New Scholarship Honors Memory of Barberton Pharmacist

New Scholarship Honors Memory of Barberton Pharmacist

Walt Ritzman Scholarship Fund

Barberton Community Foundation is proud to announce a new fund: the Walt Ritzman Scholarship Fund established on November 9, 2022, by Donna Keim and her son, Mike Keim.

Donna and Walt ran the Barberton Health Clinic for more than 20 years, and she remembers his passion for helping those in need. “He always believed in helping the underserved,” she said. “He gave, that is what he did.”

Walt Ritzman passed away on November 1, 2011, and his legacy in Barberton includes running and growing the Ritzman Pharmacy chain, serving as a trustee at Barberton Citizens Hospital and then serving as an inaugural board member of Barberton Community Foundation. He also sponsored school sports teams and volunteered during the Mum Festival.

Donna says that one of Walt’s greatest passions was working at the Barberton Community Health Clinic to help the underprivileged and uninsured in Barberton. Walt had established an endowed fund at the Foundation to benefit the clinic in 2001. With the closure of the clinic, the purpose of the fund needed to change.

Mike explained, “When the clinic closed, the fund was still active. The Board of Directors approved of a new purpose for the fund which will further Walt’s contribution to the community and honor his legacy as a pharmacist and philanthropist by creating a scholarship in his name.”

“Walt believed that we needed more pharmacists. The Foundation will use the fund to further the educational goals of any Barberton resident who wishes to become a pharmacist and attend Walt’s alma mater of Ohio Northern University or attend The Ohio State University.”

To support the Walt Ritzman Scholarship Fund, call 330-745-5995, or address your check to 460 W. Paige Ave. Barberton, OH 44203, with the Walt Ritzman Scholarship in the memo line. Donations can also be made online through our secure giving platform, Qgiv.

An Outstanding Citizen

Walt Ritzman received the Outstanding Citizen award during the Foundation’s 2003 Community Recognition Dinner.

Main Street Barberton Launches

Main Street Barberton Launches

New Barberton Nonprofit ‘Main Street Barberton’ Focused on Bringing More Activity and Prosperity to Downtown Barberton

Main Street Barberton Officially Launches After Nearly A Year of Research and Planning, Headed by Board Chairman Denny Liddle and Backed by the City of Barberton, Barberton Community Foundation, and More.

A new nonprofit organization, called Main Street Barberton,
has begun its official operations in the Magic City.
The goal of Main Street Barberton is to create new economic growth and development opportunities in the City of Barberton’s downtown district by rehabilitating and revitalizing the
downtown Barberton area.

While much progress has been made in downtown Barberton in recent years, a core group of citizens and financial backers came together to speed up progress while including more community members in the process.

“I have studied some of the great downtown areas in Ohio, like Wadsworth, Medina, Kent and Tiffin, and they all have one thing in common – they are part of the Main Street program offered
by Heritage Ohio,” said Main Street Barberton Board President Denny Liddle. “They have a well-proven approach to solving not a couple of issues that plague many downtowns, but an
approach that’s designed to address all of the interrelated issues that prevent a downtown from bringing shoppers, residents, businesses, and activity. I’m very excited for this organization to
get going!”

The Main Street project began as an idea at the Barberton Community Foundation, and then interest grew beyond the Foundation – financially backing the $5,000 initial investment in the project came from the Barberton Community Foundation, Arts Now, the City of Barberton, Downtown Barberton Merchant’s Association, Ignite Brewing Company, Neighborhood
Development Services, and Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.

“I have seen the great work that Heritage Ohio has done throughout the state, and the successful impact of their program in a variety of downtowns,” said Executive Director of the
Barberton Community Foundation Suzanne Allen. “I can’t wait to see this program take root in the Magic City!”

Creating Main Street Barberton
Heritage Ohio is the state of Ohio’s “official historic preservation and Main Street organization,” working to leverage historic buildings and architecture, neighborhoods, and commercial
districts through sustainable economic development programs.

Heritage Ohio’s flagship “Main Street” program begins with a visit from “D.A.R.T.,” its Downtown Assessment Resource Team. The D.A.R.T. team visits for 2 days and meets with community
stakeholders, spends time in the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and conducts focus groups with residents to unearth what community members have as a vision for an ideal

Once the vision is collected, Heritage Ohio combines what has been learned with its own independent research, then publishes a report back to the community.

A stakeholder group of nearly 25 community leaders was then formed. The group met monthly, and evolved into a steering committee that carried out the recommendations from the D.A.R.T. report.

Most important amongst the recommendations from the report is this – a focused organization must be established in order to achieve the vision for the downtown that the community has.
Hence, Main Street Barberton was born!

The steering committee’s last duty was to establish a board of directors.

From there, the board of directors established four committees with different roles and responsibilities. The board, which meets monthly beginning in January 2023, has adopted a Code of Regulations and is beginning to map out committee work plans for the next 12 to 24 months.

Additionally, Articles of Incorporation have been filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, and the Certificate of Approval has been granted by the state.

Main Street Barberton Board of Directors
Denny Liddle – Board President
Tim Eberhardt – Board Vice President
Ann Hutchison – Treasurer / Secretary
Jim Bauschlinger (committee chair, Economic Development)
Ted Herncane (committee chair, Design)
Deb Shreiner (committee co-chair, Organization and Promotion)
Josh Gordon (committee co-chair, Organization and Promotion)
Mayor Bill Judge
Jason Ondrus
Dorothy Somerville

Each committee chair is seeking interested community members to join their committee and work on projects from marketing and promoting downtown to cleaning up buildings and improving the spaces in the downtown area.

While the committees will be hard at work, the board also has plans to hire an executive director for Main Street Barberton, launching a talent search to fill the role later in 2023.

The organization’s primary funding for its first three years of operation will come from the Barberton Community Foundation and the City of Barberton.

“This Main Street program is another example of why we are so fortunate to have a passionate community here in Barberton,” Allen said. “Many communities need the type of focused work
that Main Street Barberton will be able to accomplish, but Barberton is able to make it happen thanks to the strength of its many organizations and how well they work together.”

Get Involved
If you are interested in learning more, or wish to serve on a committee, please contact the Barberton Community Foundation.

About Main Street Barberton
Main Street Barberton is a nonprofit organization in the City of Barberton focused on rehabilitating and revitalizing the downtown area through economic development and growth
activities. Established in 2022, the organization aims to provide the citizens of Barberton – and residents all over the state of Ohio – a unique and magical downtown experience.


Barberton Resident Jolese Rogers First to use Foundation Scholarship at Bounce

Barberton Resident Jolese Rogers First to use Foundation Scholarship at Bounce

Barberton Resident Jolese Rogers First to use Foundation Scholarship at Bounce

December 20, 2022

Jolese Rogers

Jolese Rogers is the first Barberton resident to take advantage of Barberton Community Foundation’s scholarship to MORTAR at Bounce Innovation Hub.

MORTAR is a 15-week small business accelerator that helps established entrepreneurs take a deeper dive into the nuances of business ownership to grow their company.

A Barberton High School graduate, Jolese went on to study at Kent State University, where she graduated with degrees in both hospitality and entrepreneurship. She’s since worked as a dual general manager for Extended Stay America as well as various other hotel brands, including Choice Hotels and Hilton. This work experience gave her the inspiration for her entrepreneurial dream: to own and operate her own bed and breakfast built with values of sustainable practices. Jolese has named her business Antoinette’s Inn, and while she is still looking for the perfect location, her business plan is set.

Antionette's Inn Brochure

Jolese designed a brochure as part of her program at Bounce.

“My bed and breakfast will operate on an eco-friendly model,” Jolese said. This includes utilizing biodegradable materials and managing a homesteading farm on the property. “I’m incredibly passionate about recycling and using eco-conscious practices in my life.” Her target market is the millennial traveler, a group she says is the largest market with a shared value on the eco-friendly practices she plans to deliver.

Jolese has participated in DECA at Barberton High School and Kent State’s Launch program. More recently she has worked with Akron SCORE and utilized the Women’s Business Center of Ohio, but she says MORTAR has helped her with real business ownership skills and provided valuable resources.

As a Barberton resident, Jolese said she couldn’t turn down the chance to go through a program that would be free for her to use based on her residency. Her advice to other Barberton entrepreneurs considering the program? Go for it. “It’s a short trip to Akron!” She said. “Uncomfortable is when great things will happen! Go the extra mile. Pun intended!”

Barberton Community Foundation covers the cost of attendance for Barberton residents or Barberton business owners to two Bounce programs: Aspiring Entrepreneurs and MORTAR.

MORTAR classes have a rolling application, so you can apply any time. The next open cohort will start in May 2023; applications are due by March 3.

Foundation awards Arts and Community Grants

Foundation awards Arts and Community Grants

Foundation Board Approves Third Cycle Grants for Arts and Community

Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met on Thursday, November 18, to approve six grants totaling $97,244.14 for arts and community cycle programming. The board approved the Foundation’s 2023 spending policy and selected 2023 officers: Jason Slater, Chair; Lynne Holcomb, Vice Chair; Jennifer Bidlingmyer, Treasurer; and Deb Shreiner, Secretary. The board also approved four new members to the board, who will begin their terms beginning in January, 2023. They are Susan Wynn, Hugh McMichael, Ann Hutchison and Theresa Osborne.


The Foundation awarded $25,000 to Magical Theatre Company for their program, Performing Arts Can Teach. This program supports resident performances at Magical Theatre for Barberton City School students and traveling performances to the schools.

CareStar Community Services received $23,744.14 to provide wraparound services to Barberton school students and their families. The program will consist of community health worker services, including home visits to help families connect with appropriate healthcare, mental health and social services in the community.  

The Foundation awarded $15,000 to White Rabbit Galleries for a monthly series of events that invite the public to create art projects with their family or friends, along with artist meetups to encourage growth of an artist community in Barberton.

Habitat for Humanity of Summit County received $15,000 for their 2023 Neighborhood Reborn Initiative. This program supports Habitat for Humanity’s first Neighborhood Reborn project in Barberton. This program blends private home repairs with a neighbor-led public space cleanup to transform and revitalize several street blocks over two days.

Barberton Parks & Recreation received $15,000 to support many of Barberton’s favorite special events, accessible programming and use of neighborhood parks through 2023.

United Way of Summit and Medina received $3,500 to continue their 2-1-1 Information and Referral Services for Barberton Residents. 2-1-1 is a free, 24/7 helpline and website that assists residents navigate health and social services available in Summit County. In 2021, more than 3,500 Barberton residents used 2-1-1 for referrals to services or resources.


2022 Annual Dinner a Success

2022 Annual Dinner a Success

2022 Annual Dinner Celebrates Game Changers

Barberton Community Foundation held our 2022 Annual Dinner on Thursday, November 10 at the Galaxy Restaurant. “It’s been three years since we’ve been able to meet in-person, and that is a celebration all on its own,” said Dr. Suzanne Allen, executive director of the Foundation. The event had been cancelled in 2020 and held virtually in 2021. “Some guests said they wish it had been longer so they could visit more.”

Doors opened at 5:00, with food served at 6:30 followed by a program featuring the Foundation’s 2022 Game Changers, Mike Moore and the Barberton Firefighters Association Local 329. Lieutenant Mike Beckman, president of Local 329, accepted the award for the firefighters.

Suzanne began the program with a chance for guests to take a selfie. “What you’ve just captured is the very reason we are celebrating,” she said. “Your philanthropy – you and your good work – are what make Barberton a special place.”

The word philanthropy translates to ‘love of mankind’ and while this word is traditionally associated with funders, we saw that educators, grant partners, city officials, business owners, and many friends and family of our game changers, celebrate as philanthropists.

“Each year the Foundation honors very special people and organizations who are our game changers,” said Suzanne. “The individual and organization that are being recognized tonight share many of the same characteristics: leadership and vision, big picture thinking, working collaboratively and a willingness to make a difference with their time, talent and energy.”

Mike Moore was recognized because of his years of commitment to the community through the Coalition of Concerned Christians and the Kiwanis Club of Barberton. The Coalition organizes a weekly soup kitchen at First Presbyterian Church, provides food and clothing to Common Threads Closet, and which provides free laundry services once a month. Mike thanked his wife, Linda, his church, St. Augustine and the coalition for his success. “I’d like to thank the churches that are members of the Coalition of Concerned Christians and all the volunteers who help make these projects possible,” he said. “I am honored and humbled by this incredible award. Thank you very much.”

The Barberton Firefighters Association Local 329 was recognized because of their integral role in the success of the Esther Ryan Shoe Fund Spaghetti Dinner, which is organized by the Magic City Kiwanis each year. During his acceptance speech, Mike said that he was accepting the award on behalf of the entire local and included those who came before. “On behalf of all those who started all the community events and fundraising, and those who participated in the Esther Ryan Shoe Fund. Those traditions that we began so long ago in the community, are the traditions that we still follow today.”

He continued, “Thank you if you have ever supported one of our events. If you’ve ever bought a raffle ticket from one of us or bought a t-shirt. Thank you for supporting us, so that we can support others who are in need in this community.”

The Foundation would like to thank everyone who attended or sponsored our 2022 Annual Dinner. Photos from the event and Game Changer videos can be viewed here