WARREN?- Geneva Reid is a self-proclaimed troublemaker, and she says so with an infectious laugh.
In reality, Reid, in the last 60 years, has become a nationally respected advocate for various groups in the area and around the country.
Reid, 83, was asked to help organize an inauguration party for President Jimmy Carter, controversially brought activist Gloria Steinem to Packard Music Hall in the 1970s and helped run a battered women's shelter in the city.
She also stuck up for tenants in government housing and for housekeepers across the country, starting the Household Technicians of America organization in Warren, and later headed the national organization.
Reid has sat on, and still is part of, several boards and organizations created to help the poor or underrepresented.
"This is all volunteer work," said Reid. "You have to let your children know what you have done in your life because that gives them the incentive to do things in their life."
Reid did all this, while raising four children and later, when one of her sons died, she began at age 62 raising her grandson, David Kirksey.
Later, Reid said she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but has been cancer free since 1991.
Kirksey, 26, still takes care of her and said he is nothing short of inspired by his grandmother.
''She's done things and been places that other grandkids can't say their grandparents have done,'' he said. ''I just hope and pray that when she's gone, I can pick up where she left off. I want to walk in her footsteps.''
Youngstown attorney Elliot Lego, who worked with Reid at Northeast Ohio Legal Services, which later became Legal Aid, in the late 1970s to the early 1990s, remembered Reid as one of a handful of innovative and "hardcore" activists for the welfare rights movement.
"She was clearly one of the originators of the welfare rights movement in Warren, the Mahoning Valley and Ohio," Lego said. ''I don't think there's people around doing what she did nowadays. She was really aggressive in organizing from the ground up.''
Reid was inspired by her father David Williams, a worker for the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority and member of the Urban League, who hosted meetings with candidates seeking political office at his home, inviting neighbors to meet them and ask questions.
"He can home one day and said the Urban League was offering a program that seemed to be perfect for me," Reid said.
Williams encouraged his daughter, in her 20s at the time, to join the AmeriCorps Vista program, designed to train community leaders to help fight poverty.
The experience changed Reid's life.
"That was a big turning point for me," she said. "I had gone through a divorce, and I was able to get a little stipend from them, and it really helped."
Upon her return, she decided she wanted to organize the tenants in her TMHA housing project, who constantly came to her for advice on how to deal with their problems.
That's when Reid first started giving other people headaches with her persistence. She organized the tenants, holding meetings every Monday from government housing neighborhoods all over Warren.
She started getting eviction notices that she flatly ignored, while living in the same place fore 18 years.
"I had eviction notices all the time and I got a letter from the head man because he wanted me to live somewhere else," she said. "I wrote him back, and I said 'I like it fine where I'm at.'"
Reid, who was a maid before the Vista program, then went on to start the area's first domestic workers organization, SURGE, which had a downtown office across from the county courthouse.
Several years later, she read a magazine story about First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, who said she couldn't find good housekeepers. Reid wrote a letter to Johnson, and was contacted by a national domestic workers group in Washington looking to organize, and Reid brought 67 of her SURGE members to New York City for the meetings.
She was then named the head of the national Household Technicians of America organization and turned down offers to work out of New York and Washington, D.C., in order to stay in Warren with her family.
Later, she helped controversially bring 1970s activist Gloria Steinem to speak at Packard Music Hall and, because of her status as the head of the household technicians organization, she was asked to plan an inauguration party for President Jimmy Carter. She later became the volunteer coordinator at Someplace Safe battered women's shelter in the 1980s until she retired in 1997.
"Most women that came in, they would come back two or three times," she said. "Some really changed their lives and some never did. We had women from all walks of life: doctor's wives, policemen's wives."
Her status in the community began to spread and she ended up on several boards, including Community Legal Aid and the Board of National Client Counsels. She was named Vice President of the National Consumer Law Center board and the head Grand Matron of the Eastern Star fraternity, the top spot in the country's largest fraternal organization that admits both men and women.
She is on a supervisory board for the Trumbull County Job and Family Services, the Ohio State Client Counsel, Sunshine Housing Inc. and Trumbull County Community Action Plan, an agency that blacklisted her from attending meetings 60 years ago because she asked too many questions.
"I could never find out why, but I still have the letter they sent me," Reid said. "I represented people who had issues. I would go to meetings and listen and see what was going on, but I also asked questions. People didn't' like that. They considered me a troublemaker."