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 organization’s 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. YBC’s 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 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 Anne’s 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 someone’s life, hopefully helping with closure. It also means the life of the deceased pet will support the life of another pet, whose family’s circumstances are not as fortunate.
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 state’s 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 County’s 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 valley’s 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 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!
WRTA Holiday Lights Campaign Honors Organizations That Light Up the Valley
This holiday season, WRTA is once again putting the spotlight on organizations that Light Up the Valley all year long with the 2022 Holiday Lights Campaign!
Nominations are now being accepted, awards will be presented at a special event November 15th. The honored organizations will be featured in TV, press, social media, and signs on WRTA buses through the end of the year.
This year, WRTA asked three community leaders who have been acknowledged for good work that has benefited the Valley to help produce the campaign as co-chairpeople. The event co-chairs are:
• Vince Brancaccio — Executive Director, Help Network of NEO (Suicide/Crisis Hotline)
• Barb Ewing — CEO, Youngstown Business Incubator
• Sydney Metzel— CMO, New Day Recovery/On-Demand Healthcare
HOW TO NOMINATE YOUR ORGANIZATION OR OTHERS
To nominate your own organization or an organization that you can testify has done exceptional work in the Valley, just complete the short form below before 5pm on October 20, 2022. Nominate your favorite just once, more nominations do not help chances of selection.
This year the nominations are divided into three categories (1) Non-profit, (2) public agencies (e.g. The Public Library) and (3) private companies who do good works
- Nominations Accepted until 5pm on October 20, 2022
- Award Winners announced and contacted on November 1, 2022
- Kickoff and award presentation on 10:30am on Tuesday, November 15, 2022
- Location: Concept Studio in Downtown Youngstown
Fill out the form below to nominate your organization
Thank you for submitting your Holiday Lights nominations. Winners will be announced and contacted soon. Please check our website and social media for a list of the winners.
All Star Schools Campaign Highlights Mahoning County High Schools
As the 2022-2023 school year starts, WRTA is seeking to recognize the contributions of secondary schools in Mahoning County with a new campaign, “All Star Schools”.
“We call them ‘All Star Schools’ because of the great job they do as they educate, inspire and develop our next generation of community leaders.” said Dean Harris, Executive Director of WRTA “These high schools give the Valley a lift too.”
All through September, WRTA will be highlighting local high schools in TV commercials, social media, on buses and even on the giant digital signs at Federal Station. “We want the community to know how our local schools add value and improve the lives of your students, their families and their community” Harris added.
Individual Featured Schools
All Mahoning County High Schools will be mentioned in the All Star Schools campaign. High Schools can also be highlighted individually in TV and social media messages if they wish and point out the things that make their school special. The individual messages cane even feature students, teachers and administration.
All Mahoning County high schools are mentioned in the All Star Schools campaign. All schools were also offered the opportunity to be highlighted individually in TV and social media messages to point out the things that make their school special.
Six schools responded and decided to participate at the individual level – Jackson-Milton High School, Boardman High School, Cardinal Mooney High School, Ursuline High School, West Branch High School, and Youngstown Rayen Early College High School.
Here are some highlights about each school that are featured in tv spots and social media —
JACKSON-MILTON HIGH SCHOOL
Students receive individual attention from a dedicated faculty at Jackson-Milton High School and also has a focus on strong staff-parent communication. This all star school promotes Music and Art courses but Physical Education and Technology are also priorities. Jackson-Milton is an all star high school with college-level course offerings in a beautiful rural setting.
Boardman High School
With a long history of excellence, Boardman High School is recognized for its rigorous academics, extensive and award-winning arts programs and competitive athletics. Boardman is an all star high school offering new career-focused programs for students and inviting the community to join the Spartan Tradition by visiting their outstanding venues.
Cardinal Mooney High School
Students are set-up for success in a diverse learning environment at Cardinal Mooney High School with college prep courses, daily prayer and regular masses, and more than 26 varsity sports offered. Cardinal Mooney is an all star high school that maintains excellence in its academic, spiritual and extra-curricular traditions.
Ursuline High School
Ursuline High School is a Catholic school where students benefit from active participation in the Sacraments, service projects and rigorous college prep curriculum. Ursuline is an all star high school that offers 17 championship caliber athletic programs and has professional and dedicated staff that go above and beyond the call of duty .
West Branch High School
Outstanding academic programs are offered at West Branch High School, including AP classes, Honors, STEM, Engineering, Landscaping and many more. West Branch is an all star high school that also offers 17 varsity athletic teams and 20 activities and clubs, to ensure students can be a part of West Branch in whatever way fits them best.
Youngstown Rayen Early College High School
Youngstown Rayen Early College High School is an academic advancement program that removes barriers for individuals so that they are college and career ready. Youngstown Rayen is an all star high school that follows a design where scholars can simultaneously earn a high school diploma and a degree upon high school graduation.
Watch for the All Star High School Campaign on TV, social media, Federal Station and WRTA buses and help us highlight the contributions of secondary schools for students and our community.
Fixed Route Changes Coming June 5
WRTA has made improvements to seven of its Fixed Routes to better serve the community. These routes include:
- 27-Austintown Loop
In addition to adjusting these schedules, Fixed Routes 72-Southwest and 75-Northwest will be suspended. The changes to these routes will take effect on June 5, 2022.
The new maps and schedules for the seven Fixed Routes can be found below —
These schedule changes will be reflected in the Maps & Schedules section of the WRTA website and on the Mystop Mobile app.
Fire Causes Interruption In WRTA Service
A fire on Sunday morning in the WRTA bus garage required additional maintenance time to ensure all of the buses are clean and odorless and that has caused some service interruptions.
Warren service is cancelled through Wednesday, May 25 and will return on Thursday, May 26.
The cancelled routes are:, #70 Southeast, #71 North, #72 Southwest, #73 East, #74 Elm Rd. Warren, #75 Northwest and #76 North Jackson Express.
Western Reserve Transit Authority is recommending riders make sure the schedule of the bus they ride has not been modified before they go to the bus stop today.
“We’d strongly recommend riders check the MyStop Mobile app for updates. But they can also call or check our website just to be sure.” said Harris.
The MyStop mobile app can be downloaded for free in the Apple and Google Play app stores. The WRTA office phone is 330-744-8431 and the website can be found at WRTAonline.com.
Face Masks No Longer Required
In accordance with TSA no longer enforcing the federal face mask mandate — effective immediately, face masks/coverings are no longer required on WRTA buses. Riders may continue to wear face masks if they choose to do so.
The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.
For more information, visit the TSA website.
Businesses Selected for “Give Local Small Business a Lift” Campaign
Twelve businesses from Youngstown, Boardman, Austintown and Campbell were chosen to be part of the “Give Local Small Business a Lift” Campaign.
Starting with National Small Business Week on May 1, WRTA and the Business Journal will begin promoting and sharing the businesses’ stories on social media, TV, WRTA bus signs and the digital sign above Federal Street station. Profiles of each featured business will begin appearing on the WRTA Community Resource page and BusinessJournalDaily.com starting in May.
The 12 businesses selected for the 2022 campaign are:
- Cornersburg Italian Specialties
- Peaberry’s Cafe
- One Step Forward
- The Youngstown Flea
- Next Level Fitness Academy
- Sarah’s Ceramics
- Send It Packin’
- Fancey Boutique
- The TakeOut
- Culturehouse Coffee Co.
- Laugh and Learn Academy LLC
- Sugarpan Bakery
Thank you to everyone who participated!
Nominate Your Business for the “Give Local Small Business a Lift” Campaign
WRTA and the Business Journal are asking you to “Get on the Bus! And Give Local Small Business a Lift!”
Starting with National Small Business Week on May 1, WRTA and the Business Journal will be promoting and sharing the stories of twelve local small businesses on social media, TV, WRTA bus signs and the digital sign above Federal Street station. The twelve selected businesses will also be featured on BusinessJournalDaily.com and on WRTA’s website.
As a special bonus, one of the twelve businesses will also win a $3,000 TV advertising campaign on WKBN TV27.
Ready to Nominate Your Business?
To qualify for consideration, the small business must be on or very close to a WRTA Fixed Route (large bus route). Fixed Routes are on the major roads in Youngstown and the surrounding suburbs, such as Market St., Mahoning Ave., Belmont Ave., and others. There are more than 30 Fixed Routes all over the county. To determine if your business is on a Fixed Route, check the WRTA route maps and descriptions here.
Once you have verified that your business qualifies, fill out the form below!
Deadline to nominate your business is Wednesday, March 30. The businesses selected will be notified by email and announced in this space and on social media.
Following our request, WRTA has received many nominations for businesses who would like to be a part of this campaign. Watch for our forthcoming announcement of the small businesses that have been chosen.
Front-Door Boarding Resumes February 28
Starting Monday, February 28, riders will once again be able to board WRTA’s big buses through the front doors. Riders boarding Fixed Route buses have been required to board from only the rear doors since 2020, due to social distancing requirements.
FACE MASKS STILL A MUST
Riders are still required to wear face masks on all WRTA buses. According to TSA, the face mask policy for public transportation has been extended through April 18, 2022.
Severe Winter Weather May Cause Delays
WRTA riders should be aware of possible service delays on Thursday, February 3 and Friday, February 4 due to a severe winter weather alert. Further delay updates or cancellations can be found on our website and social media platforms.
Thank you for your patience.