Orchids and onions

ORCHID: To the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley for setting a near-record in fundraising during the challenging pandemic-plagued year of 2020. At its in-person annual meeting in Poland this week, UW President Bob Hannon reported $3.38 million was raised last year — the second-highest total in its 101-year history. Those millions will benefit an array of community service organizations throughout the region at a time when assistance is more sorely needed than ever to survive the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

ORCHID: To Mark Matasic of Campbell for winning the Caregiver Hero Award from the American Stroke Association recently. Matasic stayed by his father Stephen’s side as an attentive caregiver 24/7 after Stephen suffered a debilitating stroke. After Stephen’s death, Mark became a passionate advocate for Survive Stroke, a national movement that calls for more streamlined treatment of stroke victims. Matasic also has lobbied in Columbus on stroke victims’ behalf. We congratulate Matasic and countless others in our community who make tremendous personal sacrifices to properly care for sick family and loved ones.

ONION: To former New Middletown Police Sgt. Brooke McCon for setting an extremely poor example of the strong leadership skills and law-abiding character traits law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold. Boardman police arrested her and charged her with drunken driving after a collision with another vehicle last month on Interstate 680 in which McCon’s vehicle caught on fire and the driver of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries. To her credit, however, she owned up to her carelessness by pleading guilty to the OVI charge this week in Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman, and later resigned her position.

ORCHID: To Randy Newby for launching the new Respect Basketball League in Youngstown. Newby, commissioner of the league, was inspired to help stem the rising tide of violence in the city. The league consists of eight 12-member teams. Early indications show the program already is achieving its goals of giving inner-city youth productive and character-building alternatives to the street. In addition to basketball, other elements of the program include mentoring, GED instruction and job training. Kudos, too, to the many community groups providing valuable resources for the league, including the Central YMCA, the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, Express Employment Services, the Youngstown Police Department and others. We wish its participants many slam dunks in their games and their personal growth.

ORCHID: To the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Transportation for joining forces to launch a proactive anti-litter campaign titled “A Little Litter is a Big Problem.” The agencies are seeking support and participation from local governments, environmental groups, schools and businesses to send a message out loud and clear to all Ohioans. With full cooperation, we’re confident the campaign can curb such shameful facts as these: 42 percent of Ohioans report having littered in the past month, and ODOT has spent about $50 million since 2019 to clean roadside trash of careless litterers.

ONION: To individuals who are victims or witnesses of crimes but fail to cooperate with law enforcement to bring criminals to justice. A case in the Mahoning Valley this week illustrates this stinky onion well. Police released a man who they say was photographing women in the Walmart store in Boardman, including at least one in which a woman was photographed from under her dress. The suspect also admitted to similar acts of voyeurism at other township stores, according to police. But the authorities could not arrest him as witnesses to the seedy acts would not cooperate. Now that the suspect is on the loose, don’t be surprised when hearing of new reports of voyeurism at public places locally.

ORCHID: To the parents and alumni of East High School in Youngstown who saved prom for the Class of 2021. Youngstown schools CEO Justin Jennings had announced Tuesday that proms for city high schools would be canceled this spring due, in part, to lack of interest. Many students and alumni were heartbroken by that decision and went to work to salvage the traditional rite of passage seniors. By Wednesday, the informal group had raised $3,000 and acquired many free services and discounts to announce a 2021 Senior Weekend for East students. Such speedy mobilization behind a noble cause is to be commended.



Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

James 1:27 NLT


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