YOUNGSTOWN — Festivities are planned for this afternoon at a transitional house on Glenwood Avenue that provides a stable place for boys working at Cafe Augustine inside the Newport Library branch.
Youngstown’s St. Augustine Society had been looking for sponsors to name rooms and the house, in order to raise funds to buy it.
Hubbard natives Rick (and Lynn) of Clover, S.C. and Mary Jo Knuth, now of Niles, donated an undisclosed sum of money to be a diamond sponsor, which allowed them to name the house in honor of their mother, Joann Kerola Knuth, 90, of Hubbard.
Other donors gave $10,000 “platinum” gifts for naming rooms.
Today at 1:30 p.m. there will be a luncheon and dedication of The Joann Kerola Knuth Transition House. This will be at the house, 2125 Glenwood Ave., and after the dedication, there will be a barbecue for the neighborhood.
In December, Mahoning County commissioners allocated $50,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to the St. Augustine Society to help it continue to operate its Cafe Augustine job placement and life-skills program.
The nonprofit society put that $50,000 toward buying the building where participants in the program live.
The Rev. Edward Brienz is the administrator of Cafe Augustine and the transitional house.
Mary Jo Knuth explained that “Father Ed” is the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in McDonald, where the family attends, and has struck up a friendship with him.
“It struck us as something that Youngstown really, really needs,” she said of Cafe Augustine and the house. “It’s really impressive what this program has done for these men.”
Brienz previously described the the cafe at 3730 Market St., inside the Newport library branch on the South Side, as a restaurant that helps “folks who grew up in homes that don’t necessarily have an employment history and don’t necessarily have strong success in their careers.”
Young people ages 16 and into their 20s work in the cafe, which is open weekdays and serves meals such as hamburgers, chicken-salad sandwiches, soup, stuffed cabbage, shrimp and haddock.
Brienz, who is executive director of Youngstown’s St. Augustine Society, which he created in 2015, said the society discovered the young people it worked with did well in their work environment at the cafe, but they struggled with consistency in their home life.
So when a former girls home at 2125 Glenwood Ave. closed, the society started to rent it to provide its workers with a place to live, with help from volunteers. The home has provided stability for the workers, but the owner decided to sell, and the St. Augustine Society wanted to stay there.