September 17th marked a special day in the city of Akron. It was a day when local business men and women, non-profit and ministry leaders and dreamers were brought together to celebrate and be inspired.
The children of the Findley Community Learning Center made it memorable for all, as they paraded onto the stage, full of smiles.
Their needs, as the principal of the school shared, will continue to echo in the hearts of everyone who attended.
Faces of the Future
The Findley Community Learning Center is a local school brimming with needs. With a variety of ethnicities, 50% of the students are English as second language learners. They have 7 predominant languages within the school.
Many of the kids come from refugee camps, not ever having schooling in their home country. Most of them live in poverty and cannot afford proper clothing, or even food.
Pastor Mark Ford, Founder of the Love Akron Network, took the stage, saying
“I believe that the children in our community are our precious assets and beyond what we contribute through taxes for public education, I believe the time has come for all of us to become personally involved in the school.”
Taking the Challenge
A beautiful example of a church coming together with one High School out of Portland, Oregon, shows that change is always possible. There are no hopeless cases. When people with a heart for the city come together, great things can happen.
Roosevelt High, a once poverty-stricken, high crime burden to parents has become an inspiration to many.
“It’s what starts to happen once you start loving and serving those in a public high school,” came a message from staff there.
We can work together to write a new story for our kids and our schools.
As for Findley, their staff shared,
“Our families need help. They’re all struggling. We send food home to families on Fridays so they have food on the weekends. There’s such an opportunity to touch not just a child but a whole community here at Findley.”
One Man’s Dream
Pastor Mark Ford left the audience with this challenge:
“What would it look like if each one of us viewed the students of Summit County as one of our own? Many of the teachers in our Akron Public School System do this every day. Principals like Sherry Bennington take Children’s uniforms home to wash them so they can wear clean clothes the next day. Many children do not have the adequate support system that many of us are accustomed to experiencing.”
Getting choked up with emotion, he continued,
“It will take every one of us for each child to succeed. I envision that day when every student in our 207 public schools is adopted. By adopted I mean that every student has someone, other than a parent, teacher or legal guardian, who is committed to their academic and personal success. Someone who knows their name, remembers their birthday, and knows them well enough to ask them about their grades. I envision the day that every teacher and administrator is adopted and they have a support system around them that help them do their job so they can concentrate on teaching and administrating.”
“Today Akron, we’re taking a bold initiative,” Ford said of their beginning the Findley adoption program.
“Building from the premise that it takes a village to raise a child, we’re committed to doing whatever we can to engage the full community to bring individual gifts and collective resources to bear all of the needs of Summit County.”
Two churches have already caught the vision. The First Congregational Church of Hudson and Trinity United Church of Christ, located in the heart of North Hill, have formed a partnership to better serve the needs of Findley.
They’ve started by donating back packs, school supplies, uniforms, and serving as greeters as start of the school day to name a few things.
“We cannot work in isolation. The future of our students is just too important. The staff at Findley is excited about all the possibilities and how it will affect the futures of our students at the Akron Public Schools and our community,” Sherry Bennington, Principal of Findley Community Learning Center said.
A documentary on Roosevelt High will be shown on October 22nd at Main Library at 7 p.m.
For more information on Love Akron, visit www.loveakron.org .