Held by Akron Community Foundation, fund will help safety forces better engage with neighborhoods
— When Akron Police Officer Lloyd Ford wanted to conduct community outreach, like buying a pizza for neighborhood kids, he would often pay for these activities with money from his own pocket. Ford, whose situation was common among members of the local safety forces, was the impetus behind the launch of the Summit County Police & Fire Community Engagement Fund.
“I’m a worker bee,” said Ford. “It’s tough sometimes when officers see things they’d like to do, and trying to get funding for it is sometimes hard. This is an honor today to have this program put in place.”
The fund will offer financial support for positive community engagement activities and better help members of the safety forces give back to the neighborhoods they serve.
“These folks put their lives on the line for us every single day, and it’s important that we support them, and we want to make sure they have everything they need,” said Summit County Councilmember Jeff Wilhite, who spoke at a launch event earlier today at Helen Arnold CLC, which included police and fire officials, Summit County Councilmembers, students, school administration and others. Many have expressed the need for strengthened community connections with our local safety forces.
The fund, which will be administered through Furnace Street Mission’s Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center, was recently the 600th fund opened at Akron Community Foundation.
At last year’s On the Table Greater Akron event, which brought more than 6,000 residents to mealtime conversations, public safety rose as a high priority issue, said John Garofalo, VP of Community Investment for Akron Community Foundation, who also spoke at the launch event.
“We cannot be prouder to be part of this initiative,” said Garofalo. “We were able to convince one of our fundholders to give the initial $10,000 to start this fund.”
Summit County Councilmember Gloria Rodgers also thanked Wilhite for his part in championing this idea.
A committee has been assembled that will review the applications that come in from agency heads, said Capt. Chip Westfall, from the Akron Police Department. “We’re excited to be a part of this and I look forward to seeing how this is going to impact our community here in Summit County.”
The date of the event was significant as well, as today is National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
To make a tax deductible donation to the fund, visit www.akroncf.org/give/Police&FireFund.