Staff Photo / JT Whitehouse Yvonne Ford stands among the gardens at Western Reserve Village, where she is a trustee and a member of the Holborn Herb Growers Guild which manages the gardens.

POLAND — Volunteering is something Yvonne Ford knows very well. She is involved in many non-profit initiatives as she makes a difference in the Mahoning Valley.

Recently, Ford was recognized at a dinner in Boardman Park for her efforts by proclamations from the townships of Boardman and Poland.

“The Boardman Poland Junior Women’s League event was an evening of celebration with club members from across Ohio,” Ruty Rodriguez Patterson wrote in a press release for the event. “Yvonne Ford has received proclamations from Boardman and the Township of Poland, recognizing her for her many hours of volunteer work in the communities.”

After graduating from Wilson High School in 1976, Ford then attended the Choffin Career Center to become a dental assistant. She said she didn’t really have a college spirit.

“I got a part-time job with Dr. William Sweeney, got married (to Carl Ford) and raised two kids, Christina and Michael,” she said. “I worked for Dr. Sweeney for 40 years.”

She said that in 2020 when COVID-19 hit, Dr. Sweeney merged his office with Dr. Rajiv Teneja, also in Austintown. It was then that Ford moved from part-time to full-time and filling the role of office manager. She continues to hold this position and balance her many volunteer hours.

She said she started volunteering when her children were in school.

“They attended St. Nicholas School, and the parents were expected to volunteer in the moms and dads club, to help with school,” Ford said, noting that she helped with activities. school whenever she could.

When her children grew up and left home, Ford found other outlets for her giving spirit. In 2002 she joined the Boardman-Poland Junior Women’s League and joined the Holborn Herb Growers Guild.

“I thought the mix of the two would be a summer-winter balance,” she said.

She served the league as a dedicated member and served as president for three years. She also served as secretary, vice president, and eventually became junior manager.

In the same time frame, Ford served as president of the Herb Growers for five years, serving two consecutive terms.

“Normally presidential terms were two years,” Ford said. “I was president for a second term when COVID hit, which changed things.”

She said the club could not meet to hold elections, so her term as president was extended to three years.

The Holborn Herb Growers Guild is something Ford is passionate about because she enjoys gardening and growing plants. She also joined the Mahoning Valley Dahlia Club to learn more about the beautiful flowers.

“I grow them at home,” she says. “I like it, but I do it for fun, not for show and competition. There are those who have their flowers under umbrellas because they are valuable display plants.

Around 2010, Ford took on another volunteer role when she joined the Western Reserve Village Foundation as a trustee. She said several members of the village were also members of the Holborn Herb Growers Guild. As a member of the village, Ford was able to do what she loved, which was gardening.

The foundation is responsible for looking after the buildings and grounds of the Canfield Fairgrounds Historic Village. It was a good mix for Ford since Holborn members build and maintain the village’s theme gardens.

As with so many other organizations, Ford served her term as president of the foundation for two years.

This year, another major role was filled by Ford when she took on another leadership role. She said that in the past, the Junior Women’s League was only for women up to 40 years old. For women over 40, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was available.

“Today you can stay in the JWL at any age,” Ford said. “Their goal is to serve as advocates for children. The GFWC focuses on domestic violence.

She said both organizations continue to serve communities by raising funds to support their causes.

In April, Ford was named president of the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs, and on August 7, the townships of Boardman and Poland presented her with proclamations recognizing her volunteer efforts and her presidency of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Ohio. She will hold this position until 2024.

Of all her volunteer organizations, she loved working with children the most. The Junior Women’s League works with the Boardman-Poland Juniorettes, an after-school club that works in the community. Ford said the teenage girls are doing a lot, from sending Christmas cards to the elderly in nursing homes, making edible ornaments in Boardman Park and decorating trees for Christmas, filling shoeboxes for children as part of Operation Blessing, as well as others.

Through her service organizations, Ford said she works with the Bridges program, where foster children age and fend for themselves. The Junior Girls League and the GFWC work with children to help them get a good start in life on their own.

There are many other programs that Ford is involved in as it continues to give back its time and talent to the community. She said being involved in various groups really makes a difference.

“In my personal life with volunteering, there are times when I have been able to help dear friends as a group,” she said.

She gave the example of a friend with cancer. She said it would be easy to give to one person, but when you have a fundraising group, so much more can be done.

Looking ahead, Ford will remain involved with its clubs and foundations. As the new president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Ohio, she will address the issue of attracting the younger generation to volunteerism.

“It’s hard to attract young people,” she said. “We are considering Zoom meetings to make it easier for young women to join. They want to help. But they don’t want to attend monthly planning meetings. If we don’t change, we won’t keep the club together.

Ford welcomes young women who seek ways to serve their communities. She tells them what it meant to her and what they can expect from volunteering.

“I would tell young people if you want to make a difference in your community, volunteer,” she said. “You’ll make new friends and have experiences you never would have had on your own.”

To suggest a Saturday profile, contact Editor-in-Chief Burton Cole at [email protected] or Metro Editor-in-Chief Marly Reichert at [email protected]

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