Holy Ground March brings together 3 groups aimed at improving city neighborhoods




Three Valley organizations, bonded by a common goal to improve the quality of life in city neighborhoods, will join together for a Holy Ground March on Tuesday.

The Rev. Joseph Feta, vice president of ACTION — Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods — said the Holy Ground March is an “effort to redeem neighborhoods.”

He said ACTION, NOW Youngstown and S.A.A.N.D.I. — South Avenue Area Neighborhood Development Initiative — are teaming up for the 40-minute walk that will include praying and singing.

Father Feta said the organizations share an interest in improving the quality of life for city residents and reducing violence and crime.

“The Holy Ground Marches, which we’ve had previously, are based on the old freedom marches,” said the priest, who is pastor of St. Luke Church in Boardman. “It’s effective to give witness with what ACTION is about.”

ACTION’s vision for neighborhoods is a good fit with S.A.A.N.D.I.’s goal of improving the South Avenue corridor and making it safer.

“We all do the same thing,” Father Feta said. “We’re better together, and there’s strength in numbers. That’s the bottom line.”

What’s unique about Holy Ground March, Father Feta said, is that it will bring together different stakeholders in the city — churches, community residents and business people — who have the same goal. “We all want to make a difference,” Father Feta said.

He said on previous marches, neighborhood residents often look out doors, then come out to porches. “It gets people involved,” he said.

The march will conclude at Taft Elementary School, 730 E. Avondale Ave., where a NOW Youngstown outreach rally will take place.

Rose Carter, executive director of ACTION, said the cooperation among the three organizations “is a good partnership.”

“We want to connect with people in neighborhoods,” she said.

Pastor Al Yanno of NOW Youngstown said the shared mission strengthens the three groups. He added that the cross-section of church and community “show a positive force to promote peace.”

Pastor Yanno said NOW Youngstown, in cooperation with C.I.R.V. (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence) Project, began its 13 community-based outreach programs in June. Events continue to early September.

“Attendance has been excellent,” he said, noting rallies have attracted an average of 200 people.

The outreach events feature music, games, food and information from service providers. The activities are light-hearted, but the serious mission is to “Increase the Peace.” Crime and violence will be reduced when people in neighborhoods build relationships, Pastor Yanno added.

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