The Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle will soon benefit from a new agency fund at the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, honoring a beloved Shepherdstown resident. The Mary J. Stanley Fund to Support the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle will honor the late community member who passed away in 2020. Mary’s spirit and love for her community will live on forever as future generations of young ones involved at the Club benefit from the scholarships this fund will provide.
Mary Stanley was a native of Wichita, Kansas, and retired to Shepherdstown in 1995. She was involved in many organizations and clubs in the community, and was a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle. She and the Club’s Chief Executive Officer Stacie Rohn met in 2009 and became fast friends, enjoying nearly ten Thanksgivings meals together, with Mary becoming something of a mother figure to Rohn. “Mary was not about pretense,” said Rohn, “She liked good people with good hearts, and she was one of them.”
When Rohn became the Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Panhandle Club in 2013, Mary was instrumental in helping support her, often serving as a sounding board. “[Mary] gave insight from a unique perspective,” Rohn said. Mary always wanted to know how the children at the Club were doing and was thinking about what would benefit the kids and build their experiences in the club.
Mary helped to connect Rohn to a much larger audience to tell the story of the Club. She “knew everybody,” and arranged for participants in Shepherdstown’s Speak Story Series to hold workshops at the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle so the staff could learn to help kids tell their own stories. “Anytime we can communicate our work from within and push it out is a good thing,” said Rohn. “We’re more than babysitting. While Club members enjoy new equipment and games, that is not the main reason they attend the Boys & Girls Club. They find their mentor or the person with whom they share their successes or challenges.”
The Mary J. Stanley Fund to Support the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle will support the Club in two ways, first by providing scholarships to incoming kids who want to participate in the Club’s summer programs and demonstrate financial need. The summer programs take place over seven weeks and usually have around 60 participants. The Club charges a nominal fee for the summer programs, and Rohn reports that usually around three-fourths of the kids who participate require some sort of financial assistance, with some receiving scholarships covering up to 75% of the fee.
The programs are split into two sessions, one three weeks long and the other four weeks long. This year, the first session is Harry Potter-themed; the second session is based on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Each week, the participants go on a different field trip, with the club planning to visit Poor House Farm Park, Sky Zone, and nearby pools. On days when the participants stay at the club, they’ll partake in a myriad of programs and activities all connected to that week’s theme — when they do Earth week during the Avatar session, for example, kids will do science experiments and learn about the Earth’s core. When not running educational programs, the Club always tries to host at least two activities so that kids have their choice of fun.
The second way the fund will support the Club will be by providing scholarships to youths who have been longtime members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle. Each year, Clubs around the country name one graduating senior their Youth of the Year. 2018 Youth of the Year winner Emily Aronhalt called the Club “a place where they cared if she got her homework done and if she ate that day.” 2016 and 2017 Youth of the Year winner Jonai Jackson said that, when asked to think back on what the club meant to her, she couldn’t think of one particular person, but rather “it was pieces of all of you that really helped to shape me. […] The experiences I had in the club helped to make me social and adaptable.” The Eastern Panhandle Club awards a $1,500 scholarship to their Youth of the Year and, through this fund, will be able to do so this year, and forever.
Those interested in the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, or those whose lives were touched by Mary Stanley are encouraged to learn more at www.EWVCF.org or www.BGCEPWV.net and donate to the Mary J. Stanley Fund to Support the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle today!
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) was established in 1995 to help donors create permanent endowments to provide grants and scholarships throughout the region. Since its inception, EWVCF has awarded $13.7 million, including $1 million in 2021 alone. The Community Foundation now holds more than 260 endowed funds with assets of just over $38 million and it is the leading steward of philanthropic giving in the region. EWVCF works with a wide range of nonprofit organizations providing funding for projects from human welfare and scholarships to affordable housing and natural resources conservation; youth and education to animal welfare and historic preservation, and much more. For information visit www.EWVCF.org, or contact EWVCF Executive Director Michael Whalton at firstname.lastname@example.org , 304-264-0353.