Jewell Cardwell

Big, beautiful bouquets to the women of Altrusa International, Akron chapter — this area’s original and premier gatherers and distributors of prom gowns to high school girls on a budget — for hosting what it calls the Princess Night Project for 12 years.

This year’s ultra prom-dress giveaway is planned for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28, at the Family of Faith United Methodist Church (formerly Church of the Master United Methodist), 800 E. Market St., Akron. The group has already amassed 2,000 dresses.

“Once registered, the girls are turned loose on the gowns with the help of aides to direct them to the proper sizes,” said Judy Pulliam, event co-chairwoman. “The club enlists local college girls to act as ‘personal shoppers’ to help the girls make their selections.” Should the gown need a few alterations to make it fit perfectly, no problem. Altrusa has it covered. “A few years ago, three women came to us with their sewing machines and asked what they could do to help. They do repairs and alterations on the gowns right there at the time.”

Doesn’t get any better than that, given the cost of alterations these days.

There are lots of accessories — shoes, purses, scarves and jewelry — to go with the dresses.

And Mary Kay representatives will be on hand to give girls makeovers, with a take-home bag of cosmetics to re-create the look for prom night. Drawings throughout the day will award such gifts as flowers and dinners.

“Any girl who shows up and registers gets to choose from among the hundreds of gowns hanging by size on the many racks,” Pulliam said. “Altrusa only asks for the girl’s name, the name of her school and how she heard about the Princess Night Project.”

More than 120 girls came to last year’s party. Gowns (current styles, please) can still be dropped off at the church from 9 a.m. through early evening on April 27. For information, please call Pulliam at 330-877-6000 or Jill McKinney at 330-607-4265.

New homeowners wanted

Habitat for Humanity of Summit is in need of qualified families for an upcoming build. Talk about good news!

“The process for the chosen families will be a little more expedited than our typical homeowner program as the homes are to be completed in a very short time frame,” said Danielle Hupp, the agency’s director of communications and events.

“Habitat for Humanity of Summit County will be building three houses in eight days! The organization is participating in the 2012 Home Builders Blitz, a partnership between Habitat for Humanity affiliates and the local building community, and is set to begin building the three homes June 4 on Ardella Street in Akron.”

Rochelle Fisher, president/chief executive of Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, said, “We are currently looking for families who are interested in building and owning a new home in Akron.”

Applicants must have a decent and responsible credit history and have the ability to make a monthly mortgage payment.

“Also, each adult applicant must be willing to complete a total of 250 ‘sweat equity hours’ of volunteering,” Fisher said.

For information, please visit or call 330-745-7734.

Mobile mammogram

Although Brenda Shepherd is battling breast cancer, she still colors herself lucky. Extremely lucky, in fact.

The 54-year-old Akron woman said she probably would not have received the mammogram when she did were it not for Time Warner Cable’s MammoVan, a mobile unit that happened to be on site in December.

Shepherd, who has been employed at Time Warner for 12 years, said she had delayed making an appointment for her annual mammogram because she had been dealing with “a few surgeries last couple of years” and had been somewhat distracted. It had been two years since her last mammogram.

However, the MammoVan was there one morning and the convenience made it possible for her to take 10 minutes of her day and get the mammogram. It revealed she had five lumps in the left breast; two turned out to be malignant.

Shepherd had actually missed the sign-up for the MammoVan but she got the green light from Finance Director Michelle Keller anyway. “Doctors caught it early enough and I’m getting the treatment I need,” Shepherd said, adding. “I do believe that saved my life.

“I would like to see more of these vans at other workplaces. How convenient that would be.”

Travis Reynolds, manager of communications for Time Warner Cable, said the MammoVan has been very well received by employees: “We believe a happy work force will lead to happy customers, which is why we put so much focus on employee benefits. Having the MammoVan on site creates a very convenient opportunity for people to be screened for breast cancer.

“People are so busy with family and work commitments that we oftentimes put our medical needs on hold until there’s an emergency. By offering employees the chance to step away from the office for about 10 minutes to visit the MammoVan, we’re giving them the chance to have this very important, lifesaving test done.”

Time Warner provided three MammoVan opportunities last December and has hosted two more so far this year at workplaces in Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Alzheimer’s benefit

The Gardens of Western Reserve Assisted Living Residence, 45 Chart Road, Cuyahoga Falls, will host its inaugural benefit Chili Cook-off from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 20, with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association to research this torturous disease that robs the individual of memory and self.

Live entertainment, a 50/50 raffle and prizes are offered. Area skilled nursing and assisted-living facilities, medical companies and neighboring police and fire departments are encouraged to participate in the contest.

A $10 donation includes chili samplings, cornbread and pop. For information, please call 330-928-4500.

High schoolers donate

Major kudos to Field High School (Portage County) Student Council and its generous gifts to Akron’s Ronald McDonald House and to Akron Children’s Hospital. Student Council adviser Patricia Lynch said members of the 30-member council supplied 22 Christmas stockings, each with a stuffed animal inside, to children at Ronald McDonald, paid for by the students.

Recently members tied 30 colorful fleece blankets for Easter, to donate next week to the hospital.

Accident victims honored

The service honoring Jeff and Jennifer Thomas of Louisville is planned for 7 to 9:30 p.m. April 20 at The Chapel, 135 Fir Hill, Akron. The service will be led by Drew Belden and the Fir Hill Band. The family suffered major injuries on June 13, 2010, when another vehicle ran a stop sign, striking their van.

Jeff Thomas, the family’s breadwinner, suffered a traumatic brain injury. His prognosis remains uncertain.

Learning self-defense

The Akron Area National Organization for Women (NOW) is sponsoring a Self-Defense Class NOT for Women Only from 6 to 8 p.m. April 11 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, Ellet branch, 2470 E. Market St., Akron. Suggested donation is $5. Participants must be 18 and older. Wear comfortable clothing and “be prepared with self-defense you can learn in one evening, including knife, stick and situational awareness techniques.”

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or emailed at