Keeping up with the community

The Rotary Club works with Operation Warm. Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Youngstown on Facebook.

By Madeline Hippeard
Jambar Contributor

Civic organizations promote community wellbeing through organized projects focused on charitable, recreational or educational goals.

Youngstown is home to several civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club of Youngstown, lodges of the Freemasons of Ohio, the Kiwanis of Youngstown, the Lions Clubs and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Although civic organizations focus on serving a community, members often find personal benefit, said Deanna Rossi, president of the Rotary Club of Youngstown. 

“One of the main themes of Rotary is service above self. So, anyone who is involved in the Rotary — be it an adult or a student — what they’re going to find is that there is so much more to life when you’re serving others,” Rossi said.

The Rotary Club works in the community through service projects such as Operation Warm, which provides winter coats to children in need, and Operation Pollination, which restores and maintains pollinator habitats in Mahoning County.

The Rotary also holds social events such as its Groundhog Day Craft Beerfest, which raises money for service projects and community grants. 

William Clark, a graduate student in Youngstown State University’s counseling program, has been a Freemason for seven years. Clark, who was born with cerebral palsy, said he joined the Freemasons after the organization funded a life-changing surgery that allowed him to walk. 

“When I first joined, I joined out of a sense of honor and obligation to give back to my fellow disabled individuals. I have cerebral palsy, and they gave me the surgery that allowed me to walk,” Clark said. 

The Freemasons have many sub-branches within the organization, each with a unique charitable focus. 

Two sub-branches are the Shriners, which provides medical help to children and families in need, and the Scottish Rite, which focuses on education-related goals.

Civic organizations can provide connections between members on professional and personal levels.  

Clark said the connections and family atmosphere are his favorite part about being a Freemason.

“I can vehemently say that I would not have had the experiences and I would not be the person that I am today should I not have had contact with the Freemasons,” Clark said.

Alongside personal growth, civic organizations also offer educational experiences, increased cultural awareness, compassion and citizenship both in their communities and the world. 

Both the Rotary and Freemasons offer scholarship opportunities to members and others in the community. 

Since 1989, the Rotary has awarded scholarships to high school seniors. In 2021, the Rotary began awarding the Rotary Club of Youngstown Scholarship to one YSU student a year. 

Similar to the Rotary, the Masonic Scholarship is available to high school seniors regardless of their membership status.

Leave a Reply