The memorial chapel in the Mahoning County 9/11 Memorial Park in Austintown, Ohio has been considered a sacred place since it was built by volunteers in 2006. Visitors can sit in quiet meditation or prayer. Couples can be married there. But vandals have had a different view and over the last decade, have ripped the chapel door from its hinges four times, used drug paraphernalia inside and desecrated the surroundings.
Guardian Protection Services, a member of the greater Youngstown, Ohio community for nearly 25 years, stepped into help. Guardian donated cameras, a digital video recorder (DVR) and DVR lockbox plus professional installation of the equipment.
“By donating this equipment and our services, we hope to help the community deter vandalism at this well-loved site,” said Kevin Santelli, general manager, Guardian Protection Services, Austintown, Ohio. Santelli commented, “If vandalism is attempted, the DVR will record video clips to help provide additional information to police.”
Jeremy Terwilliger, a Guardian technician for more than 20 years, installed the equipment at the site. “I’ve worked on many types of security installations but this is one of the most gratifying,” said Terwilliger. “People come here looking to find peace and good memories and I know that I helped to make it safer for them,” he commented.
Patrick Connolly, president of the Austintown Beautification Committee and chapel founder, is also the chapel’s caretaker, so he checks on things three times a day. He says the chapel site is popular with visitors and has become a picturesque backdrop for prom photos.
“I didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable during their visit to the grounds, especially inside the chapel, so I tried to stay away from utilizing security cameras,” Connolly said. “But after the last episode of vandalism I thought it was time,” he said, adding, “I am glad we could take a step in the direction of helping reduce the chance of harm to this sacred site by way of the cameras from Guardian.”
Connolly and his committee take pride in building and caring for the chapel on a 100 percent volunteer basis and in never having accepted state, federal or local municipal funds.
“It shows how important a place like this is to the community,” Connolly commented, “The people from Guardian couldn’t have been more helpful. I am glad we have taken a step in the direction of safety by way of their camera donation.”