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West Virginia First Foundation executive director ready to begin ‘generational work’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The leader of the foundation designated to distribute nearly $1 billion in opioid settlement money, the West Virginia First Foundation, believes the task at hand is generational in nature.

Jonathan Board

West Virginia First Executive Director Jonathan Board said Monday this distribution is a single opportunity to make a positive impact in one of the hardest-hit states during the opioid crisis.

“This is the calling of our generation,” Board said during an appearance on WAJR Radio’s “Talk of the Town.” “If you live in the state of West Virginia, you know all too well the challenges we face, and this is something far bigger than a job; this is a duty.”

The Foundation will distribute 72.5% of the funds with the remainder, 24.5% going directly to cities and counties.

Board said creating pathways to recovery and continued healing is the immediate concern, but sustaining the fund to create a lasting impact for generations to come is also a priority.

“If our grandkids and great-grandkids don’t have access to this and the tools it can provide, then we’ve done something wrong,” Board said. “So, we’re really thinking generationally and not just six inches in front of our faces.”

Moving with a purpose and a sense of urgency is the intention. With that sense of urgency, there is a certain amount of care applied along the way to make sure the most impactful decisions create lasting change.

“We have to move at a different pace in some areas; we must,” Board said. “I think we have forfeited the right to do business as usual. We have to succeed now; we must.”

The agencies statewide that have worked with addicts and families likely have many impactful ideas and procedures that Board and the Foundation want to learn more about. Getting to those counties and meeting the people involved is the best way to get the best ideas possible and demonstrate to the communities they are operating in their own interests.

“We need to look for opportunities rather than tell our residents, citizens, family, and friends that you have to come to us,” Board said. “I would much rather go to them.”

Board said the sobering fact is that the state has hundreds of millions of dollars because many families lost loved ones to addiction in one way or another. Many others have had their lives rearranged or have had to step in and raise children.

“Every dollar that exists here is because someone passed, is struggling greatly, or was meaningfully and negatively affected,” Board said. “That sense of gravity drives us forward.”





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