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.

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.”

Economic Development and Downtown Rehabilitation Funding Available

Economic Development and Downtown Rehabilitation Funding Available

New funding available: Economic Development and Downtown Rehabilitation Programs

In the summer of 2022, in partnership with BCDC, the Barberton Community Foundation launched two new programs to support businesses in Barberton, the Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and the Downtown Barberton Rehabilitation Program (DBRP). The first round of funding for both programs was highly successful with businesses able to expand, purchase equipment, renovate buildings and establish new businesses.

With support from the Foundation, BCDC granted $99,714 to eight new businesses through the Economic Development Assistance Program and $146,609 to seven downtown property owners through the Downtown Barberton Rehabilitation Program. Read more about the success of the initial round of funding.

New for 2023

The Foundation has agreed to expand the available funding, and to create two funding periods for applicants. The first round of funding opens Tuesday, January 17, with an application deadline of Monday, February 13 at 4:30 p.m.

If you are a resident of Barberton, own a business in Barberton or are interested in moving your business to Barberton, or own property in Barberton’s historic district, you may qualify for one of these programs.

View applications and detailed program descriptions >>


Ted Herncane

Ted Herncane

Director of Economic Development

Contact Ted Herncane with any questions about the Economic Development Assistance Program, Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program or scholarship to Bounce Innovation Hub.

P: 330-745-5995 


Example of Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) – Big Mike’s Automotive purchased four scissor lifts with their funding and plans to hire four more technicians. (L-R) Michael and Felicia Cowans, with their daughters Lydia and Alexis, and VP John Prouty.

2023 Scholarships Open

2023 Scholarships Open

Scholarships open Friday, January 13

Barberton Community Foundation, in partnership with Barberton High School, opens scholarship applications on Friday, January 13, 2023. Scholarships will close at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 13, 2023.

Scholarships are open to both Barberton High School seniors and resident students. Below are some details about the application process, what students can expect, and how to apply.

To start an application, students should create an account in our GOapply system.

Visit and register as an “individual” to access the scholarship application. Once an account is created, students can click through the “submissions” and “opportunities” pages. In GOapply, students can save drafted applications, write essays, preview scholarships they are eligible for, submit and monitor completed applications.

For student applicants:

It is important that information is accurate, as there is only one application for all scholarships, with a tailored list of eligible scholarships based on the information provided by the student.

To complete the application, be prepared to provide:

  • Standard student activities and college information
  • Combined annual family income
  • SAR (Student Aid Report) from your completed 2023 FASFA
  • Unweighted GPA and weighted GPA from your transcript
  • ACT score
  • Student transcript
  • Two teacher evaluations – student provides the teacher’s email

GOapply login

Be sure to click the “eligible scholarships” tab before submitting. This is where students will find any additional requirements a scholarship might have, such as an essay or letters of recommendation.

Some scholarships will require interviews. These will be scheduled after the application period closes on February 13. Final notification of awards will be made in April.

All questions should be directed to Carrie Herman, Director of Community Impact, Barberton Community Foundation at or call 330-745-5995.

Scholarships at the Foundation:

In 2022, Barberton Community Foundation awarded $127,800 through 79 scholarships to 57 Barberton students. The total value of the Foundation’s multi-year awards is $290,000.

Barberton Community Foundation holds more than 30 scholarships, some created by donors who want to help Barberton residents fulfill their dreams of post-secondary/ higher education. Other scholarships have been created by businesses or organizations who have the same vision. 

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.