The dream of coming to America is a lofty one for refugees, many of whom have lived through unspeakable circumstances before arriving here.
Resettlement — while ripe with possibilities — can be daunting, especially when you don’t speak the language. Fortunately, the International Institute of Akron and its volunteers are a port in the storm, helping with everything from teaching English, to providing housing and clothing, to job placement and so much more.
Another important mission is offering assistance to refugees desiring to become American citizens. A free Citizenship Assistance Workshop is being offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 16 at the institute, 207 E. Tallmadge Ave., Akron.
“Volunteer attorneys and trained immigration counselors will assist eligible applicants applying for U.S. citizenship,” said Rebecca Jenkins, citizenship coordinator. “Low-income applicants may be eligible to apply to waive the usual $680 government filing fee.
“Participants should bring their permanent resident card [green card], two passport photos and evidence of income if they believe they may be eligible for a fee waiver.”
Citizenship study materials are available. For more information or to register, please call 330-376-5106, ext. 15, or visit www.iiakron.org. The Citizenship Program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Citizenship.
Stuffed toys collected
The 10th anniversary Jackson-Schneider Teddy Bear Drive is in full swing through March 21, with all of the stuffed animals going to Akron Children’s Hospital’s Burn Center.
Only new stuffed animals can be accepted because of the burn center’s sterile environment.
The drive was started by Deanna Jackson as a way to say thank you to the staff who cared for her little sister, Mackenzie Schneider, when the toddler spilled a cup of hot water out of a microwave on her face, chest, abdomen, arms and legs.
Coincidentally, Mackenzie’s great-grandfather, Leonard Spicer, 89, who somehow caught himself on fire, was admitted there the same week. Sadly, he did not survive his injuries.
Mackenzie, who is now 13 years old, spent a month in the burn center and several weeks being treated as an outpatient.
To date, the Jackson-Schneider family has collected and donated more than 4,682 stuffed toys to the burn center. “In 2008, we added coloring books and crayons,” said Shari Schneider, Deanna’s and Mackenzie’s mother. “These were a very welcome addition. We’ve donated more than 870 coloring books and crayons.”
Mega-participation comes from Cuyahoga Falls High and DeWitt Elementary schools.
Interested in donating a stuffed toy, coloring books and crayons for the drive? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-926-1585. Items also can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 130 Broad Blvd., Cuyahoga Falls, or call 330-928-4847. To donate money, please call Woodforest Nation Bank in Kent at 330-673-3822.
Bravo to the Cuyahoga Falls Lions Club for bringing the Dictionary Project to elementary schools in Cuyahoga Falls.
An excited Kathy Skinner, immediate past president, said fellow Lions Club members presented the 36 third-graders of Immaculate Heart of Mary with Webster’s dictionaries Feb. 25, and gave 12 dictionaries to the third-graders of Summit Christian School that day.
Redeemer Lutheran’s 23 third-graders, St. Joseph’s 34 third-graders, and more than 400 students in the Cuyahoga Falls school system are also receiving Webster’s dictionaries, she said. Third-graders at Woodridge have already received theirs through another service organization.
According to Skinner, the Lions Club plans to continue this project every school year for all third-graders. Each book has a place for the child’s name and includes a bookmark from the club.
That’s more than 600 books. For more information about the Lions, please visit www.cuyahogafallslionsclub.org.
Big, beautiful bouquets to the staff on 5 East at Akron City Hospital who recently raised more than $2,400 to support the Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition in memory of Nick Shepard, 17, son of Tami, a member of the staff.
“Our soup luncheon was a huge success with a tempting menu of over a dozen different soups, salad, bread sticks as well as various cookies and baked goods,” the hospital’s close-knit 5 East family said in a recent note. “In addition, we had amazing success with the eight raffle baskets filled with everything from car care supplies, chocolate and more chocolate, to pampering baskets with spa relaxation and more. T-shirts, ceramic bowls and wristbands were also available for purchase.”
Because of these efforts, high school students throughout Summit County will be educated about suicide prevention, and support groups will be established to help those who have lost loved ones in this manner.
Please consider these phone numbers if you think you can’t go on: 800-SUICIDE; Lifeline (from anywhere in the county) 800-273-TALK; Portage Path support hot line 330-434-9144; or the Survivors of Suicide Support Group at 330-762-3500.
The community-minded Connecting Touch Therapy & Wellness Center Inc. (960 Graham Road, Suite 4, Cuyahoga Falls) is hosting a clothing drive through March 30.
“So as you clean out the closet, bring in gently used and clean coats or articles of clothing,” is the invitation being extended by Jack Hayes, president of Connecting Touch. The clothing will go to Springtime of Hope to be distributed to those dealing with homelessness or other poverty issues.
“Having a clean house puts a smile on your face. Helping someone in need puts a smile on your soul,” is Hayes’ philosophy. “For each [usable] item you bring in, you will be entered in a drawing for a free half-hour massage with a paraffin hand treatment, so the more you bring in the more chances you have to win.”
Items can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Questions? Please call 330-945-9354.
Song books needed
And finally this special request from Kathy Kubicza, a frequent visitor at Rose Lane Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation in Massillon, where her mother-in-law is a resident:
“My husband Steve and I began attending Bible study and church services there. … The residents loved to sing, accompanied on the organ by a terrific lady who also calls Rose Lane home. The group has grown to about 30 members each Sunday, sometimes more.
“The song books we have, which were donated years ago, are falling apart from years of use and there aren’t enough for everyone.
“Does anyone have some LARGE PRINT hymnals or song books that they’d be willing to donate to this worthy cause? Used ones in good condition would be fine and at least 40 would be needed; 50 would be awesome! Best case scenario would be books with the old favorites that our elderly love and remember.”
To donate or for more information, please contact Kathleen Kubicza at email@example.com or 330-990-3028.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.