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Cuts threaten good works of YWCAs in the Valley


Published: Sun, July 2, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

Cuts threaten good works of YWCAs in the Valley

YWCA is committed to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, dignity and freedom for all. In June, YWCA Warren and YWCA Youngstown put our mission into action when we went to Washington to encourage lawmakers to support the programs and funding streams that allow us to make a difference in the lives of the people served by the YWCAs in the Mahoning Valley.

Federal funding has helped your YWCAs help thousands of people over our combined 215-year history. We are helping women escape poverty and find hope, stability, and purpose, and helping children become academic successes, skilled workers and big dreamers.

We see first-hand the ways that robust federal funding can change people’s lives. In Warren, HUD funding has made it possible for us to open and operate 12 units of permanent supportive housing for women with disabilities and their children who have experienced homelessness. In Youngstown, funding from HUD and Community Development Block Grants helped us provide shelter and services to over 300 people last year, and CDBG funds allow us to provide affordable early education to 45 children annually.

Combined, the YWCAs of Youngstown and Warren served over 12,000 women and children in 2016. In Warren, 90 percent of the people we serve live below the poverty line and 85 percent are people of color. In Youngstown, 67 percent live below the poverty line and 66 percent are people of color. Our programs are lifelines for these people and for entire communities.

We are also urging our lawmakers to resist efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The people we serve have benefitted immensely from many provisions in ACA. The expansion of Medicaid in Ohio has insured over 700,000 people, 9.5 million women who lacked coverage prior to the ACA are now insured, and they have access to vital services: prenatal care, breastfeeding support for new mothers, and annual well-woman exams.

We call on elected officials to be courageous in protecting the most vulnerable people in the Mahoning Valley.

Leah Merritt and Kenya A. Roberts-Howard

Leah Merritt is chief executive officer of YWCA Youngstown. Kenya A. Roberts-Howard is executive director of YWCA Warren.

Climate decision falls short

By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, President Donald Trump has shown his vision to be “what’s good for Trump is good for the country, and what’s good for the country is good for the world.”

Apparently his vision for the future is as short as his fingers.

Jim Cartwright, Canfield

Thumbs up for ‘Aida’

Canfield High School Auditorium was the place to be June 24. I was there to see my grand-daughter, Sofia, dance in a choreographed production of the version of Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Aida,” choreographed and staged by Ruth Smrek Balestra’s Dance and Fitness Company.

Performances by the entire cast were very strong. An outstanding performance by Annalese Samuel as Aida, however, was something special.

Not only did she dance beautifully, but also her acting was exceptional. She is a National Honor Society member and will be attending Youngstown State University. Kudos to Annalese and her parents and top praise to Ruth Smrek Balestra and her entire production staff.

Dale Fishbeck, Boardman

‘Mary Poppins’ dazzles

Ushering at Powers Auditorium last month, I was treated to a spectacular show. There were talented jazz, tap and ballet dancers dressed in exquisite costumes. The scenery was professionally appropriate, adhering to the “Mary Poppins” theme.

I just couldn’t help think of how much self-confidence, poise, and discipline the dance students obtained by attending Kathi’s Dance Academy and performing in the “Mary Poppins Dance Recital.”

It was outstanding entertainment performed by a talented cast of young people. Thank you.

Ruth P. Fletcher, New Bedford, Pa.


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