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 fifteen years, grants totaling nearly $120,000 have been awarded by the Two Rivers Giving Circle Fund to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, schools, government agencies, and churches that are supporting these causes in our community.
The Two Rivers Giving Circle has honored Jane Rissler, the director of the Jefferson County Museum, with its 2022 Preservation Award.
The award was presented at a ceremony and reception held the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, at the museum in Charles Town. It is 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 Giving Circle member Linda Case, left, presenting the award to Ms. Rissler. They are standing in front of a historic flag that was conserved for the museum’s collection with help from a Two Rivers Giving Circle grant. The flag is from Charles Town’s Green-Copeland American Legion Post 63, founded in 1929 by local African Americans who had served in World War I.
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 nearly $120,000 to Eastern Panhandle organizations engaged in natural resources conservation and historic preservation. It is one of the few grant makers in the region that focuses on these two fields.
Each year, the Giving Circle also recognizes one or more individuals who have been leaders in one or both of these fields.
A Jefferson County native, Ms. Rissler received a bachelor’s degree from Shepherd College, a master’s from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Cornell University. Her ensuing career as a scientist spanned three-and-a-half decades and included positions with the University of Maryland, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
During 2005, while she was still working and commuting from Jefferson County to Washington, DC, she began volunteering at the county museum. When she retired in 2011, she was hired as the museum’s director.
In her presenting remarks, Ms. Case said Ms. Rissler has greatly modernized the museum’s operations during her tenure as director, leading major upgrades in its computing capabilities and online presence. She has also modernized and strengthened its finances, establishing a special new fund dedicated to acquisitions and conservation, and successfully seeking grant funding to help support these purposes.
“In addition,” Ms. Case said, “she has worked to build bridges to all sectors of the community. She has recounted that in 2016, the museum was preparing for an exhibit and realized it was not representing African American and women’s contributions to the county. Since then, she has made a strong push to diversify the museum’s collection and provide exhibits that recognize the contributions of all.”
To learn more about the Giving Circle, and to get information about joining or contributing, go to the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation website at www.ewvcf.org. Or contact Michael Whalton, the Foundation’s executive director, at 304-264-0353 or email@example.com. The cost of membership in the Giving Circle is $500 annually. However, contributions of any amount are welcomed.
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. Nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, and churches that are interested in applying for a grant can fill out our new, web-based Two Rivers Giving Circle Grant Application beginning in summer.
Previous Years’ Grants
The Two Rivers Giving Circle has awarded nearly $120,000 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 fifteen years, the Two Rivers Giving Circle Fund has grown to nearly $100,000. A list of grants that have been funded follows:
$2,500 – Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition to support water monitoring along the Shenandoah River watershed.
$2,425 – Cacapon Resort State Park Foundation to fund milkweed starter kits, a 3-tier indoor growing lab, and signs for their nature center.
$1,200 – Historic Morgan Cabin Association to help cover the cost of constructing a sign related to slaves and Native Americans at the Cabin.
$1,500 – Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission provided partial funding to purchase and install pine flooring at Duffields Depot.
$1,000 – Ranson Community Gardens to support their efforts to extend and maintain the trail leading to Evitts Run Park in Charles Town.
$1,000 – Shepherdstown Public Library/Garden Stewards partial funding to support creating an Eastern Forest on the Library property.
$900 – Wind Dance Farm & Earth Education Center to purchase microscopes to use in their outdoor studies.
$ 2,465.86 – Berkeley County Roundhouse Foundation, to replace broken and missing windowpanes in the historic Martinsburg Roundhouse. The structure, which is considered the finest and most complete example of a mid-19th Century railroad shop complex in the US, is a National Historic Landmark.
$ 2,000.00 – General Adam Stephen Memorial Association, Inc., to provide new interpretive signage for Martinsburg’s Triple Brick Museum. The museum is adjacent to the historic Adam Stephen House and displays objects that reflect the settlement and early history of the town.
$ 2,500.00 – Halltown Historic Landmark Preservation Association, to fund a historical assessment and comprehensive plan for restoration of the Halltown Memorial Chapel and adjacent school building. The Chapel was built in 1901 by local African-American artisans and served the Jefferson County African-American community for more than 60 years. It was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984
$ 2,500.00 – Morgan County Solid Waste Authority, to support the operations of the Charles R. Biggs Recycling Center, which serves the entire county. Last year, the center diverted nearly 300 tons of recyclable materials from landfills.
$ 1,090.00 – Old Opera House, to repair and restore the balcony staircase railing in the Old Opera House building. The building, which is in active use as a community theater and arts center, was constructed in 1911 and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The balcony railing is one of the building’s few original design elements that still exist.
$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