YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Paul Ciarniello was one of about 450 people who helped clean up Youngstown’s Cottage Grove neighborhood off of South Avenue. The revitalization effort is a way for Day of Caring volunteers to make a big impact on behalf of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
“We like to do this because it’s like instant gratification,” Ciarniello said. “We really get to see the change before we leave.”
“Many of these homes in these neighborhoods are still very nice, but then maybe right beside them is a blighted home,” the United Way’s Bob Hannon said. “We want to clean up, board them up, so the rest of the neighbors feel proud about their neighborhood again.”
United Way partnered with the city of Youngstown, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation and Green Youngstown to figure out which areas needed the most work.
Last year, volunteers helped board up 20 vacant houses. They more than tripled that number this year with 70.
“I was surprised at how much could be cleaned up. A lot of them started off rough, but it ends up looking pretty nice,” Mickey Ewing with Dearing Compressor and Pump Co. said.
Volunteers cut down trees and brush and pulled out garbage from properties, including tires and other debris. The landscaping was hard work in the heat, but well worth it for them in the end.
The Day of Caring also included hundreds of United Way volunteers working at various non-profit agencies throughout the Valley.
“We’re going to keep growing. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get 700 to 750 volunteers next year, maybe 800,” Hannon said. “The more people we can get, the greater impact we can make.”
General Motors North America President and Chairman of the GM United Way campaign Ian Batey made a stop at the breakfast to talk to volunteers and thank them for their hard work.