by: Aaron Deane
Posted: Jul 15, 2021 / 12:47 AM EDT / Updated: Jul 15, 2021 / 12:47 AM EDT
(WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero is a young man who’s crazy about his community.
Community activist Joseph Napier, Jr. says he doesn’t plan on stopping the work he does and hopes to see his community grow and flourish for generations to come.
“Just the people who helped me along the way. I don’t think this is a one person award,” Napier said.
Napier won’t take all the credit for this award.
“Community award, so you need the community to be a part of it,” he said.
Napier grew up in Youngstown and is determined to see it grow.
“One thing I think our city needs is resiliency. Maybe it’s with a T-shirt, a memory of the past, but I think our main resource is each other, through relationships. If we have relationships, we can build that community resiliency our community needs,” Napier said.
One connection he says has been a major part of his life has been the Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center in Youngstown. He chose this location as the place he wanted to accept his award.
“She’s just a visionary in my eyes, and as far as picking up the torch, this is the perfect place to do it,” Napier said.
He is already leading the way in his community by creating events that bring the city together, like young professionals of color meet-ups, network and chill events, Juneteenth celebrations, community clean-ups and civic events.
“But as far as my generation and people to come, I think if we can have a mindset that we love this community and we want to set roots here, let’s do it collectively. That’s the mission,” Napier said.
He says he’s just so thankful and humbled.
“This is for Youngstown. This is for the south side and, more importantly, it’s about the visionaries that will come behind me,” Napier said. “It’s about planting those seeds, so thank you.”
This isn’t the first time Napier has been awarded for his community work. He has also been awarded with the Emerging Leader Justice and Equality Award, recognized by the city of Youngstown for his COVID-19 relief efforts.