Project Rise and Mount Lebanon Baptist Church Host Annual Soul Food Dinner for Families Experiencing Homelessness

Interns Project Rise

Craft Project Planned and Implemented
by the Project Rise Interns.


On February 26th, the annual Project Rise Parent RISE-ing Soul food dinner was held at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, serving students and families experiencing homelessness. For the past 8 years, Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church has graciously hosted the event for families served by Project Rise.

Project Rise is a federally funded program through the Ohio Department of Education. This program is a collaborative effort between Akron Public Schools, local shelters and the Akron community to provide supplemental educational services to children and youth experiencing homelessness.

At this year’s Soul Food Dinner, approximately 75 staff, students, and parents were served. The special evening was filled with wonderful soul food, activities relating to the evening’s theme (celebrating African American History) and other family-oriented activities.

As families arrived, they had the opportunity to visit the giveaway tables. Giveaways included hand-knitted hats and gloves, APS tote bags, flannel pillowcases, socks and gently used books. The socks were donated to Project Rise by Rimer CLC and Sam Salem CLC as part of their special “Socktober” project. The pillow cases were hand-made by students from North High School in Marcia Torrence’s sewing 1 class. The hand-knitted hats and gloves were made by a special group called the Algonquin Spinners and Weavers, out of Carrollton, Ohio.

A Project Rise Staff Member Helps a Student Choose From the Special Giveaways

An important component of the Parents RISE-ing model is to provide valuable family time in a nurturing and community environment. To start off the evening, Project Rise provided activity books for the families to complete together. The activity books included coloring pages, word search, and crossword activities, recipes and poetry written by African Americans.

Prior to the dinner, Rachel Breece of Project Rise provided the welcome and introduced a special group of performers, Voices of Judah. The group is comprised of members of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church and they sang two beautiful songs for the group.

After the songs, the students, families, guests, staff and other attendees enjoyed the fantastic meal prepared by the members of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. The delicious meal included fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas, candied yams, and cornbread.

As the attendees were finishing their meals, Project Rise Staff Member Corasse Hawkins along with a group of students from Akron’s Battered Women’s Shelter delighted attendees with a beautiful, interpretive song and dance.

A Student Working on a Special Craft Project Planned and Provided by Kathy Marten, a Librarian from Akron Summit County Public Library.

After the dinner, the attendees split into groups according to age to participate in enrichment activities. Activities were provided by both Project Rise Staff Members, Interns, and Representatives from the Akron Summit County Public Library.

During the activity time, each student received a brand new book from Children and Books (CAB) thanks to Chuck Bell. To close this wonderful evening, the families were invited to go through the giveaway room again.

Project Rise would like to thank everyone from Mt. Lebanon involved with the event and especially Sister Robin Evans, who helped coordinate the event with Rachel Breece of Project Rise.

Pastor Robert Evans and Sister Robin Evans of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church with Rachel Breece of Project Rise.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Project Rise identified and served over 1,850 students who were experiencing homelessness and the numbers are increasing. For more information on Project Rise and how you can help, please contact Rachel Breece at 330-761-2969 or

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