FOWLER - Most who know her will agree: When you meet Roberta Cykon, it will be an experience you will always remember.
"She's unforgettable," said Melanie Jones, director of the South East Side Community Association. "It's the compassion that she shows. She just blesses people," she said.
Jones knows first-hand what it takes to become a Community Star - being a recipient of the honor herself - and says Cykon's continuous dedication to others makes her "star" material.
Now in its 12th year, the Community Star program is sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle and Trumbull 100 and celebrates the volunteers who have had a significant influence on Trumbull County.
Cykon is a certified grief counselor and life coach, as well as the founder of Motivation For You LLC, Integrity Beauty Women of Excellence, Motivation for You, Striving Every Day (SHE) Squad and Women of Significance.
She also volunteers for Cortland Health Care Center, offers her services and as an ordained minister for people struggling financially with their weddings and spends time with people who are dying and don't have family nearby. As a licensed cosmetologist, she cuts hair for people who can't afford to go to a salon.
President and founder of Motivation For You LLC; director and founder of Integrity Beauty Women of Excellence, Motivation for You, Striving Every Day (SHE) Squad and Women of Significance; volunteer for Cortland Health Care Center; volunteer for Washington Square Nursing Home; worked with City of Warren to create the Helen Albert Parkway and the Helen Albert Memorial Day Pay it Forward on March 30; ordained minister; recipient of the Trumbull County Children Services Rising Up and Moving On award in 2012; and Tiara Magazine Inspirational Woman of the Year in 2012.
In addition to her volunteer work, Cykon also is attending Youngstown State University, where her goal is to obtain a master's degree in social work.
Through her journey in life, Cykon has made mistakes, and she isn't afraid to talk about them. In fact, putting those mistakes out there for others to see is part of her mission.
"A lot of people are ashamed of what they've been through ... so consumed by their worth of the past that they can't see the future. A lot of people are so fearful about sharing their life. I'm not. It needs to be told," she said. "I want to help people turn their life story into purpose."
Using people's life experiences to enhance the lives of others while boosting their own self-esteem is what Integrity Beauty is all about, and Cykon said she is determined not only to spread that mission locally, but globally.
"I'm trying to help everyone, wherever they are. I don't see people the same way that other people see them," she said. "What I'm trying to do is make people strong enough so that when people say to them, you did that, they can say, 'Yeah, I did do it, and you know what, I'm free.'"
If you ask Cykon how it all began, she likely will tell you she was "established in 1973 and reinvented in 2005," when her grandmother passed away.
Another reinvention came when she met Helen L. Albert.
In 1944, Albert became the first African-American registered nurse in Trumbull County. In 1960, she established Albert's Nursing Home in Warren and later opened the Albert's Family Care Center, a group home for mentally challenged individuals and senior citizens.
Cykon met her at Washington Square Nursing Home in Warren in 2007, two years before her passing in September 2009.
"She always had a tiara on her head. She said, 'Oh, yeah, baby, I always wear a tiara because I'm royalty,'" Cykon recalled with a smile. "When I was little, I wanted to be in a pageant and I never had the opportunity to. That's how this bond together clicked," she said.
Cykon made Albert a promise before she died: She would keep her message going. And she hasn't forgotten that promise.
The first Purity Ball was held last June, where participants, including members of the SHE Squad - many of whom also are Girl Scouts - honored Albert by wearing tiaras and sashes in her memory.
"Everyone says she was a queen in her own right," Cykon said, explaining that the SHE Squad was founded to help children with their self-esteem.
Cykon also worked with the city of Warren to create the Helen Albert Parkway as well as the Helen Albert Memorial Day Pay it Forward on Albert's birthday, March 30. Every year on that date, she holds an event.
Members of the SHE Squad will be among those attending this year's ball where they will be officially inducted into Integrity Beauty.
"It's going to be a good opportunity for the children ... some of these kids have never been to anything like this," said Jones, who also helps with the event.
Jones said she is connected with the Albert family and appreciates all the things Cykon is doing in her memory.
"I admire what she's doing," Jones said, explaining that no matter how much Cykon has on her plate or how much negativity she is faced with, she doesn't give up. "She just keeps going. She kind of overextends herself and needs reminders so she doesn't lose herself. She was with (Albert) all the way to the end of her life," she said. "She's not going to let go of that memory."