We appreciate the October 12, 2019 article written by Culpeper Star Exponent editor Emily Jennings about our first five years! The text of the article is available below, or see the article with photos on starexponent.com

A unique Culpeper County organization that provides little-known assistance behind the scenes, Culpeper Wellness Foundation is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month.

“We’re here for the long term,” foundation President Shari Landry said in a recent interview. “We work in partnership with other key organizations to address current needs—with the flexibility to adjust as those needs change—for the foreseeable future.”

In late August, the private, nonprofit foundation celebrated with a barbecue dinner in the town’s Rockwater Park. CWF gave $210,000 toward the park’s new splash pad, track, obstacle course and climbing boulder. Other groups that contributed include the PATH Foundation of Fauquier County, giving $30,000, and the Northern Piedmont Foundation, which donated $20,000.

While deciding what recreational facilities would be included in the new park, CWF initiated a survey that asked middle- and high-school students what features were most needed and would be the most used by young people in Culpeper.

“The survey we did on local youth and our investment in Rockwater Park I see as a real success,” Landry said. “We were able to identify interest and make it happen by working with others and partnering with the Town of Culpeper.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with how it turned out,” she added. “These features provide a place that can be used by sports teams or individuals to improve health in a fun way. You don’t find a place like this in most communities. It’s a huge benefit for Culpeper.”

The foundation was created in 2014, when the University of Virginia Health System became the sole owner of Culpeper Regional Hospital. That change established the foundation as an independent 501©(3) nonprofit focused on improving the health and well-being of residents in Culpeper, Madison and Orange counties.

Prior to the university’s purchase of the hospital, Powell Wellness Center and the Free Clinic of Culpeper had been part of the hospital’s parent company. The foundation was created to oversee these institutions with the help of an endowment set up for that purpose, along with funds raised by foundation employees. Culpeper Sport & Fitness joined the CWF community in 2017.

“Culpeper Wellness is unique in its three functions,” Landry said. “It provides needed services for community members young and old, we work as a partner and collaborator with a range of public and private agencies and donors, and we are a grant-maker.”

The foundation’s diverse efforts include health-care services to those who cannot afford services; grants to nonprofits throughout the three-county region to support health and wellness programs; traditional fitness and medically integrated fitness; fitness opportunities for local youth and youth organizations; fitness scholarships; free community health & wellness programming; and collaborative response and information sharing with other area health-related organizations.

Over the foundation’s first five years, CWF distributed $3 million in grants and strategic investments, the Free Clinic accepted 10,000 patient visits, more than 1,000 people enrolled in local medical fitness programs, and nearly $100,000 was awarded in fitness scholarships.

Landry became president of the organization in 2016, after moving to the area from New Hampshire with her husband, David Sears. Together, they bought a farm on the Rapidan River in Orange County, where they live.

Landry brought with her a wealth of expertise. She had served as vice president of philanthropy and donor services at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, helping coordinate child welfare and juvenile-justice services statewide. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s in human services administration from Springfield College in Massachusetts.

“The foundation works with many local organizations to improve the quality of life for all ages in Culpeper,” Landry said. “We hope members of the community will continue to help identify health issues that need to be addressed and will continue to support our work—and the efforts of other local nonprofits—through charitable donations and gifts, and through donating their time in volunteer work.”

The three-county region includes people who are exceptionally dedicated to helping others, she said.

“I really see it as remarkable—the number and passion and commitment of organizations, churches, state and county staff in supporting one another, everyone’s desire to work together, their creativity in solving problems and addressing local issues, and their untiring commitment to making things better,” she said. “It’s a wonderful community and I’m very glad to be here and be a part of it.”