Home Savings Donates $12K for CityScape Holiday Lighting

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A $12,000 donation from Home Savings Foundation will help ensure downtown visitors enjoy a safe and festive holiday season.

Frank Hierro and Louis Joseph, Mahoning Valley regional president and vice president of real estate and facilities for Home Savings Bank, presented the check to Youngstown CityScape’s executive director, Sharon Letson, this morning. CityScape will use the funds to assist with the installation and operation of 60,000 lights along Federal Street and Central Square downtown, as well as the planting of 55 evergreen trees.

The donation from Home Savings is two-fold, Letson said. Funds will also provide operational support for the city’s annual holiday parade, for which Home Savings is a lead donor.

“These lights are important for us and our downtown businesses for how we welcome our guests to downtown, to make people feel comfortable and welcome and safe,” Letson said. “And we want them to have that kind of experience, whether they’re coming to the hotel or going into Home Savings, attending an event downtown. These are all important pieces to that.”

Safety hasn’t necessarily been an issue during the winter months, she acknowledged, but downtown is seeing more after-hours activity “than we had even five years ago,” she said. Installing the lights will ensure anyone coming to the downtown area for the first time will feel safe and welcome. Paying attention to the details of how Youngstown looks and feels as a city is something that CityScape continues to focus on, she said.

“We all know how that feels when you’re in a place that’s not very well lit and you’re kind of looking over your shoulder,” she said. “So, this is one of those kind of amenities that Youngstown CityScape has tried to address.”

Contractors have been hanging lights in some of the trees for the past week and Letson expects all work to be completed in time for the Youngstown Holiday Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 30. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. followed by the parade at 6:30 p.m. Lights will be on display for several months during the holiday season and into the new year.

Letson thanked Home Savings for the donation. All funding to support CityScape projects come from individuals and corporate donors like Home Savings, so donations are critical to the organization’s work, she said.

“These are the kinds of things that keep these projects alive,” she said. “This particular donation is really a gift to the community, because it allows our holiday parade to happen, which is really for the whole community. It’s a great night to come downtown.”

Home Savings has partnered with CityScape for a number of years on the holiday lighting and Christmas parade, “the premier event downtown during the holiday season,” Hierro said.

“It’s really provided an atmosphere to encourage business to support all of the other great things that are going on downtown,” he said. “We think it gives our city a tremendous look during the holidays. We’re pleased to do it.”

After the first year of sponsoring the holiday parade, Home Savings wanted to see marching bands included in the parade, he said. The bank developed a program that provides support for the high school bands that participate in the parade. In 2017, the parade featured seven bands “and the atmosphere downtown was just electric. It was wonderful,” he said.

“There was all types of commerce and people walking the streets during the parade,” Hierro said. “You could see families and folks of all ages, and it was just a wonderful event.”

Home Savings supports multiple organizations in the community throughout the year, he said The foundation has donated about $15 million over its history, which is important to the continued improvement of the community, he said.

“It’s the quality of life and the culture that we create in our community,” he said. “The business environment has been improving and the ability to enjoy the arts and other aspects of our community and our culture is important.”

Pictured: Marilyn Broderick, board president; Greg Bowman, board secretary; Steven Montgomery, director of farm & education; Melanie Montgomery, director of organizational life at Lamppost Farm; and Amanda Congemi, branch manager, Home Savings Columbiana office.

The donation to CityScape comes on the heels of a $3,400 donation made to Lamppost Farm in Columbiana on Wednesday. Those funds will support free education and experiences for customers every Saturday in the farm’s store, said its director of organizational life, Melanie Montgomery.

“Our mission is to use agriculture to reach and teach others,” Montgomery said. “We facilitate growth in individuals and groups in relationship with themselves, others, the creation and the Creator.”

Pictured: Louis Joseph, senior vice president, real estate & facilities, Home Savings Bank; Sharon Letson, executive director, Youngstown CityScape; and Frank Hierro, Mahoning Valley regional president, Home Savings Bank.

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