By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Dogwood Festival happens each year only due to the generosity of its sponsors. The festival is funded entirely by donations, sponsorships, and fundraising events, along with the fees from concessions, vendors, and the carnival.
This year the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia Melva P. Jones Fund contributed over $2,100 to the Dogwood Festival for the purpose of funding the Kids’ Zone at the Vinton Farmers’ Market on April 30.
The check was presented to Dogwood Festival President Beth Abbott and Karen Obenchain, chair of the Vinton Dogwood Fundraising and Sponsorship Committee by Community Foundation President and CEO Alan Ronk at the Vinton Farmers’ Market on April 25.
According to the Community Foundation, “Melva Payne Jones was a long-time resident of Vinton. She was a 50-year member of the Thursday Morning Music Club, having joined in 1942. She taught piano and organ and directed music in the Roanoke Valley for more than fifty years.
“Melva received her training and education at William Byrd High School, in the Class of 1941. She then attended the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and later studied at such prestigious places as the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Pius Conservatory of Liturgical Music, Northwestern University, and the St. Louis Institute of Music at Washington University.
“Melva was president of the Thursday Morning Music Club for two terms in the 1970s. She also was active with the Strings and Bows and youth groups of the club. In 1987, Melva received the Perry F. Kendig Award from Roanoke College, which was sponsored by the Roanoke Valley Arts Council.”
According to “Vinton History 1884-1984,” Jones lived in a historic home on Washington Avenue in Vinton. Ronk says the Community Foundation donated her baby grand piano to the Vinton War Memorial for its ballroom many years ago, where it is still in use.
“Melva’s love for music and the arts and her strong interest in helping and teaching others will be perpetuated forever through the Melva P. Jones Fund for Music and Art,” said Ronk, who has been the first and only president of the Community Foundation since 1990.
This permanently endowed fund makes annual grants to music and arts programs and organizations, with a preference for those which benefit the citizens of Vinton – such as this year’s gift to the Vinton Dogwood Festival.
“Since its establishment, her fund has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants back to her home community in her name and supported the educational dreams of many young men and women through college scholarships,” said Michele Eberly, Director of Grants and Donor Engagement for the Community Foundation.
Each year, Eberly seeks out organizations with art and music projects and other needs and offers funding from the Melva P. Jones endowment. Herman L. Horn and W.E. Cundiff Elementary Schools have been recipients in recent years. She coordinates many of the grant programs and scholarships and works closely with donors, nonprofit organizations, and students.
For many years, Vintonites Barbara Dillon, Elma Swain, and Frances Coleman served on the board and helped make decisions on the awarding of funds.
The Community Foundation has been helping individuals, families, nonprofit organizations, and others establish permanent charitable legacies since 1988. The website says that they “enable generous people to easily give back to the communities they love.” They have been described as “a central hub for community philanthropy.”
The foundation administers over 400 named endowment funds with total assets and donations exceeding $100 million and works to connect philanthropic resources with important community needs. Each year the foundation distributes about $4 million in grants and scholarships. The organization serves the cities of Roanoke, Salem, Lexington and Martinsville, the counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Henry, and Alleghany, and other surrounding areas.
The funding for the Kids’ Zone at the Farmers’ Market will enable children to enjoy – for free – many activities during the Dogwood Festival on April 30, providing everything from large inflatables to a petting zoo, to crafts, a Lego building station, photo booth, STEM Soap Snakes and Seltzer Poppers, a prize walk, and more. The kids’ area will be supervised by volunteers from Lighthouse Bible Church in Vinton, home of Lighthouse Christian Academy.