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EWVCF celebrates 20 years of helping the community

By Staff | Oct 2, 2015

Doug Roach, one of the co-founders and first president of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, remembers well the first big donation the foundation received.

“We had gotten some little donations to get it started, but George Hancock really got us started,” Roach said Wednesday during the foundation’s 20th anniversary party. “I got a call from one of the local banks about a man who wanted to give the foundation some money. And I told him to just open an account for it. He said it was $100,000. I said I’d be there in five minutes.”

That was in 1996.

George Hancock was a retired executive with the YMCA, who wanted to remember his late wife with a scholarship fund, which he established with the Community Foundation. It was the foundation’s first endowed fund, and is still distributing about $5,000 a year in scholarships.

Roach and Phil Cox had been talking about starting a community foundation for the tri-county for three years, Roach said. He had the Roach Oil Co. and Cox was a local accountant.

David DeJarnett, a local attorney, took the lead with the foundation’s legal work and applied for its charter, which it received in 1995, Roach said.

The board started off with about 10 people, who had lunch meetings, Roach said. He would type meeting minutes on an old IBM Selectric typewriter in the back office of Roach Oil. He still has all the minutes from those early days.

Roach and the other board members volunteered their time and did everything the first six years of the foundation’s existence.

“Berkeley County did not – and still doesn’t – have a lot of wealth,” Roach said. “People with wealth were scarce. Tucker County had a community foundation. We thought if Tucker County could have a foundation, we thought we should have someplace to bring people together. It was time to do something.”

From that initial $100,000 endowed fund, the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation has grown to about $18.4 million in assets with 200 endowed funds. The foundation has awarded nearly $6 million in grants and scholarships over its 20 years.

Roach said that the foundation got a big boost because of the generosity of Randy Smith, who won a $79 million Powerball jackpot in 2010 and established the $6 million W. Randy Smith Family Fund with the foundation.

“There’s not many guys who win a prize like that and give that much away,” Roach said.

Roach said that the board of directors has always gotten along very well, and has consisted of residents and business people who are genuinely interested in helping the community.

“My biggest satisfaction is that my youngest son, Scott, was elected president of the board,” Roach said. “He has a knack for that sort of thing.”

Hosted by Bob and Tia McMillan, several board members and donors attended the 20th anniversary party, including the four past presidents. In addition to Roach, Tia McMillan, Diane Dailey and Stew Borger have served as president of the Community Foundation.

Also attending was the foundation’s first paid employee: Amy Owen. Hired in 2000, she was the foundation’s first executive director. She had to apply for Benedum Foundation grants to fund her salary. She left the foundation in 2012.

Michael Whalton is the current executive director.

“We expect to distribute $700,000 in grants this year,” he said Wednesday. “Next year, our goal is to give away $1 million annually.”

The Community Foundation offices are located in the Caperton Train Station at 229 E. Martin St. in downtown Martinsburg. For more information about the foundation, go to www.EWVCF.org, email info@EWVCF.org or call 304-264-0353.