By Sarah Plummer
In the midst of an ever-increasing cultural presence in Hinton, the Hinton Area Foundation has named Jerry Beasley as executive director.
Beasley is not unknown to the area. In addition to a 23-year stint as president of Concord University, he and his wife are Hinton natives. He brings with him a broad perspective, having lived all over the county and across West Virginia, as well as an intimate and sensitive knowledge of Hinton and Summers County.
Since his retirement, Beasley has spent four years working with the foundation, which he sees as “an expression of the community’s highest desires for its people and for the community. I think we try to identify the greatest needs that, if met, can advance the quality of life for people.”
The foundation is an entirely volunteer group, including Beasley’s position.
“We have consistently wanted the money people contribute to go to meeting the needs of people, not into the organization itself,” he explained. “One of the things that prompted me to take this position was that I saw so many able and competent people dedicated to the work of the foundation. Even our investment committee consists of volunteers.”
Over the last 20 years, the Hinton Area Foundation has focused on assisting youths in the area achieve their long-term goals as well as assisting with immediate needs, like the families displaced by the Feb. 26 fire in the downtown, he said.
“Sometimes the urgent pushes out the long-term and necessary. I think the nature of response to the needs of the people is indicative of the basic goodness of so many people. We have people wanting to help people in the community as well as others all over the country,” he said.
“The group is focused on the basic human needs — education, health and recreation. The foundation really belongs to the community and has been an opportunity for people who have a need to devote their resources and time to others.”
Beasley sees Summers County, like many other rural communities, as a place adjusting to new economic conditions and as a home to an older population.
“I think Summers County is an attractive place for people seeking a community for retirement and, as a result, some capable people are not only coming, they have decided, although they are retired from their day jobs, they still have energy and vision to commit to the community,” he said.
A significant portion of the foundation is managing college scholarship funds, but it also supports Summers County Library programs, the Hinton Ruritan Club, arts in the community and human service organizations such as REACHH, Summers County’s Family Resource Center.
The Hinton Area Foundation’s board plans to meet in May for a retreat to plan the next 10 years of the foundation’s work.
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