Volunteers helping volunteers
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS West Penn Township Lions Club President Liz McElwee (center) presents checks for $600 each to Donny Hoppes (left), president of the Penn Mahoning Ambulance Association, and Dennis Fritzinger, Jr., West Penn Fire Chief. The funds were raised during the Lions' Club chicken barbecue in September.
The West Penn Township Lions Club presented checks to West Penn Fire Chief Dennis Fritzinger, Jr. and Penn Mahoning Ambulance Association President Donny Hoppes at the Lions' regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
The $600 checks to each group was actually a donation from the entire community, in that it represented the total profit from the 2010 September Chicken Barbecue, a Lions Club Fundraiser.
In this time of economic uncertainty the volunteer organizations must work together and support each other as they serve the growing needs of the community. Although the population in West Penn Township has increased, the number of residents who volunteer is down and the support for community fund raisers has decreased.
With the increasing needs and costs to meet them, each of the groups has been forced to adjust their budgeted income from fundraisers and solicitations downward over the past few years. Working together increases manpower and will hopefully broaden the base of community support.
The current West Penn Lions' membership is 41, down from more than 70 in the early 1980s. The ambulance association currently has only six volunteers able to answer calls and is facing the possibility of having to use paid EMTs rather than volunteers. The fire company membership has remained stable but they still have monetary needs that include a mortgage on their building and loans for the recently purchased rescue truck and tanker.
Lions Secretary Ed Dudley supported the concept of working together when he paraphrased the Benjamin Franklin quote saying "We must work together or most assuredly we will all fail separately."