Volunteers take pride in the way Youngstown looks
Many of the roughly 300 downtown workers who donated their time don't even live in the city.
By ROGER G. SMITH
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Al Mansfield of Boardman has an office that looks out over the Madison Avenue Expressway.
Until recently, the view mainly was of overgrown grass along the highway and the litter that clung to it.
"I have a personal interest in beautification, you might say," said the chief financial officer at St. Elizabeth Health Center.
That's one reason he was out one Saturday early last month helping clean the roadside and plant flowers at the highway ramps.
Lots of other people have an interest in how the city looks, too, many of whom don't live there, either.
People like Diane Kupensky of Masury consider the city center an important part of living in the region. Kupensky has worked at St. Elizabeth for 26 years and was picking up litter from the highway.
"We consider this our second home. We want the facilities to look the best they can," she said.
That sense of responsibility is what drew about 75 St. Elizabeth employees to the hospital's third annual cleanup.
An additional 200 to 250 downtown workers turned out for the fifth annual Streetscape cleanup and beautification project the same day.
Chuck Whitman and Ed Gluck, both of Boardman, are retired now, but used to work downtown and still are involved in the Downtown Kiwanis club. They planted red and white annuals on Federal Plaza in front of Bank One.
Whitman and Gluck came out of loyalty to downtown.
"These are our roots. We're still Youngstown supporters," Whitman said.
Lots of people understand that a good-looking downtown sets the tone for the area, said Scott Schulick, who leads the Streetscape effort.
"You've got a variety of people from across downtown. It's just people who care," he said.
Senior patrol leaders from Boy Scout Troop 22 in Youngstown asked their assistant scoutmaster, Gene Leson -- the city water department's chief engineer -- about helping out downtown. The young men weeded and trimmed bushes on Federal Street.
Justin Davis, 17, lives in Canfield but said he doesn't want downtown's look to deteriorate further.
"You have to keep up the area," he said.
Derek Guyer, 15, of Youngstown, hopes the Boy Scouts' efforts will catch on across the city.
"Maybe it will start a trend ... and make it a better place to live," he said.