Strimbu Memorial Fund handed out checks to 27 organizations totaling nearly $200,000 on Dec. 19, and announced the creation of a new program to help people get trained for carpentry, plumbing, truck driving and other skilled trades.
The annual grant award ceremony not only highlights the fund, but also celebrates the work that the recipient organizations do.
“We are truly blessed for all that you guys do in the community and also for the legacy of the Strimbu family,” said fund President Jim Grasso. “We’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and I believe the number is almost $4 million that we’ve provided in grants to the local community of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. What we do is raise money. That’s the easy part. What you all do is the hard part, and that’s putting boots on the ground in the community and helping those who truly need help.”
The spirit of collaboration between the foundation and its award recipients is typical of how local agencies operate, said Jim Micsky, executive director of the United Way of Mercer County.
“I think that’s the beauty of this community: the collaborations that have formed, the work that they’ve done, and the outcomes that are measured,” he said.
Brookfield Police Department and the Brookfield trustees were among the recipients.
Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino said he will use his grant to help buy computer equipment and software for the school resource officer stationed full time at Brookfield schools. By giving the officer the ability to write reports at the school and have access to department electronic files, he will spend more time at the school, Faustino said.
Trustee Ron Haun said the trustees will use their grant toward the installation of a bench on the green in Brookfield Center. Haun noted the foundation has supported recreation in the township before, including the construction of a handicapped ramp at the handicapped-accessible field and toward the extension of electrical service, both at Brookfield Township Community Park.
Fund board member Bill Strimbu, son of Nick Strimbu Jr., after whom the foundation is named, announced the creation of L.I.F.T., which stands for Lifting Individuals for the Trades.
“The Strimbu Memorial Fund has seen employers in this area that need employees and can’t find qualified help, and we see our trade schools that have popped up all over the place that are training people in our communities for those jobs,” Strimbu said. “There are a lot of working poor in our community, as most of you know, and there’s a lot of underemployed people and unemployed people, still, because they don’t have the skills. The L.I.F.T. program, it was started about a month ago by the Strimbu fund and then it was added to by other funds in the Community Foundation. We have a pool of cash, a substantial pool of cash, that we’ve put together. We’ve reached out to all the trade schools in Mercer and Trumbull county and one in Mahoning County to tell them that if they get any students that slip through the cracks in regards to funding that we would pick up their tuition, we will pick up their lost wages if they have to quit a job to get trained for a better job, we’ll take care of their childcare, we will provide their transportation.”
Strimbu asked agency representatives to refer potential candidates to the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, which is administering L.I.F.T.
Once L.I.F.T. trainees start getting jobs, their employees will be asked to pay for their training to replenish the pool, Strimbu said.
“It’s new to the community, and we think it will really be elevating,” he said.
These programs and agencies received funds Dec. 19 from the Strimbu Memorial Fund:
Valley Shenango Economic Development Corp., for environmental studies at the former Westinghouse plant in Sharon
Penn-Northwest Development Corp. for attracting and retaining businesses in Mercer County
Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission, which strives to protect and grow the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna
Brookfield Police Department for computer equipment for the school resource officer at Brookfield schools
Brookfield Township for a park bench on the green in Brookfield Center
Kinsman American Legion for veterans’ programs and a summer program to reach inner-city kids and teach them about the legion
West Hill Ministries, Sharon, for its Super Week summer program, which includes sending kids to Camp Judson, North Springfield, Pa., and taking them to Waldameer Park in Erie
Building of Hope of New Life Baptist Church, New Wilmington, which provides furniture and household items for people who have fallen on hard times
Joshua’s Haven, a men’s homeless shelter in Sharon, for its back-to-work program
Mercer County Mentoring for providing positive adult relationships to children ages 5-15
Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness for its life skills program
Eagles’ Nest Life Equipping Center, a ministry that houses pregnant women and teaches them to care for their babies and improve their lives
Prince of Peace Center, Farrell, for its family supportive services program, which includes emergency and long-term help
Salvation Army, Sharon, for its utility assistance and debt retirement programs
United Way of Mercer County for its Success by Six pre-kindergarten program
Children’s Center of Mercer County, Hermitage, to create an indoor play area for days that are too hot or too cold to go outside
Community Library of the Shenango Valley, Sharon, for an educational resource center
American Red Cross-Lake to River Chapter for veterans’ services
Guardian’s Nest, Hermitage, a veterans’ services organization, for emergency and support services
Farrell Recreation Commission’s Shop With a Cop, in which police go Christmas shopping with kids
Trumbull Mobile Meals for operations
Shenango Valley Meals on Wheels for operations
WaterFire Sharon for operations
Buhl Community Recreation Center, Sharon, for expanding its afterschool program
Inspiring Minds, Warren, for its afterschool and summer programs
Hope Center for Arts and Technology, Sharon, for operations
Lifting Individuals for the Trades to help people studying a trade to complete the program