By Katiann Marshall (, The Journal

SHEPHERDSTOWN-On Sunday evening Women Investing in Shepherd hosted a grants celebration for its members and this year’s grant recipients at the Bavarian Inn. WISH is a women’s giving circle created by Women for Shepherd University and sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation. This year’s grants recipients were Panhandle Home Health Inc. and The Seeding Your Future Initiative, which is a part of Shepherd University’s science department. Each organization was given a check for $26,250 to use to support their cause.

WISH was created to educate, engage, and empower women to achieve their philanthropic goals. The organization was established last year after Women for Shepherd University sponsored by Shepherd University Foundation hosted “Inspired Philanthropy,” which featured guest speaker, Rebecca Powers, founder of a women’s giving circle in Austin, Texas, called “Impact Austin” which funds high impact grants.

Wish Award
Journal photo by Katiann Marshall
Dr. Jordan Mader, assistant chemistry professor at Shepherd University, left, and Dr. Sytil Murphy, assistant physics professor give their acceptance speech at the WISH grants announcement on Sunday at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown.

Power’s message inspired a group of women-Carolyn Fleenor, Bev Hughes, Liz Oates and Mary “Peachy” Staley (WISH Advisory Committee) joined by Monica Lingenfelter and Meg Peterson and Bonnie Brannon chaired the Grants Committee along with Vice Chair, Carol Kable-who are now core WISH members and have led this initiative. With the support from the SU Foundation, WISH began.

Since their WSU participants come from both the regional community and from Shepherd alumnae, they decided to direct philanthropy to support high impact grants to Shepherd University learning programs as well as to regional non-profits.

In 2014, 105 WISH members made gifts of $500 each for a total grant pool of $52,500. That pool was equally divided into two grants of $26,250 each-one to be awarded to a Shepherd learning program and one to a regional non-profit.

WISH seeks to fund grants which will affect positive changes, bring new funding resources, and make philanthropy accessible to women. WISH’s goal is to inspire, educate, and develop the amazing potential of women’s philanthropy.

The money was raised over a year and Advisory Committee Co-Chairman Liz Oates said it was almost like a chain reaction. “It was really woman to woman. We had 19 small group gatherings last year, in homes, and as someone might come to a social-which is what we called our events-they would offer to have a social in their home and invite their friends. It really changed the dynamic, because as time went on we had more and more women who wanted to host and invite their friends and fewer of just committee socials’ that had initially.”

The WISH Grants Committee, made up of approximately ten members and advisors, received 36 full grant proposals. Committee members followed a written protocol and timeline, to narrow down the proposals to six, three community organizations and three Shepherd learning programs.

All 105 members voted in July to choose the grant recipients, this year being, Panhandle Home Health Inc. and The Seeding Your Future Initiative.

Advanced Wound Care at Panhandle Home Health Inc. was the community non-profit program grant recipient. PHHI is currently the only partner in a regional study launched by the WV University Health Science Center and School of Nursing that is focused on developing protocols and procedures for increased expert wound monitoring and management for patients who are recovering at home.

There is specialized training known as the Wound Care Certification, available to providers of wound assessment, evaluation, management and care at home. PHHI currently only has one nurse certified in this advanced specialty care.

According to PHHI executive director Lisa Bivens, the organization has already served 927 patients as of July of this year, and 42 percent of those patients have needed wound care treatment. Bivens added that of those wound care patients; they had anywhere from one to five separate wounds.

“We have treated 855 so far this year, I am very excited for this opportunity to better serve our patients,” Bivens said.

PHHI plans to allocate the grant money towards certifying six addition nurses to any nurse who is willing to dedicate at least five more years to PHHI.

“Ultimately I am excited for our patients that we serve, there is a huge need for more certified nurses. So many times there are delays in treatment of wounds or noticing a change in wound needs,” said Bivens. “We have our one certified nurse who sits back in the office and looks at pictures of wounds to see if it is healing and progressing or if its stalling, so without that level of expertise right at the home, the nurse on duty might not catch it and it’s not until the certified wound nurse sees it and says ‘hey we have a problem with this wound,'”

“What we want to do now it capture that type of care at the bedside, so we can immediately take care of whatever type of complications may be occurring-because naturally they do-there are many different factors that effect wounds healing, for example; other health issues like diabetes, circulatory issues, and/or nutrition,” Bivens added.

“So with all of those factors working against us it’s really important to have access to that type of expertise right then and there, and that’s where you have the most success.”

PHHI will interview nurses based on geographical location and will choose six to go through the intensive, week-long training course. The WCC teaches registered nurses how to differentiate wound types and the appropriate care for each, how to recognize the effects that chronic diseases have on wound healing; how to understand and use various wound-care products; the implications of specific wound-healing techniques; and how to provide patient education on cleanliness to help wound infection and its complications.

The Seeding Your Future Initiative, was chosen as the Shepherd University learning program grant recipient.

Dr. Jordan Mader, Shepherd University assistant chemistry professor, said she is extremely happy to have the opportunity to expand “The Seeding Your Future Initiative” and give back to the community.

SYFI seeks to address the challenge of engaging female middle and high school ages students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The organization plans to use the money to plan out the next the three years, and will be able to increase enrollment to better serve more girls and the community.

The Initiative consists of two parts, the Seeding Your Future Conference and the Seeding Your Future Workshop Series. The conference is a one day, hands-on conference targeting middle-school aged girls. It includes four approximately one hour-long hands-on workshops (chosen from among a variety of options), a “speed-dating” style panel with women scientists, lunch and games, and an opportunity to win prizes.

The students interact with STEM college students who can serve as mentors and role models. The SYFC inaugural event was held in October 2014 with 90 student attendees, 16 Shepherd University faculty volunteers, 49 Shepherd student volunteers, and 13 non-Shepherd volunteers.

Mader explained that an initiative like this is important because many young girls are told that they can’t succeed in various science fields. “It really inspires the girls to see that in spite of being told ‘no you can’t do this’ that there are women who have succeeded.”

“And succeeded in many different ways, it’s not only physicists who are in white lab coats and goggles,” Dr. Sytil Murphy, Shepherd University assistant physics professor, added.
“It’s also not women who are mature in their careers either, we have college who did internships at different universities who speak as well, so it is good for the girls to see all different levels of success of women in this field,” Mader said.

Mader explained that by receiving this grant for her organization she will be able to keep the initiative going and will be able to keep “paying it forward” like she’s always wanted to do.
“For me paying it forward is a huge thing, I was inspired when I was in high school and I was told later on in life in graduate school that I wasn’t smart enough to get a Ph.D., so even through grad school I dealt with that and it’s a constant struggle,” Mader said.

“The chance to show future generations that ‘if you want to do this, you can do this, and you will succeed at doing this’, is really my motivation. Someone did it for me and I want to do it for other students and show them that this is fantastic area to go into,” Mader added.

Murphy explained what her passion is behind participating in this initiative. “I am a female physicist, I got my degree at Montana State, my starting graduate class was 14 students, I was one of four girls, and I am the only one of those four girls who got a Ph.D. Murphy said. “So I thought, ‘what can I do to make other people realize that they can do it?'”

The project will build ties between Shepherd University and a vast community of county school systems including (but not limited to) Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, and Hampshire in WV, Washington, Allegheny, and Frederick, Md. and Frederick and Clarke, Va. Home School groups and co-ops will also be included.

SYFI’s next conference is planned for Oct. 3.

WISH’s goal is to bring back the 105 2014 charter members and to attract 100 new members, totalling over 200-so that grants given out during 2016 total $100,000.
“Our goal for next year is, double the money, twice the amount of good.” Oates said.

WISH members must make a $500 gift each year. Members hold socials in their homes and invite friends to hear the WISH story, with a gentle approach and no pressure to join unless it feels right.
Every dollar of every WISH membership gift directly funds the annual grants. The SU Foundation provides all administrative support to enable 100 percent of each member’s contribution to support the grants.

For more information visit the organization’s website at or if you are interested in attending a social may contact Meg Peterson at or 304-876-5021.

-Staff writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931 ext. 182 or at

Posted on The Journal