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Women’s Giving Circle of Wheeling Awards Almost $42,000 in Grants

Photo by Linda Comins Representing agencies receiving Women’s Giving Circle’s grants Tuesday are, from left, Laura Ondeck and Jackie Shia, Challenger Learning Center; Kelly Clutter and Kathie Brown, Wheeling Health Right; Tricia Flanigan, YWCA Wheeling; Micah Underwood, Oglebay Institute; Heather Lapp, YWCA Wheeling; Lisa Badia, Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless; Peggy Hickenbottom, National Church Residences of Barnesville; Jordan Harris, Coalition for the Homeless; Libby Strong, SMART Center; Lea Ridenhour, Women’s Giving Circle president; Kathryn Kelly, Oglebay Foundation, and Betsy Bethel-McFarland, Youth Services System.

The Women’s Giving Circle on Tuesday presented grants totaling $41,950 to 11 programs designed to empower women and girls in the community.

Ten area organizations received the gifts during a presentation held at Wheeling Jesuit University’s Center for Educational Technologies. The Women’s Giving Circle, an initiative of the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, makes strategic, research-based grants supporting projects that serve women and girls.

Lea Ridenhour, president of the Women’s Giving Circle, spoke of “how wonderful it is to be in a community of women who are so generous.”

Receiving grants in this round of funding are the Challenger Learning Center at Wheeling Jesuit, $4,250; National Church Residences of Barnesville, $5,000; Oglebay Foundation, $2,500; Oglebay Institute, $2,500; SMART Center, $2,475; Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, $5,000; Wheeling Health Right, $5,000; West Virginia Northern Community College Foundation, $2.500; YWCA Wheeling, two grants for $3,475 and $5,000; and Youth Services System, $5,000.

Jackie Shia, director of the Challenger Learning Center, said its grant will be used for a July 13 event, Little Girls in Space, to increase awareness of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields for girls in grades K-3. She said the new project extends the center’s Girls in Space Day to a younger group.

In a similar vein, Libby Strong, co-founder of the SMART Center, said the grant will allow its Girls Enjoying Math and Science (GEMS) Camp on June 24-25 to be offered free of charge to all campers. Last year, 19 girls attended the camp.

“It’s really important to make sure girls understand that science, in particular, is not just for boys,” Strong said.

The YWCA’s larger grant will benefit its Youth Empowerment Program to encourage girls to be “active in our community at a very young age,” said Heather Lapp, chief strategic officer.

A 16-member youth advisory board organizes a four-day challenge in which girls choose community service projects, such as lobbying against the state’s “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products.

Tricia Flanigan, director of the YWCA Wheeling’s Family Violence Prevention Program, said the YWCA’s other grant will be used for repairs and upgrades to Judy’s Place, a transitional home in New Martinsville for victims of domestic violence and their children.

Betsy Bethel-McFarland, communications manager of Youth Services System, said its grant will assist transitional living programs at the McCrary and Tuel centers for young people who are aging out of the foster care system or are “couch surfing” because of unstable living situations. Currently, four children, age 3 and younger, are residing with their young mothers at the McCrary house on Wheeling Island, she added.

Lisa Badia, director of the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, said its grant will aid a female empowerment program that supports women as they work toward independence. Jordan Harris, program development specialist, said the coalition’s transitional housing program has helped 26 women in the past year.

The grant to National Church Residences will be used to transport uninsured women to cancer treatments, said Peggy Hickenbottom, transportation director. Utilization of the service has doubled in the past year, with 79 women now being served, she said.

Director Kathie Brown said Wheeling Health Right’s grant will enable them to continue the FARMacy initiative to provide fresh, organic produce for female patients who are managing chronic illness. This year, 50 people will participate in the 16-week program, starting in mid-May, she said.

Kathryn Kelly of the Oglebay Foundation said its grant will enable the establishment of a girls golf program at Oglebay Park, the first of its kind in West Virginia.

Micah Underwood, development director of Oglebay Institute, said its grant will provide tuition assistance for girls to attend summer camps. The institute awarded 200 scholarships last year, assisting every qualified applicant. “It’s truly incredible to say ‘yes’ to people who are going to benefit from camps,” she said.

The WVNCC Foundation’s grant will be utilized for emergency assistance for female students.


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