YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown neighborhood watch and community groups have been struggling throughout the pandemic.

Derrick McDowell, community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, calls them the front lines of our community.

They are out every day doing revitalization and beautification projects throughout the city, but many didn’t meet during the pandemic.

They’re also having trouble recruiting younger members, something Detroit Pemberton Neighborhood Association President Josie Lyons says is vital to keeping the groups alive.

“I think it’s beneficial because it helps people take ownership of their neighborhood… the youth that are in our neighborhood, to make them feel that it is a part of their own and they have a say in how the neighborhood is growing,” she said.

“These block watch and neighborhood associations have been out doing the work sometimes the city hasn’t been able to do,” said Michael North, president of Northeast Ohio Homeowners and Concerned Citizens. “It’s the little things, the little things that sometimes are overlooked. This is where the neighborhood block watch and associations step in.”

North said these neighborhood groups have to learn how to use social media to reach young people, but he thinks there are a few reasons there’s a generational gap in membership, including a lack of civics classes in school.

“There’s no sense of giving back and that has to be taught at a younger age,” North said.

A Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre concert on Sept. 16 will benefit these — and many more — neighborhood organizations. Tickets can be purchased here.

McDowell said he spent a lot of time trying to connect with these groups.

He said a lot of elder members of the community have led these groups for decades and he hopes the concert will let more young people connect with these groups.

“It’s time for a generational handoff,” McDowell said.