Beckley Area Foundation is proud to announce the establishment of the Shady Spring High School Class of 1986 Scholarship Fund, an initiative to empower students pursuing their post-secondary education after graduating from SSHS.
The SSHS Class of '86 chose to leverage the "building over time" option provided by BAF, an approach allowing all donors to establish a fund while only requiring 20% of the startup costs upfront. This helpful option offers donors an extended timeline to raise the remaining funds.
“Our SSHS Class of ‘86 is phenomenal - a close-knit bunch of friends full of class spirit. We grew up together and collectively appreciate how much our community supported us and helped us achieve our goals as we graduated. As a class, we started talking about establishing a scholarship at our first reunion. Now this scholarship is a reality! Especially as SSHS celebrates its 100-year anniversary, we are excited to award our first SSHS Class of 1986 scholarship to a student attending a 2-year or 4-year university, technical or trade school.”
— Deena Salon | Fund Representative, BAF Board Member and SLYP Mentor
The Shady Spring High School Class of 1986 Scholarship Fund seeks to recognize and support exceptional students. By alleviating some of the financial burdens, the scholarship aims to allow students to focus on their studies and maximize their potential. The SSHS Class of ‘86 encourages alumni, local businesses, and philanthropists to contribute and support the leaders of tomorrow.
“I am beyond proud to be a member of the SSHS Class of 1986. Thirty-seven years later, many of us still maintain our unique relationships. We share in celebrating each other’s successes, family milestones, births of children and grandchildren, as well as grieve together when losing one of our own. Being able to give back to our high school and community by offering this scholarship is a collective vision we’ve shared for years. Seeing it come to fruition during the 100th anniversary year of Shady Spring High School is both exciting and fulfilling. I will be anxiously awaiting to congratulate our first recipients.”
— Penny Jessup Lowery | Fund Representative
Anyone interested in donating to this fund may mail contributions with “SSHS 1986” in the memo to BAF, 1210 S. Kanawha Street, Beckley, WV 25801 or click the button below to donate online. If you are interested in starting a fund or leaving a legacy gift, call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email email@example.com.
The Hedrick Family have been pillars of the Beckley community for many generations. Their dedication to those in need, those that need support, or a fresh start has always been the core of how they live their lives. Family, faith, and community dictated the importance of sharing and continues to this day.
The fund has been set up by Susan Hedrick and her children John Christopher Hedrick, and Mary Natalie Hedrick Fey in hopes of providing a fresh start and new beginning to so many leaving foster care.
This designated agency fund was established to support the work of Brian's Safehouse and Sparrow's Nest. This "building over time" fund will help those with substance use disorders break the bonds of addiction and learn to live free from all chemical substances in a faith-based setting.
"Building over time" is an option all new donors have when establishing a fund at BAF. Only 20% of the start-up costs are required and the organization has additional time to raise the existing funds.
“The purpose of the fund is so the ministry will continue long after the founders are no longer able to be involved. We are excited about this opportunity; we have always relied on the support of the community for this ministry.”
— Leon Brush | Co-founder, Brian’s Safehouse & Sparrow’s Nest
Brian's Safehouse has been operating since 2008 and Sparrow’s Nest since 2016. These establishments are a place where men and women, who are fighting against addiction, can experience the life restoring powers of God in an environment free from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Both organizations are a 12-month, in-patient program located on closed campuses. The programs are biblically based, acknowledging that complete restoration comes through Jesus Christ. They teach residents emotional, spiritual, and practical life skills while individualized treatment plans address underlying issues as well as focus on the resident's strengths and potential. Both organizations strive to enable residents to re-enter society as responsible, contributing citizens.
“The structure, knowledge, and support I received from Brian's Safehouse completely changed my life. Today I am a successful, driven person whose achievements reflect the work the Safehouse put into me. I am grateful for everything they have done.”
— Graduate, Brian’s Safehouse
Anyone interested in donating to this fund may mail contributions with “Brian’s Safehouse” in the memo to BAF, 1210 South Kanawha St., Beckley, WV 25801 or click the button below to donate online. If you are interested in starting a designated agency fund or leaving a legacy gift, call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beckley Area Foundation is governed by a 15-member board of directors, each serving a three-year term. Members can serve no more than two consecutive terms. Over the past 38 years, a total of 103 Raleigh County residents have served on the BAF board and generously given their time and talents to support the day-to-day operations of our community foundation.
“While membership is certainly an honor, this is a working board; the success of our organization depends upon time-consuming efforts of these volunteers. They work without expectation of personal recognition or reward.”
— Dena Cushman | Executive Director, Beckley Area Foundation
Rick Lay and Robert Doug Smith were elected to fill the vacancies created when Kevin Heath Bailey and Ray Morton rotated off the board.
Rick moved to Raleigh County in 2013 with his wife while searching for an area to retire. He attended Virginia Tech graduating with a B.S. in Computer Science. Prior to retirement, he was the IT Manager at Marathon Petroleum Company. Rick is currently a member and volunteer for Carpenter's Corner, he serves on the board of directors for the WV Woodturners Association, and he also serves on the board of directors for the Glade Springs Village POA. Rick and his wife Stoya currently reside in Daniels. They have a son, Chris, and two grandchildren Caleb & Liam.
Doug grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania and graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from Waynesburg University in 1978. He worked for three years at a regional CPA firm in Wheeling, WV and moved to Beckley, WV in 1981. He was a partner in a large local CPA firm until October 2006, when he joined Vecellio Group, Inc. (VGI) as its Senior VP of Finance. Doug semi-retired in January 2023, but still serves as VGI's Director for Compliance and Tax. He also volunteers as an online financial coach for Crown Financial and maintains various credentials including CPA, CCIFP and CKA. Doug has served on various church and community boards over the years and enjoys spending time with his family. Doug and his wife Jody presently reside in Beckley. They have four children and nine grandchildren. Doug and Jody established the Natalie Jo Smith Scholarship Fund at BAF in 2010, in memory of their daughter.
Currently, BAF's Board is comprised of the following individuals:
BAF's Community Grant Program awards annual discretionary grants to charitable organizations serving Raleigh County in the areas of animal services, the arts, civic beautification, education, health & human services, and public recreation.
Fifteen volunteers representing a cross section of our community spent hours reading every grant proposal, scoring them, and discussing them to recommend grant awards. The BAF Board of Directors reviewed the committee grant recommendations for final approval.
The BAF Board of Directors approved $220,553.28 to fund 44 projects between April 2023 and March 2024.
Areas of Interest Breakdown:
Health & Human Services - $129,040.47
Education - $36,401.61
Arts - $29,361.20
Public Recreation - $13,345.00
Civic Beautification - $7,405.00
Animal Services - $5,000.00
The Raleigh County Public Library's project in 2022 was a summer reading program called, "An Ocean of Stories" to help maintain the children’s reading levels between school sessions. Children 3-13 kept a reading log each week to show that they completed their book. The majority of children in the program read at least 8 books over the summer. Prizes and crafts were also incorporated into the program to help incentivize reading.
“In Summer 2022, the Raleigh County Public Library put on a summer reading program for close to 400 children per week at our Beckley location. Thanks to area donors and organizations, our staff can help to make reading fun all summer long. We hope to see you this summer where we invite you to — Read Beyond the Beaten Path.”
— Amy Stover | Director, Raleigh County Public Library
Full listing of funded projects:
Anyone interested in growing the pool of unrestricted funds that are used to address emerging needs and special projects can make donations in any amount to any unrestricted fund. Mail contributions to BAF, 1210 South Kanawha Street, Beckley, WV 25801, or donate by filling out the form below. If you are interested in starting a named unrestricted fund, call the foundation at 304-253-3806 or email email@example.com.
“This scholarship will provide an opportunity to high school graduates who desire to obtain a nursing degree that otherwise may not be able to accomplish due to financial hardships. Elmo Hurst was a great advocator of higher education. He was a principal stockholder in three companies located in Beckley, WV that provide in-home care to the elderly and disabled. He realized there was a shortage of Registered Nurses in the Beckley area and nationwide. Hopefully, this scholarship will help address the RN shortage in our area.”
— Valerie Phillips | Daughter of Elmo J. Hurst
Elmo J. Hurst was an outstanding businessman & philanthropist in WV and across the nation for over 50 years. After graduating from WVU in 1953, with a B.S. in Mining Engineering and three years as Lieutenant (J.G.) in the US Navy, he began work as an assistant Chief Engineer and assistant to the VP and GM of Winding Gulf Coals Inc. in WV. He then became VP and GM of Lively Manufacturing & Equipment Co. and J.O. Lively Construction Co.. When these companies were sold to Elgin National Industries in 1969, he became President of both. He retired in 1988 as President of Elgin.
Soon after retiring, he purchased controlling interest in the Miller Bearing Co. and Almega/Tru-Flex, Inc. and became Chairman/CEO of both companies. He was also Chairman/CEO and owned controlling interest of Mountain State Home Care, Inc., AmeriCare Management Services, Inc., Your Choice Home Care, LLC and served on the Board of Directors of several engineering, financial and banking organizations.
The accomplishments of Elmo's professional activities were matched by his philanthropic efforts. He was instrumental in establishing Beckley Area Foundation. He served as chair & member of WVU Foundation Board of Directors for more than 20 years and has also served WVU as a member of the College of Engineering Visiting Committee, the College of Minerals & Energy Resources Advisory Committee, Vice Chairman of "The Campaign" for WVU and the Executive Council of the Alumni Association.
WVU honored him by inducting him into The Order of Vandalia, Woodward Circle, The Irving Stewart Society, and selected him as WVU Mountaineer in 1980. They also honored Elmo and his wife Betty by naming the atrium of the Minerals & Energy Resource Building in their honor.
He generously donated his time and money by serving WV in such organizations as the WV Housing Authority Board, Governor Arch Moore's Advisory Council for Technical Services, the YMCA of Southern WV, and was instrumental in the foundation of the Women's Resource Center in Beckley. One measure of his important contributions to the Beckley community is the Spirit of Beckley Community Service Award he received in 1996.
Anyone interested in donating to this fund may mail contributions with “Elmo Hurst” in the memo to BAF, 1210 South Kanawha St., Beckley, WV 25801 or click the button below to donate online. If you are interested in starting a scholarship fund or leaving a legacy gift, call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The goal of Civic Leadership Academy is to foster cadet officers’ civic growth by increasing their leadership skills, sense of civic responsibility, and overall interest in the democratic process. Cadets interested in politics and careers in public service, CAP’s Civic Leadership Academy, an exciting 1-week program in Washington, DC, is for you. Cadets participate in behind-the scenes tours and briefings at the Capitol, Supreme Court, State Department, Pentagon, CIA, Arlington National Cemetery, and more. This is not your average field trip to Washington. CLA is an academically focused activity that includes seminars, readings, and group projects. The week culminates with Legislative Day, when cadets meet with their elected leaders on Capitol Hill.
"Throughout the Civic Leadership Academy, I met and worked with 19 other extraordinary cadets from all over the country. We were able to see and experience things that the majority of our peers will never be able to in their lifetimes, much less before the age of 21. We had lunch with high-ranking officers of the armed forces in the Pentagon, walked the halls of the CIA, participated in a diplomatic training scenario that was evaluated by experienced Department of State employees, and were allowed access too many areas that aren’t open to the general public. I even had the honor to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. This experience is something that I will remember for the rest of my life and I am so glad I decided to attend this training.
I would also like to thank Beckley Area Foundation and the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) for providing me with the Colonel Rodney F. Moody Memorial CAP Scholarship, which allowed me to attend this activity without a significant financial burden. I am extremely grateful for their financial support, which provided me with this unique opportunity to expand my education and training in civic leadership."
— Nathaniel Whetsell’| Col. Rodney F. Moody Memorial Scholarship Recipient
Connie Moody, wife of Rodney, along with family and friends, created this permanent memorial for a beloved family man and distinguished community servant. At the age of 54, he died in 2009 after fighting a courageous battle with lung cancer. He was a member of the Civil Air Patrol – United States Auxiliary, reaching the rank of Colonel; he served as the National Controller (2005-2008) and the WV Wing Commander (2001-2005). He was an avid supporter of the Cadet Program and initiated the cadet leadership course conducted annually at the Mine Health & Safety Academy. Income from this fund will be used to provide scholarships for eligible cadets of the WV Wing to attend a CAP leadership training activity.
A bequest from sisters, Freda and Sula Soter created the “Athas and Helen Soter (Athanasios and Eleni Karakasis Soteracopoulos) Memorial Fund” to honor their parents. The income from this fund will go to YMCA of Southern West Virginia for programs directed to disadvantaged children, the Raleigh County Public Library and the Beckley Concert Association.
“On behalf of the YMCA of Southern WV, we are blessed by the kindness and generosity of Freda & Sula Soter in making the YMCA part of their plans at BAF through a bequest. The income that the YMCA receives from the designated funds at the BAF is critical support for the work we do to strengthen our community with a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”
— Jay Rist | CEO, YMCA of Southern WV
“Thanks to the generosity of Freda and Sula Soter, the Raleigh County Public Library will have more funds to continue to provide services the community has come to expect; a well rounded collection of books to share, access to information in a variety of formats, education and entertaining programs for all ages, and a staff who are here to help."
— Amy Stover | Director, Raleigh County Public Library
“Those of us working with Beckley Concert Association have been proud to offer quality music to the area for over 80 years. This effort has only been possible through supporters such as Freda and Sula Soter. They have supported BCA over the years through their continued monetary contributions as well as many, many volunteer hours.”
— Peggy Debnam | Volunteer, Beckley Concert Association
Freda and Sula's parents were ethnic Greeks who were born and reared in Katirli, Turkey, before immigrating to the United States. Freda was a claims representative for the Social Security office and Sula was a supervisor in the business office of a telephone company. Both of them were very involved in the community.
Freda and Sula established another fund at BAF in 2017, to support the Beckley Concert Association and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for its outreach, beautification, and arts programming.
Anyone interested in donating to this fund may mail contributions with “Soter23” in the memo to BAF, 1210 South Kanawha St., Beckley, WV 25801 or click the button below to donate online. If you are interested in starting a designated fund or leaving a legacy gift, call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email email@example.com.
A designated fund is established by a donor to benefit a specific charity, or program for a charity. Since the first designated fund was established in 1986, BAF has been telling stories of donors and helping local organizations create new stories each year. To date, over $6.5 million dollars has been distributed from designated funds.
The City of Beckley's annual designated distribution was $18,046, made possible by three different funds that have been designated to support their efforts:
“The City of Beckley is once again so appreciative of the foresight of those whose names identify the BAF named funds that enhance our future. This year's Ralsten, Shoemaker and Flying Eagle fund distributions total $18,046 and will be used to further the desired causes.”
— Robert Rappold | Mayor, City of Beckley
Over the next week, BAF will be diving into five more organizations (found in bold letters below) to highlight their service to the community, and which designated funds support them each year.
BAF distributed $425,677 to 64 organizations in our area from designated funds for 2022-2023. The grant awards are as follows:
Anyone interested in donating to a designated fund may mail contributions to BAF, 1210 S. Kanawha St., Beckley, WV 25801 or click the button below. If you are interested in starting a designated fund or leaving a legacy gift, call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
William James Tanner established this designated fund to provide yearly distributions for AWAY (formerly known as the Women's Resource Center) and YMCA of Southern WV.
“Both of these organizations hold a special place in my heart. A lady from church invited me to the Women's Resource Center to have lunch years ago, and I spent time with some of the members and it was very impactful. I've been a member at the YMCA since 1980, and I also developed a professional relationship with them through Spartan Sporting Goods and youth programs. Each organization is so important for our community, and I'm honored to establish a fund that supports them forever.”
— Jim Tanner | BAF Donor
A designated fund is established to benefit a specific charity, or program for a charity. Since the first designated fund was created in 1986, BAF has helped donors fulfill their philanthropic goals by supporting local organizations and their community. To date, over $6.5 million dollars has been distributed from designated funds.
“AWAY is so thankful for Jim Tanner's recently established fund at BAF. These funds help our clients to get a fresh start. AWAY is able to purchase furniture, pay deposits for rent, assist with utilities, and other essential needs to help our clients get back on their feet.”
— Reginia Thomas | Executive Director, AWAY
“The money received from Jim Tanner's new designated fund will be critical to support the YMCA’s operations. The fund will help us with maintenance of our downtown facility.”
— Jay Rist | CEO, YMCA of Southern West Virginia
Anyone interested in donating to this fund may mail contributions with “Tanner AWAY/YMCA” in the memo to BAF, 1210 South Kanawha St., Beckley, WV 25801 or click the button below to donate online. If you are interested in starting a designated fund or leaving a legacy gift, call BAF at 304-253-3806 or email email@example.com.