“We all need to be part of the solution. While we can always ‘hope’ for a better future, nothing changes if we don’t act. We can cultivate hope by acting to address needs that we’re passionate about; by building a team to address local issues and exploring ways that we can each make an effort. Making the effort is the first step.”

- Megan Hardway

Each summer, the PACF’s Civic Leaders Fellowship Program offers students from our region who are pursuing post-secondary education the opportunity to secure meaningful employment related to their career goals, while participating in learning activities that nurture interest in civic engagement. Many former Civic Leaders are now living and working in the Mid-Ohio Valley (MOV), and serving their communities. Civic Leaders alumna Megan Hardway shared her thoughts on how the Civic Leaders Fellowship Program builds hope for young people.

“Growing up in the MOV, a long-standing rumor circulated that “there’s nothing here for young people.” As time passed, it became easy to assume that was true. As I grew older though, and my values changed, life became less about ‘finding something to do on the weekends’ and more about finding meaningful employment where I could grow professionally in a community where I could someday raise a family.

With those thoughts in mind, I applied to be a PACF Civic Leader. My experiences as a Fellow showed me that Parkersburg wasn’t such a bad place to achieve my goals after all. It was amazing how fast my personal and professional connections grew and how far my network expanded as I interned at my summer placements, the Chamber of Commerce of the MOV, Downtown PKB, and Marietta Main Street. Along the way, I gained valuable friendships with others who were seeking out the same things that I was. It was exciting to take part in the positive changes happening locally that sometimes citizens don’t notice. I found a sense of hope here in my hometown that I didn’t initially have as I saw that I could stay here and create a life for myself.

Currently, that’s what I’m doing and I have so much interest in continuing to help other young people feel a sense of belonging here, too. I want to be a part of de-bunking that old rumor and making life more appealing for our next generation. I’m thrilled to see my peers thriving in leadership positions at area nonprofits and businesses, moving up within their workplaces, finding solutions to local issues and taking part in the bigger picture of life happening in the MOV. It gives me hope that the MOV will continue growing and thriving.

The support I’ve received from the PACF gave me hope for the future because they are an example of a hub from which positivity radiates. They’re doing great things and that’s contagious. It truly helps others like me want to get involved and to do the same thing.

The PACF is continuously working to solve our community’s issues. I believe the Foundation’s greatest strength is its reliance on building partnerships and relationships. They know that no organization or community can do it alone. By linking and supporting so many groups, the PACF is cultivating a culture that encourages younger generations to stay in the area.”

Ready to learn more about our Civic Leaders Fellowship Program and other Foundation Initiatives?