YOUNGSTOWN - Area individuals and organizations were recognized for their contributions to the community in promoting programs and services dealing with combating crime and violence.
The 16th annual Peace Awards / Recognition Banquet hosted by the Mahoning Valley Task Force on Crime and Violence Prevention was held this week at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church parish hall in Youngstown.
Tina Milner, event chair with the Mahoning Valley Task Force, said the goal of the task force is to understand and deal with the issues of crime and violence.
''The task force is all about doing what they can in impacting the lives of people in the Mahoning Valley. We have been able to do many things with Trumbull and Mahoning counties together in order to achieve a common goal,'' she said.
Milner said the theme of this year's event is ''Recognizing Cross County Efforts in the Valley'' acknowledging the work of ''crime prevention and community strength'' in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
She said the Mahoning Valley has a strong tradition of the close community support, whether it's for local high school teams, community events or helping others in need.
Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone said the event is a way to renew the commitment towards the progression of non violence and the award recipients are a sample of what the community has to offer.
''My congratulations to these outstanding individuals and organizations for promoting and maintaining a safe community. I have witnessed, directly and indirectly, the impact that these individuals and organizations have made on our community and I truly believe they are most deserving of these awards,'' he said.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said it is always encouraging as a community leader when initiatives that cross counties, communities, cities and regions are striving to achieve the same goal.
''Many hands working together can only move more mountains. ... Thank you for caring to come out and support this year's recipients. They have all worked hard, all for the good of the valley,'' Franklin said.
Keynote speaker at the event was Steve Schumaker, deputy attorney general for law enforcement for Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine.
Awards presented at the event were:
The Jim Gallo Vision Award, to former Warren Mayor Michael O'Brien and former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams for their involvement in promoting programs for peace and nonviolence during their years as mayors;
Edna Pincham Individual Volunteer Award to Cindy Michael of Lena, Christian, Mason Foundation, which provides bookbags to children, Christmas gifts to those in need, fundraisers for ill children and other events to help children in need;
Individual Professional Award to Detective Chuck Swanson of the Youngstown Police Department for his service in law enforcement for the betterment of the community;
Group Professional Award to the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority which helps people in the community with housing needs and also support services such as self-sufficiency programs and housing counseling;
Youth / Individual / Group Award to Youngstown State University Upward Bound, which works to help increase the rate of which participants complete post secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of post secondary education and provides instructional tutoring and summer enrichment and residential programs;
Group Volunteer Award to Trumbull County Art Outreach, which provides educational programs and creative workshops for youths and raises awareness of the arts and Blight to Light projects to create sustainable neighborhoods that offer a healthy and higher quality of life through collaboration of schools, students, businesses and organizations;
Integrity Award to the Rev. Edward Noga of St. Patrick's Church, who serves as chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department and has been involved along with his parish in a myriad of neighborhood, community and ecumenical endeavors;
Special Recognition to David and Joshua Walker for their heroism in helping motorists involved in a fatal accident on Interstate 80. They helped rescue and move a driver to safety before he was seriously injured or died.