Wheeling YWCA receives $141,000 grant to support freedom from addiction

That’s the difference between addiction and independence for the women in the YWCA’s WIND program.

And now they now have $141,000 more to make that journey happen.


They are one of the recipients of Governor Jim Justice’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative Treatment Supervision Grants.

It will support WIND’s mission of reintegrating patients into the community, through mental health treatment, life skills and community service.

Despite their extensive work, their program director says there’s always more that they can provide.

“We see spikes, we see lows, but it’s typically a steady flow from the courts into the different programs that are local. We still don’t have enough programs. We still don’t have enough services. So there’s still a gap that we get creative trying to meet those needs.”LAURA ALBERTINI-WEIGEL, WIND PROGRAM DIRECTOR, WHEELING YWCA

While the YWCA’s headquarters are in Wheeling, the therapy home is in Marshall County, which can house six women and provide for all their physical needs.

As for what the grant money itself will go toward, it will cover staffing for the home, along with transportation to get to and from therapy meetings.

That’s until each of its occupants are ready to complete the final step in overcoming addiction…stepping out and finding their own place where they can flourish on their own.


Wheeling YWCA introduces scholarship to boost educational opportunities for disadvantaged women

WHEELING, W.Va. — The YWCA’s mission is to help women, and that effort continues in Wheeling, where a new scholarship aimed at educational opportunities for those who need them most was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Not everyone’s pathway is the same, so The Hartford SMART529 Scholarship is set to provide the chance of higher education to women in the Wheeling YWCA program.

“That would help them go to school, whether it be a 4-year school, a 2-year school, a certification of some sort, a trade school, whatever hopes they have, whatever goals they want to meet,” said Liz Handzus, director of marketing and development, Wheeling YWCA.

The scholarship could also be associated with other costly items, like books, necessary attire, laptops, and more to aid their journey to self-sufficiency.

There is an application process.

“They have to get a staff recommendation letter,” Handzus said. “They will also have a formal interview with the advisory council.”

The YWCA helps to empower women who have been victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, who are in recovery, and been blocked by other barriers to life. It serves the entire Northern Panhandle.

“Women here at the YWCA don’t receive the same type of opportunity that other women do, so this is a good opportunity for them to jump over those barriers that they are so often represented with,” Handzus said.

To help make this opportunity possible, the YWCA is asking for your help. Funds would be made out to The Hartford SMART529 Scholarship program.

“I think a lot of people are passionate about higher education because it is a pathway toward self-sufficiency,” Handzus said.


First Ever Ohio Valley Athena Award Presented to YWCA Wheeling Executive Director, Lori Jones

WHEELING — Local leaders gathered Friday for the inaugural Ohio Valley ATHENA Award ceremony presented by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, recognizing excellence among women in leadership roles that have made a profound impact on the community. And Lori Jones, executive director of YWCA Wheeling, earned the honor of being the first winner.

Friday’s luncheon was the culmination of efforts by Chamber officials to bring the ATHENA Awards to the Ohio Valley. ATHENA International is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to building a global pipeline of women leaders from the classroom to the boardroom who will create a balance in voices of leadership worldwide.”

A selection committee chose five leadership award finalists for this year’s local event. Finalists included Jones; Alicia Jordan, marketing director at Belmont Savings Bank; Amanda Stoltz-Moore, owner and operator of McDonald’s locations in the Ohio Valley; Joelle Moray, owner of Joelle Moray Coaching; and Beth Whitehouse, senior director of strategic planning for the Wheeling Park Commission.

At the end of the event, each of the finalists were recognized for their tremendous contributions to the community, and the winner of the inaugural awards ceremony was named. This year’s award went to Jones, who applauded not only her fellow nominees but also the scores of other women in the room who helped blaze trails and provide inspiration for future leaders.

“I think every woman needs to be applauded every day of the year because of the work that we do – whether it’s at home or at work,” Jones said. “I’m going to continue to be that cheerleader because it’s kind of who I am. Thank you Chamber of Commerce, and thank you Ohio Valley for recognizing and noticing us. Women need all of the support that they can get.”

Jones — who was brimming with emotions upon accepting the award — had noted that she is most proud when a woman who comes to the YWCA feeling defeated walks out with her head held high, with a job and with a bright future ahead of her.

“Supporting women in their personal and professional advancement is what we do at the YWCA,” she said. “It’s what I do. It’s who I am.”

Chamber officials scrambled to make a last-minute change of venue on Friday after the power went out at the newly renovated White Palace at Wheeling Park, where the event had been scheduled to take place. Organizers jumped into action and were able to move the event to the Pine Room at Oglebay.

Aside from the finalists’ recognition and award presentation, another highlight Friday was keynote speaker Beri Fox, Marble King CEO. An outspoken advocate for U.S. manufacturing, Fox has guided the internationally recognized, locally based company through challenging times only to emerge as a global leader in the industry.

“One thing is certain in life, and that’s change,” Fox said, noting the shift in consumer’s use of glass marbles since the company was founded in 1949. “Even if you don’t change or don’t want to change, the world will change, and you have to change with it.”

Marble King manufactures more than 1 million marbles each day for various uses, and the company’s products are sold internationally in more than 20 countries. The company was able to take risks and broaden its market for different uses, and while dozens of others folded over the decades, Marble King is now the only domestic marble manufacturer left in the U.S.

Fox encouraged people to have faith in themselves, even when they may think they can’t do it. The mantra is a proven one that can break down barriers – often ones that are self-imposed, and it is especially true for strong women … and for natives of West Virginia, Fox noted.

She shared her stories of self-doubt when entering uncharted waters – being asked to be interviewed on nationally televised programs such as “The Colbert Report” and “The Martha Stewart Show,” which were initially unnerving situations that ended up kicking new doors open to new opportunities for herself and new levels of success for her company – from working with NASA to being featured in the Made in America Product Showcase at The White House.

“I want to encourage each and every one of you to believe in yourselves, to take chances to do things that you don’t think you can do,” she said. “Stand tall and strong for yourselves, and for West Virginia as a whole.”


YWCA Wheeling Awarded Tax Credits For Necessary Renovations to Historic Building

WHEELING, W.Va – May 25, 2023 – The YWCA Wheeling is excited to announce the investment of the New Market Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits that will enable the YWCA to revitalize and expand the century old building on Chapline Street. This deal is in partnership with National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC), US Bank, and financed by Belmont Savings Bank.  

Since 1906, the YWCA Wheeling has been the champion of “eliminating racism and empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all”. For over a century, the YWCA has adapted and transformed to add new and crucial programming that would meet the needs of the community, but a century of wear and tear on the historic building now requires essential repairs and upgrades to ensure the YWCA can continue operating in the same building for another hundred years.

“This building is steeped in over a century of helping to meet women, families and men where they are. Over the years we have grown and morphed to meet the changing needs of the community and in order to continue this hard work, we need to make changes to our historic Chapline Street location,” said Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling.

Belmont Savings Bank has helped finance this deal for a total development cost of $16.8 million including a financing cost of $10 million New Market Tax Credits, $2.7 million Historic Tax Credits, and $3.4 million State Historic Tax Credits through the facilitation of NTCIC.

“We are thrilled to help with a project that makes a difference in the Ohio Valley,” stated Mike Taylor, Executive Vice President Commercial Lending. “Partnering for upgrades to the building, infrastructure and security will allow the YWCA to continue and increase the powerful and necessary services that provide critical needs of women and children in our community.” 

The renovation of the century old YWCA Wheeling building will be upgraded to enhance the quality of life for employees, residents and community members and support an additional 1,200 women and families each year. Necessary renovations will include expanded and enhanced programming and housing spaces, which will provide space for up to 55 women and families, new HVAC system, which is a first for the building, upgraded plumbing and electrical, a new elevator and other renovations that will ensure the YWCA can continue serving the community and sustain their mission. ‘

These critical renovations of the YWCA facility will preserve a piece of Wheeling’s history and ensure the continued functionality of a resource that provides life-saving services to women, children and men in the Northern Panhandle.


Since 1906, the YWCA Wheeling has provided services to individuals regardless of race, gender, age or religion in the West Virginia Northern Panhandle, including Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Brooke and Hancock counties in WV and Belmont and Jefferson counties in OH.

Belmont Savings Bank has been helping local residents with their financial needs since 1885. With offices in Barnesville, Bellaire, Powhatan Point and St. Clairsville, Belmont Savings Bank offers checking accounts, loans, online banking, mobile banking and more for your business and personal goals. Visit www.belmont-savings.com for more information.




Juneteenth Celebration Continuing to Grow in Wheeling

WHEELING — A weekend of Juneteenth celebrations culminated on Monday night with food, music, and commemoration throughout Market Plaza.

Ron Scott Jr., Juneteenth Committee chair and master of ceremonies, opened the celebration at the north end of the plaza, a poignant location as it was once the site of a slave auction block. At the podium, Scott told the assembled crowd that he was thankful to hold the celebration for the fourth year in a row, especially when the holiday can encounter some “resistance.”

Diana Bell of the Wheeling Griot Society shared the importance of keeping stories alive, not only of African American history. She noted all groups should strive to preserve and share their past.

“Storytelling is an important part of preserving the history we have,” explained Bell. “Every family has it, not just African American families but Italian, Jewish, Korean and Chinese. Every family has stories they can tell, and preserving the story is what is important.”

Other speakers at the event shared their unique perspectives regarding their connection to the history of slavery and racism in and beyond Wheeling.

Darryl Clausell, president of the West Virginia and Wheeling NAACP, called on those in the audience to imagine the slave block once erected where he stood for his speech.

Unique Robinson-Murphy, communities in schools site coordinator for Wheeling Park High School, shared her pride in being a mentor for Black children in local schools, something she didn’t have as a child.

Mayor Glenn Elliott contrasted his own ancestors’ freedom of choice in building their future with the experience of enslaved peoples.

The Rev. Twila Davis of Macedonia Baptist Church then conducted the libation ceremony. Afterward, she led the crowd in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson.

After the opening ceremony, festivities moved to the south end of the plaza, with performances by Voices of Praise of Macedonia Baptist Church and Soul Pantry, a funk/soul band. While listening to music, festival-goers enjoyed food from local vendors, including SouthPaw Eatz, Euphoric Donuts and SweetZekes Coffee.

Organizations such as the Wheeling Griot Society and Partners of African American Churches (PAAC) also had tents at the festival to educate and share the importance of the holiday.

Many local Black-owned businesses, such as Dee’s Hair & Beauty Supplies, sold clothes and other goods at the event. Amari Poole, an employee of Dee’s Hair & Beauty Supplies, was pleased with the exposure they gained at the event.

The 21-year-old also shared her excitement at having a Juneteenth celebration in the city she grew up in.

“When I was younger, we normally didn’t have a lot of events like this, especially here on the plaza,” she said.

Wheeling native Kenny Shuman, 52, also expressed that as a kid “it used to be nothing but the Italian Festival going on in Wheeling.”

“To have something like this is an improvement. It’s about time,” Shuman added.

The sentiment “It’s about time” was echoed by other attendees, as both young and old emphasized the need for the Juneteenth celebration in the city to continue.

“It’s important to have a Juneteenth celebration because what happens in little towns like ours reflects the overall country,” said Scott. “If they’re doing it in New York, L.A., and Detroit, we definitely should be doing it in Wheeling.”

Robinson-Murphy explained that not only the Black community in Wheeling but anyone who “supports and encourages events like this and uplifting Black voices” should attend and support Juneteenth celebrations.

“I have younger cousins and a daughter who will hopefully experience this plus more, more than what I had,” said Robinson-Murphy.

“It feels good to witness the event grow so much in the past four years,” added Scott. “It’s gone from looking online and seeing comments of ‘made-up holiday’ to now people asking ‘what are you doing for Juneteenth this year?’”


4th Annual YWCA Wheeling Mini-Con Returns

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — A very special event is returning to Wheeling.

The fourth annual Mini-Con hosted by The Wheeling YWCA is Saturday, June 24 from 12 to 5 p.m.

The event is a smaller version of what you might see at a regular comic book convention.

The event will include several comic book vendors, local artists, cosplayers, retro video games and toys, and much more. Also included will be a demonstration by the Lightsaber Academy from Parkersburg, a costume contest, as well as various raffles and prizes to be won.

The event is one that helps bring the community together and enjoy a different form of entertainment.

”I think events like this are perfect for a community. Because if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times a community is nothing but similar people with different interests but like minded all together. Like we are all made up of so many different types of people, but there are some events that bring us all together as a community.”RON SCOTT JR. – CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH DIRECTOR FOR YWCA WHEELING

This will be the first year that the event will not be held at the YWCA center. Instead it will be held at Vance Memorial Church on National Road in Wheeling.



YWCA Wheeling to Give Out 37 Scholarships through OVAASA Program

WHEELING, W.Va. – May 10, 2023 – Each year, the YWCA Wheeling holds the Ohio Valley African American Student Association Banquet where nominated students receive scholarships from partnering businesses, schools and individuals to help them further their education and secure a future career path. This year, 37 students will receive a minimum of a $200 scholarship.

       The YWCA Wheeling received 89 nominations from Ohio Valley schools including; Olney Friends School, Wheeling Park High School, The Linsly School, John Marshall High School, Bridgeport High School, St. Clairsville High School, Martins Ferry High School, Weirton High School, Wheeling Central High School, and Bellaire High School.

       The Ohio Valley’s top African American High School seniors are being invited to receive these awards. Submission by their guidance counselors and evaluations by the committee aids the YWCA in deciding who will be honored each year. This year the banquet will be held on May 11th.

       “This is the 14th year we will be holding the OVAASA Banquet to hand out scholarships and really just honor the students for their achievements over the years. The students deserve this time of recognition and each year it’s an awesome feeling to see past scholarship winners attend the banquet or want to get involved on a different level because of the impact it had on them,” said Ron Scott. Jr., Cultural Diversity & Community Outreach Director at the YWCA Wheeling and founder of OVAASA.

        Community members and businesses have partnered and donated to the YWCA Wheeling to designate a gift towards students going into a certain profession.

       The YWCA Wheeling is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen our community. The organization offers programming for family violence prevention, cultural diversity and community outreach, residence and emergency homeless sheltering, human trafficking victims and non-treatment recovery. YWCA Wheeling is an active member agency of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley. For comprehensive information, visit www.ywcawheeling.org.


YWCA Wheeling  commemorates National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 23–29, 2023

WHEELING, W.Va – April 14, 2023 – The YWCA Wheelingis commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week from April 23–29, 2023 by displaying mannequins that have been commissioned by West Liberty University Art Department students which portray thought-provoking pieces related to domestic violence, substance use disorder, hate crimes and human trafficking.

According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2021, there were more than 4.6 million violent victimizations and 11.7 million property crimes, the latest year for which such information is available.

“It is crucial in our line of work to be able to hear and believe the victims we are charged with helping,” said Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling. “It is so important that the victim know they have a safe space to tell their story and know they are being believed. It’s important for their healing and to have support at every step of the criminal justice process and beyond.”

West Liberty University art students were eager to be a part of a project that would bring awareness and foster conversation around topics that are often hushed.

West Liberty University Creative Arts Therapy Instructor, Terri Giller is especially proud to be a part of this awareness project. “As an art therapist, who has worked with individuals that have experienced or who were recovering from crimes such as domestic violence, substance use disorders, human trafficking, and hate crimes, I am so grateful for this opportunity for WLU Studio Art and Creative Arts Therapy majors to participate in this project.  Art has the ability to help the public understand the impact of violent crimes and the victims of crime as more than just a statistic. The visual representations can allow the viewer to see the impact of crime on victims in a whole new way or gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of others.”

The federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by raising awareness of victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change.”

Partner organizations are committed to engaging with victims of crime; learning from their lived experiences; amplifying their voices; and fostering an environment where they are heard, believed, and supported.

During NCVRW 2023, YWCA Wheeling will share information about victims’ rights and resources and underscore the importance of listening to survivors’ voices in every space where decisions are made that could impact them by displaying these pieces of art that invoke a sense of empathy towards the victims path.

For additional information about this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and how to assist crime victims, please contact the YWCA Wheeling at 304-232-0511 or visit our website at www.ywcawheeling.org

For more information about how to support all victims of crime, visit OVC’s website at ovc.ojp.gov.

Since 1906, the YWCA Wheeling has provided services to individuals regardless of race, gender, age, or religion in the West Virginia Northern Panhandle, including Ohio, Marshall, Brooke, Wetzel, Hancock Counties, and Belmont and Jefferson Counties in Ohio. 


YWCA Wheeling Capital Campaign Kick-Off, Already Over 80% of Goal

WHEELING, W.Va. – January 11, 2023 – Expanding upon its 117-year history of eliminating racism and empowering women in the Ohio Valley, the YWCA Wheeling has secured over $9 million in their first ever Capital Campaign, with a goal of $11 million to make necessary structural repairs and upgrades to the historic building that sits on Chapline Street, meet programming needs and allow for expansion to meet the needs of the Ohio Valley. The Building Hope, Reclaiming Lives campaign hopes to raise the remaining $1.8 million to support the necessary renovations.  

The “Building Hope and Reclaiming Lives” campaign began a quiet phase in 2020 and has been able to meet a significant amount of the goal through some donors and grants. The money secured from the campaign will renovate needed areas within the YWCA walls including upgrades to the elevator, increase the amount of rooms for residents, central heating and cooling, among other critical changes. The cost of the many renovations originally started at $5 million and steadily rose due to the increase of costs and needed repairs, putting the total at $11 million.

Due to the wear and tear of the building over the last 100 years coupled with the consistent growth over the years of families and individuals in need, the YWCA is in need of these renovations now more than ever before.

“Successful campaigns bring focus and unity to a shared vision,” said Executive Director, Lori Jones. “This shared vision of eliminating racism and empowering women will move the YWCA forward as we continue this critical work that our community needs, and ultimately help more people as we pivot and adapt to the complexities we face and the issues facing those we serve.”

The campaign is structed so that community members can contribute to specific target areas of their choice through naming and recognition opportunities. “The generosity of our community continues to amaze me,” added Jones. “The YWCA Wheeling relies on the kindness of individual donors, grants and foundations in order to carry out our mission, and this campaign is no exception. What will be your share?”


YWCA Wheeling Receives Purple Ribbon Awards

WHEELING, West Virginia – May 9, 2023 – The YWCA Wheeling was awarded the Purple Ribbon Awards through DomesticShelters.org in two categories; Outstanding Thrift Shop for the Y-Not-Repeat Boutique and Outstanding New Service Launch for the YWeCook Program debuting last summer. The YWCA Wheeling also nominated The Health Plan for Business Partner of the Year and they placed in that category as well.

The Purple Ribbon Awards are comprised of 34 categories and judged by a national panel of respected professionals from the domestic violence field. This is the first comprehensive awards program honouring the countless heroes of the domestic violence movement. Nominations come from all across the United States and Canada.

“We are very honoured to receive this recognition,” said Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling. “The YWCA Wheeling is in an era of change and we are striving always to be the best we can for the people we serve. Our staff and the community partnerships such as The Health Plan, is the reason we can continue this hard work that we do.”

The Health Plan has been a strong community partner with the YWCA Wheeling for several years and continues to be involved in whatever way they can.

“The Health Plan team is honored to receive the YWCA Wheeling’s Business Partner of the Year award,” said Jeff Knight, president and CEO of The Health Plan. “We are inspired by YWCA Wheeling’s mission and their impact in our communities, and we are committed to working together to drive even greater change. We remain dedicated to our shared goal of bettering the health, wellness and lives of those we serve.” 

Purple Ribbon Award winners are also eligible to receive grant funding through DomesticShelters.org. The YWCA Wheeling will be a part of a virtual celebration on May 18th to share grant winner stories and celebrate the work being done to help victims and survivors of abuse.

Press Releases

MPLX Donates Concert Tickets to YWCA Wheeling Clients

WHEELING, West Virginia – April 4, 2023 – MPLX, the largest midstream gas processor in the Northeast, donated concert tickets to the clients and staff of the YWCA Wheeling to see Casting Crowns as they stop in Wheeling on their “The Healer Tour”.

YWCA Wheeling is sincerely honoured to receive these tickets that are available to the residents and staff who might have not been able to attend this uplifting concert otherwise.

Lori Jones, Executive Director of the YWCA Wheeling was very grateful for the thoughtfulness of MPLX. “We are extremely grateful to be the recipient of such generosity. Residents and clients seeking services and sanctuary from the YWCA Wheeling may not always have the ability or opportunity to attend an event like this, so we thank MPLX for their thoughtfulness.”

The Casting Crowns concert is taking place at the Capitol Theatre on Thursday, April 6 beginning at 7:00Pm.

MPLX is a diversified, large-cap master limited partnership formed by Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) that owns and operates midstream energy infrastructure and logistics assets, and provides fuels distribution services. MPLX’s assets include a network of crude oil and refined product pipelines; an inland marine business; light-product terminals; storage caverns; refinery tanks, docks, loading racks, and associated piping; and crude and light-product marine terminals. The company also owns crude oil and natural gas gathering systems and pipelines as well as natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) processing and fractionation facilities in key U.S. supply basins.

Since 1906, the YWCA Wheeling has provided services to individuals regardless of race, gender, age, or religion in the West Virginia Northern Panhandle, including Ohio, Marshall, Brooke, Wetzel, Hancock Counties, and Belmont and Jefferson Counties in Ohio. 


YWCA Wheeling Puts on Culturally Specific Escape Rooms

There’s a new one-of-a-kind experience now open in the Ohio Valley that will transport you to other cultures. 

While you learn about history, you’ll also be solving a mystery. 

“The Last Queen of Hawaii” escape room is now open in Wheeling.

It’s the first in a series of Culturally Specific Escape Rooms created by the YWCA Wheeling.  

Ron Scott Jr., the Director of Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach at the YWCA Wheeling, said he was inspired to think of a new way to get his message across.

No matter how cool the power point might be, that isn’t how they learn or how they’ll get it. So we thought if we can come up with something that’s more hands-on or immersive that I think there’d be a whole group of folks we could link in. So, we decided to put the message into something like an escape room.RON SCOTT JR., DIRECTOR OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY & COMMUNITY OUTREACH, YWCA WHEELING

This first room is dedicated to Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. 

The YWCA Wheeling partnered with the company Glass Eye Worx to make it happen.

“It “The Last Queen of Hawaii” immerses participants in a specific scenario, giving them a hands-on way to learn about different cultures that exist in our communities. 

Scott said participants don’t even realize they are learning because they’re having so much fun solving the room’s puzzles.

There’s still a lot of that history that is very personal and very emotional to the people from Hawaii. Events like this you really get a chance to examine that and talk to folks about it. Not one group has gone through yet that didn’t’ still have questions when they were done.RON SCOTT JR., DIRECTOR OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY & COMMUNITY OUTREACH, YWCA WHEELING

The Last Queen of Hawaii Escape room is now open inside the former book store at West Virginia Northern Community College at 1704 Market Street in Wheeling.

It will be there until April 30 before being transformed into a new culture. 

Groups of three to six people are ideal for the room size and puzzles.

The escape room is $10 per person and $5 per student under 12. A portion of the proceeds go back to the YWCA Wheeling to support its mission and programs.

If you’d like to sign-up for a time slot follow the QR code attached to the flyer.


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