By Jack Shock, AmeriCorps NCCC Member

Oluwatosin preparing boards to be hung on homes

Maple 7 arrived in Youngstown, Ohio after two days on the road. The city greeted the team with a horizon of skyscrapers and snow-covered pine trees of the metropolitan park system.  The team met with members of their sponsor organization, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC), and settled into their house which was renovated by YNDC specifically for AmeriCorps NCCC teams.

The team started work in the field the very next day. By 4:00 p.m., members with no construction background were trained and experienced with using nail guns to hang plywood boards onto openings in vacant homes. Maple 7 secures ten homes a day, on average. At the current rate, YNDC projects that the team will complete 20% of the annual board up goal.

“One reason I joined AmeriCorps NCCC was to gain practical experience in the construction field” Says Kea Johnson of Baltimore, Maryland. “So, I’m really grateful to get training for the job I want, while also making a positive impact on Youngstown communities.”

Beyond the work week, Maple 7 serves with community volunteers most Saturday mornings during YNDC’s community days. Members work alongside local church organizations, Boy and Girl Scouts, College fraternities, and passionate citizens to make light work of a heavy load. With the power of numbers, large vacant lots and long stretches of sidewalk can be beautified in only a few hours.

YNDC is a non-profit community development corporation that was founded in 2009. Their goal is to transform low-value neighborhoods into safe environments where people invest time and energy. The organization aims to improve neighborhoods through several programs, such as Homes for Sale, Community Supported Agriculture, and Small Business Development.