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Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation

The Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation was a charitable community organization that came about when three township women, Mrs. Joseph Balla, Mrs. Bea Mattes, and Mrs. Ricky Ronci became interested in helping the Joseph Blascak family of Smith Stewart Road.  Mr. Blascak, the family breadwinner, was paralyzed as the result of an automobile accident.  The main objective of the Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation was helping the family to finance and build a home that was wheelchair accessible.

The interest spread quickly in the community and a meeting was held on August 17, 1959 to discuss the need and plans for the project.  Each organization in Vienna was invited to send representatives to the meeting to take part in the project.

At the first meeting Paul Gibson was elected chairman, Mrs. Mattes was elected vice-chairman, Mrs. Madeline Jayne was elected secretary, and Ralph Hoffman was elected as treasurer.  An advisory committee was also formed containing two ministers in the township: the Reverend John Hinderman of the Methodist Church and Reverend John Roach of St. Vincent de Paul Church.  Robert Boyd of Vienna was the legal counsel. The officers and members of the advisory committee served as the executive committee of the Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation.

In March of 1960 the group had set a fundraising goal of $12,000 and sought donations in the form of cash, labor, and materials for the Blascak home construction project.  Foundation officials estimated that there were 1,200 families in the township and had hoped that each family would donate $10 to meet the goal.  Volunteers from the foundation were given instructions on what to do and say when visiting assigned homes in the township.  Some of the groups that were interested in helping planned card parties and other fundraising events to help the group meet its goal.  Mr. Blascak planned on selling his current home so that the proceeds from the sale would be used towards the construction of the new home, in addition to monies raised by the Vienna Community Helping Hands Foundation.

Tentative plans included a one-floor home designed for the convenience of the accident victim, his wife, and four children, since their home at the time was found to be inadequate and not able to be renovated to meet the special needs of Mr. Blacsak.

In October of 1960 The Youngstown Vindicator reported that excavation was completed for the new home of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Blascak, which was being erected with the help of the Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation.  Assistance with labor to lay the cement block was requested by the foundation.  Contacts to help with labor were Paul Miller and Paul Gibson.

One of the ideas promoting the move to make the foundation a permanent organization was that it would give Vienna Township a means of helping meet the emergency needs of its people on a year round basis.

It is uncertain how long the group remained active.  Evidence that the foundation was inactive came about in September of 1977 when Paul Gibson, the last president of the group, reactivated the Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation to help raise money for the Michael Zimmer family.  Michael Zimmer, 16, was injured in a motorcycle accident, resulting in the loss of his left arm.  Vice president at the time of reactivation was Attorney Bob Boyd, secretary was Genie Ulp, and the treasurer was Tom Scott.  Members of the executive board were Ruth Miller, Howard Everett, Glenn Burns, and Sylvia Baer.

It is unknown what other projects the group was involved with and when the group once again became inactive.

Updated 8/13/2020

Sources:
Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation letter dated August 24, 1959.
Vienna Community Helping Hand Foundation Information & Instruction handout.
"Vienna Forms Helping Hand Foundation Will Build Home For Accident Victim," The Vindicator, date unknown.
"Need Help to Lay Block For New Blasacks' (sic) Home," The Vindicator, October 4, 1960.
Letter from Paul L. Gibson to the residents of Vienna from September 1977.
"Group Reactivates Members," The Vindicator, September 17, 1977.
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Christine Novicky,
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