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WISH program awards grants

By Staff | Sep 1, 2017

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The Women Investing in Shepherd (WISH) program awarded more than $100,000 in grants to two community nonprofit organizations and two Shepherd University projects Sunday at the Shepherd Erma Ora Byrd Auditorium.

WISH, a women’s giving circle with more than 205 members, is sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation.

According to Monica Lingenfelter, executive vice president for the Shepherd University Foundation, the purpose of WISH is to inspire, educate and develop the potential of women’s philanthropy through high-impact grant making.

Lingenfelter said each member gives a $500 annual contribution, which is then divided into four equal grants – two to regional community nonprofits and two to Shepherd University projects.

“Tonight, WISH will award four grants of $25,625 each and totaling $102,500 collectively,” Lingenfelter said. “The two community nonprofits are the Boys & Girls Club of Eastern Panhandle and Community Alternatives to Violence. The other two award recipients are two Shepherd University learning projects – the SU Model United Nations and the SU Veteran Transition and Support Initiative.”

The WISH Grant award was presented by John Wolff, of Bronfman Rotherchild Wealth Advisors, who is also a supporter of the WISH organization.

According to Stacie Rohn, recipient of the Boys & Girls Club grant, the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle serves an average of 206 children daily in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. The goal is to create a weekly mentoring partnership for at least 50 percent of the membership, which is approximately 103 children throughout the coming year.

“The power of a mentor is truly important,” Rohn said. “The beauty of our program is that one person can truly make a difference in a child’s life and since partnering with Shepherd we have seen that happen. With this grant, we are able to continue to provide our services and I just want to say thank you.”

Carolyn Zdziera, executive director of Community Alternatives to Violence, was there to accept the WISH grant.

“We are like the little engine that could,” Zdziera said. “A little bit of background on our program, we are the only licensed and independent battery intervention prevention program in West Virginia that addresses abusive behavior. Our program works with men, women and youth involved in domestic and family violence cases across the tri-state area. We hope to engage more clients in our unique 32 week class for men, 27 week class for women and classes for our youth.”

Zdziera said they had applied and were denied the WISH grant for the last three years. Now, they have finally received it.

“Now I guess you could say that we are the little engine that finally did,” Zdziera said. “We hope to continue to help the families in the area, and I want to thank the WISH foundation for everything.”

Dr. Ann Wendle, dean of students, was the recipient for the Student Veteran Transition and Support Initiative.

According to Wendle, the VTS initiative will help meet the critical needs of student veterans by creating programming and resources to student veterans that are transitioning into the college environment.

“Our organization sat down and thought the veteran students in this area are missing one little thing,” Wendle said. “That transition from military culture to campus culture. With this program we can support them transitionally and emotionally. This grant will enable us to staff people who can reach out to more than 200 veterans within the next year and to connect them to the proper resources. This also allows us to bring professionals to campus to educate people on how to deal with veterans who are dealing with PTSD and other symptoms. So, with great gratitude, thank you for this award.”

Dr. Art Holtslag, from the Shepherd department of political science, was the recipient for the Model United Nations grant.

“We are very excited to receive this grant because we hope to extend our funding to not just college students, but high school students as well,” Holtslag said. “Being a part of Model United Nations provides so many opportunities to our students. They get that experience of being a team, gain leadership experience, and the goal of Model UN is for the students to participate in conferences in which they play the role of the diplomat or the country that they are not used to. We here at Shepherd are of course trying to represent the United States, but it is important that our students also lift themselves into the difficulties and possibilities of countries that they are less familiar with – it’s a very good learning experience for them.”

Sherri Janelle, membership committee co-chair, said that this is the third year of the WISH awards ceremony and she hopes there are many more to come.

“Together we are all truly making a difference,” Janelle said. “One woman. One vote. One wish. I just want to thank everyone who came out today for their continued support.”

For more information about the organization or how to get involved, visit http://bit.ly/2wnqZhm.