Thanks, Humans of Youngstown

This fine young man goes to the school I sub at

This fine young man goes to the school where I sub

Youngstown has been a place with a bad reputation for many years. So it was great to learn about this group on facebook called Humans of Youngstown. The point of their page is to feature pictures of people who have been stopped on the streets of downtown Youngstown, OH, and who’ve been asked questions not about things like politics or the economy, but about themselves.

The reason I first looked was because I recognized this mug as a student – and friend – who I work with where I substitute teach in Youngstown. We were working on his snare drum skills just yesterday!

Here’s the comment that went with the picture:

This young man really liked my camera and explained how much he loved photography. Then he asked us what we were doing. After I explained he wanted us to interview him too.
“What makes you happy?”
“Playing games with my mom makes me happy. I’m good with math and working on computers or anything electric. That would be my dream job…working on electronics when I get older. I also attend Summit Academy.”
Right when we thought he was done he ended the interview with one more statement.
“Oh, and I’m autistic.”

My blogs are usually short, so there’s only enough space for one point. Today I’d like to make two.

Youngstown, OH (

Youngstown, OH (

The first is this: There are many disadvantaged people living in Youngstown. And with all the difficulties that can come with living in a depressed area (although things are finally turning around!), this young man still has a dream job. He knows there’s something to strive for beyond his immediate circumstances.

And, I love the way he adds what could be his biggest hurdle at the end . . . being autistic. He has a dream and there are obstacles, but he fully expects to overcome them. 

My second point for this blog is: There are many disadvantaged people in Youngstown. And with all the difficulties that can come with living in a depressed area, we need to learn about each other so that we can foster a community where everyone belongs – where everyone is building this place together.

Kudos to the wonderful people at Humans of Youngstown. I get to see some of this in real life because of where I work, and my wife gets to know humans of Youngstown where she works in the public library system.  But, it’s always great to see more. It’s a great reminder that our town has awesome people in it. We’re a town worth fighting for, and so we’ll keep fighting.

Okay, so my two points started out the same. All we hear about Youngstown is all the bad that happens there, that things look pretty bad for the city. What they’ve helped me to see is that one of the best ways to change things is to look past the difficulties and see the positive answers to the problem that are all around us.

It’s a very Jesus-like thing to do. The Gospel of John has Jesus getting to know people one-on-one in almost every chapter. He doesn’t just write a check and send them on their way. He gets to know them and he invites them to know him as well.

Feel free to join in.





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