With the novel coronavirus upending communities across the nation and around the world, our foundation recognizes that this is a critical moment for philanthropy. As crucial needs like access to food, shelter, and healthcare surged among communities we serve, our staff team weighed the impact COVID-19 would have on the Mid-Ohio Valley and devised an action plan by re-strategizing our funding for the current grant cycle. To date, our Board of Directors has approved funding of over $253,000 to more than 40 organizations in response to the pandemic. 

We reached out to our funding partners in our 11-county region to contribute 1:1 matching funds to the various COVID-19 emergency response funds. We also directly communicated with several agencies which serve our most vulnerable populations. “Collaboration is at the core of our mission. Through these positive relationships with our foundation colleagues, we were able to make collective and quick decisions to get the funds where they were needed the most,” Executive Director Renee Steffen said. “We appreciate our collaborative partners. Also, a huge thank you to our nonprofit community for their continued hard work and perseverance to adapt quickly to meet people’s basic needs with compassion.”

Funding partnerships were established with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the Marietta Community Foundation, the Meigs County Community Fund through the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, and the Athens County Foundation.

With these matching funds, four priorities were identified: food access and distribution, the needs of the senior population, mental health and addiction related needs, and healthcare infrastructure needs.

“During this time, it is especially important to support efforts addressing needs of at-risk populations, including access to healthy and nutritious food for children and seniors, supportive services for the homeless community, and recovery supports for those in or desiring to be in recovery,” Senior Program Officer Sr. Molly Bauer said. 

She placed emphasis on how providing support for the homeless and those suffering from mental health issues amid the pandemic is paramount. “People deal with daily life stresses precipitated by the many challenges encountered during the pandemic. Calls to 211 have increased, as have overdoses.” 

“Funding in these areas through our collaborations enables us to streamline communication and resources with our nonprofit partners. This minimizes the duplication of efforts while responding in a timely manner,” Sr. Molly added. 

In partnership with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF), SHF contributed $40,000 in matching funds for general operating support or immediate needs support for organizations experiencing increased demand for services and/or decreased revenue due to COVID-19.

To address financial hardships individuals or families are facing during the pandemic, SHF contributed $10,000 to PACF and $5,000 to the United Way Alliance for the financial hardship assistance program. Administered by Community Resources and Consumer Credit Counseling Services, this program will enable households to meet rent or mortgage payments and in some cases, utility costs.

In addition, SHF contributed $25,000 to the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Safety Net Fund to assist various organizations in addressing the needs of seniors, access to food and essential hygiene supplies, rent and utility costs, and overall financial hardship. To date, these organizations include:

  • Calhoun County Committee on Aging 
  • Calhoun County Schools
  • Children’s Home Society 
  • Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley 
  • Friendship Kitchen 
  • Mid-Ohio Valley Fellowship Home 
  • Old Man Rivers 
  • Parkersburg Urban Ministries 
  • Recovery Point Parkersburg
  • SW Resources 

A contribution of $25,000 to the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Plan have provided food assistance as well as support services for the homeless. To date, these funds have been used for the following:

  • Hygiene facilities at the Salvation Army of Parkersburg for those without stable shelter
  • Motel stays for those without shelter and need to be quarantined
  • Food needs for House to Home
  • Food pantry support to Community Resources in Jackson and Tyler Counties
  • PPE supply purchases
  • Thermometers for screening teams
  • Towels and hygiene items

SHF contributed $25,000 to the Meigs County Community Fund to address food insecurity and mental health, especially to children and seniors:

  • Eastern Local Elementary School
  • Golden Harvest Food Pantry
  • Hopewell Health Centers
  • Meigs Cooperative Parish
  • Meigs Prayer Task Force
  • Meigs County Council on Aging
  • New Beginnings United Methodist Church
  • River of Life Care Closet
  • Rutland United Methodist Church
  • Southern Local Elementary School

A contribution of $25,000 to the Marietta Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Plan has provided support for food access, needs of seniors, healthcare supplies, and operating costs. To date, these organizations include:

  • Washington-Morgan Community Action
  • Marietta-Belpre Health Department
  • Washington County Harvest of Hope
  • Salvation Army of Marietta Food Pantry
  • Gospel Mission Food Pantry
  • Belpre Area Ministries Food Pantry
  • Western Washington Food Pantry

SHF contributed $10,000 to the Athens County Foundation for support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, assistance with food services to the elderly and the community, and maintenance of care for under/uninsured patients. To date, funding was awarded to:

  • Athens Child Advocacy Center
  • Good Works
  • My Sister’s Place
  • Ohio University Free Clinic
  • Rural Action
  • Shade Community Center
  • United Seniors of Athens

Other COVID-19 grant awards include the following:

  • $30,000 to WV Local Health, Inc. to support the Jackson County Health Department, the Wetzel-Tyler Health Department, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department
  • $50,000 to the Mountaineer Food Bank to support food distribution to pantries in the Mid-Ohio Valley
  • $2,800 to the Wood County Senior Citizens Association to purchase Oliver trays for home food deliveries to seniors
  • $1,000 to Hocking, Athens, Perry Community Action to assist in preventing water shut off for households in Glouster
  • $5,000 to The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley for general operating support