Proud Austintown Irishwoman spreads good works
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of Saturday profiles of area residents and their stories. To suggest a profile, contact features editor Burton Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or metro editor Marly Reichert at email@example.com
AUSTINTOWN — Shannon Lehn of Austintown does a lot for the community — more than many people know.
She is a mother, a wife, a yoga instructor, a market director, a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a person who strives to bring pride to the community where she lives.
Lehn, a 1990 Austintown Fitch graduate, attended Youngstown State University, where she studied exercise science. Although she did not receive a degree, she does have her 200-hour registered yoga instructor’s certificate as well as a binder of certifications and trainings.
“Prior to the pandemic, I was a transcriptionist and yoga instructor for 20 years,” Lehn said.
All through school and her work life, Lehn has been the type of person who would get involved in many worthwhile endeavors. She became pretty good at handling multiple tasks at once.
One of those involvements is with the LOAH, which was formed in 1894 as a ladies auxiliary of OAH — the Order of Ancient Hibernians.
“As time and society progressed, the women broke off and became not the auxiliary but a separate entity in the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians,” Lehn said. “We were incorporated as such and as a nonprofit in 2004.”
Lehn joined the LOAH in 2014. Since joining, she has served on the national board as the assistant editor to the Hibernian Digest, on the state level as publicity / webmaster, and currently serves as division president.
“This past year was difficult with the pandemic, of course, but in 2020 (prior to pandemic), we hosted an Irish music night and we also held a socially distanced toy drive and were able to donate over 300 toys to St. Vincent de Paul,” she said. “In the past, we have hosted Halloween parties, St. Brigid’s Day Mass and dinners, helping with the Christmas Caritas at St. Christine, our annual St. Patrick’s Day luncheon and honoring of the Irish Woman of the Year in collaboration with the Ancient Order of Hibernians and other events.
“This year, we are looking forward to a Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Party in September, a bus trip to the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, another Halloween Party, a Mass for the departed, a coat drive and another toy drive, all pending the status of the pandemic. I am looking for our organization to definitely get involved with other events and organizations as well,” she said.
As for doing more, Lehn fits right along that line. She used to teach yoga at the Lake Milton Farmers Market and thought it would be a good idea to bring a farmers market to Austintown.
“The market started in 2014,” she said. “I felt the need for something similar in Austintown since we had nothing like that at the time. I was also teaching yoga on Monday nights at Austintown Township Park and asked Park Supervisor Todd Shaffer if we could do a farmers market and he was very happy to have the park host it.”
The market is back open for 2021 from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sept. 1.
The LOAH and farmers market keeps Lehn busy, but those are not the end of her involvement. She is also a member of, and serves as facilitator for, the Advocates for Austintown, a group that meets bimonthly to help build pride in the Austintown community.
“We are forward-thinking individuals who want to empower residents to create the community in which we can all prosper and coexist,” Lehn said. “We had a few meetings prior to the pandemic and then I needed a break.”
Lehn was very sick from COVID-19 and had a long battle with it that she called “quite the situation.” She did take advantage of her circumstances, using the time at home to focus on things without a lot of distractions.
The year 2020 brought a lot of things to a halt and the Advocates for Austintown was one affected by it. Lehn said she hopes that the organization gets back together.
“Getting back outside and seeing our neighborhoods and wanting to do better for this place we call home, the group was brought back,” she said. “Our next meeting will be in August, likely on Zoom, as the June one was. It seems to be the easiest way to get people together right now.”
Lehn’s hobbies and pastimes include crocheting, reading, lying in the hammock, walking the family dogs, meditation and cooking, which she said is a new one.
She also has the most important part of her life and that is her family.
“I am blessed to have a supportive family,” she said. “I am married to the love of my life, Liam Lehn. He has blessed me with two beautiful stepdaughters, Victoria and Erica, and I have an absolutely amazing and brilliant son, Brian Royea, who is one of the best people I know on this earth.”
Her family and the camaraderie that comes with the various organizations Lehn volunteers with have helped her keep on target toward her lifelong goal.
“I want to leave the world better than I found it.”