West Virginia Central Federal Credit Union Fills the Gap for Area Nonprofits

In November 2020, West Virginia Central Federal Credit Union (WV Central FCU) – a Parkersburg-based credit union serving Wood, Pleasants, Ritchie, Wirt, and Jackson Counties in West Virginia (WV) and Washington County in Ohio (OH) – announced that their year-end giving efforts would be focused on providing COVID-19 relief grants to nonprofit organizations in their six-county area.

With the Fill the Gap initiative, nonprofit organizations were invited to submit applications indicating their revenue losses due to COVID-19. The application period closed on December 1st, 2020.

Allie Bennett, Director of Community Engagement & Marketing at WV Central FCU, shared that she suggested an idea that connected the social distance between us to the gap in funds that people had in the community. She said that everyone can help do what they can to “fill the gap” until more “normal” times return, which is what WV Central FCU did.

“The thing that really stands out is the immense nature of what has been set back by 2020 and the pandemic. We are talking hundreds of thousands in expected funds and a year of progress. The hope and faithfulness of the applicants is impressive and we only wish we could do more for all of them!” said Bennett.

Ultimately, WV Central FCU awarded $85,000 to 67 nonprofits throughout their region. For 2020, though, their total contribution to area nonprofit organizations was $125,000, which included a $20,000 contribution to WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital through a tie-dye masks fundraiser.

One of the nonprofits to receive funds in Wood County was the American Red Cross of the Ohio River Valley.

“Receiving these funds locally means we will be less reliant on other Red Cross chapters beyond the Ohio River Valley to fill the gap for services we provide, especially to those impacted by disasters,” said Sharon Kesselring, Executive Director for the organization.

Kesselring shared that COVID-19 has impacted their work significantly, from disruptions to their steady state of blood collections to identifying ways to provide COVID-safe blood drives and response to hospital patients’ needs to shifts from mass population sheltering to individual hotel stays and more.

This funding will really help us be able to continue our outreach within our community.

Kerry Jean Waddle, Betsey Mills Club

“All this takes donated funding, which is not at the same level as past years due to job loss and employment uncertainty. This Fill The Gap donation will help to assure we can provide our services to our friends, families, neighbors and all residents in the Ohio River Valley,” said Kesselring.

In Washington County, the Betsey Mills Club was one of several nonprofits to receive funds.

“These funds mean so much to our non-profit, the Betsey Mills Club. Any funding always means very much, but it evens means more during this past year of uncertainty with COVID,” said Kerry Jean Waddle, Executive Director for the organization.

Waddle shared that their traditional methods of generating revenue for the Club were shut down or partially shut down throughout 2020, which meant less money than previous years. This lack of funds, according to Waddle, hurt their ability to continue community service and outreach projects.

“We offer low-cost housing to single-women. Some women are fleeing an abusive situation or graduating from a rehab facility. We offer free clothing to women through the Betsey Closet, scholarships for low-income persons to use our warm-water therapy pool, and scholarships for families for childcare services,” said Waddle.

The funds awarded to The Betsey Mills Club enabled them to keep up with their bills and pay employees, as services like the scholarship program, low-income housing, and the Betsey Closet did not stop despite the challenges to keep them going.

“This funding will really help us be able to continue our outreach within our community. We cannot say thank you enough!” said Waddle.

Credit unions were founded on the principle of ‘people helping people.’

Allie Bennett, WV Central FCU

Awards to nonprofits ranged from $500 to $5,000 and, according to Bennett, some applications were better suited for event sponsorship which allowed WC Central FCU to support nonprofits even more.

The full list of nonprofits who were awarded funds from the Fill the Gap campaign include the American Legion Post 15, American Red Cross of the Ohio River Valley, Artsbridge, Inc., Belmont Volunteer Fire Department, Betsey Mills Club, Boaz Lions Club, Boys & Girls Club of Pleasants County, Children’s Home Society of WV, Circles Campaign of the MOV, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Decatur Community Association, DivorceCare and GriefShare, Downtown PKB, Ely Chapman Education Foundation, Eve, Incorporated, FaithLink, Family Crisis Intervention Center, Friendship Kitchen, GFWC Parkersburg Woman’s Club, Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley, High On Hope Ministries, House To Home, Humane Society of Parkersburg, Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, Kelly’s Closet, Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department, Marietta Main Street, Mid Ohio Valley Players, Mid-Ohio Valley Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Mid-Ohio Valley Platoon of Marine Corps Veterans Association, Momma T and the Warriors, Nelson Animal Retreat, Inc., North Place Maternity House, Parkersburg Art Center, Parkersburg Stepping Stones for Ohio Valley University, Pleasants County Humane Society, Pleasants County Neighbor Network, Recovery Point West Virginia, Robbie and Friends, Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program, Special Olympics Wood County, SW Resources, Inc, The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley, The Ark Church of Belpre Food Pantry, The Children’s Listening Place, Inc., The Gathering Church, The Gospel Mission of Marietta Ohio Inc., The Hope Recovery Manor, Inc, The Right Path for Washington County, The Salvation Army, The Salvation Army – Marietta, Ohio, The Wirt County Missional Group LLC, VFW Auxillary #6669, Voices For Children Foundation, Voices of the Streets Inc. (Essentially Yours), Wasco, Inc., Washington County Home, Washington Lions Club, Watertown Volunteer Fire Department, We Have Your Six, Inc, Westbrook Health Services, Wirt County Committee on Aging, Women’s Care Center, Inc., Wood County Coon Hunters Association, Wood County Historical & Preservation Society, and WVU at Parkersburg Foundation.

“Credit unions were founded on the principle of ‘people helping people’; it started with lending for everyone who shared in their membership. This founding principle drives us everyday, and we serve our membership and the community that supports us. It’s the circle of life for us. We grow, so we can give more,” said Bennett.