YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Last weekend’s shooting death of a teenager on Youngstown’s South Side has shaken many members of the community.
During a news conference Friday in which authorities announced the indictment of 13 people in connection to the murder of Shawn Cortez, community leaders said it’s time to take action.
Usually, Michelle White serves meals to those in need in from her food pantry Food 4 Your Soul. But with the recent acts of violence in her community, she knew she had to do something different in order to address the problem in Youngstown.
“I pray God that you release a spirit of peace within our Valley,” White said during a prayer service Friday evening on Glenwood Avenue.
As the school year approaches and another young life was lost, Youngstown Superintendent Connie Hathorn called for action.
“It is important to know that the community is needed. I don’t want this to come into our schools,” Hathorn said.
Nor does anyone else, so they decided to do what they know best, which is to pray.
“We just need to come together because prayers can change things,” Monique Richard said.
Those attending Friday’s prayer service said they are doing their best to make sure it not only never enters their schools, but stops in their neighborhoods as well.
“I am here today because I am tired of what is going in our city,” Valda Stevens McKinney said.
And while she knows that prayer is the answer, she also knows from raising her children that keeping them active will keep them away from trouble.
“And all you do is try to steer your child in the right direction,” Stevens McKinney said.
But for those who may not know where to turn, community leaders have made it clear that they are here.
“And so we are committed to making sure that young people have choices and things to do,” C.I.R.V. director Guy Burney said.
White agreed and said she believes it is time to reach further out to the community.
“We have to turn the rocks over and let them know where the resources are. We have to come outside the four walls,” White said.
Everyone at the event agreed that there are things out there to keep their kids out of trouble. But the main message they wanted to pass along is it starts with the parents taking the steps to find those resources.