Named for the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, the Two Rivers Giving Circle is one of the few funders in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia that provides small grants to support natural resource conservation and historic preservation programs and projects. Each member of the Giving Circle makes a tax-deductible donation of $500 or more to the Community Foundation annually. During the past eleven years, grants totaling more than $100,000 have been awarded by the Two Rivers Giving Circle Fund to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies that are supporting these causes in our community. Applications for a Two Rivers Giving Circle Grant may be submitted between June 1 and September 16, and grants are awarded in November.
The Two Rivers Giving Circle honored Marty Keesecker, of Martinsburg, with its 2020 Preservation Award.
The award recognizes Keesecker for his historic preservation efforts. It was presented at the General Adam Stephen House in Martinsburg on August 15. Keesecker received a personalized, handcrafted platter made from local clay by award-winning potters Pam and Ren Parziale, of Sycamore Pottery in Leetown.
The accompanying photo shows Keesecker, center front, holding the platter, with, from left to right, the following Two Rivers Giving Circle members: Virginia and Dan Rowzie, of Charles Town; Jane Davis, of Berkeley Springs; and Peter Smith, of Shepherdstown.
The Two Rivers Giving Circle is a field of interest fund of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. Since its inception in 2008, it has provided grants totaling more than $100,000 to Eastern Panhandle organizations engaged in historic preservation and natural resources conservation. It is one of the few grantmakers in the region that focuses on these two fields.
Each year, the Giving Circle also recognizes an individual who has been a leader in one or both of these fields.
A Martinsburg native descended from early German and English settlers, Keesecker has long been active in promoting greater understanding and appreciation of Colonial-era history, especially at the local level.
Since 1995, he has been president of the General Adam Stephen Memorial Association, which manages the historic Adam Stephen House as a public museum. The house was built in the 1770s by Martinsburg’s founder, General Adam Stephen. It was restored in the 1960s and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970.
Keesecker has also been involved for many years with the Sons of the American Revolution, and he currently serves as president of that organization’s local General Adam Stephen Chapter. In addition, he is a member of the Jefferson and Berkeley county historical societies, the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. He is a Friend of George Washington’s Mount Vernon as well.
Keesecker and his wife Marlyn enjoy helping to make Colonial-era history come alive at a personal level by serving as docents at the Adam Stephen House and through presentations at local schools, community organizations, and public events.
Recently retired after a long career with BB&T Bank, Keesecker also serves on the boards of several local charitable organizations. These include the Scarborough Society, where he is currently vice president, and the Martinsburg Lion’s Club, where he is a past president.
Beginning June 1, the Two Rivers Giving Circle will be accepting applications for its 2021 grants, which will be awarded this fall. The deadline for submitting grant applications is September 16.
Join the Two Rivers Giving Circle
The Giving Circle brings together committed, concerned and charitably-minded citizens to focus on local conservation and preservation grantmaking in Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan counties. By pooling their resources, members of the Giving Circle are able to have a much greater impact on the causes that matter to them. Nonprofit organizations and local schools submit grant applications to the Community Foundation throughout the summer. Members of the Giving Circle meet twice in the early fall to review applications, discuss the proposed projects, research the applicant agencies, and recommend grants.
We hope you will consider becoming a member of the Two Rivers Giving Circle. To join, simply mail a $500 check, payable to the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) to 229 E. Martin Street, Suite 4, Martinsburg, WV 25401 and write “Two Rivers Giving Circle Membership” on the memo line. Include your contact information, name, phone number, and email address; and we will keep you updated on the meeting schedule so you can participate in the grant selection process. You can also join the Two Rivers Giving Circle by making your $500 contribution with an online donation.
Membership is open to anyone interested in supporting natural resource conservation and historic preservation efforts, educating residents about the importance of nature, energy conservation, and much more.
To learn more about the Two Rivers Giving Circle please download our Two Rivers Giving Circle Membership Flyer.
Join hands…Do more!
The Two Rivers Giving Circle is a charitable organization that fills a critical need. We’re one of the few local sources of grants for Eastern Panhandle nonprofit groups that are engaged in historic preservation and natural resources conservation.
Our members come from Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan counties, and we confine our grantmaking to those counties. We seek to assist groups that:
Save Panhandle Treasures by protecting historic assets
Safeguard Habitats by conserving land, watersheds, and other natural resources
Promote Stewardship by supporting sound waste management and recycling efforts
Educate Children about the importance of historic preservation and natural resources conservation through engaging and innovative programs
The funds for our grants come from the annual contributions of Giving Circle members and donations from friends, which are all pooled together.
Those who choose to become members don’t just contribute: they also take a hands-on approach to the Circle’s grantmaking, helping to solicit and review grant proposals and to decide which proposals will be funded. This is a great way to become more involved in the community and to learn more about the process of philanthropy.
Whether you choose to be a member or a donor, participation in the Two Rivers Giving Circle is a meaningful and rewarding way to give back to our community. We hope you will consider joining or donating so we can expand the Circle’s efforts and all do more together.
APPLY FOR A GRANT each summer by September 16th. Nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and schools that are interested in applying for a grant can download the Two Rivers Giving Circle Grant Application beginning in early summer.
Previous Years’ Grants
The Two Rivers Giving Circle has awarded more than $90,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations since its inception in 2008. To support the grantmaking, members of the giving circle each contribute at least $500 annually. Twenty percent of the annual gift is dedicated to building an endowment at the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. During the past ten years, the Two Rivers Giving Circle Fund has grown to just over $50,000. A list of grants that have been funded follows:
$2,100 – Shepherd University, to help fund a series of Earth Day workshops for students in grades 4 through 12.
$1,400 – American Conservation Film Festival, to support the expansion of the Festival’s Next Gen Capture Conservation Video Contest, which engages children ages 18 and under in creating videos about conservation and what nature means to them.
$1,315 – Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission, for the restoration of an exterior door in the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot at Duffields. Built in 1839, the Depot is the second-oldest surviving combined freight and passenger rail depot in the U.S.
$1,100 – Friends of Webb-Blessing House, to assist with the repair of two rooms in this historic Charles Town structure, which was built by a free Black family in the 1830s.
$1,035 – Jefferson County Museum, to cover the cost of displaying, digitizing, and reproducing three important issues of a Boston-based abolitionist newspaper that the museum has acquired. The issues cover John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and his subsequent trial and execution, and they offer a very different perspective on these events than local publications.
$1,000 – Morgan County Public Library, to establish an Environmental Action Library and Saving the Earth Club for children.
$1,000 – Friends of Happy Retreat, to support the restoration of an important room in Charles Town’s historic Happy Retreat mansion so the room can be used as the “Showroom” for heritage tourism, education, cultural and artistic activities, and community events.
$2,500 to the Charles Town’s Claymont Society for Continuous Education, to help pay for the restoration of a veranda roof on Claymont Court, the historic Jefferson County Washington family home the Society owns and maintains.
$1,250 to the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust, to help cover the cost of securing conservation easements to protect four parcels of land along the Cacapon River in the Connors Hollow area of Morgan County
$1,250 to the Eastern Panhandle Planning and Development Council, to help promote federal conservation grants to property owners in the Panhandle’s three counties.
$1,200 to the Rolling Ridge Conservancy, to help restore a trail in its 1,400-acre forest adjacent to the Appalachian Trail along the Blue Ridge in southern Jefferson County.
$1,200 to the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, to help cover the cost of a boardwalk in its Cool Spring Nature Preserve in Jefferson County.
$1,000 to the Museum of Berkeley Springs, to help with the cost of a special exhibit being planned for the town’s bicentennial.
$1,000 to the Historic Shepherdstown Commission, to help with brickwork repair at Shepherdstown’s historic Entler Hotel building.
$1,500 to the Town of Bath for greenspace infrastructure and improvements to help minimize flooding in downtown Berkeley Springs.
$1,500 to the Rolling Ridge Foundation for a riparian restoration of the area around a waterfall on the property located east of the Shenandoah River and adjacent to the Appalachian Trail
$2,500 to Jefferson County Museum to stabilize, conserve, and display the flag of the Green-Copeland American Legion Post 63, an African American organization formed in Charles Town in 1929 by Edward Tolbert and other Jefferson County World War I veterans.
$3,000 to Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission to help cover some of the cost of asbestos remediation at the Duffields Depot in Jefferson County.
$1,000 – Martinsburg High School to assist teacher Derek Gallagher to build a raised garden.
$1,200 – Driswood Elementary for Potomac Valley Audubon Society programming.
$1,500 – Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission for WVGeoExplorer Project.
$500 – Warm Springs Watershed Association as recommended by Betty Lou Harmison.
$500 – The Museum of the Berkeley Springs as recommended by Betty Lou Harmison for
$2,000 – Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission for stabilization of the historic Cement Mill Site.
$1,300 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network for North Mountain Stormwater Assessment in Berkeley County near Gerrardstown.
$2,500 – Potomac Valley Audubon Society for assistance with signage and marketing the new Cool Spring Preserve property in south Jefferson County.
$1,220 – Spring Mills Middle School for an environmentally friendly water bottle refill system with a water cooler and reusable water bottles.
$ 850 – Wind Dance Farm & Earth Education Center for field trip bus transportation to the Morgan County environmental education facility.
$2,500 – Berkeley County Historical Society for an archive computer, supplies, and other equipment.
$1,675 – Cacapon Institute for Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds (PHLOW) – conservation, education, and tree planting program in the Eastern Panhandle.
$2,000 – Historic Shepherdstown Commission for continued repairs to the stone walls at the Shepherd Family Graveyard.
$2,000 – Jefferson County Black Historic Preservation Society to cover partial expenses to install a backyard garden and brick patio at the historic Webb-Blessing house.
$1,500 – Historic Shepherdstown Commission for Graveyard stone wall repairs
$2,100 – Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society Webb Blessing House Interpretation
$ 500 – Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission digitizing GeoExplorer project
$1,000 – North American Bushcraft School to help toward the construction of an Outdoor Classroom
$1,500 – Potomac Valley Audubon Society Stauffer’s Marsh wetlands education for students
$1,500 – Town of Bath StreetScapes Green Infrastructure construction on Washington Street
$ 900 – Wind Dance Farm & Earth Education for three bus field trips to the facility
$3,000 — CraftWorks at Cool Spring for establishing a roughly six-acre native grassland bird habitat
$360 — Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic for drug disposal boxes to keep old drugs out of the watershed
$1,000 — Shepherd University for the restoration of windows (and workshop) in historic property on campus
$3,000 — Warm Springs Watershed Assoc. for installing kiosks in wetlands near Berkeley Springs High School
$3,488.23 — Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission to support digitizing materials for historic preservation.
$1,192 — Jefferson County Museum to support a new project called “History à la carte” to promote children’s interest in history.
$1,000 — Morgan Arts Council to support the “Water, Ecology, and Nature” artist program for schools and summer camp.
$1,000 — Martinsburg Library to support “This Land is Your Land”, an environmental awareness program for children.
$1,000 — Potomac Valley Audubon Society to support design, purchase, and installation of interpretive signs for Stauffer’s Marsh.
$360 — Charles Town Health Right, Inc. to support a safe drug disposal program.
$1,694.85 — Shepherd University and its Historic Preservation Program to sponsor hand-on experiential learning for students in the restoration of area historic graves and graveyards.
$2,500 — Potomac Valley Audubon Society to seed a “Wee Naturalist” conservation-education program offered in preschools in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties.
$2,500 — Morgan County Solid Waste Authority to offset costs for glass recycling in that county.
$2,500 — Berkeley County Historical Society to purchase storage units for historic documents.
$2,000 — Shepherd University in partnership with Shepherdstown Elementary School to develop a two-day scavenger hunt for fifth-graders. The program integrates photography with local architecture, natural sites, and historic places in the Shepherdstown area.
$993.95 — Warm Springs Watershed Association based in Berkeley Springs to design, print, and distribute a new informational brochure about local watershed importance and protection.
$2,000 — Craftworks at Cool Spring to launch a citizen-based invasive species education and management program in Jefferson County.
$500 — Friends Wilderness Center to offset costs for materials for repair and renovation of a treehouse retreat center.
$2,000 — Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission to purchase a computer server for the GeoExplorer project to enable local citizens online access to historic records.
$1,500 — Potomac Valley Audubon Society to seed a new in-school environmental education program for 2nd graders in select area schools.
$1,500 — Berkeley Springs High School AP Environmental Science Class to establish a school-wide recycling program.
$1,500 — Martinsburg-Berkeley County Library to help support an after-school ecology club program in the children’s library.
$800 — American Conservation Film Festival to support a photographic safari for children at the group’s annual film festival.
$2,021.97 — Elks Run Study Committee to help build outreach and communication to local citizens regarding the importance of Elks Run Stream and its watershed.
$2,175 — Morgan County Solid Waste Authority to assist with the purchase of equipment to open and operate a permanent recycling center to serve Morgan County.
$2,125 — Potomac Valley Audubon Society to help develop and offer a new pre-school program at the Yankauer Nature Preserve.
Home page photo: Dean @ the Bednbiskit