Getting Involved In the City

By Lauren Foote

Students anxious to extend their involvement in the community outside the confines of campus will find Youngstown offers plenty of opportunities to volunteer and indulge in nightlife.

Youngstown State University’s Welcome Week invites new students to explore everything the city has to offer in terms of volunteer work, extracurricular activities, restaurants and entertainment. The organization fair on Aug. 20 allows students interested in volunteering to get in contact with local non-profits, and #YSUDowntown on Aug. 27 provides an introduction to downtown entertainment establishments.

Volunteer opportunities in different fields appeal to different majors and different groups of people. Places like OH WOW! Children’s Center, Youngstown YMCA, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Youngstown CityScape, Mercy Health Partners, Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley and United Way of Youngstown are always looking for eager volunteers to help their cause and are easy to access from campus.

Phil Kidd, founder of Youngstown Nation, commented on how volunteering locally can help students.

“I usually direct students to make actual physical change that they can see the benefits from,” Kidd said.

He said he often directs students towards the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, which beautifies and helps the outlying areas of the city through their Revitalize program.

“It is highly organized. You usually have many people involved. There are many projects to work on, so volunteers are encouraged, and there is always something for volunteers to do and work on. They make good use of people’s time,” Kidd said.

Kidd also serves as the associate director of Youngstown CityScape. Their biggest project of the year is Streetscape, which will be held the first Saturday after Memorial Day. Over 650 volunteers will plant flowers and shrubs downtown and in the surrounding areas of Youngstown.

They offer several other volunteer opportunities throughout the year that can be found by visiting their website and clicking the “Get Involved” tab. Students will get notifications and there is no obligation to commit.

Suzanne Barbati, the executive director of OH WOW!, said they use over 100 volunteers throughout the year for this children’s science center.

“They have many different opportunities from exhibits to the office work. We like to match volunteer opportunities with student needs and interests. I believe we are unique in that regard,” Barbati said.

She said they accommodate both long-term and short-term commitments.

“They can begin their freshman year and remain with us till their senior year. However, they may also come and go as their schedules allow them,” Barbati said. is another resource that helps students find places to volunteer in the area.

The diverse nightlife and the restaurant scene downtown accommodate many different tastes and personalities, and can be a good way to blow off steam after a day of volunteer work. Avalon Pizza has an interesting menu and a diverse range of pizzas, while V2 has a nice atmosphere. Two of the trendiest spots downtown are Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts and The Federal — formerly Martini Brothers. They serve gourmet hot dogs and burgers and frequently host live entertainment.

Chandler Waldemarson, a sophomore at YSU, likes Warehouse 50 as a hangout place downtown.

“It’s a good place for wing night on Tuesday nights. It’s fun and there are lots of people,” Waldemarson said.

Closer to campus, on Lincoln, students can visit Pressed Coffee Bar and Eatery to get a scone and cup of coffee. University Pizza and Inner Circle are popular places for all class ranks to come together and have pizza and a beer.

Incoming freshman and new students interested in seeking volunteer opportunities and patronizing the bars and restaurants downtown should visit Kilcawley Center during Welcome Week.