No one outside of Bill Strimbu’s family and maybe some close friends know the extent of his charitable work, and that’s the way he likes it.
“We don’t want them to know,” Strimbu, of Brookfield, said Wednesday, May 16, in accepting the Brookfield Optimist Club’s Outstanding Community Service Award.
The culture of charitable giving is a family tradition, ingrained when Bill and his brother, Nick III, had to tend the family garden – if you can call something of three or four acres in size a family garden – just to see his father, Nick Jr., give away everything they grew.
Strimbu’s most publicly known charitable work involves the Strimbu Memorial Fund, which family and friends created in 1990 following the death of his father. The fund has a well-supported BBQ fundraiser and now gives away more than $200,000 a year to high school seniors going to college, local organizations that address issues such as homelessness, drug addiction and food scarcity, and individuals with emergency needs.
“We get a lot of publicity for the memorial fund, because we have to do that to get patrons to come to our event,” Strimbu said.
What people might not know is how the 57-year-old Strimbu helps finance the purchase of trucks for owner-operators that work for the company Strimbu is president of, Nick Strimbu Inc.; and has a chaplain available to meet with employees who need counseling or someone to preside at the funeral of a loved one, said Optimist Vice President James Hoffman III.
“Bill does immense volunteering in ways that enable him to help others help themselves, doing what he can behind the scenes to have a positive impact on individuals and groups,” Hoffman said. “Giving back to the community to Bill is not just an option. It is a responsibility.”
Strimbu said the Strimbu Memorial Fund board considers everyone who comes to its events a stakeholder, and asks those attendees to help them learn about the needs of the community. He made the same offer to the about 200 people who attended the Optimist’s steak fry, at which the award was presented.
“ If you see a family in need, if you see a problem, if you see something that needs addressed that is going to require a little bit of a hand up instead of a handout, bring it to us,” he said. “That’s what we’re there for. I want to tell that to everybody in this room. You’re all stakeholders. If you need anything, get a hold of us. You can call me at the office, or contact our board, contact the Community Foundation (of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio). We’ll help anybody in any way that we can.”
The text of Strimbu’s acceptance speech can be found at http://newsonthegreen.com/?p=1766&preview=true
Photo: Bill Strimbu, right, accepts the Brookfield Optimist Club’s Outstanding Community Service Award from club Vice President James Hoffman III.