Arts endowment announced

Virginia Smith Wolfe endowment set up through Scioto Foundation

Staff Report

Mrs. Wolfe signing the documents to create the endowment fund.

Toni Dengel | Scioto Foundation

The Scioto Foundation is pleased to announce a new field-of-interest fund established by Portsmouth native Virginia Smith Wolfe, a long-time resident of Auburn, Alabama who has gifted her hometown with unique opportunities in the arts through an endowment recently created at the Foundation.

A field-of-interest fund supports broad charitable causes such as education, the arts, health services or the environment. Distributions from the new Virginia Smith Wolfe Endowment will be used to provide grants that promote self-realization and/or personal empowerment through the arts. Participants will benefit from art enrichment and/or art therapy primarily through the schools and nonprofit organizations. All forms of the arts, including music, theatre, dance and all kinds of visual arts, will be eligible to receive grants.

“The arts have been a recurring interest of mine throughout my life, but my career path was clinically and scientifically based. I worked as a speech-language pathologist at Rush- Presbyterian- St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago for 13 years, heading up the Section of Communicative Disorders before moving to Auburn, Alabama,” said Wolfe.

After more than 20 years in academia at Auburn University Montgomery, Wolfe is now Professor Emeritus, and her husband, Lauren, is Professor and Department Head Emeritus from the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Since retirement, I have taken much delight in developing skills as a watercolor artist and in volunteering as a docent at the museum in Auburn, where the slogan is ‘Art Changes Lives.’ I have seen no better example of this life-changing influence than in Portsmouth. Over the years through many visits, my sister Julia and brother-in-law Ralph Wisniewski have introduced me to the many artistic venues that are available in Portsmouth such as the Southern Ohio Museum and its Cirque d’ Art affiliate, the Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association (SOPAA), the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, and the Portsmouth Area Arts Council with theatre productions and camp experiences for local young actors,” Wolfe said.

“On a recent visit, Pegi Wilkes provided a tour of her Cirque d’Art studio where two young and very talented aerialists described how the program had given them confidence and self -empowerment in many areas of their lives as well as in dance and theatre,” Wolfe explained. “At the Southern Ohio Museum I learned how school children can integrate what they are learning in the classroom with works of art. Furthermore, in addition to these noteworthy examples, it is worth remembering that the arts can provide therapeutic benefits to populations of children and adults suffering from mental and/or physical challenges.”

“The Scioto Foundation, through its “Field of Interest” grants program, provides a marvelous opportunity for schools, nonprofit organizations and interested individuals to apply for funding. The grants are evaluated quarterly by the Board of Governors. We are hopeful that the funding provided by the endowment will encourage support for new and existing programs in all forms of the arts – visual arts, theatre, music, dance, et cetera, so that Portsmouth always will remain the rich and exciting arts community that it is today,” Wolfe concluded.

Additions to the fund may be made by friends, family and supporters of the arts in the form of gifts of cash, securities or property to the fund at any time. Further information about the Virginia Smith Wolfe Endowment Fund or other planned giving opportunities may be obtained by contacting Patty Tennant, Program Officer for Donor Services at the Scioto Foundation office, (740) 354-4612 or by visiting the SF website at

Mrs. Wolfe signing the documents to create the endowment fund. Wolfe signing the documents to create the endowment fund. Toni Dengel | Scioto Foundation
Virginia Smith Wolfe endowment set up through Scioto Foundation

Staff Report


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