Each year, themes emerge from the awards the Strimbu Memorial Fund gives to local organizations that serve the Trumbull and Mercer county areas.

In 2017, a theme was addressing the opioid epidemic. This year, it was education, with grants in that realm going to Brookfield schools, Hope Center for Arts and Technology in Sharon, eAcademy at LindenPointe in Hermitage, Community Library of the Shenango Valley in Sharon, Zion Education Center in Sharon, United Way of Mercer County and Inspiring Minds of Warren and Youngstown.

Bill Strimbu, left, and Jim Grasso of the Strimbu Memorial Fund.
Bill Strimbu, left, and Jim Grasso of the Strimbu Memorial Fund.

“There were a lot of requests in education,” said Jim Grasso, president of the fund’s board of directors.

But the fund does not try to steer its grants to meet pet needs, he said.

“There is so much need in the community,” Grasso said. “When we get the requests, we just look at each as an individual one.”

“We funnel the money to the people that most need it,” said fund board member Bill Strimbu.

The fund handed out checks topping $148,000 at its annual gift giving meeting, held Dec. 20, bringing the 30-year total to more than $3.4 million.

Brookfield Middle School Principal Toby Gibson.
Brookfield Middle School Principal Toby Gibson.

The fund received requests for more than $500,000, but gives away its money at a measured rate to make sure the fund grows.

“If we gave out $500,000 every year, we’d be out of business in a few years,” Grasso said.

Although the fund cannot meet every request it receives, it makes a huge impact on the agencies who receive funding, recipients said.

“We thank you very much for your support,” said Joe Flecher, executive director of the Prince of Peace Center, Farrell. “On behalf of all of us, we would not be here, we would not be able to serve people, if it wasn’t for your efforts.”

Brookfield Trustee Gary Lees
Brookfield Trustee Gary Lees

Trumbull Mobile Meals Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Edwards said the recipients “believe in helping our community.

“I believe that everybody in this room is driven with passion, because we have to be passionate about what we do,” Edwards said. “It’s these people (donors) that make the difference with our agencies by going out and doing the work, because without their donations and their help we couldn’t do everything that we do.”

“I like to say we work hard in what we do, but it really pales in comparison to what you all do individually and through your agencies,” Grasso said. “You guys are on the front line, making a difference. We are just so pleased to be able to help you all out.”

Strimbu said he likes the format of the gift giving meeting, where agency representatives tell about what they do and how they will spend the grants, because it creates new conversations among reps that can impact needs in the community.

“I like the idea of having everybody in the same room, so they cross pollinate a little bit,” he said.

The fund holds two fundraisers a year. The next one will be a wild game dinner on Feb. 17 at Oaktree Country Club in Shenango Township, Mercer County. The fund’s signature Texas-style barbecue will be held May 1 at Yankee Lake Ballroom.

For more information, go to www.strimbumemorialfund.org


Recipients of the 29th round of Strimbu Memorial Fund grants are:

  • American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter to support a program to bring military service members home because of an illness or death in the family.
  • Brookfield Local School District. “We’re hoping to create a maker space to expand our STEM or STEAM, when you add the arts, program in the Brookfield Local Schools, to apply that growth mindset that it’s OK to fail, to try and try again,” said middle school Principal Toby Gibson. Eventually, school officials would like to open the space to the community, he said.
  • Brookfield Township to support capital improvements at the township park, cemetery and green.
  • Community Library of the Shenango Valley, Sharon, to create an educational resource center.
  • eAcademy at LindenPointe, Hermitage, to create a communications room giving students access to international resources.
  • Farrell Recreation Commission to support the Shop With a Cop program.
  • Guardian’s Nest, a veterans’ resource center, to support the renovation of a building on Oakland Avenue in Sharon and future programming.
  • Homes for Kids Inc., Niles, a program for foster children. The grant will be used to assist kids on the autism spectrum with social skills and give resources to parents to help their children.
  • Hope Center for Arts and Technology, Sharon, will use the money to expand beyond pottery classes for high school students in six schools, including Brookfield, to create a digital arts program including computer-aided design and three-dimensional printing.
  • Inspiring Minds of Warren and Youngstown, which provides schools students with afterschool and summer programming, meals, tutoring, ACT preparation and industry and college visits.
  • Joshua’s Haven, a men’s homeless shelter in Sharon that has expanded to serve women and families, provide meals to the community and offer a free medical clinic with UPMC.
  • Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness to assemble hygiene bags for people going into substance abuse rehabilitation.
  • Mercer County Mentoring to support site-based services at housing developments.
  • New Life Baptist Church/Building a Hope Ministry to support its program of providing furniture and household items to people in the Shenango Valley who have gone through life trials.
  • Penn-Northwest Development Corp. to support its mission as Mercer County’s lead economic development agency.
  • Prince of Peace Center, Farrell, to provide stipends to clients and life skills classes.
  • Salvation Army, Sharon, to support a mobile summer feeding program with Community Food Warehouse that also provides activities for kids and life skills programs for adults.
  • Shenango Valley Meals on Wheels to support its meal program for seniors in the Shenango Valley, including Brookfield/Masury, and Greenville.
  • Trumbull Mobile Meals, Trumbull County’s meals-on-wheels program.
  • United Way of Mercer County to support Success By Six, a six-week summer program to prepare children for kindergarten.
  • WaterFire Sharon, the twice-annual, all-day summer festival of the arts in Sharon.
  • West Hill Ministries, Sharon, to support is afterschool program at First Baptist Church and St. Joseph’s Church, both in Sharon, a clothes closet and a senior citizen lunch.
  • Zion Education Center, Sharon, to create crisis response teams to help kids cope with traumatic life experiences.