Volunteer group to disband

BOARDMAN – After 30 years of organizing local volunteerism, the board of the HandsOn Volunteer Network of the Mahoning Valley has voted to dissolve the organization effective Oct. 1.

“We’ve had a successful and impactful 30-year run in our beloved community, yet due to several economic factors and changing technology in recent years, it has made it extremely difficult to fund our operations,” said John Cerni, HandsOn board president.

HandsOn formed in 1984 as a program that utilized volunteer caregivers in helping older adults remain proudly independent in their own homes. It has since expanded to become a comprehensive community resource promoting and fostering volunteerism, and strengthening nonprofits throughout the Mahoning Valley.

“We are extremely grateful to the generous donors and private foundations who have supported us and enabled us to carry out our mission for 30 years,” said Maureen Drummond, HandsOn executive director. “Although it is a sad day for our organization, the spirit and tradition of volunteerism in the Mahoning Valley is alive and well, and we couldn’t be more proud to know we played a major role in fostering that.”

The board and staff are formulating a transition plan that allows it to close out contracts, ensure a smooth transition of a federal grant and general bookkeeping requirements, and execute events it has already committed to between now and Oct. 1. The organization anticipates being able to meet all its financial obligations during the closing process.

“While consistent funding has been a difficult challenge for us, it should also be noted that technological advancements, specifically online and social media, have enabled many service agencies to bring volunteer recruitment and management in-house, and therefore has lessened the demand for services from us,” Cerni said.

“Individuals who are interested in volunteering can find many opportunities throughout the Mahoning Valley by going directly to the agencies they’re interested in working with, and we encourage them to do that,” he said. “We may be going away, but volunteerism will continue to be a major part of our community.”