WCA Foundation Offers Thanks To Overcash
Volunteer leaders of WCA Foundation express gratitude and well wishes to the Foundation’s third executive director, Brigetta Overcash.
After eight years on the foundation’s board of directors – three as chairman — and 10 years as its executive director, Overcash is retiring from the foundation in its 39th year. During her tenure as a volunteer and leader of the foundation, Overcash has worked with others to more than double its assets.
“Brigetta has brought the foundation to new heights of growth and activity,” said James Pullan Jr., vice chairman of WCA Foundation’s board of directors and president of Jamestown Mattress Company. “Today we have a robust grants program supporting our hospital (UPMC Chautauqua) and educational assistance grants for the hospital’s employees. In 2021 the foundation gave more than $600,000 dollars to support the hospital’s healthcare initiatives for the benefit of the people of this region. Our board is proud of that and grateful to Brigetta and all our donors who have helped make that possible. I’m sure, even in her retirement, she will be working to help us increase our support to help the hospital – and its patients.”
Overcash said she sees the growth as a culmination of decades of work and support by those who believe a healthy community is dependent on a strong hospital. She freely tells her story.
“It’s almost as if we’ve saved the best for last,” Overcash began. “This year the work I’ve done with Megan Barone, the shared director of development of the hospital and foundation, has brought in close to a half-million dollars. In addition to our hard work, Becky Robbins and Flossie Cass — my predecessors in this position — laid the groundwork of supporting the hospital’s future by building the mentality of generous giving by Jamestown’s citizens. Donors have given freely in their lifetimes and through their wills to support their hometown hospital. We are now reaping the benefit of much of their groundwork. The spirit of supporting the very institution that will keep our citizens well was planted and is now flourishing.
“A prime example of that is the tremendous success of the recent LINKS Charity Golf tournament that brought LPGA golfers to Jamestown to help fight breast cancer for the last 30 years. Chairmen Peter Sullivan and Mike Roberts – and their tournament coordinator Megan Barone – raised giving levels of individuals throughout this community to a new standard of support. The LINKS Charity Fund at WCA Foundation benefitted from their amazing and energetic leadership,” Overcash said. “I could not be more grateful to them and, of course, to the late LINKS Charity co-founders Sandy Anderson and Mary Blair. Sadly, we lost Mary to cancer this summer just before the tournament. I’m also grateful to Elaine Short and Allen, her late husband, who was the tournament executive director for 20 years. They are all amazing people who have given and volunteered so much for the fight against cancer in our community through our hospital and WCA Foundation.
“In my time at the foundation, I have watched the grants given to WCA Hospital – and now UPMC Chautauqua, make the hospital’s life-saving services stronger than ever. I was chairman of the Foundation’s board when we committed $1,000,000 to the rebuilding of the hospital’s Emergency Department,” Overcash said. “It was a big stretch for the Foundation, but we did it in addition to our regular annual support. In more recent years I have seen the Foundation’s allowable grants double in size. We’ve helped purchase robotic surgical equipment and tomosynthesis equipment to detect breast cancer. The purchase of the UroNav suite of equipment by WCA Foundation put UPMC Chautauqua ahead of many hospitals in Western New York for the early detection of prostate cancer. It has just been amazing. Every one of us are more protected from cancer with these pieces of equipment available for our care,” she added.
“Throughout my life, I have always been surprised when I’ve gotten my paycheck because I have always loved my work so much. That’s the best. At WCA Foundation I have worked with wonderful people who have followed their passion to help others,” Overcash shared. “One of the most unique experiences I’ve had as a development officer was with an out of the area donor. They were born in Jamestown and wanted to give a meaningful gift to start a fund at the Foundation. No purpose was initially declared, but it became clear to me that their love of animals could support the drug detection and therapeutic canine program at the hospital. The joy of creating the Paw for Love Fund to support Artimus – “Artie,” as he his known – was magnified ten time over when we could couple two of the donor’s passions. It was so satisfying for both of us. For my husband, Dan, and me, that joy came when we started the Foundation’s Good Neighbor Fund. It was our way to create a vehicle for our generous community to help those who need clothes, shoes, transportation, or short-term medication to get them home after a hospitalization.
“Working with great volunteer leaders at the Foundation and hospital administrators like Betsy Wright and Brian Durniok has made these last ten years some of the most productive and fulfilling of my professional life,” Overcash concluded. “This is the third time I’ve tried to retire from work I have loved. What I’ve realized is meaningful work is like a hobby for me, but we’ll see, maybe this time I’ll become a fulltime member of the Seven-day Weekend Club for good. One thing I do know is I will be volunteering for the Foundation to build the Good Neighbor Fund so it can give even more assistance each year.”
Prior to her position at WCA Foundation, Overcash was the family editor of The Post-Journal for a decade. She also worked developing and raising nearly $1M on behalf of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to create the runaway and homeless shelter known today as the Safe House. She also rebuilt and ran the Big Brother Big Sister program at Joint Neighborhood Project. It was as a consultant to the T. James and Hazel C. Clarke Trust where she learned about the responsibility and importance of meaningful distribution of charitable giving. Her early philanthropic work was as the Development Director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. In addition to all these sources of employment, she claims her happiest work has been being the wife of Dan Overcash, mother of David and Joelle, and “Grandma Jetta” to her beloved grandchildren – Lexi, Melina and Bryn Overcash and William and Rebeccah Dunklin.
Overcash has become widely known in our community partly through her volunteer work and participation on a variety of boards – especially at the Y.W.C.A. where she learned the importance of the work of not-for-profit organizations. As a 44 -year member of Creche, she learned to not underestimate the power of purpose driven collaborative volunteerism. Her other current associations are with the board of directors at Lutheran and her involvement with First Lutheran Church. It was there that she initiated the First Sunday Breakfast group with Shelly Wendt years ago. Her quiet humor and unabashed pride in her work and faith shows through her naming the group The People In God’s Service – a.k.a. The P.I.G.S.
Anyone wanting to wish Overcash well in her retirement may do so through WCA Foundation, 51 Glasgow Avenue, P.O. Box 840, Jamestown, NY 14702-0840.