Meet Barberton Community Foundation’s 2023 Game Changers

Meet Barberton Community Foundation’s 2023 Game Changers

Meet the Foundation’s 2023 Game Changers

Each year Barberton Community Foundation honors an individual and an organization that have made a positive impact in Barberton. The Foundation is proud to announce our 2023 Game Changers are Brian Canale and Common Threads Closet.

Brian Canale said it was a shock to hear he had won the nomination. “I thought I overdrew a fund!” He said. “I’d like to thank those who nominated me. I never expected to be recognized.”

Common Threads Closet is located at 211 3rd Street NW in the lower level of Lakeview United Methodist Church. The organization provides clothing, shoes and small home goods to those in need. Director Cindy Bach couldn’t wait to tell her volunteers. “Everyone here is so excited. Our volunteers are absolutely game changers.”

The Game Changers will be celebrated at the Foundation’s Annual Dinner, held on Thursday, November 2, 2023. Get your tickets today!

Meet Brian Canale

Most of Barberton will recognize the name of third generation operator and owner Brian A. Canale, who runs two of Barberton’s beloved chicken houses: White House Chicken and DeVore’s Hopocan Gardens. Beyond his role as a restaurateur, Brian has been quietly donating to area school sports programs and supporting hunger initiatives for years. A fun fact, Brian is a founding member of the Barberton Sports Hall of Fame. He signed up the first year they offered memberships in 1979 and, more recently, he received their O.C. Barber Award in 2020.

Brian Canale sets a strong example as a community-focused businessman and servant leader. If you have ever participated in a Barberton sports team, chances are high he has sponsored, donated to, or fed your team. Brian has never shared much about his charitable giving because, as he says, “It’s just something you’re supposed to do.”

Brian says charity is a family value, but it really showed when he began working at Hopocan Gardens. He said, “My dad taught me the business, but my grandfather taught me the wisdom.” His grandfather, William DeVore, was the original owner of DeVore’s Hopocan Gardens. When Brian took over the business, William said something that has stayed with him. “We feed everybody.”

“He was referring to our employees and customers,” Brian said. “All I’ve done is take that message beyond the restaurant’s walls.”

That sense of community is the reason Brian is being recognized this year. Brian holds two funds at Barberton Community Foundation: the Barberton City Schools Synthetic Football Field Turf Fund and the Chicken Open Fund. He is chair of the Turf committee, the group responsible for the annual Turf Auction, the main fundraising event for the synthetic field at Barberton High School. The school’s turf project launched in 2018 and raised more than $250,000 in its first year toward upgrades to the stadium and to install synthetic turf on the field. His second fund, the Chicken Open, is an annual golf tournament supporting Barberton and Norton high school golf teams, Barberton All Sports Boosters, and food-based charities like Barberton Area Community Ministries (BACM) and the Akron-Canton Food Bank.

As an extension of his grandfather’s message, Brian wants to benefit the Ben Curtis Family Foundation and their Birdie Bag program with his Game Changer title. Bridie Bags are given to children who need extra meals over the weekend in Barberton City Schools. In 2022, Ben Curtis Family Foundation provided over 1,400 Bridie Bags each month. Each bag contains six meals and four snacks.

Those who want to celebrate Brian are invited to support Ben Curtis Family Foundation’s Birdie Bag program through the Foundation’s website.

Common Threads Closet Volunteers

Meet Common Threads Closet

Common Threads Closet is a Barberton nonprofit organization providing clothing of all sizes, shoes, home goods, and small appliances to those in need. Families and individuals pay $5 a year (which isn’t required up front) to have an account. Those in need can take up to 30 items per person each month. Anything chosen is tracked on a database and credited to their account. A team of volunteers processes each donation, organizes items and prepares hot meals. The closet is open twice a week, on Thursdays from 4-7pm and Saturdays from 10am-1pm.

Common Threads first opened on January 3, 2013. A decade later, they currently serve over 2800 families from multiple counties and process more than 80,000 items a year.

“The general thought at the beginning was, the economy was bad, and we could help people with clothing,” said director Cindy Bach. Common Threads stayed with that mission, to provide clothing to those in need, until COVID. “Then people needed more help, and they were coming in with different problems. We realized we needed to provide food and meals as well.”

COVID decidedly changed how Cindy sees the role of Common Threads in the broader network of agencies that provide social-support services. “One of the things I learned early on is that needs in this community differ greatly, and when you’re serving an at-risk population, you are always trying to lower barriers.”

Some barriers are higher than others, and Common Threads is taking aim at some of society’s most systemic issues. Cindy explained that many people she sees are grandparents on fixed incomes or are considered the working poor. Some are homeless or have health problems. Common Threads is growing toward meeting the needs of these most at-risk populations. “We are starting to offer more support for people by getting ID’s, and finding housing that is appropriate,” she said. They’re also looking at introducing mentors: volunteers helping homeless individuals through the system.

Cindy Bach opens Common Threads Closet Endowment Fund

The growth of this organization wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteers. Cindy credits extending and embracing a culture of “everyone is welcome” through her volunteers for the success of Common Threads. “We take everybody,” says Cindy. “We have folks who volunteer from home because they have limited mobility. If you want to help out, we will work with you. There’s a job for everyone.”

Common Thread’s history is tied to Lakeview United Methodist Church, where they’re located. “In the past you had to belong to the church to volunteer at the closet, but now our doors are wide open. We have every faith you can imagine volunteering here.” Cindy added, “We’re not religious, we’re faithful.”

Common Threads Closet recently established an endowment fund with the Foundation. The fund will support the continued growth of Common Threads and provide future resources. Readers are welcome to support Common Threads through their fund by visiting the Foundation’s website.

Annual Dinner

Both Brian Canale and Common Threads Closet will be recognized as Barberton Community Foundation’s 2023 Game Changers at our Annual Dinner on Thursday, November 2, 2023 at the Galaxy in Wadsworth. Tickets will go on sale online on Friday, September 1. Donations can be made to the Ben Curtis Family Foundation Birdie Bag Fund or to Common Threads Endowment Fund by visiting our donation page, or by mailing a check to 460 W. Paige Ave. Barberton, OH 44203. Call us at 330-745-5995 with donation or ticketing questions.

Foundation Board Awards 2023 Education and Workforce & Economic Development Grants

Foundation Board Awards 2023 Education and Workforce & Economic Development Grants

Foundation Board Approves First Grant Cycle of 2023, Awards $73,000 to Education and Workforce & Economic Development Programs

Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met for their regular meeting on Thursday, March 16, at the Active Adult Center. The board approved eight grants totaling $73,009.04. The board also approved Renea Macko and Rob Pursley as new Friends of the Foundation, and thanked Dr. Suzanne Allen, who is retiring from her role as executive director of Barberton Community Foundation on March 31. Tiffany Peters, director of finance, has been named as interim executive director.


Barberton City School District was awarded $22,975.32 for their partnership with AMHA to expand support for families and students. The grant supports more on-site tutoring days, bussing to parent/teacher conferences, and bi-monthly resident meetings to educate parents about school services and opportunities. AMHA expects to serve 800 individuals through these programs.

National Inventors Hall of Fame received $15,000 for 2023 Camp Invention financial support for 120 students who would like to attend. Camp Invention is a summer enrichment program led by Barberton teachers with STEM-based curricula.

Child Guidance & Family Solutions received $10,000 for their Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding (TAPS) program. TAPS provides on-site training for preschool and childcare staff on how best to respond to challenging classroom behaviors and improve kindergarten readiness. Child Guidance anticipates serving 380 preschoolers with this funding.

Barberton City School District was awarded $6,533.72 to support the primary school’s Magical Reading program, which teaches parents how to read to their children in creative, educational and engaging ways. Funding supports the purchase of books for families to read together, crafts and operations for the event.

United Way of Summit & Medina received $5,000 to support Financial Empowerment Center services provided to Barberton residents. The Center estimates they will serve 215 residents through free financial empowerment programming, including financial coaching, tax preparation and banking assistance.

Junior Achievement was awarded $5,000 to provide programming within Barberton City Schools to 320 students in middle and high school. Programs include JA Personal Finance, JA Inspire, JA Company Program and JA Economics for Success.

The International Soap Box Derby received $5,000 for programs and field trips for Barberton City School students, including their popular Gravity Racing Challenge program. Funding supports the purchase of derby car parts, supplies and program books for 180 students.

SCORE Akron received $3,500 for their Barberton Community Workforce Development programs which include mentoring and workshop programs for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business or expanding their existing business.

Job Posting for Main Street Barberton

Job Posting for Main Street Barberton

Barberton Community Foundation Logo

Job Posting for Main Street Barberton

Main Street Barberton was established in late 2022 through Heritage Ohio’s flagship Main Street programming. This position will be the first executive director for this organization, and we are very excited to bring new energy to downtown Barberton. Read the press release about the creation of Main Street Barberton to learn more about the organization.

Title: Executive Director

Reports to: Board of Directors

Status: Full Time, Salary $50-60,000 commensurate with experience, health insurance stipend available. Availability for evening meetings as required and off hours, including weekends.

How to Apply

Applications are due by Friday, March 31 at 4:00pm. Send your cover letter, resume and references to and address your letter to Denny Liddle, Main Street Barberton Board Chair.

For questions, please contact Barberton Community Foundation at 330-745-5995.


Download this job description.

Job Summary

The Executive Director is the principal on-site staff person charged with developing, organizing, implementing, and documenting the Main Street approach in downtown Barberton, OH. The Executive Director will be responsible for reinvigorating downtown through managing relations with and focusing the work of business owners, property owners, committee members, and volunteers to accomplish the goals and objectives of the annual work plan.

Essential Duties

Coordinate activity of the Main Street program committees.

  • ensuring that communication between committees is well established
  • assist committees with implementation of work plan items (i.e., membership development, fundraising, etc.)
  • and communicate outcomes to the community

Manage all administrative aspects of the Main Street program.

  • including maintaining an appropriate data system for record keeping, purchasing, budget development and some bookkeeping
  • preparing all reports required by the state Main Street program on a monthly basis
  • assisting with the preparation of reports to funding agencies
  • and supervising interns, volunteers, and/or consultants when appropriate

Develop, in conjunction with the Main Street program’s committees, strategies for downtown economic development utilizing the community’s human and economic resources.

  • become familiar with all persons and groups directly or indirectly involved in the downtown area and encourage involvement
  • act as the liaison between the downtown constituency and all entities involved with downtown issues and solutions
  • mindful of the roles of various downtown interest groups, assist the Main Street committees in executing an annual action plan for implementing a downtown development program focused on four areas: design, promotion, organization, and economic restructuring
  • become knowledgeable with all programs available through other local agencies (City of Barberton, BCDC, Barberton Community Foundation) to maximize the impact of the main street program for its members.

Develop and conduct ongoing public awareness and education programs designed to enhance appreciation of the downtown’s architecture and other assets and to foster an understanding of the Main Street program’s goals and objectives.

  • through speaking engagements, media interviews, and appearances keep the program highly visible in the community

Assess the management capacity of major downtown organizations.

  • encourage improvements in the downtown community’s ability to undertake joint activities such as promotional events, advertising, uniform store hours, special events, business recruitment, parking management and so on
  • provide advice and information on successful downtown management
  • encourage a cooperative climate between downtown interests and local public officials

Help build strong and productive working relationships with appropriate public agencies at the local and state levels.

Utilizing the Main Street program format, develop and maintain data systems to track the process and progress of the local Main Street program.

  • these systems should include economic monitoring, individual building files, thorough photographic documentation of all physical changes and information on job creation and business retention

Represent the community at the local, state, and national levels to important constituencies.

  • speak effectively on the program’s directions and findings, always mindful of the need to improve state and national economic development policies as they relate to smaller communities

Other duties as assigned.

Job Knowledge and Skills Required

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The Executive Director should have education and/or experience in one or more of the following areas: nonprofit administration, marketing, fundraising, economics, finance, public relations, design, journalism, planning, business administration, public administration, retailing, volunteer coordination, or small business development. The Executive Director must be sensitive to design and preservation issues. The Executive Director must understand the issues confronting downtown businesspeople, property owners, public agencies, and community organizations. The Executive Director must be entrepreneurial, energetic, imaginative, well organized, and capable of functioning effectively in a very independent situation. Basic mathematical and computer skills are essential. Supervisory skills are desirable. Excellent communication skills, including verbal, written, and public speaking are desired as well as interpersonal skills, including coalition building, ability to build relationships with diverse populations.

Physical Demands

The Executive Director will be expected to represent the organization at functions, meetings, events, and programs at the local, state, and national levels. Must be able to work some evenings and weekends. The employee must have a valid driver’s license.

Work Environment

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • General office environment

This job description does not list all duties of the job. You may be asked by the leadership team to perform other instructions and duties. You will be evaluated in part based on your performance of the tasks listed in this job description.

The Board of Directors has the right to revise this job description at any time. The job description is not a contract for employment, and either you or the employer may terminate employment at any time, for any reason.

How to Apply

Applications are due by Friday, March 31 at 4:00pm.

Send your cover letter, resume and references to and address your letter to Denny Liddle, Main Street Barberton Board Chair.

For questions, please contact Barberton Community Foundation at 330-745-5995.

Additional Information:

It is Main Street Barberton’s  policy that, as required by law, equal employment opportunities be available to all persons without regard to race, sex, age, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, citizenship status, genetic information, veteran status, or any other category protected under state or local law.

Dr. Suzanne Allen Announces Retirement

Dr. Suzanne Allen Announces Retirement

Dr. Suzanne Allen

Dr. Suzanne Allen

Dr. Suzanne Allen Announces Retirement

Barberton Community Foundation announced today that Dr. Suzanne Allen, executive director, will be retiring at the end of March 2023. The Board of Directors will appoint Tiffany Peters, currently director of finance, as interim executive director effective April 1, 2023.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Foundation, we want to thank Suzanne for her leadership over the past four years, and for her dedication to our mission,” said Jason Slater, Barberton Community Foundation Board of Director’s chair. “She has been a steadfast and strategic leader, and we wish her well in her retirement.”

Dr. Allen joined Barberton Community Foundation in March 2019 after serving for many years as the President and CEO of Philanthropy Ohio, a statewide membership organization serving funders. Now, after a career of nearly 40 years working in nonprofit and academic communities, she will continue to support the work of the Foundation as needed in a part-time capacity and will continue to be invested in the Foundation’s mission and its long-term success.

“I am grateful for the trust the Foundation’s Board of Directors placed in me and I am equally grateful for the staff, the friends of the foundation, our many donors and grant partners,” said Dr. Allen. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve the Barberton community as executive director at Barberton Community Foundation.”

Foundation Board Hosts Annual Meeting

Foundation Board Hosts Annual Meeting

Foundation Board Holds Annual Meeting 

Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met at the Barberton Public Library for their annual meeting on January 19, 2023.

The Foundation has three exiting board members: Josh Gordon, past chair, Denny Liddle and Brett Haverlick. Jason Slater, board chair, thanked the outgoing board members for their service to the Foundation. “I can’t thank you enough for your time, expertise and commitment to the Foundation. You all have made such a contribution to the good work being done here.”

The Foundation swore in the 2023 slate of officers. Jason Slater will continue in his role as chair of the board, with Lynne Holcomb serving as vice chair, Jennifer Bidlingmyer serving as treasurer and Deb Shreiner serving as secretary. 

The board welcomed four new members: Ann Hutchison, Hugh McMichael, Theresa Osborne and Susan Wynn. Each member agreed to serve an initial three-year term with the Foundation.

The first grant cycle for Education and Workforce & Economic Development closes Wednesday, February 1. Scholarships for high school students opened Friday, January 13 and will close Monday, February 13. Students seeking scholarships and nonprofits interested in applying for grants should utilize the Foundation’s new application portal GOapply available at The Foundation also announced a first round of funding is available for the Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program and the Economic Development Assistance Program, with a deadline to apply by Monday, February 13.