We’ve been in Youngstown now for 1.5 days and have touched on so many parts of the community since our arrival. We started out on Friday with dinner at Youngstown’s only downtown hotel (coincidentally, the same hotel where we’re staying while we’re here) and drinks at Noble Creature Cask House, one of the city’s newest watering holes, to meet the city leaders we’ll spend time with over the course of our trip. The presence of both the new Doubletree Hotel as well as Noble Creature Cask House were the first of many uplifting signs of revitalization we’re experiencing in the city. Saturday marked our first full day here where we managed to fit in a historic walking tour of changing downtown area, had lunch with the Mahoning Valley Mental Health and Recovery Boards to discuss how the opioid crisis has affected Ohio, listened to a panel on education inequality at Inspiring Minds (a local non-profit in the area that supports leveling the playing for at-promise youth), had dinner with Black leaders in education, politics, and business, and finished the night at Royal Oaks, a local nightlife fixture.
While we all had our personal favorites of the groups we met with over the course of the day, I personally connected with Stephanie Gilchrest, the Executive Director of Inspiring Minds. Hearing from women of color in prominent positions in organizations instrumental in revitalizing Youngstown had a profound impact on me, and Stephanie’s dedication to the young adults in the Youngstown City School District made me realize how each individual contribution to solving something as large as turning Youngstown around matters. I left meeting her feeling empowered and ready to take on small wins in the communities I am apart of back home and want to give back to.
We’ve got several packed days ahead of us with many more site visits and community discussions, and we’re all very excited to see what else is in store for us!