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.

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

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.”