+ A big shout-out to the community of Steubenville, Ohio today, for the work they've supported at the Unity Kitchen (Urban Mission) They're not even close to making ends meet, but they're doing what I consider to be God's work. Committed to serving the low income population without regard for age, race, nationality, gender, religious belief or other distinguishing characteristics, volunteers gave 52,868 hours of service to Urban Mission in 2004. The Steubenville-Weirton area of Ohio/West Virginia, posted the second to the largest unemployment increase (+2.5 points) in the nation in 2003. They experienced large declines in manufacturing employment over the year, contributing to increased unemployment. See "The Economy At A Glance" [US Dept of Labor]. In October of 2005 there was a whopping 7.4 rate of unemployment in the area with a very sad and revealing -12.8% in the 12-month percentage change in Manufacturing. These are the kinds of communities in most need of government attention, and the thought of the recent "belt-tightening" news from Congress has to make this community feel like a noose has been tightened around their necks.
The steel rust-belt area from Youngstown, Ohio to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, centered in Pittsburgh and strewn with once mighty but now financially broken towns like Aliquippa, Braddock, Newcastle, Steubenville, Sharon, McKees Rocks, and Duquesne, is sinking into spiritual and financial bankruptcy. Workshops have given way to prisons and malls. Now gambling is hailed as economic salvation by the elites who presided over the region’s economic collapse.