WARREN - Last Tuesday morning, a colleague of Freddy Manson's told him not to come to work because he would be greatly disappointed if he did.
That was all it took. Manson said he "flew" to the Community Volunteer Council office on West Market Street to see what had happened.
There, he found flower gardens outside the building that he and other volunteers had put their hands and hearts to all summer had been vandalized. Plants were pulled from the ground by their roots and flowers were torn or cut off at their stems. Many of them were thrown across the parking lot and onto the street.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Community Volunteer Council members try to undo some of the vandalism that damaged the flower gardens outside the group’s office on West Market Street. They are, from left, Freddy Manson, Ken Flight and Crystal DeJesus.
"It made me sick when I saw it," said Manson, a lifelong Warren resident. "All that time and effort and work. It wasn't just me. I thought about the people who had contributed. We all pitch in. It just doesn't make any sense for someone to do this."
Manson and other volunteers spent much of last week cleaning the area, replanting what they could save and trimming off torn flowers.
For the past several years, volunteers have donated countless hours to make the property as nice as possible, explained Edith Allgood, CVC president.
"It's heartbreaking that anyone would do something like this. Our volunteers put so much time into helping the community and trying to do good. This just doesn't make sense," Allgood said.
Manson and other volunteers, including Ken Flight and Crystal DeJesus, both of Warren, said they won't let the vandalism keep them from planting more flowers next year.
"We're not out. We're not going to let this stop us," DeJesus said.
Allgood said police were contacted, but said there was little they could do without much to go on.
CVC, organized in 1979 by Sadie Parks, offers volunteer services throughout the area and has been devoted to helping low-income families in Trumbull County. Services include distributing food and clothing to needy residents. The effort also helps local agencies and facilities including Mobile Meals, nursing homes, area S.C.O.P.E. offices, Trumbull County Children Services Board and the United Way, among others.
"We help people. We don't hurt anyone," Allgood said. "I can't understand why anyone would want to hurt us like this."