Economic development programs provide funding to businesses

Economic development programs provide funding to businesses

Photos: A Scissor Lift at Big Mike’s Automotive & Collision (L-R) Michael and Felicia Cowans, with their daughters Lydia and Alexis, and VP John Prouty

Chad Morrison, and his son, Chad Jr. are co-owners of Pregame Tavern

Foundation awards 16 recipients in first economic development initiative

Big Mike’s Automotive & Collision and Pregame Tavern are among 16 recipients to be awarded funding from two of Barberton Community Foundation’s newest economic development initiatives.

Big Mike’s received funding through the new Economic Development Assistance Program, which awarded a total of $99,714 to eight different Barberton businesses for expansion or job creation.

Michael Cowans, aka Big Mike, says, “Barberton is such a strong community. The people – they embraced us. It’s been wonderful to have the community behind us, and now with the Foundation’s support, we can reach our goals even faster.”

Mike will put funding toward the purchase of four additional scissor lifts for the company’s mechanical and repair building. “These lifts get the car up and make it easier for technicians to work on them,” said Mike. “It makes a huge difference for our staff, who will have better access to the car for repair.” In addition to the lifts, Mike is hoping to hire four more employees to support his growing business.

Pregame Tavern was a recipient of the assistance from the Downtown Building Rehab Program, which awarded $146,609 to eight different projects for brick-and-mortar updates to buildings located within Barberton’s Downtown Historic District.

Chad and Amanda Morrison purchased the properties at 105 and 107 2nd St. NW in downtown Barberton. Chad opened the Pregame Tavern with his son, Chad Jr.

“I’d say our food sets us apart,” said Chad Jr. “The meatballs and sauce in our meatball sub are homemade from my great-grandma Rose’s recipe.”

Chad said they heard about the Foundation’s program during their grand opening. Amanda also owns and operates a beauty salon in Barberton, along with the Pale Petal, an online boutique that she recently expanded as a location at 107 2nd St. “We had been talking about expanding and it was perfect timing.” Chad intends to use funding from the Foundation to update the restrooms and add a patio space.

About the programs:

With the final payment on Barberton High School completed, the Foundation has turned its attention to economic development with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs, business expansion, job creation and building improvements downtown.

The Foundation partnered with Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC) to facilitate the programs. Applications opened in May and were reviewed by a committee of both BCDC and Foundation board members. By June, the Foundation had received more than $500,000 in requests, double the budgeted amount for the programs. Both the Economic Development Assistance Program and the Downtown Building Rehab Program are coordinated by Barberton Community Foundation, with funding provided through a grant to BCDC, which distributes this reimbursement-based funding to businesses.

Executive Director Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. said that the community has been greatly receptive to these programs. “We were very pleased with the number of applicants. We want to thank BCDC for promoting these new programs and for partnering with us.”

Ted Herncane, director of economic development, said that the project review committee chose to partially fund most projects, in an effort to support as many applicants as possible. “This is a pilot project, one that we believe will be very successful. It’s our hope that we can continue the project next year.”


Foundation Announces 2022 Game Changers

Foundation Announces 2022 Game Changers

Congratulations Game Changers

Barberton Community Foundation is proud to announce the 2022 Game Changers: Mike Moore and the Barberton Firefighters Association Local 329. This individual and organization are recognized for their history of service and on-going commitment to Barberton.

Please join the Foundation in congratulating Mike Moore and the Barberton Firefighters Association Local 329 as our 2022 Game Changers. We will celebrate their accomplishments at our Annual Dinner on Thursday, November 10, 2022, at the Galaxy Restaurant. Tickets will go on sale in September. 

Mike Moore: A Life of Service

Mike Moore was selected for the Game Changer award in recognition of his willingness to help those in need. A member of St. Augustine Church, Mike currently serves as the president of the Coalition of Concerned Christians, a network of nine area churches that provide everything from the weekly soup kitchen at First Presbyterian Church, to clothing and laundry support through Common Threads Closet, to support with rent and utilities from the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Mike is also an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Barberton where he installs grab bars in showers and bathrooms for senior citizens with disabilities for a $25 donation to the club.

The many stories of Mike’s service tell us that he is a doer and a problem-solver. There are stories of folks needing extra food, gas money, car repairs, hedges trimmed, outfits for work, covering a shift at the soup kitchen, or simply an encouraging word. Whatever is needed, Mike finds a way to provide help.

Mike moved to Barberton in 1972 and worked a thirty-year career as the maintenance planner at PPG. He views himself as a D.I.Y. guy who has managed to surround himself with many wonderful people. Primary among those individuals is his wife of thirty-four years, Linda Moore. “She is the driving force behind me,” Mike says. They are often seen working the soup kitchen as a team. When asked about why he gives so much to his various causes, Mike told the story of a particular day in the soup kitchen. “Ray Leach gives us donuts to pass out at the soup kitchen,” he says. “Well one day, a little girl picked up one of those donuts and said to her parent, ‘Look mommy! I get breakfast tomorrow morning!’” Mike paused and said, “If that don’t knock your socks off… I don’t care how much gas it takes, how many stairs I’ve got to climb, how hard it is, or what I need to fix. I’m going to do it.”

Mike said that volunteering is inherently rewarding. “The actions that we take on behalf of others are our reward.” 

Barberton Firefighters Association Local 329: A Culture of Giving

Barberton Firefighters Association Local 329 was selected to receive the Game Changer award for their many years of service in support of the Esther Ryan Shoe Fund Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser, organized by Magic City Kiwanis each year. “We are incredibly excited to receive this award,” said Mike Beckman, president of the Firefighters Association. “It’s wonderful for the guys to be recognized for their hard work and volunteerism.”

The Esther Ryan Shoe Fund Spaghetti Dinner has become famous over the years for the participation of Barberton’s firefighters. Mike Beckman explained that the association took over the task of cooking the spaghetti (and guarding the recipe for the sauce) from a group of teachers in 1992. “That started the tradition here and we’ve continued to build on it,” he said. For thirty years, Barberton firefighters have been donating their time to this fundraiser, including through the pandemic, when it was take-out only.

Mike said that giving back is a particular value of the culture at the Firefighters Association. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the guys who came before us leading the way. We try to build on and expand what they’ve done, so we are always volunteering in the community in some way.”

The Firefighters Association awards an annual scholarship to a Barberton High School senior, which they’ve increased to two students this year, and they fundraise for Operation Warm, which provides coats for kids. Last year they donated over 200 coats to kids at Head Start. They also participate in Adopt-A-Family as well as sponsoring many local fundraisers for student sports.

With roughly half of their 40 members living in Barberton, Beckman said it’s important to keep volunteerism as a core piece of the association’s culture. “If you are called to service as a firefighter, you are called to help people. You want the best for your community. Around here, someone always steps up.”

Foundation Awards Health and Wellness Grant Cycle

Foundation Awards Health and Wellness Grant Cycle

Barberton Community Foundation Logo

The Barberton Community Foundation Board of Directors held their July board meeting at Summa Health – Barberton Campus. Several board and friends members toured the hospital’s newest Joint Replacement Center prior to the meeting. The board discussed regular business and voted to approve Hugh McMichael and Theresa Osbourne to the Friends of the Foundation. Executive director Suzanne Allan, Ph.D. said, “We’re pleased to welcome people who care about our community as new Friends to the Foundation.”

The Foundation’s second grant cycle focuses on health and wellness. The board approved fourteen grants totaling $143,535.

The largest grant of the cycle was $25,000 awarded to Summa Health – Barberton Campus to support the purchase of a new CT machine, supporting cardiac care, stroke therapy and more.

The Foundation awarded $15,000 to AxessPointe in Barberton for their Patient Assistance Fund, which will cover costs such as prescription copays, provide groceries, hygiene items and cleaning items. Funding will help AxessPointe ensure underserved and low-income individuals receive crucial primary and preventative care.

Victim Assistance Program was awarded $15,000 for their Barberton Victim Advocacy Program, which serves victims of crime and trauma. The program is located within the Barberton Municipal Court.

The City of Barberton received grants for two separate parks projects. Tuscora Park received $15,000 to support six new pickleball courts and Breitenstine Park received $10,000 towards renovating the tennis courts.

Countryside (Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy) received $10,000 to continue their community food access program at the Barberton Farmers Market. This program has been very successful in supporting SNAP and WIC clients with options for more fruits, vegetables and healthy foods in their diets.

Girls on the Run received $10,000 to provide scholarships for girls interested in participating during the fall 2022 and spring 2023 seasons. Funding will also support the purchase of athletic shoes and coaching stipends.

The Humane Society of Summit County received $10,000 to provide services for pet owners in the Barberton community through their MABEL clinic.

The Foundation awarded $7,500 to the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank to support costs associated with the monthly Barberton Direct Distribution, which provides access to healthy food at no cost for Barberton residents. This funding equates to a provision of 14,400 lbs. of food.

IBH Addiction Recovery received $7,500 for group and individual counseling for Barberton clients with substance abuse disorder. Clients receive counseling at every level of care which includes residential, day, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment.

Embracing Futures, Inc. received $6,000 to support their Orthodontic Care program, which supports low-income families by providing braces for children with severe orthodontic problems.

The Foundation awarded Greenleaf Family Center $5,000 to support school-based suicide prevention services to approximately 2,000 Barberton middle and high school students.

Ben Curtis Family Foundation received $5,000 to support their Birdie Bags program. This program continues to serve 1,400 to 1,500 Barberton children once each month with take-home bags containing six nonperishable meals, four snacks and personal hygiene essentials.

The Foundation supported the Rape Crisis Center with $2,535 for their program, Responding to Victims in Barberton community. Funding supports victims of domestic/family/intimate partner abuse and/or sexual violence.

The Foundation’s last grant cycle of the year focuses on arts and community programming and is due October 1.

Top Photo Tag: (L-R) Friends of the Foundation Bob McDonald, Paula Kallio attend a tour with Michelle Rappach RN, Joint Replacement Manager at Summa Health – Barberton Campus. Michelle says, “When you aren’t in joint pain, you move better, you feel better and you live better.”


Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation Celebrates 2022 Nursing Scholarship Recipients

Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation Celebrates 2022 Nursing Scholarship Recipients

Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation Celebrates the 2022 Nursing Scholarship Awardees

Scholarship event photos:

Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation awarded $38,800 to 10 nursing students on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. Members of the foundation’s board of governors and donors joined the students and their families for a celebratory scholarship luncheon at LaLa’s in the Lakes.

Dr. Doug Gormley, a past-president on the board of governors, said that he enjoyed meeting in person again. “It has been two years since we’ve been able to gather to congratulate these students. It is wonderful to enjoy a meal with them, learn about their progress in school and see the pride in their parents’ faces. As a donor and a board member, today is about celebrating and supporting them.”

Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation’s scholarship model allows students to apply for scholarships every year they are in an accredited nursing program. Several of the students have received scholarships in previous years.

Mary Jo Goss, a registered nurse and member of the board of governors, said it’s rewarding to see the students’ progress through the years of their studies. “I am particularly proud of the growth I have seen in Zack Scalf,” she said. “He has been a recipient of our scholarships for three years now and in his senior year, his maturity stands out. I believe he is going to do well.”

Mary Jo asked the final-year students to share a favorite or memorable moment from one of their nursing experiences. Students shared memories of their first shifts in trauma care, providing support at vaccine clinics and the joy of caring for a new baby. She said, “As you continue your journey in this career, over the years you’ll be faced with many challenges. I want you to remember the story you shared today and pull strength from it.”

Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation is proud introduce the 2022 scholarship recipients:

  • Todd Besse is a junior attending The University of Akron; he received a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Sophie Burns is a senior attending The Ohio State University; she received the Scholarship in Memory of Emma Rist, RN and The Christine Elaine Weigand RN Memorial Scholarship.
  • Molly Cunningham is a sophomore attending Kent State University at Stark; she received the Kovalchin Memorial Scholarship and a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Madeline Gay, a senior at Malone University, received a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Sydney Graffice is a senior at the University of Mount Union; she received a Kovalchin Memorial Scholarship and a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Christina Maldonado is a sophomore attending Kent State University; she received a Kovalchin Memorial Scholarship and a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Madeleine Ray, a sophomore attending The University of Akron, received a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Macy Ries, a senior attending The University of Akron, received a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.
  • Zachary Scalf is a senior at Hiram University; he received the Carol A. Storad Nursing Excellence Scholarship.
  • Layah Taylor is a sophomore attending The University of Akron; she received a Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Nursing Scholarship.

About the scholarships:

The Bernadine H. Kovalchin, R.N. Scholarship Fund honors Kovalchin, who was an RN at Barberton Citizens Hospital with 13 years’ service, leaving in 1971 as Assistant Coordinator of Nursing Education. She was a longtime local high school instructor of Vocational Medical Careers Training and worked as a school nurse.

The committee recognizes another commendable nurse with the “Scholarship in Memory of Emma Rist. Rist was head nurse of the Coronary Care Unit at Barberton Citizens Hospital and was very dedicated to the nursing profession.

The Carol A. Storad Nursing Excellence Award recognizes an exemplary woman who began as a staff nurse and retired as Chief Nursing Officer at Barberton Citizens Hospital, serving for 43-years total. After retiring she taught high school students interested in pursuing a nursing career as part of a four-city compact program and was affiliated with the University of Akron.

The Christine Elaine Weigand RN Memorial Scholarship is meant to help future nurses overcome obstacles and to achieve their dreams.  She was an extraordinary clinician who spent 30 years as an RN, working as a charge nurse, as a preceptor for new RN employees, and as a care manager on the 5100 unit and in the emergency room at Akron General Medical Center (now Cleveland Clinic Akron General). She was active in NAON (National Association of Orthopedic Nurses) and was honored with an Excellence in Nursing award during Nurses Week in 2002.

Letter from the Director: Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. Discusses Needs Assessment

Letter from the Director: Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. Discusses Needs Assessment

A Note on the Needs Assessment

From Suzanne Allen Ph.D., executive director of Barberton Community Foundation

By now you have heard about, or participated in, the needs assessment that Barberton Community Foundation and our partners facilitated at the beginning of the year. In the coming weeks, we are releasing the executive summary of those findings and considering how the assessment informs our strategic planning for the future.

I want to thank our board of directors for supporting the survey, along with our three partners, Jeff Ramnytz at Barberton City Schools, Dr. Michael Hughes at Summa Health – Barberton Campus, and Mayor Bill Judge with the City of Barberton for their collaboration on this effort.

I would also like to thank Measurement Resources Company (MRC), who conducted the community-wide survey, held focus groups and produced the final report and recommendations.

Why did we facilitate this survey and what do we hope to accomplish with the data we have received?

At the conclusion of 2021, Barberton Community Foundation completed our final payment on the construction of Barberton High School. For the past 20 years, the majority of our granting capacity has been tied to the high school’s debt payment. Now that this responsibility has concluded, we can turn our attention to other needs in the community. In order to do that, our plan is to identify what those needs really are.

The Foundation had three key questions for the needs assessment to examine. What strengths and challenges exist in Barberton? How do different elements of the community influence each other and contribute to the broader story of need? Where is the City of Barberton and the Foundation best positioned to make a real impact on quality of life in Barberton?

We found that Barberton community members value Barberton as a small-town and a family-oriented community with history and opportunity. However, adults and youth reported challenges with the social climate in Barberton, some difficulty in finding adequate opportunities for employment and voiced concerns over the condition of roads and sidewalks. Despite these concerns, there is a strong desire to see, and assist with, growth and improvements in Barberton.

One focus group participant said, “People who grew up here, live here, work here, take pride in being from here. There are a lot of people who step up and want to see the city get better due to that hometown pride.”

The Foundation is going to utilize this data to help us build our strategic framework for 2023 and in the future. The executive summary of this needs assessment report lists the strengths and top needs identified by the research and will be available on our website ( in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in a deeper conversation about the findings in the needs assessment, please contact me at (330) 745-5995.