Monthly Archives: December 2014

Project RISE Takes A Ride On The Polar Express

By Staff Report
Santa and kids on the CVNP Polar Express

All Aboard! Thanks to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Scenic Railroad, Project RISE took a trip to the “North Pole” on the Polar Express December 10th, 2014. The Project RISE Staff accompanied nearly 60 people including families and liaisons from local shelters, and doubled up families. The train departed the Akron Northside Station for a fun filled 2 hour round trip.

Every child received a sleigh bell and a golden ticket as they boarded the train in cozy pajamas. Car No. 3 was completely filled with smiling faces as Ranger Pamela Machuga read “The Polar Express” book by Chris Van Allsburg. The elves took the lead in singing Christmas carols as all participants enjoyed a nice cup of hot cocoa and a delicious, fresh baked cookie. Santa also made an appearance aboard the Polar Express.

Project RISE takes great pride in being able to bring enrichment programs to the children who are experiencing homelessness in the Akron area.

This program is a collaborative effort by Akron Public Schools, local shelters and the Akron community to provide supplemental educational services to children and youth experiencing homelessness.  During the 2013-2014 school year, Project RISE Identified and served close to 1,500 students experiencing homelessness.

For more information on Project RISE and how you can help, please contact Debra Manteghi at 330-761-2969 or

Poverty Ministry shifts toward Holistic Approach

NewpicofDottieDottie Achmoody
Chief Executive Officer

Story by Connie Collins courtesy of the Akronist

This is how Dottie Achmoody describes the current state of OPEN M. For most of its 46-year history, the ministry has provided free food and medical care to the needy, along with many other critical programs.

CEO Achmoody described how post-recession funding has caused the organization to take a critical look at its services, which recently expanded to include a more holistic approach to the problems of poverty. The goal is to establish relationships with people in situational or generational poverty, helping them move beyond the need for emergency help by building the social networks and self-confidence needed to achieve independence.

Achmoody explained that donors want to see more permanent solutions for the community. OPEN M is hoping to meet these expectations by working to prioritize education and preventative measures. This includes mentoring adults into secure employment.

These efforts align with Achmoody’s  own resolve to focus the organization’s efforts on ending the cycle of poverty. As part of this, OPEN M is implementing a new project, the Community Works Connection (CWC). This initiative will be modeled after the highly successful program Cincinnati Works, which offers access to area employers while providing comprehensive support services to those trying to break their cycle of poverty.

bobtitusBob Titus, project manager for the
Community Works Connection,
will help Open M to reach
Akron’s impoverished residents
in through a more holistic approach.

A key component to the success of this venture will be it’s leadership. Achmoody chose Bob Titus for the job because of his experience in staffing and volunteer work with the homeless in Akron. But there was an even more crucial component for OPEN M’s leader when she selected Titus for the role.

“I loved his heart and enthusiasm,” Achmoody said.

Titus will serve as Project Manager for CWC. In this role, he will be focused on increasing long-term support for individuals seeking to emerge from poverty. The CWC program will provide a needed next step for OPEN M’s already established programs, such as Bridges Out of Poverty and Getting Ahead. These existing programs aim to link resources and build support among those suffering from poverty. Participants are invited to reflect on their lives and plan for their and their families’ futures.

For more information about CWC, or to contact the program’s leadership, please visit the group’s Web site

From Nepal to Akron: Refugee’s journey brings new opportunity (Article and Video)

Sagar Timsina2Sagar Timsina’s home in North Hill is vastly different
from Nepal, where his childhood home had no access
to electricity or running water. (Photo: Dale Dong)
Story by

Refugee studies computer engineering, works at International Institute of Akron

Sagar Timsina doesn’t remember Bhutan. The 22-year-old was only a couple months old when his parents were forced to leave their country and their home.

Sitting in his family’s home in Akron, he explains how his family came to live in the United States. He seems comfortable in the space, where brightly colored floral arrangements adorn the walls and decorative streamers hang in entryways from room to room. He points out the makeshift shrine to the Hindu deities his family worships, a bookcase bordered by strands of multi-colored lights.
Continue reading

Better Block Coming to Akron Ohio

MainStinAkronPhoto of Main Street in Akron, Ohio by Flickr user Kevin T. Quinn.


Have you heard the term Better Block? It’s spreading fast here in Akron these days. Google “Better Block, Akron Ohio” and you’ll see nine different references.

The Better Block is a community development demonstration tool that uses grassroots efforts to show residents the potential to create a walkable, bikeable, lively, neighborhood center. The project helps residents envision “what could be,” with temporary “pop-up” businesses, bicycle lanes and pedestrian friendly design. Better Blocks are being performed in cities around the world, and have helped communities rapidly implement neighborhood improvements that can become permanent.

The Knight Foundation and Team Better Block have begun laying the groundwork for their first collaboration with the city of Akron. The North Hill neighborhood has been selected for the city’s first Better Block, and residents, business owners, and city staff have partnered to prepare the Temple Square block (Cuyahoga Falls Avenue and Main Street) for this transformation.
Continue reading