Remembering MLK, volunteers put message of community to action

Volunteers clean up the neighborhood on Elm Street and Saranac Avenue in Youngstown on Martin Luther King Day.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Around the Mahoning Valley, volunteers put Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of peace and community to good use with a series of community service projects.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of the Civil Rights leader. While the day is in remembrance of King’s efforts to end segregation, volunteers also paid tribute to the leader by working to improve their own communities.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers assisted with painting, landscaping and other work at a house in Warren. Meanwhile, volunteers with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) boarded up vacant houses and cleaned up yards and streets in the Wick Park and Crandall Park neighborhoods.

“For the neighborhoods, it gets rid of trash. The people living next door, the neighbors who have to live with the trash every day… it improves their quality of life,” said YNDC volunteer Gia Cappabianca.

By noon, the YNDC group had already filled 200 bags of trash.

“I love to see the finished look because although it’s not perfection, it’s better and that’s what we want. We want people to see that we’re working really, really hard to make our community better, and we have to start somewhere,” said volunteer Rayshone Oliver.

Elsewhere, teams of American Red Cross volunteers installed new smoke alarms for residents in Austintown as part of the agency’s “Home Fire Campaign.” The campaign is an effort to decrease fire-related deaths.

“Trying to protect everybody in the community isn’t a possibility, but we want to install as many smoke alarms as we possibly can,” said volunteer Gary Offerdahl.