Gloria Mackaly explains the work of the Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness. Bill Strimbu of the Strimbu Memorial Fund listens.

Gloria Mackaly explains the work of the Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness. Bill Strimbu of the Strimbu Memorial Fund listens.

In the 29 years the Strimbu Memorial Fund has been donating money to local charitable causes, one of the big changes Bill Strimbu has seen is the rise of the opioid epidemic.

“Everybody expects government to take care of this type of stuff,” said Strimbu, foundation board member.

The private sector could play a bigger role in addressing the epidemic caused by heroin, Fentanyl and other opium-derived drugs, Strimbu said. Friday, at the foundation’s 29th Annual Gift Giving Meeting, the foundation gave money to two efforts aimed at attacking the opioid epidemic – Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness and the Minority Health Center.

Strimbu said these grants could convince others to put private money into recovery and treatment efforts.

“Hopefully, this will be the shot in the arm for battling the opiate issue going into 2018,” he said.

Gloria Mackaly, the Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness founder, said her group helps families learn about addiction and what they can do to help loved ones who are addicts or in recovery. It is looking for a building so people in need have a place to go to get help, and wants to help people coming out of incarceration to get back on their feet.

“We’re going to help this community come together and bring recovery to those who need it,” Mackaly said.

April Torrence, grant writer for Minority Health Center, Farrell, said the money will be used to hold more drug addiction forums and expand youth programs that strive to keep people away from drugs in the first place.

The Strimbu foundation also is funding organizations that have helped addicts for years – often when they have no place left to turn: the Salvation Army in Sharon and Joshua’s Haven, the men’s homeless shelter in Sharon.

Other organizations receiving funding were:

  • Community Library of the Shenango Valley, Sharon.
  • A Home for Jaime and Her Siblings, an effort to help a girl in foster care with a serious liver condition.
  • Inspiring Minds, which helps children reach their full potential through education and life-changing experiences. It has offices in Warren and Youngstown.
  • Shenango Valley Meals on Wheels, which sometimes serves Brookfield and Masury.
  • Trumbull Mobile Meals.
  • Mercer County Mentoring, based in Sharon, which provides one-on-one support to children of single-parent and multi-sibling households.
  • Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber’s Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission, which seeks to preserve and promote military operations.
  • Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Mercer County’s lead economic development agency.
  • Prince of Peace Center, Farrell, which serves the needy through emergency services and long-term life skills assistance.
  • Farrell Recreation Commission for the Shop With a Cop program
  • American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter, which serves Trumbull and four other counties.
  • Hope Center for the Arts and Technology, Sharon, which plans to offer adult job training and arts programs for teens.
  • United Way of Mercer County.
  • West Hill Ministries, Sharon, which offers afterschool programs and other programs for the community.
  • Glamorous Gutless Girls, which helps girls who have inflammatory bowel diseases with emotional and financial support.

Many representatives stressed that they could not exist without the support of the Strimbu Foundation. Kyle English, executive director of the Community Foundation of Western PA and Eastern OH, said it is organizations like the Strimbu Foundation that set the Shenango Valley apart.

“You want to think this is the way it is everywhere, but it’s not,” English said.

All told, the foundation gave away about $147,000 Friday – the most it had given away at one time, said foundation board President Jim Grasso. The award was part of $207,000 given away for the year and brought the lifetime total to $3.3 million.

“We aspire to give a hand up and not a handout,” Strimbu said.

The foundation’s annual wild game dinner will be held Feb. 18, and its signature event, the 29th Annual Strimbu Memorial BBQ, is set for May 2. See the foundation’s web site at for details.