Wheeling, WV – October 9, 2017 The YWCA Wheeling is proud to announce this year’s honorees for their Tribute to Women event who will be honored at the annual event on Monday, October 16th at the YWCA Wheeling. The YWCA Wheeling began honoring women in our local community in 1964. The 2017 group of honorees joins an impressive list of women who have made an impact on the people living in the Ohio Valley for over 50 years. After the call for nominations, a committee of the YWCA sustainers was tasked with reviewing eighteen candidates this year. They have selected a slate of five to receive honors during this year’s celebration.
“This is always a difficult task,” says sustainer and committee co-chair, Roanne Burech, “all of the nominees have made a significant impact on our community. But we have to choose five that truly stand out, based on the nomination presented.”
Our first honoree is Bonnie Anderson. A native of Wheeling, Bonnie Anderson graduated from Wheeling High School and the Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing. She worked at The O.V.G.H. and later for the Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross as the Blood Services Coordinator. Bonnie was married for 23 years to her late husband, Carl Anderson, MD; they are the parents of 4 adult children and 7 grandchildren. She resides in Moundsville with her husband, Fred Brunner. Bonnie has always been involved in community activities and organizations. She has served as chairman for the Marshall County West Virginia University Scholarship Fund Dinner. She was a member of the Marshall County CASA Board of Directors, a board member and past president of the Marshall County Society for Disabled Children and Adults and is member and past president of the Moundsville Women’s Club. She is a member of and past chairman of Oglebay Institute’s Mansion Museum Committee and a former member and past president of the Mary Dorcas Washington Questers. She has been a volunteer member of the Strand Theatre Preservation Society for 17 years. As chairman of the Performing Arts Committee she was instrumental in developing several Mystery Dinner Theatre events and assisting with the organization of some of the summer musical productions. For the past 6 years Bonnie has been the coordinator of the Missoula Children’s Theatre Youth Drama Workshop held in Moundsville at the Strand Theatre. Bonnie is also active in the Glen Dale United Methodist Church serving on various committees including past chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Patty Dennard is our next nominee. If you have ever shopped at the Y-Not Repeat women’s boutique in the YWCA Wheeling, you have probably met Patty Dennard. When you first meet Patty, it’s her smile you see. She has the most welcoming, warm smile you’ve ever seen. It is extremely authentic because she has spent her life caring for others in one way or another. Patty has spent many years volunteering her time to help local non profit organizations. In 1987 she began volunteering for the House of the Carpenter. She did a variety of tasks including inventory, assisting clients and office tasks. In 2011, she began volunteering in the Women’s Y-Not Repeat Boutique at the YWCA Wheeling. Her unique skill set of managing inventory and organizing volunteer schedules make her invaluable to the success of the boutique. She is a lady of “style” and can often be found helping women coordinate an outfit from top to bottom, including accessories. Fashion comes naturally to Patty. She has modeled for Vickie Simon with the African American Jubilee (AAJ). She has also been a volunteer for the AAJ. She also enjoys working with youth. Patty stayed home for several years and took care of her mother in law who had Alzheimer’s Disease. Her patience and compassion gave her mother in law the ability to stay home with family instead being placed in a nursing home.
Patty and Tom, her husband of 43 years, live in Wheeling. They have a son and daughter and 4 grandchildren.
Next we have Kate Marshall. Born in Florida and reared in Arizona, Kate Marshall moved to Wheeling with her four children in 2012 to start the House of Hagar, a Catholic Worker House. For much of every day, Kate and her family open their home to disadvantaged people from our community, living according to the Corporal Works of Mercy outlined in St. Matthew’s gospel: feeding, clothing, sheltering and comforting people in need. In addition to bringing up her biological children, Kate initially fostered and eventually adopted two young boys whose parents were no longer able to care for them. Her immediate family now consists of Christian, age 23; twins Sam and Noah, 18; Gabby, 16; Adam 13; and Brendan, 11. The Marshalls’ East Wheeling home provides a welcoming place for all. When she’s not helping poor people in her free time, she is helping them as part of her job responsibilities at Youth Services System. Kate is also an artist who uses her talents to call attention to causes close to her heart.In 2012 she was chosen to travel to Palestine and work with other artists, including Christians, Muslims, and Jews, to paint murals throughout the Middle East. Last year, she created a life-size sculpture of the Holy Family called “Sticks & Stones, Juxtaposed,” to provide a voice for the homeless. She took the sculpture with her on a speaking tour that included presentations in Wheeling at Mental Illness Awareness Prayer Service at St. Michael Church, in Morgantown and at the Ignatian Teach-in for Justice conference in Washington, D. C. “Art is prayer, community and social justice,” she says. She’s a strong advocate for people who have been incarcerated, and works actively with the YWCA and with Betsy Jividen, the Acting U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Northern District, to help prevent recidivism. In addition, she works with Grow Ohio Valley, which strives to bring food justice to Appalachia. Kate Marshall is kind and humble, and possesses a rich sense of humor. She is blessing to our community.
JoAnn Davis Vandergrift is our next honoree. JoAnn Davis Vandergrift grew up in the Wheeling area where she and her brothers were raised on a farm by their loving father. Due to their father’s need to provide for his family they were often sent to live with any relative or friend that would take them. No one, JoAnn included, could ever imagine that life would turn this child into a singer, songwriter, author and a real blessing to those she was to meet and help along life’s way. JoAnn began her singing career when she met the love of her life, Jimmy Stephens, known by those in the music world, as The New England Country Gentleman. They traveled throughout the Eastern United States and Canada singing at gospel and country music shows, Veterans’ Day activities, Easter Seals and MDA telethons and many benefits for families who were enduring illness, fires, floods or other disasters in their lives. They were goodwill ambassadors for the Ohio Valley and touched many lives with their loving kindness. It has been said of JoAnn, known by many as the epitome of love and kindness, that she emanates grace. Most of their traveling was done on the weekends.When not performing, JoAnn, was manager, laundress and cleaning lady as owner of the Valley Motel in Valley Grove, WV. She had a room that she kept for those who couldn’t afford to pay and was the first to help those in need. JoAnn was always the “breadwinner” of the family and worked several jobs to provide for her children. Dennis Magruder, Executive Director of WesBanco Arena and the Capitol Theatre, states,“I have never, ever heard anyone say an unkind work about JoAnn. She is the epitome of sweet. Even through the hardships of her life, she has always been kind…helping anyone in need…whether she knew them or not. She has been tremendously inspiring.” Dave Heath, President/ Treasurer of the Wheeling Jamboree, dubbed JoAnn “The Gentlelady of the Jamboree.”A star honoring JoAnn and Jimmy was placed in the Capitol Music Hall in 2016. JoAnn has been nominated for consideration by the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. She has also been commended for her years of service with Easter Seals, is a member of the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce and the Thursday Music Club, former board member of the Wheeling Jamboree, and trustee of Castleman Run United Methodist Church. Children have always been very special to JoAnn, so when she could not longer sing because of a cancer in her throat, she began writing children’s books. She now reads at schools, churches and libraries. She also reads at children’s hospitals where she donates books. John Antal, director of clinical services at OVMC’s Robert C. Byrd Child and Adolescent Center, states “JoAnn has a calming aura about her, and both the staff and the children enjoy her stories.” Lora Edgell, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals director at WVU’s Children’s Hospital, says, “Just seeing the smiles on those kids faces and knowing that she was helping to take their pain away was priceless.” JoAnn’s heartrending words, music, sincerity, love, and warmth has captured the hearts of thousands of admiring friends over many years. She has been a source of inspiration and comfort (often on a one-on-one basis) to a countless number of hurting souls simply by a tiny touch to an old, wrinkled hand or by a tight hug for a toddler in tears. In a society characterized by success and achievement, few have had the impact of JoAnn Davis Vandergrift. JoAnn is the proud mother of Robin (Jim) Raineri, Robert (Susan) Young,and Jomana Papillo, proud grandmother of Marian Moss, William Krupinski, Bradly (Katie) Marks, and Matthew (Madison) Marks and proud Great Grandmother of Maddox Marks.
Our final honoree is Mary Velez. Mary Velez is a graduate of West Liberty State College in education and holds her master’s degree from WVU in Community Health Education. She is currently the community outreach manager at OVMC and EORH and has been employed there for 22 years. Mary is the proud mother of two wonderful children, Michael and Meredith. They and their families provide her with great joy in her life. In addition, she is the director of the Matt Velez Save a Life Foundation, which was founded after the death of her beloved son, Matthew Paul Velez who died at the age of 17 in 2001. It has been Mary’s mission for the last 16 years to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest in both children and adults. It is her wish that everyone learns how to perform CPR and how to use an AED – Automated External Defibrillator – in an effort to save lives.
The annual event, which recognizes women that have generously donated their time and talents to help others, is scheduled for Monday, October 16th at the 1100 Chapline Street location. Reservations are requested by calling 304-232-0511
##The YWCA Wheeling is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen our community.##