BOARDMAN - Saluting the Mahoning Valley's law enforcement for their contributions to helping those in the community was the theme this year for the 11th annual Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing our Neighborhoods (ACTION) banquet, which also recognized Habitat for Humanity for its efforts to help others.
The event was held recently at St. Luke Church in Boardman.
Law enforcement officers represented the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office and from Austintown, Boardman, Columbiana, Hubbard Township, Liberty, Poland, Warren, Weathersfield and Youngstown.
ACTION officials said law enforcement officers play a crucial role in the safety and success of area communities.
Guest speaker Judge Theresa Dellick of the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division said "law enforcement is vital in strengthening the community."
"Every day those in law enforcement go out the door of their homes not knowing if they are coming home," she said.
She recalled how seven years ago Youngstown Patrolman Michael Hartzell was gunned down while on duty.
"I'm sure when he woke that morning he thought he would be going home later that day," Dellick said.
She said law enforcement is to be commended for all they do, including helping to deal with gun violence in society.
"They risk their lives every time they go to work in order to protect the lives and rights and property of others. What they do is help make our community a better place to work and live," she said.
Dellick said just as ACTION focuses on working together and collaborating, it is important that society work with and respect law enforcement.
She said as a juvenile court judge, she is often discouraged at disrespect shown by those in her courtroom toward law enforcement.
Dellick also praised the Habitat for Humanity of the Mahoning Valley for providing safe housing for people and showing that the average person can make a difference
"Don't minimize the importance of anyone. The average person makes the most difference," she said.
Monica Craven, director with the local Habitat, said volunteers locally have built 38 homes since 1989 and are working on the 39th home on Rutledge Avenue in Youngstown.
Habitat for Humanity was presented the "Frances Kerpsack Leadership Memorial Award" at the banquet.
ACTION, which began in 1998, works to provide better life conditions for people whose lives are affected by poverty, lack of education and violence. The local group has been in existence 12 years with 24 churches and organizations an integral part.
Pastor Dwayne Heard, president of ACTION, said ACTION is made up of diverse leaders committed to raising awareness and seeking solutions to overcome poverty, racism and social injustice. He said the group works together for safer communities and recognizes the invaluable service rendered by law enforcement.
Later this year, ACTION is planning a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at Chaney High School to discuss various key issues in the community and creating action steps.