The Board of Directors of charitable poverty relief agency Appalachian Outreach, Inc. (“AOI”), has named lifelong Ohio Valley resident Wendy Tronka executive director. Tronka replaces Rose Hart at the helm of AOI. Hart cofounded the agency in 2001 and has served as sole director since its inception.
Hart began AOI with cofounder Diane Reineke in response to devastating, widespread flooding in remote and impoverished areas of West Virginia. Originally intending to conduct volunteer missions, Hart soon organized and incorporated the agency and with many volunteers, generous community financial support, grants and an active Board of Directors, grew the agency to its current state.
AOI collects used furniture and clothing and distributes as necessary to needy households locally and statewide. Large items are stored at the former Cooey-Bentz Furniture building in Wheeling. AOI also operates a thrift store, Hidden Treasures just a block away at 3643 Jacob Street to help offset operating costs. With the transition of leadership, AOI Board of Directors President Wayne Hardy said plans are to add new services. “Appalachian Outreach has only touched the capabilities of what we can do to support the neediest people in our area,” Hardy said.
Tronka holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and development from Wheeling Jesuit University and is also a graduate of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy. She served as development director at Wheeling Health Right, where she wrote the initial grant for Farmacy – Prescriptions for Produce and served on the founding organizational team for the program. She was a development consultant through the United Way, where she garnered significant grant funds for community agencies, including the capital grants to construct and open the dental clinic at Wheeling Health Right.
Hardy said Tronka’s fundraising experience is key to the agency’s growth. “While it’s unfortunate that agencies like ours must exist, it’s critical that we proactively look to the future understanding the needs of our constituents and ensuring we have a solid base to serve them,” he said. “Wendy’s experience, the vision she articulates for the future of the agency, together with her enthusiasm for philanthropy, make her an excellent choice to guide AOI into the future.”
Tronka and her husband Michael live in Bridgeport, OH, and are the parents of two grown daughters.