“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” That old saying seems to have been created with Marla Short in mind.
The resourceful Marla is who they asked to help create a gymnasium for children to play biddy basketball after the flood in Richwood took out the high school and middle school gyms. Marla worked with other community leaders to renovate the former Richwood National Guard Armory. She found funding to build a concession stand, an HVAC system, new flooring and bright orange bleachers salvaged from a high school in West Virginia.
Thanks to her efforts, over 100 children from all over eastern Nicholas and parts of Webster had a place to hold biddy basketball games for the past two years.
Those efforts culminated in two sports banquets (there were so many families they had to hold two) at the Community Center this month. According to Marla’s daughter Lindsay, “Mom realizes how important youth sports are for community engagement. The parents are rewarded for their involvement and they form friendships with each other that helps build stronger community ties.”
As director of the Nicholas, Webster, and Fayette County Empowerment Corporation, Marla acts as maestro of an orchestra of services—all dedicated to children and families. From her Richwood office, Marla oversees Starting Points Family Resource Center, Tots to Teens Day Care, Richwood Pantry and Soup Kitchen, Nicholas-Webster Parents as Teachers, and Nifty Thrifty thrift store.
The Richwood center employs over 20 people who create an additional safety net for families in need.
But Marla goes above and beyond the duties of her corporation. She sponsors a girl scout troop, dance lessons at the armory, little league wrestling, a “Fishing in June” event where each child gets a pole and a “Back to School” party where kids all get backpacks and a swimming party–just to mention a few. “You’ll never meet anyone like her,” said Parents as Teachers Coordinator Chrissy Bess.
“Mom has always cared about kids,” her daughter Lyndsay said. When her two daughters were little, Marla recognized a serious need for child care. So she went back to college to get a degree in early childhood development and opened one herself. Marla went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business from Mountain State University and a Masters in Education from Salem University. She also has a school principal’s certificate. All of this education and training she applies to managing her broad network of enterprises all aimed at improving life for children and families in our area.
Serious health problems related to diabetes have only moderately slowed Marla down recently. She phoned instructions from her hospital bed in Morgantown after undergoing surgery for a foot ulcer, and she managed to put on the two banquets serving over 400 guests from a wheelchair.
For connecting the dots across southern WV to help people in need, particularly children, with a diligence that is rarely seen, RealWV is proud to name Marla Short as the certified Real West Virginian of the week.
Have a nomination for future weeks? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.