You may have heard about the growing Akron2Akron movement, which organizes monthly walking tours of Akron neighborhoods, led by local residents.
The walks have attracted people of all ages and all backgrounds, and they have been a great way to connect with other people, to get to know your own neighborhood better, and to get to know another neighborhood that you may not be as familiar with.
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.
Bob 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
Photo 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 →