The South Akron Neighborhood Council Block Club celebrated the 28th Annual National Night Out (NNO), a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), earlier this month, along with other Southeast Akron organizations, like East Akron Community House, Byrd’s House Groceries, F. Lee’s Tax & Accounting Services, Inc., Akron Summit Community of Action, Inc., The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Akron and Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic.
Involved since 1984, this year’s Southeast Akron site hosted an array of activities, including an Anti-Crime Walk sponsored by the South Akron Neighborhood Council Block Club, starting from Cole Avenue and continuing throughout the neighborhood. Also provided was information about safety and health issues, along with music, activities, games, door prizes, back-to-school giveaways, food and refreshments. Anti-crime signs were available, along with Block Watch sign-up information.
According to Block Club President John Nelson, the mission of the South Akron Neighborhood Council Block Club is to uphold and inspire the community to accomplish activities involving local churches, civic leaders and families. As members of the community, Nelson stated, “our role in the neighborhood is charting the course for a range of activities, including assisting in providing a forum for networking with other organizations and crime prevention in our neighborhoods, creating educational opportunities for the citizens of Akron.”
The main focus of the South Akron Neighborhood Council Block Club, established in 1968, is to give assistance regarding neighborhood concerns, sharing knowledge on crime and security issues, restoration and beautification of the eighborhood and coordinating and collaborating with individuals, groups, organizations and small businesses to develop and secure a better quality of life. The group sponsors programs with the residents of Akron and other agencies, working together to assist in home renovation and repair, neighborhood cleanup efforts and offering specific resources that promote economic self-sufficiency to families and youth in crisis.
The event coincided with activities at Church of God M.P.G.T., and several distinguished guest and luminaries in attendance included Billy Soule, Assistant to Mayor Don Plusquellic; U.S Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-13); Mike Williams, city of Akron At-Large Councilman and Democratic Mayoral Candidate; Ken Jones, Akron’s 5th Ward Councilman; Judge Tom Teodosio; and Akron’s new Police Chief, Jim Nice. The corporate sponsor was Malcolm Costa, president and CEO of Akron Summit Community Action Inc.
Neighbors came to meet community leaders, hear solutions to crime in the community and to discuss making Akron safe for children. The event's theme was “be victims no more.”
The speakers presented anti-crime information and promoted block watch signup. Also included was the Akron PeaceMakers, an anti-crime/youth civic program group designed to teach Akron’s youth about their government, community organizations and leadership, civic responsibility and Akron history.
A special moment was given by Pastor Henry Brunson of Church of God M.P.G.T. for shooting victim David D. Clark, of Cole Avenue, who was killed June 6. In his sermon, he mentioned the crime and violence in the neighborhood, how it must stop and the church’s focus on its prevention.
Listeners were encouraged to “take back our neighborhood and city from countless incidents of crime, drugs, gang and homicides.” Participants said it was a forceful message that rang out throughout the crowd on center-stage, held outside in the church parking lot. The sign on the church marquee read, “There are eternal reasons: for temporary trials.” The Church of God M.P.G.T. praise team sang gospel songs of praise and worship that were befitting the occasion.
The National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from more than 10,000 communities and all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, more than 35 million people participated in NNO.
Youth who participated in the anti-crime march waited in line to receive backpacks filled with back-to-school supplies distributed by many volunteers. Donations -- which included refreshments, food, gift cards and bikes -- were provided by Akron Summit Community Action Inc., Byrd’s House Groceries, F. Lee’s Tax & Accounting Services Inc., Grant Street Drive-Through Inn, Wal-Mart, Schwebel Bakery and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Co-sponsor of the event, business owner Johnnie Byrd of Byrd’s House Groceries, raffled tickets for two children’s bicycles, bringing jubilation to the crowd with cheers, shouts and applause among those who gathered. Gift cards for Acme, Red Lobster and gasoline fuel cards also were raffled by the Master of Ceremonies, Minister Anthony Brown and First Lady Brunson of Church of God M.P.G.T.
On behalf of this year’s organizers of the 28th Annual National Night Out, the South Akron Neighborhood Council Block Club and the Church of God M.P.G.T. wish to make special mention to the volunteers, sponsors and participants expressing their heartfelt thanks. Giving back to the community and doing well are what the event was truly all about.