Volunteers tidy up Idora neighborhood


and Christine Keeling



Volunteers from the city and around the country are working up a sweat and getting dirty for a good cause.

The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. joined forces with Tabernacle Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s Youth Mission Program to paint the home of Carolyn Jackson on West Laclede Avenue in the Idora neighborhood.

On another block of West Laclede, a six-person crew from Millcreek Youth Workcamp helped Janet Trevathan clean up her yard while her house in the 500 block was power-washed before being painted.

“I thank God Almighty that they are here,” Trevathan said. “I needed this help. ... If I’m able to do it, I will.”

The Millcreek campers, numbering 375 youths age 14 to 17 and 20 adult volunteers from 10 states, arrived Sunday in the Mahoning Valley and are being housed at Chaney High School. The campers represent 17 churches and youth groups from various denominations. The project, which runs to Friday, is an effort of Western Reserve United Methodist Church and Group Workcamps Foundation, Loveland, Colo.

The 65 Millcreek crews made up of five youths and one adult, will be at 60 sites in the city, where most projects revolve around interior and exterior painting, building a wheelchair ramp and installing a handrail. Homeowners applied for help, which is for the elderly, disabled and those with limited resources.

Jeremy Schmidt, 16, of Itasca, Ill., on his third work camp, summed up the project: “Christianity is a verb ... not just a noun. This is a spiritual experience ... helping people who need it.”

Rex Beale of Streetsboro, Millcreek Youth Workcamp director, and Carrie Boyer, co-sponsor representative of Western Reserve UMC, were checking on work crews.

Beale, involved since 1992, said individuals from youth groups are assigned to different crews. Of his own experience, he said, “I saw that it was changing lives for young people."

Boyer, who has volunteered six times as an adult, said, “The hands-on project shows God’s love. ... It’s a joyful experience knowing you’re helping someone.”

Adam Zimmerman, 14, of Louisville, Ky., said the work camp is about “being of service” and “connecting to God.”

Hosanna Kim, 16, of Chappaqua, N.Y., a member of the Korean Church of West Chester, said helping others is a “demonstration of your faith.”

Edward McColly, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. program coordinator, said the agency picks projects on a house-by-house basis and focuses on its model block programs in the 700 block of Laclede Avenue, Lincoln Park Drive and Lanterman Avenue. He said it costs about $2,000 to paint a home. Two homes on Laclede were completed last year, and McColly said he hoped one more could be painted this summer.

Home-improvement projects “empower the homeowner and the neighborhood,” said McColly.

Homeowner Jackson said she was working in the backyard and her father was sitting on the porch when the YNDC approached them.

“It’s a blessing from God,” said Jackson. “It means a lot to me because [painting] is very expensive to do.” Jackson has lived in her South Side home for 15 years and said it was five years ago when the house was last painted.

For members of the youth mission, spending the day painting was a way to give back to the community.

“Youngstown needs stories of hope and people to invest in it,” said Dan Osborn, director of student ministries for Tabernacle. He said the mission group usually travels out of state to do its work but this year decided to spend its time and resources locally. Thirteen junior-high mission members in sixth through eighth grades showed up to lend a helping hand.

“I like just helping people and seeing their reactions,” said 11-year-old Sarah Oman of Poland.

More than 30 members of four of the church’s mission groups will volunteer at the Rescue Mission, Second Harvest Food Bank, Victoria House and area summer lunch programs throughout the week.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.