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Community News

West Akron club treats APD staff to hot meal

1/23/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Akron Police Department officers and staff are shown above as they enjoy the annual meal provided by the Akron Woman’s City Club.
Akron Woman’s City Club Trustee Linda Gauer, President Patricia Browner, organizer Jim Cole and General Manager Judith Wishnek are shown as they take a break from helping to serve officers at the meal, which took place from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Verna Friend, of the Akron Woman’s City Club, directs officer Natalie Tassone as officer Kyle Walter, behind them, takes a seat for dinner.
WEST AKRON — For more than a decade, the Akron Woman’s City Club has provided a hot meal on a cold night for members of the Akron Police Department (APD).

The annual dinner took place this year Jan. 18 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., allowing two shifts of police officers, dispatchers and other APD employees to stop by to enjoy barbecue chicken, sausage and rigatoni, rice, vegetables, a salad buffet and desserts.

“Our employees of the kitchen put the meal together, and members help to serve by greeting the officers and talking to them,” said Jim Cole, a West Akron resident who served as chairman of the dinner this year.

He added that 116 officers took part in the meal this year, and one K-9 officer attended as well.

“The ladies of the club enjoyed meeting the dog,” Cole said, adding they also were treated to a demonstration by the officer and dog.

About a dozen diners just stopped by and took a meal to go, Cole said.

The efforts of the club, which has provided the meal every January since 2000, are appreciated, Cole said.

“The officers say it’s very enjoyable, and they are very appreciative,” he said. “They enjoy it because it gives them a chance to come into a place that is warm where they can get a hot meal.”

The meal started as an annual activity when a member asked police officers who work the evening shifts where they go to get something to eat. The answer was that there weren’t many choices for them late at night.

Club members decided to offer the meal as a way to thank officers for their hard work after the hectic holiday season.

Akron Woman’s City Club volunteers Margaret Reed and Liz Ogonek are shown above, at center, with police officers, from left, Jim Alexander, Jim Buchanan and Pierre Irvine at the Jan. 18 dinner.
Photos: Dale Dong
Other clubs also worked with the group to put on the event, but today the Woman’s City Club is the sole provider, Cole said.

He added the event is also possible through the generosity of vendors such as Hillcrest Food Service and Blue Ribbon Meats, which donated food for the dinner this year.

The dinner is just one event that the Akron Woman’s City Club hosts at its West Exchange Street location. Cole said the group also features a Town Hall lecture series that is open to the public and provides space for the Coach House Theatre in the adjacent coach house.

According to a history of the club provided by Cole, the Akron Woman’s City Club was organized on Feb. 8, 1923, by Helen Wolle, who would later be elected its first president. The founding principles of the club were that it be a place where women could promote civic activities open to the public, as well as provide meeting spaces for nonprofit organizations. In 2004, the bylaws were amended to allow men to join the club.

The club’s first house, Mason House, was located on the site that would later become the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. In June 1926, the Club moved to the Pythian Temple and expanded to two floors to meet its growing needs. The club moved to its current location in April 1946.

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