Crime-Free Zone Rallies Envision a Better City

By Beckie Erwin

YOUNGSTOWN – Residents have the opportunity this weekend to join a citywide effort to help reduce crime in their communities.

The Crime-Free Zone rallies will be held 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday with four events hosted simultaneously on each side of town at four schools: Harding Elementary, Taft Elementary, McGuffey Elementary and East High schools

The event coincides with the conclusion of the 2019 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Among the speakers are Vondale Eugene Singleton Sr., founder of Champs, a Chicago-based mentoring program for young males; Jose Morales Sr., former Youngstown Police Department detective; and George Spencer, president of Mad Dads of Greater Pittsburgh.

“I am excited to join everyone in Youngstown and looking forward to inspiring all attendees to play a proactive role by building up the community through mentorship, youth advocacy, and community activism and volunteerism, all of which create a true sense of belonging,” Singleton said. “The evil impact of violence has an unfortunate traumatic impact on children, youth, adults and ultimately the community. We must all partner and unite.”

Singleton stressed that change starts with every person and every community taking responsibility and being willing to prevent and protect their community from all forms of violence, by fighting for equity in schools, jobs, churches and community-based organizations.

Featured activities at Saturday’s events include a visit from McGruff the Crime Dog and a student art contest for children ages 5 to 13. City school students were asked to envision a crime-free Youngstown and portray that ideal community in art form. Their pieces will be on display at rally sites with winners selected by a panel of student judges.

Families, clergy, educators and community leaders are encouraged to attend and participate in fun and informational activities scheduled for adults and children of all ages. A free lunch and snacks will be available. 

Organizer Jon Howell says it is imperative for the community to become involved with keeping their community safe, taking that first step by attending A Crime-Free Zone rallies. 

“When crime decreases, the quality of life increases,” he said. “Therefore, our focus in this rally is to accelerate this process. Youngstown’s A Crime-Free Zone rally is a collaboration of suburbs and city coming together to produce positive crime reduction outcomes.” 

Howell explained that families will be able to “connect with like-minded people on their side of town who want to reduce crime, build relationships and solidarity to accomplish crime-free blocks and neighborhoods.” In addition to the art contest and free food, people can expect giveaways, raffles, a neighborhood candle light march and more.

Sponsors, donors and partners include the city of Youngstown, Youngstown State University, Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, Youngstown City Schools, Ursuline High School, YWCA of the Mahoning Valley, The Boys & Girls Clubs, American Family Insurance-Monica Hoskins Agency, Kravitz Deli and many individuals.

Pictured: Jon Howell, center front, is the lead organizer of the Crime-Free Zone rallies Saturday in Youngstown. Among those participating are volunteers at Oh Wow! downtown.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.