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Grants In Action: Serving Our Seniors

Two local organizations working to serve area seniors recently received grant support from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and its Little Kanwaha Area affiliate.   

Calhoun County Committee on Aging guestsCalhoun County Committee on Aging (CCOA) serves seniors and veterans by providing educational, health, fitness, and advocacy programs.  A recent $7,990 grant from the Little Kanawha Area Grantmaking Fund and the Walter E. and Marie Ausenheimer Fund enabled the agency to update its computer network hardware and software, improving the reliability and security of their system.  Executive Director Rick Poling indicates that this grant will "enhance our operations for over a decade."  The new equipment, says Poling, "will assure that we can continue doing what we do - be it providing nutrition services, transportation, or social programs to benefit the seniors and veterans of Calhoun County." Seniors benefit greatly from the social interaction, support, and programs provided through CCOA.  As program participant Alta Mae Richards notes, "What would the seniors of Calhoun County do if this place didn't exist."

Roane County Committee on AgingRoane County Committee on Aging (RCOA) provides services to seniors ranging from home-delivered and congregate meals, to transportation, to in-home care services.  RCOA is housed in a former county school building, which is heated and cooled by a number of separate units, several of which are more than 25 years old.  A $6,500 grant from the PACF's Walter E. and Marie Ausenheimer Fund helped the agency to replace the heating/cooling unit that serves the agency's kitchen.  Monday through Friday RCOA serves 60 meals to home-bound seniors and feeds another 45-85 in their dining room, for a total of 100-150 meals served from the kitchen each week day.  These nutrition programs are critical to area seniors.  "Nearly every day we get phone calls from home-bound seniors thanking us for the meals that we deliver to their homes, says RCOA Executive Director Julie Haverty.  "And, every day, seniors thank the staff for meals served in the dining room."

Civic Leaders Award Grants to Thrive and EVE

Each summer, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) offers college-aged students the opportunity to work in career-related internships through the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program. Civic Leaders work four days a week at area businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies, gaining meaningful work experience related to their career interests. In addition, they spend one day a week with the PACF, engaging in activities that help them to learn about the community and the importance of civic engagement. Students can participate in the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program for up to three summers.

In the second year of the program, Civic Leaders visit nonprofits in the region to understand better the ways in which these organizations are working to meet the needs of the communities that they serve. During these visits, the second year CivicLeaders ask about unmet needs, and they have the opportunity to award $5,000 in grant funds to address needs that they identify over the course of the summer.

This year's Civic Leaders visited more than a dozen organizations, and after research and assessment, they awarded grants to support Community Resources for its Thrive food pantry program and EVE, Incorporated, a Washington County, OH based organization that provides services, including housing, to victims of domestic violence. 

The $2,966 grant to EVE will enable the organization to purchase 2 new beds, along with new sheets and mattress covers for all of the beds in their facility. Organizations like EVE run on tight budgets and often run short of funds to replace items such as this, which are critical to making their facility comfortable and welcoming for the individuals that they serve. 

Thrive is receiving a $2,034 grant to support its "Hope Grows" greenhouse project, an effort to grow fresh produce to include in their food pantry. Thrive is designed as a choice-style market, where individuals and families can choose the specific food that they receive, reducing food waste and helping to eliminate stigma. "Hope Grows" will enable Thrive to provide more healthy choices in the market. The new greenhouse project also has space for other nonprofits and food pantries to grow additional produce.

Philanthropy Through Nutrition

Student packing bags for the local pantryImagine you’re in the fourth grade and you’re unable to concentrate on the discussion.  When you’re called on to answer a question, you strain to remember what topic was being discussed.  The room falls silent, as you slump in your chair feeling like a failure.

Studies show that one in six children experience school like this each day due to the lack of nourishing meals at home, thus negatively impacting their academic performance.  As you might suspect, hunger is a problem that most often affects low-income families.

Area data shows a great need to improve the Foundation’s grant resources so that we can better meet essential basic human needs and improve family stability.  The PACF’s service region’s overall poverty level far exceeds the national rate (in 2017, the federal poverty level was $24,300 for a family of four).  In the seven counties for which the PACF is the only community foundation funder – Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood – poverty rates are staggering, with nearly 20% of the population, one in five citizens, living below the federal poverty rate.

With this challenge in mind, the PACF is working with a network of partners to identify and address this critical problem.  As a result, since 2013, the PACF has helped more than 5,000 area children obtain a meal or snack on the weekends; awarded more than $176,000 in grants to local food banks, church groups, and schools to provide meals, and established a regional “Hunger Fund” within the PACF that will provide grants to support important food insecurity and hunger relief programs.

To learn more about the region's hunger initiatives, contact us at 304-428-4438.  To make a donation to support your region's Hunger Fund, click here.

Photo caption:   Volunteers for Regeneration in Ritchie County work on stuffing bags for their Packs of Plenty initiative.

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