For generations, Morgantown’s Whitmore Park has served as a green respite for residents seeking a break from the concrete and cars of a bustling college town.
On a humid August afternoon back in 2019, it was discovered that the park was also being used for another means of escape.
“This really breaks my heart,” a volunteer said, as she regarded the walking bridge that is the centerpiece of the picturesque spot, founded 100 years ago.
Underneath that bridge sat the detritus of addiction: Layers after layer of used syringes, overtaking the soiled clothing and empty bottles strewn about.
The volunteer on that particular afternoon was part of a contingent helping to clean up the park.
Helping those presently mired in addiction is the focus of a new effort from Your Community Foundation of North Central West Virginia Inc., the philanthropic organization that serves people across Monongalia, Preston, Marion, Harrison and Taylor counties.
It’s all part of the foundation’s $1 Million Match Campaign, which has been sparked in recent months by big help from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, said Patty Showers Ryan, the foundation’s president.
“This is such a critical need,” Ryan said.
That’s because West Virginia is still at the epicenter of the nation’s opioid and fentanyl crisis.
All monies coming into the foundation’s IMPACT fund for that work, and other work, are being matched by the anonymous donor, she said.
“We want to thank that donor and all of our donors. We couldn’t do the things we do without them.”
Add volunteers in there too, the president said.
Volunteers with boots on the ground in the fight to prevent drug addiction in the Mountain State and to get help for those still battling their demons.
“We’re not experts in our office,” she said, “but we know plenty of people who are.”
The help coming from the foundation will be in the form of grants to frontline clinics, plus other outreach groups and individuals enlisted in the fight.
Like ripples in a stream from a skipped stone, the foundation’s campaign in this effort began as individual overtures melding into one unified mission – with the $900,000 IMPACT goal as example.
While that goal has been met, Ryan said, $73,125 is still needed to clear the $100,000 benchmark for the foundation’s Addiction Prevention Initiative Fund.
As with the match campaign as a whole, incoming dollars for that fund will be matched 100%, Showers said.
The match campaign in the meantime is notching closer and closer to its $1 million general goal, she said, with a tally of $926,855 notched overall.
Naming opportunities in the addiction prevention fund are available with a gift of $10,000 or more, the president said.
Call 304-296-3433 or visit www.ycfwv.org to learn more.
Every dollar donated, said Martin Howe, the foundation’s board chair, represents a person and a family trying to survive under the shadows of drug and alcohol addiction.
“Each of us has been impacted in some way by addiction,” he said.
“We are grateful for our donors who recognize the importance of investing in community strategies to prevent addiction.”