Thrusday, December 31, 1998

Mason sports group needs volunteers - fast

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The future of the Mason Youth Organization — which provides recreational activities for more than 1,400 children annually — could be in jeopardy.

        Longtime members of the private community group say it's on shaky ground because of a dwindling supply of volunteers. Charles Woods, a 13-year member and president of the group, said membership has dropped from about 30 volunteers in 1995 to seven this year.

        He said the Mason Youth Organization (MYO) could face some tough choices if new volunteers do not come forward soon.

        “I don't see the organization crumbling or fading out of existence,” Mr. Woods said. “Some way we'll get the league going and we'll get it done this year. But things could definitely get hairy the next couple of years if we don't get some help.”

        The organization, started in 1983, provides boys and girlsbaseball and softball leagues in Mason and Deerfield Township. It is funded through sign-up fees and donations by local sponsors.

        “The way Mason has grown over the past four years has had a direct effect on our organization,” Mr. Woods said. “Last year, we had just a tad over 1,400 kids participate and we have seen an average of about 150 new kids participating in each of the last few years.”

        Mason City Manager Scot Lahrmer said private organizations like the MYO and the Soccer Association for Youth are pivotal in the community.

        “These private organizations organize baseball and soccer for our youth and in exchange we provide the fields,” Mr. Lahrmer said. “They provide a tremendous and invaluable resource to our city and our residents with their sports programs.”

        Mr. Woods said volunteers are needed to help with such tasks as ordering equipment, scheduling games and umpires, helping at sign-ups and arranging team photos.

        “We need input and help from the community, especially parents of MYO players, to help us rebuild MYO into a thriving group of volunteers who are enthusiastic about organizing baseball and softball for the children of Mason,” Diane Vorbroker, MYO secretary, said.

        Mrs. Vorbroker said ideally the organization would need about 20 new volunteers.

        “It's a pretty discouraging time for most of our members right now,” she said. “I'm new to the organization, with this being my first year, so I'm not burned-out. But a lot of the older members are burned-out. We need new people to step up and help out.”

        Mr. Woods said part of MYO's problem is that so many people are new to Mason, which has an estimated population of about 17,500, making it Warren County's largest city. He said many of the newer residents don't realize the importance of volunteers to the organization.

        “It is not like a Little League or a Knothole,” Mrs. Vorbroker said. “The MYO is totally community-driven. And if people don't come forward, then there may not be a MYO.”

        One alternative the MYO could explore would be to hire people to fill the needed positions, Mr. Woods said. He said the group hopes it will have to use that alternative only as a last resort.

Open house
        The Mason Youth Organization has scheduled an emergency meeting and open house 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 at Lebanon Citizens National Bank on Reading Road.

        Anyone unable to attend that meeting can come to the MYO's regular meetings 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at St. Susanna's school cafeteria.

        Information: 398-2407 or 336-6426.


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