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'We stand for safety': Shepherdstown Shares establishes award, holds community forum
July 24, 2020

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SHEPHERDSTOWN -- On July 12, Shepherdstown Shares President Marianne Davis presented the organization's first We Stand for Safety Award to the Shepherdstown Farmers Market.

According to Shepherdstown Shares board member Jan Hafer, the market was chosen to receive the award "for its commitment to protecting its vendors, customers and the people of the community" by establishing COVID-19 guidelines at the market.

"We congratulate them on their innovation, their surpassing of Health Department and Department of Agriculture standards, and on 30 years of providing real food to Shepherdstown," Hafer said.

For Shepherdstown Farmers Market President Natalie Friend, the award reflected the community's appreciation for the work she and her fellow vendors put in, to return to the market's regular summer space behind the Shepherdstown Public Library on King Street. If the market had not decided to enforce its guidelines of requiring all market customers and vendors to wear masks, not loiter around and maintain six feet of distance between each other, the town would not have allowed it to open in the location. Customers who forget to wear a mask can get free ones from Shepherdstown Shares at the market entrance.

"It's great that all our hard work is being recognized," Friend said. "We really appreciate the way people in town are cooperating with our new rules."

The award, Davis said, will continue to be presented in recognition of similar efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Shepherdstown takes everyone's safety from COVID-19 very seriously, so expect more winners to be announced in a few days," Davis said.

Shepherdstown Shares has remained busy over the last few months in its coordination efforts to help community members deal with coronavirus-related economic and social distancing effects. However, along with establishing the new award, it has continued to look for new ways to help the 25443-zipcode area. On July 16, the organization held a virtual community forum to get feedback on the services they have provided, and ideas for the future.

"Keeping in mind that we don't have any influence over governmental agencies, and that we don't have unlimited resources, we want to know what can we do better? And what should we do, what should we anticipate, going forward for the next two-to-three months?" Davis said, during the forum.

According to Davis, along with coordinating such popular programs as Work for Workers, Angel Shoppers and free food pantry at Lellybelle Community Cafe, the organization has also worked in lesser-known ways to fight the pandemic's impact.

"We have been pressing every governmental agency we can find for a mask policy since early March," Davis said. "We have also provided free summer children's clothing and free books, for any children at Shepherdstown Elementary and Middle schools who are eligible for free summer food support, for the children of people recovering from addiction at the Day Report Center and for the children of those who have sought assistance from the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center."

During the forum, attendees broke off into groups of six and brainstormed for new ideas, which were then presented to the organization's board. While not all of the ideas were practical, given the organization's limited resources, the board welcomed them as a way to recognize pandemic-effected areas they have overlooked.

"We want to avoid group think. We want to make sure we are opening up our ears and listening to other voices," Davis said, mentioning that along with ideas, the organization welcomes donations to help off-set operational expenses.

"We rely on donors," Davis said, mentioning the organization's 501(c)(3) designation is pending. "We have had some donations from the Shepherdstown Centennial Lions Club, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia. Those are some of our partners, as is Shepherd University, which donates all of their produce from Tabler Farm to us."

To learn more about or donate to Shepherdstown Shares, visit shepherdstownshares.org or email shepshares@gmail.com. Donations can also be made at the Jefferson Security Bank on Princess Street.

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