Shuman seeks aid for Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg

Ben Shuman hasn’t been in his Mary Street office much lately.

Six days in the office the past three weeks, Shuman, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, said Thursday.

Two and a half weeks ago, he attended a “Beyond School Hours” Conference in Atlanta, representing the Boys and Girls Club among the 14 organizations from around the country with after-school programs. The local Boys and Girls Club was selected for a pilot program sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mott Foundation and Foundations Inc.

Shuman learned about a program that gives children in grades four through six a basic introduction to jazz, including its history and cultural identity, the science of music and dance moves.

Starting in two weeks, Shuman will introduce this curriculum to children at the Boys and Girls Club in an after-school program on Thursdays at 4 p.m. He is looking for jazz musicians to help with the program.

Shuman, who has an interest in jazz, said he is excited to be bringing this information to Boys and Girls Club members.

Shuman said he brought back additional information from the Atlanta convention to help the Boys and Girls Club.

This week, Shuman drove to Washington, D.C., to meet with West Virginia’s delegation in Congress during the Boys and Girls Club’s National Day of Advocacy, to discuss issues affecting children.

Shuman met with Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and with staff for Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney.

Shuman and other Boys and Girls Club representatives asked Congress for assistance on five areas: work force development for youth, mentoring youth, increase number of meals for youth from two to three a day under the Child Nutrition Act, increase funding for the after-school learning center program, and support change in opioid response funding to help families.

This was the first year the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg had participated in the National Day of Advocacy, Shuman said. A donor made it possible for him to attend, he said.

With a limited funding stream, the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg faces challenges in meeting the needs of children, Shuman said.

The local organization, at 1200 Mary St., sees 85-100 kids and teens ages 6-18 a day. This number swelled to 139 during the teachers strike this year, Shuman said. Several teachers volunteered to help at the Boys and Girls Club during the strike.

It costs $20 for a child to join the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, which will celebrate its 55th anniversary in May.

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“The PHS Gals of 1970” not only enjoy a camaraderie but also want to give back to the community.

The group of 18-20 female graduates of Parkersburg High School, Class of 1970 meets for lunch on the first Friday of the month at various restaurants in the area.

Besides sharing laughs and stories at these luncheons, the gals also plan their next projects to help others.

Last month, the group brought food for the VanDevender Middle School food pantry, along with clothes, gloves, scarves and personal hygiene products for the students.

The car filled with items probably contained $2,500 worth of food for the VanDevender pantry, said Nell Higgins Orosco, the group organizer and “den mother.”

“VanDevender was so appreciative,” Orosco said. “There is a real need.”

Last year, the group brought food for the pantry at PHS, along with gloves and personal hygiene items for the students.

The gals brought blankets to House to Home day shelter in Parkersburg in December and food to House to Home in January.

Twice a year, male graduates of the PHS Class of 1970 are invited to join their female classmates for lunch. The next opportunity for the guys is April 5 at noon at J.P. Henry’s.

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The Junior League of Parkersburg wants to help The Turban Project.

The Turban Project, a nonprofit ministry based in Frazeysburg, Ohio, provides free headwear and reusable medical face masks for men, women and children who have lost their hair because of medical reasons.

Each headware is created and dressed up with a pin or other embellishment, said Jane Burdette, president of the Junior League of Parkersburg. The headware is blessed by a priest or minister before it is given away, said Kathy Braidich, founder and director of the project.

“We are collecting used costume jewelry, even broken is OK, which can be used as is or made into a pin” for the headwear and face masks, Burdette said. “Buttons are also helpful.”

Material remnants, especially cotton, flannel or stretchy fabric, also are needed to make these items for patients, Burdette said.

For more information contact Braidich at turbanproject.com, through Facebook or email turbanproject@outlook.com. Contact Burdette at 304-485-2063 if you want to donate items for the project.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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