Mansion founder wants to bring people home

A mansion is being usedto teach home values.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Devi Titus is on a mission of love and peace.
Her 20-year dream started becoming a reality Thursday when eight women from Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio became the first group at the Mentoring Mansion.
The mansion is at 1819 Fifth Ave. on the city's North Side.
Titus will use the mansion's 8,000 square feet of space to teach biblically based skills to help people improve their home life. The building dates to 1915.
Each woman in the first group has paid $500 for a four-day program on creative home management, which will include cooking, hospitality, time management and relationship skills.
Home-skill programs also are planned for adults and teens along with programs for men and couples.
Titus also plans to start a Polished Pillar Summer Finishing School for teen girls with the help of community support.
Titus is teaching -- and in effect, preaching -- "how essential the home is."
A reassuring place
The home should be reassuring, a place of peace and love, she said.
"If the home is not a place of peace and love, then people will be searching the rest of their lives. Drugs and alcohol are temporary peace sedatives," Titus said.
The decline of the traditional home shows the mistakes that have been made in our culture in the last 30 years, she added.
Titus said that to determine who you are, she would only need to look at your calendar, checkbook and house.
"Time and money -- what's important to you," she said.
This may seem a bit like a blend of the Gospels and Martha Stewart. But Titus pointed out that Stewart became a billionaire when she touched a nerve in America -- the importance of homes.
Titus and her husband, Larry M., are no strangers to mentoring or faith-based initiatives.
The couple had founded nearby Fifth Avenue Community Church and often mentored people in their home. "Some were from prison," she added.
Titus had founded and later sold a Christian magazine, Virtue. She said she and her husband, who is now retired from the church, travel nationally giving speeches. When they return to Youngstown, they live across the street from the mansion.
Areas of focus
Titus plans to focus on four scriptural areas:
UThe table, which used to be the gathering place for families. Sitting together and eating for a half-hour helps build relationships, she said. Jesus often ate with his followers, Titus noted, and added, "What we call Communion was dinner to him."
UGoing beyond the call of duty to help others. That service helps change the giver's life.
UUsing what you have. Titus said that's reflected in Matthew 25, where Jesus tells a parable of people being rewarded for using their talents.
UDignity and sanctity. Dignity speaks to worth, and sanctity speaks to a sense of wholeness, Titus continued.
The first group of women at the mansion will be pampered as if they were at a five-star hotel. That will help them learn respect.
Titus and the mansion's associate director, Marilyn Weiher, a Boardman business teacher, were able to get into the mansion only this week. Along with friends, they've been rushing to prepare the building and lawn, where shrubs have been planted and lights installed.
Titus said the mansion looks great when lighted at night. And its presence and its programs send a pro-Youngstown message after the negative publicity of the conviction of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., she added.
Earlier this week, rugs were being scrubbed and the finishing touches were being put on beautiful decorations and trappings that, at a glance, appeared to be expensive.
But Titus said they were not, reflecting on the idea of using what you have. The draperies were hung from plastic piping covered with fabric, and the ends were painted plastic pineapples that cost $4.99 each.
In another room, leather-looking wallpaper is actually brown paper ripped in pieces and applied with glue. The simple and inexpensive decorating tips are accessible to all, Titus said.
On the other hand, the mansion is full of fine furniture. Titus favors quality furniture that's built to last despite America's transient culture that favors screw-together furniture of fake wood or metal tubes.
That type of furniture breaks and has to be replaced, said Titus, adding, "Buying cheap is an expensive way to live."
The mansion will have an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 7. There will be a $10 charge. Community classes begin in the fall.
XFor more information, call (330) 746-6626.

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