ASHTABULA — Hundreds of people waited in line early Saturday morning in hopes of receiving shoes for their children, back to school supplies, as well as fun activities for the children.
G.O. Development Corp. sponsored the event under the leadership of Frances Norman and Angie Maki-Cliff, and they served double the amount of people who participated last year, Norman said.
Norman said 624 people registered, and the organization served about 300 last year.
“They [the people] were here at 8:30 [a.m.], and we opened at 11 a.m.,” Norman said. She said a pre-registration process led to those who signed up early receiving assistance first.
Norman said issues in the economy, including inflation, have led more people to seek assistance to help their children.
By noon, there were still many people in line waiting for underwear, shoes and backpacks. Children also were treated to hot dogs, ice cream and face painting.
Angie Maki-Cliff is now helping to organize some of the G.O. Development Corp.’s bigger events. “I think the turnout is amazing,” she said while registering people to receive the assistance.
Maki-Cliff said a grant from the Morrison Foundation helped pay for shoes for the children.
Norman said the rest of the supplies came from personal donations. She credited area churches, organizations and individuals for making the event possible.
“We could not do it without them,” she said.
Theresa Steiner attended the event with her 10-year-old son Zane. “It’s nice because it is something nice for the kids, and it allows people to get some extra supplies …Money is tight,” she said.
Volunteers took time from their Thanksgiving holiday to reach out to others before heading home for their own time with family.
G.O. Development Corp. volunteers spent much of the week preparing food and then arrived early Thursday morning to package it up for 450 people throughout the area, said G.O.D.C. President Drew Thomas. He said 380 meals were delivered and 70 picked up at the Station Avenue headquarters.
Thomas said 28 volunteers were involved in the process.
“This is my first time [volunteering]. It was fun it feels good to do it,” said Cathy Marcy, of Kingsville Township, who helped sort the meals for distribution.
The volunteers disbursed from Station Avenue to individual homes throughout the community and to Ashtabula Towers, Gulfview Towers and Lakeview Towers.
“It means a lot. I have something to eat,” said a thankful Steven Radwancky at Ashtabula Towers.
Down the road at Gulfview Towers Pam Deary was also glad for a meal she didn’t have to prepare.
“My husband is passed and the kids are down in Dorset. No reason to make a turkey for myself,” she said.
Reading Time: 2 minutesChristmas songs, food, gifts and the celebration of Jesus’ birth brought more than 380 people to the G.O. Community Development Corporation Friday afternoon.John Salters started the annual Christmas party at 3703 Station Ave. 21 years ago with his late wife, Mae.”My wife would be smiling in heaven,” he said. Salters said his son Isaiah led the children in music and games on the gymnasium stage.”This is awesome. It is much more than I ever thought it would be,” Salters said.Isaiah Salters got the crowd into the music and urged the children to put toothpaste on their noses and pass cotton balls to each other in a “relay” race on stage in front of their families and friends. The results were mixed based on the participants’ ratio of toothpaste to cotton balls.Tables lined the gym floor as people munched on food and sang along with Christmas carols. ”It is a beautiful thing to get the kids out of the house and have a nice Christmas,” said Megan Stuper of Ashtabula.Amber Miner said she has been coming to the event since it started. ”I love it,” she said.More than 200 children attended the party, said Drew Thomas, president of the G.O. Community Development Corporation’s board of directors. ”Everybody gets a couple of presents,” Thomas said, adding a local donation made it possible for 33 children to receive bicycles. ”We will have some happy children,” he said before the lucky winners were selected. ”We had a great response as far as donations.”He said the organization, which offers food, clothing and household items to those in need, feeds 45 to 75 people Monday through Friday at the headquarters on Station Avenue. While the organization has some money in the bank, there are a lot of needs. ”Our electric bill was $2,200 last month,” he said.Thomas said there were large donations of $8,000, $5,000 and $3,000, but the money is needed to continue feeding area residents and the operation of programs such as the center’s recreation center and computer lab.He said anyone interested in making a donation can send checks for G.O. CDC to P.O. Box 1173. Thomas said he can also be reached at 216-780-3845.Story by Warren Dillaway
Reading Time: 4 minutesFor the past four years, University of Akron Junior Olajuwan Smith has took it upon himself to educate others about a topic that is changing the world that we live in, computers! Smith who is a junior at the University of Akron currently majoring in Computer Engineering says, “I’ve had an awesome time these past four years teaching a handful of students about this machine called a computer.” Smith who received the CDC Community Leader of the Year in 2015 has several distinct classes that he offers at a local community center G.O Community Development Corporation.Those courses are:· Computer Basics 21 C· Computer Intermediate 21 C· Computer Advanced 21 C· Introduction to Microsoft Office· Intermediate Algebra· Introduction to C++“I plan to teach at the G.O. for at least five years, so I’ve been thinking about next year being my last year as I would not have any time.” Smith said.Smith currently teaches these classes in the summer when he is away from school because his schedule is usually free. But this summer his schedule was not free, but he still found some time to squeeze in teaching these classes.“I started my first co-op assignment at the beginning of the summer at Kent Displays Inc. in Kent, it is a great place to work and I was grateful for the opportunity. I also am taking two summer classes , so you can say I am quite busy.”Like most of Smith’s classes they usually start of high in number and are likely to decrease in class size.“Prior to the first day of class, we had a total of 16 students enrolled, as of today there are only 9 students enrolled. I usually don’t know why some people don’t come back. But to the people that stay they can attest to the fact that they leave knowing just a bit more than they already knew about a computer, if they indeed knew something.” Smith said.Smith is also in the process of setting up online classes for two of the courses he offers.“There are some courses that I would like to set up as online classes, so that way I can teach during the Fall and Spring, giving the community of Ashtabula a way to participate in these classes year-round and not just the summer.” Smith said.I would like to introduce you to my current students:Sandra Pitorak“Sandra came in to this class being recommended by Judy Coleman. Sandra has a very bubbly personality and always seems excited. I think one of her milestones was achieving a A on the midterm exam although she hadn’t even been in the class as long as the other students. Sandra believes in herself and for that she continues to succeed in this course.”Judy Coleman“Judy has been a student in another course that I offered. She is one of the students that grasps concepts very fast and she is very outgoing student. I am very thankful for the fact that if she finishes assignments earlier than her peers she will go around and help them.”Cella Jackson“When I first met Cella, I thought she was going to be one of the students who would leave the class, after going over my syllabus. But was I wrong Cella did a complete 360 and she is learning what she came to this class for. Cella also takes the time to help out her peers, and boy is she funny. It was also interesting finding out that Cella is the mother of a former teacher of mine.”Scott Lally“Scott came to the class with ambition and a drive to succeed. We have the following set up for each class, we have the lecture and then the computer activities, homework and quizzes are done outside the classroom. I can’t recall one lecture that Scott has not said things like, ‘That’s cool’ or ‘I didn’t even know you could do that‘ It’s people like Scott who give me a joy in teaching as he comes each week from a nursing home.”Edna Laferty“There are sometimes I feel like Edna should be the one in the front of the class teaching. I don’t believe there is any assignment that she did bad on. She is a fast learner as well and applies the concepts and techniques we use in class, outside the classroom on the computer. I am thankful for the opportunity given to me to be her instructor.”Lenora Boysaw“Lenora is such a sweet heart. She reminds me of Loretta Devine. She doesn’t have her voice, but they are both very sweet women. Lenora comes to this class with a desire to learn just like everyone else. I am honored to be her instructor.”Glenna Alleman“Glenna has a job that requires her to know about the computer, so I am glad that she has taken my class and I hope I can teach her all the things she needs to know. One thing about Glenna is that she is very organized (not saying her peers are not), but I mean she is really organized. I think that is the reason why she is doing great this far in class.”Sarah Cooper“Sarah is definitely the class clown. She is hilarous! Sarah has been trying to enroll in a computer class offered here for quite some time and has finally been able to enroll this summer. I do know Sarah, as her daughter is my God Mother and I was named from a relative of her, Olajuwon Cooper at Lakeside High School. But more importantly I am glad that Sarah decided to join this class and I hope that I can teach her about computers.”Sandy Coleman“Last but not least is Sandy, or as a normally call her Aunt Sandy. Yes she is my Aunt! During my years here at G.O. I have had many family members come and join the class and each of them never came to the class thinking that there just going to pass because their relative is the teacher, they all came to the class and worked to pass this class. (Aunt) Sandy is doing the same she is learning. I am making sure that she learns to be prepared for another exam she takes that is completely separate from my class. This test is to be done on a computer, hence that fact that she is enrolled in this course.”Smith has noted that although his career is on the path to an engineer, he certainly considers becoming a teacher or maybe a professor down the line.Smith also talked about one of the main reasons that he decided to take this teaching gig 4 years ago was for his late brother who passed away in a car crash.“My brother Darrin is always my inspiration; it is him who gets me through my days good or bad. Everything I do is for him; just have to make my brother proud.”Smith also mentioned that he wants to start a memorial scholarship in honor of his brother.Smith left us with this:“Don’t wait too long. You might miss your chance. You might miss your chance to learn something new, something being a machine known to us as a computer. ”