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First Foundation adopts mission statement, more as it moves closer to distributing opioid funds

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First Foundation adopts mission statement, more as it moves closer to distributing opioid funds

Jun 06, 2024 | 8:08 pm ET
By Caity Coyne
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First Foundation adopts mission statement, more as it moves closer to distributing opioid funds
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Stakeholders and members of the West Virginia First Foundation met for the first time in the Truist building in Charleston, W.Va., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (Caity Coyne | West Virginia Watch)

A year after being founded and exactly seven months after holding its first meeting, the West Virginia First Foundation is, leaders hope, getting closer to establishing a process for distributing opioid settlement funds across the state.

So far, no money has been allotted by the organization. Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce, who sits on the First Foundation board, said he would like to see a time frame presented at the nonprofit’s next meeting regarding when they can expect to have an application process up for groups or individuals looking to start or expand programs to combat the ongoing drug and overdose epidemic in the state.

“We’re a year old … and I’m a little disheartened that we’ve got a full summer break for our youth and we’ve got no money out [for programs],” Joyce said. “It seems to me like folks — and I run at about a level 12 out of ten on the impatience scale sometimes — but I think that’s something that we need to be super mindful of.”

First Foundation leaders, at previous meetings, had expressed interest in running needs assessment surveys for localities across the state to pinpoint gaps in funding and the needs for certain services. They’ve also said that distributions by the nonprofit would likely occur through an application process, where organizations looking to receive funding would apply for it and be vetted by members of the First Foundation’s board before receiving any funds.

Statewide, counties and municipalities — which receive their own share of money from the opioid settlements — have already begun to distribute their portion of the funds.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey, who chairs the board, said the foundation is working to ensure protections and standards are in place so when money is distributed, it is done so in a sound way.

Part of building up that process, he said, was creating and approving the organization’s objectives, which include a mission statement, a vision statement and guiding principles. Those sentiments — which will be listed on the organization’s website in coming days — address the goals of the First Foundation, including their intention with how money is distributed and how they operate.

All three of the items were approved unanimously by the board at Thursday’s meeting.

The First Foundation is scheduled to meet again in July. The normal meeting day — the first Thursday of the month — falls on July 4, a national holiday, so it’s likely a different date will be set by the board for that meeting.