;
  • Treasurer, Randy Dick (retired); and,
  • Secretary, Ann Beck (retired).

Three PACF Board members with a combined thirty years of service - Thomas Whaling, John Ralsten and Linda Gerrard - received commemorative resolutions upon “retiring” from PACF Board service after 10 years’ service each (the maximum two consecutive five-year terms).

Three new members have joined the PACF Board:

  • Robin Wallace of Vienna, WV, is the Finance Manager and Community Outreach Leader at DuPont Washington Works, where she has worked for more than twenty years. Robin has served on the PACF’s Grants Committee and is a graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
  • Greg Cottrill of Doddridge County is currently the Director of the Doddridge County Parks and Recreation Commission and has previously served as a President and leader within the YMCA organization in Charleston, WV, and Columbus, OH.  Greg has a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University and also serves on the Foundation’s Doddridge County Community Foundation Affiliate Advisory Board.
  • Mary Anne Ketelsen, recent recipient of the State of West Virginia’s highest honor, the Distinguished West Virginian Award, is President and CEO of Mister Bee Potato Chips. An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mary Anne is a graduate of Parkersburg High School, WVU at Parkersburg, and Glenville State College. She is the Fund Adviser to the Mary M. Welch Advised Fund.

Fiscal Year 2020 Highlights included:

  • Despite the pandemic, PACF employed 22 local young people through its regional Civic Leaders Fellowship Program, improving their ability to make connections and to find good jobs.
  • Awarded 277 scholarships worth $368,500 to students needing educational aid, an increase of more than 10% in the value awarded in 2019.
  • Setting a new record high for Give Local MOV 2020–-with many fundraising events cancelled, the PACF’s innovative online giving campaign became even more essential, delivering a 25% increase in support for 53 nonprofits, raising $478,000 in just 24-hours!
  • The PACF was reaccredited under the National Standards for Community Foundations;
  • Its Audit firm, Suttle and Stalnaker, reported that the PACF had a ‘clean’ audit with no material findings.
  • The PACF functions very efficiently; its 2020 operations cost ratio was 1.14%.
  • The PACF’s investment performance continues to rank among the top 10% of community foundations nationwide.

Sjostedt Ritchie noted that the PACF has several programs open to applications at this time.  To learn more about its grants, scholarships, and other initiatives or to make online gifts, see www.pacfwv.com.   The PACF serves eleven counties including Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood counties in West Virginia and Washington County, Ohio.

PACF’s Annual Meeting Becomes a Meal for Others

Given the ongoing pandemic, the 58th Annual Meeting of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates (PACF) was held by “Zoom call” recently on January 15th.  A week later, on January 22, its usual “fourth Friday in January” Annual Meeting date, instead of the meal shared among its supporters, the PACF provided meals for staff and clients of local agencies working to aid persons recovering from substance use disorders, serving children in emergency and foster care, and responding to the public’s health needs. 

Children residing at the Children’s Home Society’s Gustke Shelter, and shelter staff, enjoyed a meal catered by DaVinci’s, along with hot chocolate and sweets served by The Bodega.  More than 90 residents and staff associated with Recovery Point enjoyed food supplied by Rubi’s Pizza and Grill.  Staff and volunteers of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, working diligently to immunize the public, received boxed sandwich lunches from Honey Baked Ham.  Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home staff and residents are set to receive a meal soon featuring barbecue from a local catering business.  In all, more than 175 persons received a meal using the local vendors of their choice.

Allison Conley, Recovery Point WV, said, “We can’t express the gratitude we have for the kindness that you’ve shown our clients through a simple meal.  This meant so much to them!  Rubi’s was fantastic to work with and they’ve definitely gained some loyal customers through this experience.”

Denise Hughes of the Children’s Home Society staff shared that, “The dinner was a resounding success! The residents were thrilled with such a feast and we had many who had never had DaVinci’s before, so they were especially pleased.  This really was a treat for them, and everyone expressed their gratitude at being thought of. Earlier in the day, the Bodega brought their ‘Hot Chocolate Bar on Wheels’ to the parking lot to allow staff and residents a mid-day treat.  Residents were very surprised when they looked out the window to see it pull up and then to realize they could go out to get some sweet goodness. I can’t tell you how this kind gesture from you all helped to brighten up the week.  As you can imagine there was great stress about going back to school and COVID--this was a nice respite from all the worry.”

“The Foundation wanted to provide encouragement and to express its gratitude to these agencies and their clientele while also supporting local restaurants,” said Judy Sjostedt Ritchie, PACF’s Executive Director. “We appreciate the challenging nature of the work that these important organizations do every day, and which is made even more so, during a pandemic. We were glad to hear that it brightened their day and pleased to support local enterprises.” 

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