By Bruce Walton
Even when the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods asks the community to give, it still gives back.
ACTION hosted its 15th annual banquet fundraiser Thursday evening at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Social Hall.
The Rev. Jeffrey Stanford, co-chairman of ACTION’s clergy caucus, said the event is the group’s biggest fundraiser, but it does a lot more than raise money. It gives awareness to what ACTION is doing and “puts a face to the body,” the Rev. Mr. Stanford said.
According to its website, ACTION is a grass-roots community organization that seeks to unite faith groups, schools, neighborhood organizations, tenant councils and other nonprofits to work for social justice.
State Sen. Joseph Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, was keynote speaker at the banquet. Schiavoni, who is running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor next year, said he’s worked with ACTION to help the Youngstown-area community since he became a senator.
“I love this organization. They’ve done a lot in a lot of different ways all across the [Mahoning] Valley, not just in the urban corners but all across the Valley, which I think is important,” he said.
ACTION also selects three recipients for its Frances Kerspack Award. This year, it honored Midlothian Health Clinic with the industrial award; Annie Hall of Youngstown with the humanitarian award; and the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II, pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church of Youngstown, with the community service award.
Hall said the recognition came as a complete surprise to her. For 21 years, she has donated food and clothing to the community, turning an old fire station on the East Side at Oak and Fruit streets into a retail store for the needy. The city gave her the building.
She also runs the East Side Crime Watch inside the building and organizes National Night Out for the city. She hopes to continue her work for as long as possible, she said.
“I thank God that they see that I’m worthy of having an award,” she said.
The annual banquet usually draws 300 to 400 guests and raises about $15,000 to $20,000 in donations and from raffle drawings which is used to further ACTION’s community work.