Main Menu

WISH awards 2019 grants to two community nonprofits and two Shepherd education initiatives

ISSUED: 29 August 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — WISH, a women’s giving circle sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation, awarded four grants totaling $123,000 to two community nonprofits, Community Networks Bethany House and the Semper Li “Ashley House,” and two Shepherd learning projects, Health Promotion Expansion and the Shepherd University Speech and Debate Team, on Sunday, August 25. The event was sponsored by alumni John Wolff, Bronfman Rothschild Wealth Advisors, and his wife, Lisa Wolff.

Nonprofit winner Bethany House, an outreach by Community Networks, Inc., provides emergency shelter services 24 hours a day, seven days a week to homeless women and children in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties. The WISH grant will purchase new beds and mattresses; cots for the overflow room; specialized clothing for those in jobs such as food service, healthcare, and warehousing; additional games, books, supplies, and healthy snacks for children; bus passes and cab fares for transportation to jobs and appointments; and storage totes and supplies to maintain the house.

“Seventy percent of women who come to the shelter have lost everything,” said Community Networks executive director Teresa Shumate, who noted that Bethany House served 258 women and 98 children in 2018. “With the WISH grant, the agency will be able to purchase much-needed items for our clients. We are so honored to have received this award.”

The second nonprofit, Semper Li “Ashley House” will serve as an extension of the Mountaineer Recovery Center (MRC), which, once it opens in October, will be the only long-term rehabilitation center in the area that provides a continuous program for addiction recovery. The WISH grant will serve as a down payment on this first sober living house to be used as an outpatient living facility for female clients.

“Although people benefit greatly from addiction treatment, they lack the resources to sustain their recovery when they leave,” said Mountaineer Behavioral Health owner Dr. Jonathan Hartiens, who encouraged WISH members to consider serving as mentors, continue to donate, or help share the Semper Li story. “In keeping with the motto ‘Semper Li’ (always free), the WISH grant will provide the housing resource necessary to female clients participating in the program.”

Headed by Dr. Stacey Kendig and Jessica Graham, both faculty in the School of Recreation, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, the Health Promotion Expansion Initiative is the first of the 2019 Shepherd learning project grants. As part of the health promotion and exercise science curriculum, students use the human performance lab on campus to gain practical, applicable, and visual teaching techniques in the area of health assessment for future clients. As it stands now, the human performance lab requires significant upgrades to provide a viable learning environment. The WISH grant will provide new flooring compatible with the water tank; a variety of new equipment used to assess and educate students and community members in the areas of wellness and fitness; computers; and appropriate storage.

“With such high obesity rates in West Virginia, especially in young children, the human performance lab will serve as an important asset to not only Shepherd, but also in the community,” said Graham, who manages the lab under Kendig’s guidance. “In order to improve our community’s health and move forward, we needed the WISH grant to provide necessary funding for upgrades and promotion.”

Through the final Shepherd learning project WISH grant, the Shepherd University Speech and Debate Team will be able to build on its regional and national success. At the 2019 Public Communication Speech and Debate National Championship in Indianapolis, the team was named national champions in the Division 1 Team Speech Sweepstakes. The WISH grant will provide scholarship funding for recruitment of outstanding high school students who have successfully competed in speech and debate programs. It will also provide a stipend for additional coaches and travel expenses to local and national competitions.

“The past three years have been an evolution for the program,” said assistant coach and former team member Katie Zackrzewski, who was a member of the first Shepherd program to be award the state championship title. “Unfortunately, our greatest roadblock to success has been financial support. Because of this wonderful grant, our program can continue to skyrocket.”

More than 100 WISH members and guests were on hand to celebrate the grant recipients, including WISH member Shepherd President Mary J.C. Hendrix.

“The projects selected this year were each unique and inspiring—addressing important issues and providing creative and effective solutions,” said Hendrix, who shared her excitement about casting her own vote to invest in success. “I am truly looking forward to hearing from the recipients about the impact of our funding.”

WISH, a women’s giving circle sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation, was created to inspire, educate, and develop the potential of women’s philanthropy through high-impact grant-making. Members combine their $500 annual contribution, which is then divided into two grant pools—one for Shepherd learning programs and one for community nonprofits. A one-woman, one-vote process determines the grant recipients in each category. Membership for 2019 is being accepted until December 31.

To learn more about becoming a member of WISH or about the organization, visit, or contact Meg Peterson at 304-876-5021 or

— 30 —