Photo by Janelle Patterson Issac Blair, left, talks to Judge Tim Williams about the benefits of a fruit and vegetable overnight pool at the Marietta Aquatic Center with GoPacks, the Ely Chapman Education Foundation, The Right Way to Washington County and the River Market City Farmer.

More than 10 percent of the operating budget for a local nonprofit was achieved through a matching donation campaign, thanks to local support and trust in the joint mission.

“Our families tell us how much they value support, but they do not want to be in a distribution program, they want to be part of the team.” said Heather Warner, CEO of GoPacks.

The non-profit organization focuses on combating food insecurity in local families by approaching its participating families with a form of a contract, a promise.

“You guys will expect things from us, and we will expect things from you,” Warner described the program. “We explain our two-way delivery model.”

The program operates in the geographical district of Marietta City Schools serving both public school families and home school families by combining building skills with access to fresh food and balanced nutritional assistance.

But it is not just the distribution of tomatoes and apples.

“Our operating budget last school year was about $ 89,600 and covered 150 students with food, workshops, extra curricular activities, trauma workshops for parents, cooking classes, financial literacy classes and gardening classes.” said Warner.

And by partnering with the West Virginia Central Credit Union with a promise to match dollar-for-dollar up to $ 5,000 in donations over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, public donors rose to the challenge and then surpassed it. .

Now the nonprofit can invest a total of $ 10,565 in programming, unlimited, to meet the needs as it also expands to twelfth grade in the consolidated high school and high school this fall.

“The new fiscal year, the new budget and the new students will help,” said Warner. “Even with all the changes and moves in the school district, they have figured out a way for us to have a room right across the hall from the renovated cafeteria, where we can still have our Pack and Go shop.”

In the two remaining elementary buildings, handover and commissioning will still function normally.

But investing is not just during the school year.

Warner explained that over the past two years of using AmeriCorps volunteer VISTA Leah Rake, the nonprofit has worked through capacity building and planning to maximize impact, rather than recreate the wheel.

“We achieve more in the community when we work together instead of staying in the bubble of our families,” explained Rake, who is starting her third year with the nonprofit this August.


A global pandemic tested that two-pronged test model for both the nonprofit and its peers.

“One thing we got out of the pandemic was that we needed it as a foundation to go to other child care agencies in the area and share resources … we saw ourselves as competitors,” said Gary Williams, a board member of the Ely Chapman Education Foundation. “But we can do things better together.”

On Friday he stood between Test Judge and Juvenile Court Judge Tim Williams and Tom Fagan, president of River City Market, during such a demonstration together.

Right Way to Washington County, another nonprofit organization, coordinated with GoPacks, Ely Chapman, Wendy’s and the court, all to bring a pool evening to the waterfront along with a free farmers market for participating families.

“We are building relationships and demonstrating it with these children. “Our partner tonight is GoPacks, and who knows food insecurity better than they do?” said Cathy Harper, head of the Straight Path. “Above all, our impact on the lives of these children has to do with the relationships you create so you want to stay here for the right reasons to see there are jobs available, support systems available and you can contribute because “When you do well, you feel good.”

And for the little ones looking for grape tomatoes, corn from Witten, green beans from Huck, cherries from McConnelsville and berries from Linda Fagan: you feel good when you eat well.

“These are the best tomatoes I have ever had,” said Issac Blair, 12, of Mineral Wells. “As for me, I prefer to have fresh vegetables and fruits on top of every dessert.”

He loaded his first bag with vegetables, but returned for a second round with zucchini, yellow squash and without the red and white potatoes at the bottom.

“But earlier I was picking fruit from my sister’s bag,” he smiled, somewhat conspiratorially. “You saw the fruit go so fast. Those peaches were the first things missing. ”

And the collaboration continues, Warner announced, as the school year begins in August.

“Involved with Dr. (Nicole) Livengood at Marietta College,” she explained, noting that the applied learning of past courses has helped expand the GoPacks programming through research conducted by the English professor’s guidance with her students.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at

If you go

The Right Road to Washington County will host another free farmers market in Belpre Civilian Park from 9 a.m. to noon July 17.

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