WHEELING — For five decades, the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley has enhanced the region through charitable donations and strategic initiatives. The CFOV celebrated that milestone anniversary Thursday night at its Chapline Street headquarters, inviting the community for an evening of fellowship and the chance to obtain a deeper understanding of the foundation’s mission.
Susie Nelson has been CFOV’s executive director for 15 years, nearly a third of the foundation’s lifetime. She has seen the foundation continue to grow during her tenure and loves coming to a job where, every day, she can help groups that are making an impact in the community.
“I’ve spent some time this week looking back at from where we’ve come and who helped us to get where we are today,” Nelson said. “Fifty years is astounding and the last 15 have gone by just like that. I get to see all the good every day.
“It’s a very rewarding job, but none of it would be possible without the donors,” she continued. “They’re the ones putting the money in and making it all happen. Fifty years of that is huge, really huge.”
An important part of the foundation’s mission is to offer grants to community organizations. The CFOV facilitates several with specific purposes like the Belmont County Enrichment Fund, the Marshall County Disabled Children and Adults Fund and the Women’s Giving Circle, which recently won the 2022 Youth Services System Good Samaritan Award. It also awarded more than $445,000 in scholarships to local students in June.
There also are the foundation’s Community Impact Grants, unrestricted funds that go to organizations actively trying to make a difference in the Ohio Valley. In February, the CFOV handed out more than $115,000 to 15 such organizations.
Thursday’s celebration had an added artistic touch. Students from nine area high schools — Steubenville, Tyler Consolidated, Brooke, Buckeye Local, Jefferson County Christian, Valley, Shadyside, Madonna and Wheeling Central – created art pieces that captured what community means to them. Each student group got a canvas, a gift card for supplies and a $500 grant for their school’s art programs. These pieces will now hang permanently on the CFOV office walls.
While celebrating the CFOV’s history Thursday, Nelson looked toward the future, excited that the foundation would continue its mission to help make the Ohio Valley a better place to live.
“We want to keep growing and keep doing more good in the community,” Nelson said.
And she again thanked the donors that have allowed CFOV to distribute millions over the years to organizations who need it. The Ohio Valley is a community that loves helping its own, she said.
“It’s not surprising because the people of this area are very giving,” Nelson said. “For a community our size, it’s astounding.”