SpitzerCares.org hopes to fund a million meals in 2012 through food pantries, shelters, kids’ cafés, and backpack programs. For every dollar it earns via community car washes, donations, and fundraising events, SpizerCares.org can provide four meals to northern Ohioans in need. Patrons can keep up with the organization’s progress online as a ticker shaped like an apple tallies the number of meals SpitzerCares.org has shelled out so far this year.
Under the direction of Dr. Frank C. Jacobs for more than 20 years, Summit Choral Society fills audience ears with the language of choral music. Scribed by the quail-feathered fingers of a musical genius, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion will serenade souls when sounding out from the formidable vocal cords of the Masterworks Chorale with accompaniment by six soloists, a double orchestra, and petite vocalists from the Children’s Choir Program. Nestle into a grand-tier chair for immediate acoustic digesting or an orchestra spot for direct eye contact with the conductor.
Established in 1985, the Ronald McDonald House of Akron serves as a home away from home for families with children hospitalized at the nearby Akron Children’s Hospital. With amenities that include private rooms and bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, free laundry facilities, and indoor and outdoor play areas, the house serves as a comfortable respite where families can rest and recuperate after emotionally draining hospital visits. Most importantly, it ensures that parents can remain close to their hospitalized child and focus on his or her care rather than where they can afford to stay or get meals. Although guests are asked to donate $10 per night, no families are ever turned away due to an inability to pay. Housing costs are largely funded by community donations and fundraising efforts.
Nearly two decades ago, a group of 14 religious communities founded Sisters Place, Inc. to provide housing and support services to single-parent families. To ensure the families settled into a larger community, the organization purchased 16 apartments in the 450-unit Century Townhomes complex. Today, Sisters Place works to empower 32 families to escape the cycle of poverty by completing education and securing employment. After receiving a recommendation from a social-service agency, families who have been victims of abuse, lived with a mental illness, or struggled with addiction can move into housing and take part in support programs. Single parents with physical or mental disabilities or substance-abuse issues can live in permanent housing, whereas young parents between the ages of 18 and 35 can live in rent-assisted housing for up to two years. While in the housing, families benefit from support services including childcare, transportation, cultural opportunities, and case management to get them on the path to self-sufficiency.
Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio (DCNEO), which builds confidence, respect, and self-esteem through the practice of social dance, aims to help youth break down social barriers and learn to communicate with a new set of behavioral skills. Teaching artists lead classes of fifth- and eighth-grade students through 10 weeks of ballroom-dancing lessons that are held twice a week during the normal school day. To make lessons accessible and ease children into a new endeavor, they incorporate pictures and stories and connect dance terms to food, transforming feet into chopsticks and dance frame into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In addition to dance, DCNEO also enriches children’s education with opportunities to create visual artwork, poetry, and original songs. At the end of the course, students showcase their dancing skills and other projects completed during the program at a performance for friends and family.
Kickboxing classes deliver a knee to the face of fat, burning up to 860 calories an hour with the high-energy striking moves of martial arts and boxing. All four limbs get in on the bag-bludgeoning action with iLoveKickboxing, as each class (a $15 value per class) provides a full-body workout that tones arm, leg, and tentacle muscles while tightening the body’s core and improving balance. Hitting the heavy bags won't skin your knuckles once you don the included boxing gloves, which also double as excellent spring-loaded props for re-creating Three Stooges gags. At the Houston location, classes take place Mondays at 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 6:30 p.m, and Saturdays at 10:45 a.m. The Pasadena location has classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 10 a.m, and the Baytown location has classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 6 p.m., and on Saturdays at 2 p.m.