West Side Citizens Coalition
Group seeks to brand itself
Karen Fox understands that as the president of the West Side Citizens Coalition she has to do far more than merely conduct meetings and organize events.
The long-time West Side resident also realizes that she has to market and brand her organization. “People need to know about us. They need to understand what we are,” she said.
Using the same basic principles that guide much of corporate America, Fox is helping her organization launch a large branding initiative. “We have to be professional and we also have to tell people about what we’re doing in a consistent way,” she said.
Fox is working with high school students and others to develop a logo, a website and an overall marketing campaign for the organization that represents the 3,000 or so residents of the West Side of Youngstown.
She said the organization will also have a presence on Facebook and will do a good job of communicating with members or potential members through a variety of channels.
The West Side Citizens Coalition is the umbrella organization for six other neighborhood groups and suffers from a confused identity among some. “Some people simply don’t know what we are or what we’re trying to do,” Fox said.
With funding from a Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Neighborhood SUCCESS grant, Fox said she believes that the branding campaign will allow her group to attract new members and, most importantly, continue to do great work for the neighborhoods in her area of the city.Jennifer Roller, a program officer with The Raymond John Wean Foundation, said her foundation awarded the grant because it believes in the importance of marketing and effective communications for neighborhood organizations.
“Many of the neighborhood groups in the Mahoning Valley are doing incredible work. They need to communicate to their residents and to the larger community,” Roller said.Fox said that the West Side Citizens Coalition is one of the larger neighborhood associations in the area and needs to rely on more than word-of-mouth to reach its residents about the work it is doing.Fox said the association has a simple goal of making the West Side an incredibly desirable place to live and work.
“We want to take back our neighborhoods,” she said. “We want people to look at us and want to move in and to say, ‘wow. I want to live there.’”She said the West Side Coalition has been active in various neighborhood clean-up projects, crime watches and dispatching help to any neighbors in need.Neighborhood groups that already fall under the West Side Citizens Coalition include Upper Westside neighbors, Nosey Neighbors, Chaney Circle neighbors, Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association, Garden District Neighborhood Association, Steelton Neighbors and Bears Den Neighbors.
PARTNERING NEIGHBORS OF DELASON
Residents work together to clean up street
Dennis Bryer believes change is possible and that sometimes small actions can yield big and positive consequences.
It was this philosophy that prompted Bryer and some of his neighbors on Delason Avenue on the city’s south side to form a plan to clean up their street.
With a grant from The Raymond John Wean Foundation, the organization “Partnering Neighbors of Delason” bought a riding lawn mower and a push lawn mower and are determined to try to preserve their street from the decay and neglect plaguing other streets in their neighborhood.
“We’re trying to get neighbors to help neighbors,” Bryer said. Bryer said he and his neighbors will be mowing the devil’s strip, helping residents who can’t take care of their own lawns and looking after the many vacant properties on their street.
Bryer said the maintenance is just one piece of the street-wide effort. Neighbors are also beginning to look out for each other and report any suspicious activity.
He said some children from other streets have been coming onto Delason and vandalizing the vacant homes. “We may want to form a block watch or take other steps so that we get after all of this and try to keep our street nice and livable,” he said.
In the summer of 2010, he said the residents of the street will get together and have a picnic to talk about issues and what they can do to help each other. “Our big goal is to get neighbors knowing neighbors and caring for each other,” he said.
Bryer said his 5 year-old granddaughter, who lives with him, is one of his main inspirations for why he wants to clean up his neighborhood. "I want to show her what being a good neighbor is," Bryer said.
Bryer said the Partnering Neighbors of Delason may come back to The Raymond John Wean Foundation for more equipment for lawn maintenance.
“But first, we want to see what this is going to go like,” he said. “If we can get everyone to pitch in and help there are many more things that we can do. There are limbs that need to be trimmed and lots that need to be cleaned up.”
Once Delason is cleaned up, Bryer said the next plan is to move to other south side streets nearby. Bryer said he has found that change can come quickly with just a little effort. For instance, he said he grew tired of picking up empty bottles and cans and other litter that people would dump on Delason.
So, he said, he put a garbage can across the street from his house and is finding that people actually use it instead of dumping their trash on the street.
“We just have to begin,” he said.
Representatives of Christ
Center provides safe haven for youth
Justin Wagner, Representatives of Christ Director, has worked with the youth of Youngstown for the last eight years. Through his work he saw the need for a youth center in Youngstown.