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2022 Holiday Lights Winners Announced

A dozen local organizations that “Light Up the Valley” all year long were chosen to be featured in the 2022 WRTA Holiday Lights Campaign. The 12 were chosen from more than 50 nominations submitted recently.

The 12 spotlighted organizations will be featured in TV, social media, and signs on WRTA buses through the end of the year. A special drawing will be held during the kickoff event and one organization will also win a $3,000 TV advertising campaign.

The 2022 Holiday Lights selection committee was comprised of three local leaders who will also introduce the featured organizations. The committee included Holiday Lights co-chairs Vince Brancaccio, CEO of Help Network of NEO (Suicide/Crisis Hotline), Barb Ewing, CEO of Youngstown Business Incubator and Sydney Williams CDO of New Day Recovery/On Demand Healthcare.

The 2022 WRTA Holiday Lights Featured Organizations are:

Yellow Brick Place

Yellow Brick Place Cancer Wellness Center is the missing link” between a cancer diagnosis and the journey to recovery. Their mission is to offer support and education to cancer patients and those closest to them by providing individual services and group programs in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana Counties. The organizations purpose is to nourish the mind, body, and spirit during the fight against cancer while providing an environment full of hope and understanding. They are the only cancer wellness center in the tri-county area and are there for everyone with any type of cancer.

All of their non-medical services, including beautiful wigs, are free. In addition to their wig program, Yellow Brick Place offers several services and programs for those struggling with cancer, their families, caregivers, and others in the community. These include fitness and nutrition classes, wellness therapies, an online resource center on their website, an in-person library, short-term counseling, support groups, guest speakers, a healing garden, and their beauty program. Not one cancer patient, caregiver, or family member will face this journey alone.

Youngstown Blue Coats

Youngstown Blue Coats (YBC) is a 501c(3) non-profit organization founded in 2017 with a mission to prevent freezing and injury to homeless and financially destitute individuals. YBC has a special concern for and focus on military veterans. YBCs mission is straightforward and simple; In America, nobody should freeze to death.” During winter, they address the gap between shelters and outdoor homeless camps. YBC depends entirely on volunteers; all time, transportation, fuel and other operational costs are provided by members and volunteers.

Donations accepted are primarily gently-used and needed material items, including warming items and sleeping mats and bags. Their goals include collection and distribution of these warming items to homeless individuals so that they can stay warm and dry.  They host fundraisers and donation drives to collect these items and to raise funds to support their goals of providing for homeless individuals. YBC is the only organization in its region within Eastern Ohio/Western PA that serves homeless veterans and other homeless.

In recent years (2020-present), numbers of homeless continue to increase due to the pandemic and thus numbers of those who need YBC’s assistance increase annually. During their 2021/2022 year, they provided warming items and other assistance to approximately 2,500 homeless veterans and other homeless individuals.  The funds from last year’s (2021) grants and donations were instrumental in their services to the area’s homeless. In the future, YBC is eager to grow and expand in order to better serve their population.

Glenwood Grounds 

Glenwood Ground Café is a part of a ministry called Hope for Renewal.  It is a non-profit organization consisting of a Café Outreach, Community Outreach and a Worshiping Church Community.

The Glenwood Ground Café opened its doors on January 8, 2022 and serves the community by providing a place to gather, share life, and to experience the love of God lived out in dignity, love, listening, and service.  The café is open year-round and offers great coffee and a variety of homemade baked goods, breakfast casseroles, soups and sandwiches made daily at Glenwood Grounds. The passion and vision of the Café is to serve all of Youngstown but specifically called to serve our neighborhood which is the Glenwood Corridor on the Southside of Youngstown.

Glenwood Grounds / Hope For Renewal is located on  2906 Glenwood Ave.Youngstown, OH  44511 and they are open Tuesday – Saturday  7:00a.m. – 1p.m.

The Bummer Fund

The Bummer Fund has been in existence since 1994, when the founder, Dr. Anne McMahon – an owner of a cat named Bummer – gave a monetary gift to her vet Dr. Charles Sung and his clinic in honor of the wonderful care given to Bummer, after his passing. Dr. Sung had a dream of creating a special account to assist his clients on fixed or limited incomes when expensive medical care was necessary to save the lives of their pets. He used Annes gift as the foundation for this charitable account which was created in 1993, and initially called The Fund for Companion Animals”. It was granted nonprofit status a year later and the organization was renamed to honor Bummer. So far this year, The Bummer Fund has given almost $22,000.00 in grants to support the medical care for the pets of 22 local families.

The Bummer fund has two important missions: first, by providing substantial grants for veterinary costs that are out of reach for applicants, they are making a positive impact on the health of the community. They also see their fund as a kind of bereavement” service to donors. Many donations arrive as gifts in memory of a pet. This shines a light on the significant role the deceased animal had in someones life, hopefully helping with closure. It also means the life of the deceased pet will support the life of another pet, whose familys circumstances are not as fortunate.

Their website www.bummerfund.org – has more information, including how to apply for a grant and how to donate.

NAMI Mahoning Valley

 NAMI Mahoning Valley is the local affiliate of NAMI Ohio and the national NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) organization which is active in all fifty states as well as internationally.  Their mission is to provide support, advocacy and education to people of the Mahoning Valley dealing with mental illness.  They are active in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties with their main function being mental health support groups, education, awareness-raising and wellness support.  NAMI is a 501c 3 organization funded in part by both the Mahoning and Trumbull Mental Health and Recovery Boards.

All the services they provide to the community are free of charge to those participating and the generosity of the people of the Mahoning Valley through their fundraising efforts makes this possible. For a small non-profit, five employees and multiple volunteers, they have an impressive social media presence in the Valley with over 5,000 followers across various platforms. This helped them to gather over 600 walkers at their recent Annual Mental Health Walk on October 8th to help raise awareness of mental illness and rising suicide rates here in Ohio.

Cadence Care Network

Cadence Care Network is a non-profit agency focusing on the behavioral and emotional well-being of children and teenagers, as well as the treatment and placement of youth in compassionate and qualified foster care homes. They provide a continuum of outcome focused and family centered treatment services helping those we serve to live their best possible life.

2022 has been a monumental year for the agency. This summer they opened Cadence Coffeehouse & Creperie in Downtown Niles. This social enterprise offers job training and employment opportunities for the youth theyserve, while supporting programming that build resilient and strong young adults with any revenue generated by the endeavor. Through community sponsors and business proceeds they intend to annually employ and train 20 youth that are identified as at risk. These young people will receive job training and life skills training that can help them move on to great jobs in the community.

Cadence Care Network expanded throughout Northern Ohio this year by acquiring The Twelve, Inc. The move allows Cadence Care to assume responsibility for additional office locations in Massillon, Toledo, and Upper Sandusky, along with services in the Massillon and Toledo areas. This includes ten employees, as well as Foster Care and Behavioral Health services for approximately 90 kids annually.

Cadence Care was also chosen as a Care Management Entity (CME) in Trumbull and Mahoning Counties for the OhioRISE initiative from the Ohio Department of Medicaid. OhioRISE is the states first-ever integrated program to help children who have complex and serious behavioral health needs.

Gateways to Better Living

Gateways to Better Living serves individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties. They offer residential Intermediate Care Facilities, Waiver homes as well as Respite care. Gateway Industries has three-day programs —

  • Gateways Industries Main Campus which provides Day Habilitation and Vocational Habilitation Services,
  • The Gateways Galleria focuses on Day Habilitation Services
  • and the newest location The Village by Gateways that offers day habilitation and prevocational services.

Opened in 1972, Gateways has been a dedicated and committed provider in the Mahoning Valley for the past 50 years.  They have grown to suit the needs of the individuals they serve and expanded to provide new and innovated services to fit the needs of the community.  They strive to keep ahead of the curve and deliver original ideas and state of the art buildings designed to fit the needs of our growing Gateways family.

Gateways to Better Living’s goal is to provide quality care to the people of the valley. They pride themselves in being part of this great community and will continue to grow to support the needs of the people they serve. They promote independence and dignity for all of the members of the Gateways family and will continue to love and support each individual to best meet their needs.

Jewish Family and Community Services

Jewish Family & Community Services meets the social service needs of the community through diverse programs and services including guardianships, counseling, senior outreach, and home delivered meals.Over the last year, JFCS has collaborated with the Jewish Community Center to offer a series of Aging-Well programs that offer help with technology, grief support, caregiver support, and more. Once a month they also offer Lunch Bunch” to older adults. The programs are free and open to the general community.

Their highly successful mobile meals program has grown in the past couple of years. Grant funding allowed them to serve more than 225,000 meals during the pandemic and beyond. More grant funding is being used for further expansion, including free meal giveaways to Youngstown residents who meet certain eligibility requirements. They recently added a second full time counselor, as demand for their counseling services increased. Their counselors are highly experienced to work with individuals and families of all ages and backgrounds and they offer both in person and teletherapy sessions.

They also provide gift baskets for Passover and Rosh Hashanah to Jewish individuals and families in need. While helping individuals and families on a daily basis, they remain true to the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam. Jewish Family & Community Services staff are well equipped to help repair the world one individual and family at a time.

Alta Care Group

The mission of Alta Care Group is to support the social, emotional, behavioral, educational, and physical well-being of children, adolescents, young adults and their families.In the course of 45 years, Alta Care Group has provided care to tens of thousands of children and families in Mahoning County. Alta Care Group is the parent organization of Alta Behavioral Healthcare, a contract agency of the Mahoning and Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Boards; and Alta Head Start, Mahoning Countys provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services.In the past year, Alta Care Group has continued to grow, and worked to increase accessibility to the valleys children and families. Their Head Start division recently opened a new location at the downtown YMCA, and is completing the purchase and improvements to the building that houses their Head Start location on McCartney Road.

Their Behavioral Healthcare division will soon be moving into a new building purchased on Western Reserve Road in Boardman. With more office space, they will be able to serve more families in the Boardman, Poland, and Canfield areas, along with all other surrounding communities. Alta has also taken on a second building at the Mahoning Valley Campus of Care which will house its growing Early Child Mental Health Consultation Department and new Functional Family Therapy program. Finally, over the past year Alta has significantly expanded school-based mental health services in both Mahoning and Trumbull Counties — including its Linkages” Program which provides suicide prevention, mental health education, and suicide screening to students in many schools throughout Mahoning and Trumbull Counties.

Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) is a neighborhood planning and development organization with a mission to stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods throughout the Mahoning Valley. Since 2010, YNDC has developed expertise in implementing a broad spectrum of neighborhood revitalization programs, leveraging over $70 million in reinvestment in Youngstown’s neighborhoods to date. YNDC deploys a targeted and comprehensive community development model with the following components:

  • YNDC encourages and strengthens homeownership opportunities for homebuyers as a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency.
  • The Owner-Occupied Emergency Repair and Roof Replacement programs preserve and sustain homeownership for low-income owner-occupants by completing critical repairs to bring properties into code compliance.
  • The Strategic Acquisition and Rehabilitation program acquires and rehabilitates vacant homes strategically selected to maximize market impact; sets new standards of maintenance; and provides quality affordable and market-rate homeownership and rental opportunities in middle neighborhoods while creating jobs for valley residents on an in-house construction team.
  • Neighborhood Organizing to identify and address priorities of neighborhood residents.
  • The Vacant Land Reuse and Maintenance programs reactivate formerly derelict and blighted vacant land as stabilizing assets in neighborhoods citywide.
  • The organization also provides healthy living programming with the Glenwood Fresh Market that serves 2,000 low-income individuals with free fresh produce

YoFresh Foods

YoFresh Foods is a local small business that is growing deeper roots in the Valley. Partnering with with local non profits YoFresh Foods puts a fresh look into feeding people and kids all over Mahoning Valley after starting in 2019 at the Common Wealth Kitchen I

Boys + Girls Club of Youngstown

The Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown provides youth, ages six to 18, a safe place during out-of-school times throughout the school year and summer. The Boys & Girls Club provides access to free, healthy meals and snacks; and introduction to STEM, SMARTS, and Life Skills.

These 12 organizations will be honored at a special kick-off event on November 15.

Thank you to all who submitted nominations and congratulations to the winners!