The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation’s (PACF) 60-year legacy of community impact was on full display as its 60th anniversary was celebrated in style on September 29th. The hidden gems in our community were recognized along with a tribute to the remarkable career of Executive Director Emerita, Judy Sjostedt Ritchie. The event was held at the Parkersburg Art Center, and it was an unforgettable night of art, music, and refreshments. The PACF staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the event, and the generous support of sponsors made it possible. Fred Rader, PACF’s new executive director said, “The high attendance was a testament to the commitment of our community. It was also a display of deep appreciation for all that Judy has done to make Parkersburg a ‘thriving community whose residents are welcoming, engaged and resilient’.”

The 60th Anniversary is traditionally the Diamond Anniversary. As a way of celebrating PACF’s Diamond Anniversary the public was asked to identify “Hidden Gems” in the community. Those nominated included Kiki Angelos, Ashlee S. Beatty, Cat Bigley, Jane Burdette, Angie Burgy, Gwen and Rick Bush, Butcher Family Farm, Bea Corra, Jonelle Crooks-Merritt, Lisa Doyle Parsons, John Droppleman, Ed Goe, Brandon Gress, Alice Harris, Cindy Hopkins, Jane Irvine, Roger Jarvis, Larry Johnson, Barbara Joyce, Jean Lawrence, Larry Maxwell, Crystal Mersh, James “Murf” Murphy, Ruth Patrick, Tina Persinger, Janet Prislac, Amy Ramsburg, Mary Lee Ruppel, Jon Six, Joe Smith, Emily Taylor and the Taylor Family, Ralph Tisdale, Amanda Weatherwax, and Collin Yost. Each nominee received a butterfly from the Wood County Society’s Art Beat Studio and a certificate thanking them for their contributions to the community.

From the thirty-four gems that were identified, a committee of former board members selected five “Diamond Anniversary Gems,” to represent each of the foundation’s Core Values. Among those selected, community member Joe Smith was chosen as a representative for the value of partnering. He works with members of Good Shepherd Church and others in the neighborhood to help those in need. Schoolteacher Ruth Patrick signifies the value of learning. She tirelessly pursues new and innovative ways to engage her classroom. Generosity is represented by Emily Taylor. Emily gives generously of her time to improve the lives of those living with Parkinson’s Disease through the Rock Steady Boxing program at the YMCA and the Parkinson’s support group. Demonstrating the value of inclusiveness is Cindy Hopkins. She is welcoming and caring as she interacts with her customers at the Blennerhassett Hotel. Finally, chosen to represent integrity was Mary Lee Rupell. She is a retired schoolteacher who displays personal integrity as she helps those in her neighborhood, family, and church. Each “Diamond Anniversary Gem” was presented with a personalized crystal award with a diamond shaped base.

Executive Director Emerita Judy Sjostedt Ritchie surprised everyone when she announced a challenge to raise funds for the PACF operating endowment. Her husband Doug, friends Mary Riccobene (and the Bernard McDonough Foundation), and Doug and Mary Anne Ketelsen (and the Mary M. Welch Advised Fund) are offering to match $225,00 if a like amount is raised by June 30, 2024. Having devoted 24 years to the growth and impact of the foundation, an endowment ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of the foundation is a fitting tribute to Judy.

Six decades ago, a group of concerned Parkersburg residents took action that led to the formation of the PACF. Since then, thousands of people from throughout the service area have worked tirelessly to build upon their efforts. Today, the PACF manages nearly $80 million in assets and distributes over $4 million annually for public benefit. Over the past 24 years alone, the PACF has distributed an impressive $47 million in grants and scholarships across the region. The foundation is proud to celebrate 60 years of service to the community and look forward to continuing their mission, to improve the lives of those who call our region home.