Foundation celebrates community, families

PARKERSBURG – Several local families were honored at a ceremony held by the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation Friday afternoon.

The community foundation was recognizing its 50th anniversary as well as honoring families and community members who have played an integral role in the foundation’s success.

The first meeting of the original community foundation was held on Oct. 18, 1963.

Among those recognized Friday were the Dils and Vasan families.

Judy Sjostedt, executive director for the community foundation, said she wanted a way for the community to remember those who have influenced Parkersburg and the area both with substantial monetary donations and community service.

The community foundation honored the Vasan family by naming its building at 1620 Park Ave. near City Park after them.

A family of doctors, the Vasan family members are no strangers to helping out their hometown. Srini Vasan spoke before the crowded room of area government officials, including the Parkersburg and Vienna mayors, and community members about the importance of giving back to his community.

“My grandfather told me whenever you feel like doing something good for others do it immediately,” Vasan said. “I want to make an announcement – education has been a really integral part of our family and (we) have spent a lot of effort and money to make sure we all have been educated really well.”

“I’d like to make a pledge that we will create a scholarship for the Parkersburg area high schools for about $10,000 every year to be given for educational purposes,” Vasan said.

Vasan said because education and community are important values he teaches his children, Neil and Nina, both graduates of Parkersburg High School and Ivy League medical schools, he wants area students to have the same opportunities.

Sjostedt also announced Friday the naming of the entrance of the foundation building after Edwin L.D. Dils.

She said Dils was an influential person in getting the community foundation running and before passing away three years ago continued to be involved in the foundation.

Dils’ wife, Jane, and daughter, Judy, were in attendance on behalf of the late Dils.

“We want to honor all of those in our area who have sowed the seeds of good in our area community foundation today,” she said.

Edwin Dils was able to walk through the new foundation building before passing away, seeing what all he was able to accomplish.

“Eddie could see the culmination of all of his years of hard work and leadership finally becoming solidified in a permanent headquarters building in his community,” Sjostedt said.

“He said he would be honored to have the building’s entry foyer named for him and arranged for a gift from the Dils family to support the Center for Philanthropy,” she said.

Neil Vasan graduated from Yale School of Medicine and Nina Vasan graduated from Harvard Medical School.

“Thank you to our parents for giving us the opportunity to get to call Parkersburg home,” Nina Vasan said in a speech to the crowd Friday. “As we were driving here we sang Country Roads – and talking about the impact the community foundation has had and the word that kept coming back to us was the word mentor.”

Vasan said she thinks of a mentor as the representation of qualities of wisdom, skill, strategy and inspiration.

Also on Friday night, Downtown PKB, along with the community foundation and local community members, hosted a “Celebrating the Arts” event by offering tours of the Actors Guild of Parkersburg, the Parkersburg Art Center and the Smoot Theatre.

Visitors were able to learn more about each organization. Food and beverages were provided while visitors toured the downtown buildings.

At the end of the night visitors were invited to the Blennerhassett Hotel to see Paul Borrelli’s old photographs of Parkersburg on display.

Sjostedt said about 200 people were in attendance for the downtown tour.