The Snowshoe Foundation pulled out all the stops for its annual Winter Gala at Mountain Lodge Friday night. The atmosphere was festive, the decorations were beautiful and the food was delicious. Laughter and conversation filled the ballroom turned dining venue as nearly 150 attendees enjoyed an array of drinks and hors d’oeuvres befitting the event, before sitting down to a full meal. Shane Meade Band provided music for the evening.
Tables at the edge of the ballroom held high-end donated items for the silent auction, and Ben Wilfong served as auctioneer for the “Live Auction,” which included lodging at various resorts – Elk Springs, Canaan Valley, Allegheny Springs at Snowshoe, Nemacolin Resort, Seneca at Snowshoe and the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown.
Very popular among the auction items were a Pittsburgh Steelers Helmet autographed by #84 Anthony Brown; two Steelers’ footballs autographed by #92 James Harrison and #26 Le’Veon Bell; and a basketball autographed by members of the 2017 WVU Mountaineer Men’s Basketball team.
But as great as all that sounds, it can’t hold a candle to the impressive work the Snowshoe Foundation does for organizations and individuals in Pocahontas, Randolph and Webster counties.
As a way to show appreciation to those who help to make the foundation’s work a success, Foundation Board Member Voras Haynes recognized several people at Friday night’s dinner.
State Farm Insurance employee Kenny Woods, of Slaty Fork, was selected as Volunteer of the Year for Pocahontas County, for his willingness to be available at all times – even nights and weekends– to assist with Treasure on the Mountain ticket sales.
Elkins High School Track and Cross Country Coach Matt Lewis was honored as Randolph County’s Volunteer of the Year for his work in his community.
Fairmont Printing was recognized as a Business of the Year for its contribution of printing Treasure on the Mountain tickets.
State Farm Insurance and agent Darren Jackson received the Business of the Year award for Pocahontas County for allowing Woods, and his staff, to be a collection venue for tickets for Treasure on the Mountain.
Snowshoe Foundation’s first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to foundation board president Frank Santmyer, who owns Gino’s Pizza in Elkins.
“Frank is frugal,” Haynes said laughing. “He wouldn’t pay a nickel to see an ant eat a pizza. He’s always looking to save a dime, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t generous.”
Haynes went on to list Santmyer’s contributions to his community by serving on various boards as well as donating to causes and organizations. Haynes referred to him as “a prickly pear – rough on the outside but soft on the inside.”
Randolph County resident and second year D&E student Zandra Kelley was this year’s recipient of the $14,000 Highland Scholarship. D & E Assistant Director of Development Support and Coordinator of Church Relations Tina Vial represented the college at Friday night’s award ceremony.
The Winter Gala is just one of three major fundraisers the foundation hosts each year. The annual Golf Tournament at Raven Golf Course is set for June 9, and the ever popular Treasure on the Mountain comes up in August.
Treasure on the Mountain is, perhaps, the most challenging of the three events, but Bruce James said it is the most fun.
James and his wife, Harriett, who lived and worked in Hickory, North Carolina, have spent time at Silver Creek for the past 10 years. They retired three years ago, and began to spend winters and summers at their second home. Last October, “they made it permanent,” James said.
Permanent residents and very active in the Snowshoe Volunteer Program.
Ira Maupin and wife, Brenda, are part of the volunteer program, as well. The couple, lived and worked in Kingsport, Tennessee, for 30 years, built their home at Snowshoe in 2000 and retired there in 2002. Brenda serves as employee liaison for the foundation, and is known as the “unofficial office manager” for this non-profit organization. The Maupins “volunteer everywhere,” but are especially on board to assist with Treasure on the Mountain.
Dave Dragan fell in love with Snowshoe on his first visit. With his passion for skiing and his wife’s, Marita’s, love of mountain views, the top of the mountain seemed a perfect fit. They bought a lot near Silver Creek and eventually began building what was to be a vacation home. “Began building” means they (with the help of a family friend) literally built it themselves.
Their decision to make Snowshoe their permanent home came as somewhat of a surprise to family and friends.
“When we told people back home in Atlanta that we were moving permanently to Pocahontas County, it was a real conversation stopper,” Marita said in an earlier interview. “But we knew we were doing the right thing.”
Once settled, the Dragans got involved as volunteers – both on and off the mountain.
Snowshoe Foundation Executive Director Jessica Stump said these three couples are some of her best volunteers.
(This editor can attest that they are also great dinner companions.)
Stump, board members Haynes, Tammy McPeak, Bill Jordan, Frank DeBerry and Frank Santmyer and a host of volunteers work hard to pull off events such as the Winter Gala.
“With Frank’s [Santmyer’s] guidance the foundation has gone from raising $35,000 per year to $250,000 a year,” Haynes said.
While that number is quite impressive, you can’t really put a dollar figure on the good that has resulted from the generosity of the Snowshoe Foundation.
Like a pebble dropped in a still pool of water, the effects have rippled through the lives of the people and the communities in the counties it seeks to serve.