Hometown Hero is passionate about maintaining safe, inviting spaces in Youngstown

Hometown Heroes

Youngstown city parks are getting facelifts. Since February, Dawn Turnage has been working hard to give families a place to relax and spend time together.

Dawn doesn’t call her job work, but a passion.

“I love it. This job, honestly, is not only a passion of mine but I do believe it’s a calling,” she said.

Dawn is Youngstown’s Parks and Recreation director. She moved back to her hometown to take on the role.

“Having a great space to go to, studies have shown that the environment that we live in, if it’s healthy…is inviting, that can help across the board. It can help with our everyday living,” she said.

Dawn has had the position for less than a year but since then, area parks have been renovated with the help of local organizations and grants.

This summer, she revamped programs at Northside Pool. Now she’s working on park renovations around Youngstown.

“Over in the Lincoln Knolls area, we have a brand new park coming up over there. Right now, the kids over there have nowhere to even bounce a ball,” Dawn said.

People are taking notice, too. Dawn said they’re seeing a 50 percent increase in usage of certain programs, parks and facilities.

“We can’t do everything at one time, but they’re open to the idea and happy that someone is actually — not only talking about it but actually living it.”

Her employees notice the change, too.

“She’s outgoing. She’s not a stranger to people, she reaches out. She just has a great character and personality,” Lorenzo Johnson said.

Dawn isn’t stopping here. She hopes to add more senior programs and renovated buildings like the EARC Rec Center.

“There’s a lot of work to be done but I am one to be hands-on, to make sure we have clean, safe parks,” she said.

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