YOUNGSTOWN - From different programs and services and varied occupations, the recipients of this year's peace awards have helped in their own ways to reducing crime and violence in their communities.
Seven award winners were recognized this week during the 17th annual Peace Award Recognition event hosted by Help Hotline Crisis Center Inc. and Mahoning Valley Task Force on Crime and Violence Prevention, which formed in June 1989.
The event was held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Youngstown.
Peace Award recipients were:
Jim Gallo Vision Award presented to Victoria Tunage Allen for the Southside Block Watch;
Edna Pincham Individual Volunteer Award to Jackie Burley, director of Protestant Family Services;
Individual Professional Award to Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins;
Group Professional Award to Valley Counseling Services;
Youth / Individual. Group Award to Dr. Carol Baird, director of the Youngstown Connection;
Group Volunteer Award to NOW Youngstown;
Integrity Award to Dr. Cynthia Anderson, retired Youngstown State University president;
Community Initiative to Reduce Violence Award to Judge Robert Douglas Jr.
Douglas Jr., retired from the Youngstown Municipal Court, was the event's keynote speaker and praised the work of the task force.
"This group has helped to change the community and helped so many people. I have always enjoyed working with nonprofit groups like this. I see so many from the group working in the community," he said.
He said that many of the young offenders he sees made poor decisions but want to escape violence and make changes in their lives. For change to take place, there has to be commitment from the community which the task force has done locally, he said.
Madonna Chism Pinkard, event emcee, said the various individuals and groups were honored for their contributions in helping to reduce crime and violence in their communities.
"They have helped to make our community more vibrant," she said.
Warren resident Tina Milner, chair of the task force, said the task force makes residents aware that crime prevention is not just the job of the police department.
"Crime knows no boundaries. Warren and Youngstown are 20 minutes apart. What happens in Youngstown can happen in Warren and what happens in Warren can happen in Youngstown. That is why it is important that we work together," Milner said.
Milner said it is essential that people take care of their communities, especially involving today's youths.
"If we don't do something now to change our Valley we will not have anything here for the future generations," she said.
The task force includes representatives from various organizations and institutions including law enforcement, social services agencies, religious congregations, educational entities and concerned citizens.
The theme of this year's banquet was "Transitions: Change is Inevitable."
Milner said the task force will transition into new endeavors with the CIRV program.
"We are really looking forward to the collaboration with other community partners. Change is not easy. You fight to hold on and you fight to let go," she said.