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Project GRAD Akron presents Achieving Dreams celebration

11/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Honorees at Project GRAD Akron’s seventh annual Achieving Dreams Celebration included, from left: (back row) Leon Harris, Tom Sawyer, Mark Mathews (on behalf of Barbara Mathews), Bob Kulinski and William Calhoun; and (front row) Shayla Brown, Myles Mathews and Loren Mayer (on behalf of Barbara Mathews) and Dr. Pamela Hamilton-Stubbs.
Photo courtesy of Project GRAD Akron
COPLEY — Project GRAD Akron presented its seventh annual Achieving Dreams Celebration Oct. 3 at St. George’s Fellowship Center. Approximately 325 were in attendance, including many community, religious, business and political leaders, according to organizers.

The evening included a pre-event reception for the honorees, sponsors and VIP ticket purchasers; a buffet dinner; a silent auction with more than 100 items; and an awards program recognizing two honorees for their community service and five Buchtel High School alumni for their professional achievements. 

The evening culminated with a special donation made to Project GRAD Akron by Myles Mathews, Mark Mathews and Loren Mayer, the grandson and children of honoree Barbara Dirden Mathews, from the Barbara D. Mathews Ladybug Foundation at the Akron Community Foundation.

The Community Service Honorees were Bob Kulinski, president of the United Way of Summit County and past Project GRAD Akron board chairman; and Stewart and Calhoun Funeral Home, represented by William Calhoun, W. Byron Calhoun, Rocco Wellington and many others from the organization for their involvement in the community and support of Project GRAD Akron. (J. Preston Stewart was unable to attend, according to Project GRAD officials). 

Since 2010, Project GRAD Akron has recognized alumni of Buchtel for their achievements. This year’s Buchtel Alumni Awards were presented to the following, with information provided by Project GRAD:

  • Shayla Brown (Young Alumni Award), a 1998 graduate of Buchtel High School and currently a school psychologist at Mikovich Middle School in the Maple Heights School District;
  • Barbara Dirden Mathews (Memorial Award), who graduated from Buchtel in 1960 and died Aug. 29, 2009. A retired administrator with the Akron Public Schools and later a retired executive with FirstMerit, Mathews was actively involved in numerous community and civic organizations and received numerous awards and recognitions for her dedication, leadership, professional, civic and community service. She was represented by her family, including son Mark Mathews, daughter Loren B. Mayer and grandson Myles Mathews;
  • Leon Harris (Distinguished Service to Humanity Award) is a 1979 Buchtel graduate and award-winning journalist who anchors the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts for ABC78/WJKAO-TV in Washington, D.C., and also funds the Leon Harris Project GRAD Akron Book Scholarships for Buchtel students;
  • Pamela Hamilton-Stubbs, BSN, M.D. (Distinguished Service to Humanity Award), a 1973 Buchtel graduate and the founder and CEO of the Sleep Clinic for Children and Adults, LLC in Richmond, Va., a private Christian medical/research practice focused on community service. She also works with UNESCO on various initiatives in the United States and abroad; and
  • Tom Sawyer (Lifetime Achievement Award), a 1963 Buchtel graduate. State Sen. Sawyer (D-District 28) is currently an Ohio senator representing Akron and portions of Summit County in Northeast Ohio, and he is a former U.S. congressman and former mayor of Akron.

Achieving Dreams Steering Committee members responsible for coordinating the event included Jacqueline Silas-Butler (executive director of Project GRAD Akron), Roxia Boykin and Iris Harvey (event co-chairpersons), Elizabeth Bartz (chairperson of the Silent Auction Committee), Maura Scanlon Bozzelli, S. Theresa Carter (chairperson of the Sponsorship Committee), Judi Hill (chairperson of the Table Captains Committee), Cecelia Huffman-White, Theresa Manzell (co-chairperson of Auction Committee), Artina McElroy, Debra North Sommerville, Joseph White Jr., Bernett Williams and Brittany Grimes Zaehringer (co-chairperson of the Buchtel Awards Committee).

Program participants included attorney Anita Davis, chairperson of the Board of Directors for Project GRAD Akron; David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools; Boykin, event co-chairperson; the Rev. Dr. Diana Swoope, senior pastor of the Arlington Church of God; Billy Soule, Hill and Dr. Gregory Hill, and the honorees, who were introduced by Carter and Zaehringer. Silas-Butler served as the mistress of ceremonies. 

This year’s Achieving Dreams sponsors were: Presenting Sponsor — OMNOVA Solutions Foundation; Achiever Sponsors — Alpha Phi Alpha Foundation, Dianne Newman and Herbert Newman; Mentor Sponsors — Akron General Health System, Buckeye Community Health Plan, Kent State University, Myers Industries Inc., State and Federal Communications and Summa Health System; Collaborator Sponsors — AT&T, Akron Children’s Hospital, Dominion, Dr. Gregory and Judi Hill, The Maynard Family Foundation, Rubber City Radio Group and Stewart and Calhoun Funeral Home; Reception Sponsor — Buckeye Community Health Plan; and Media Sponsor — AkronBeaconJournal/ohio.com.

For more information about Project GRAD Akron, call 330-761-3113, email info@projectgradakron.org or visit www.projectgradakron.org

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