As OPEN M (Opportunity for People Everywhere in Need Ministry) bids a fond farewell to Dottie Achmoody upon her retirement from her role as CEO on March 31, we look back at her extraordinary accomplishments and the impact she has had not just at OPEN M but on the greater Akron community.
Story by Laura Ofobike – Courtesy of Leadership Akron Class ’12
Gary Wyatt has been on both sides of the addiction divide. Speaking to a Leadership on Main audience, the co-founder of North Hill Community House told a compelling story of personal redemption and commitment, and surprisingly to himself, leadership.
As a child, he saw his parents’ struggles with alcoholism and poverty. When he was a student and an athlete at Garfield High School, he did a “little alcohol and a little pot” now and then, he said, but never anything that got him into trouble. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school to see the world, served four years and returned to Akron in 1989.
The need for food doesn’t end with the holidays and one Akron church is tackling that need daily, head on.
Akron Bible Church, 783 Brown St., started delivering holiday food baskets in 1980 with a distribution of 12 baskets. Now that ministry has grown to thousands of baskets delivered all year.
“In 2009 our pastor had a vision of a year-round ministry of providing food,” said Henri Etta Fletch-Lockhart who with her husband, Rev. Larry Lockhart, directs the ministry. She and her husband are the primary volunteers.
(Editor’s note: this originally appeared in the
Love Akron Network Ford’s Focus) By Pastor Mark Ford
The other day I almost fell out of my chair while watching a national newscast because, to my surprise, the name of a pastor friend from California was mentioned. Pastor Rick Cole, Lead Pastor of Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, was being interviewed for a human interest piece. Pastor Cole revealed to his very large congregation that he had made a decision to become homeless for two weeks and live on the streets incognito. With only a backpack, he spent 14 days sleeping in alleyways, eating what and when he could, and listening to people’s stories. He said the experience changed his life forever. For those two weeks, he climbed into the world of the invisible and ignored and personally experienced the loneliness and indignity that homeless people endure every day.
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