Thursday, September 22, 2022

Leaders from across Portage County will gather September 22, 2022 to recognize some of Portage County's best and brightest. Awards will be given to nominees in the areas of Best Economic Development Project, Most Engaging High School, Best Community Service Project, Community Hero, Best Health Initiative and Best Arts and Culture Event.

The evening includes entertainment, food and networking.

Tickets are $50 per person, $90 per couple. Table sponsorships are $500.

Link to purchase tickets

Call Todd Peetz at 330-297-3613 for information, and see our list below for prior winners!


Community hero nominees

  • Edie Benner - "A native of Mantua, Edie has shown dedication to the community through her vision to renew and rebuild Mantua Village, her support to the business community, and her commitment as a physical therapist to improving the health of the Mantua community."

  • Jerimiah Greathouse - "Jerimiah always steps up to the plate when called. He has volunteered his time and equipment to help out senior citizens or the disabled in their time of need."

  • Jordan F. Michael - "Jordan has been a indefatigable, resourceful, personable, trustworthy, and dedicated administrator, liaison, ambassador, leader and HERO in Rootstown and our county for years."

  • Melanie Dundon - "When the Covid-19 vaccine was release, Melanie recognized how difficult that process was for most old adults. She began making appointment for family friends, colleagues and Streetsboro community members. Melanie helped hundreds of people make appointments."

  • Pastor Dennis J. Richey Sr. - Dennis is always educated and promoting individuals and the McElrath community to be better!"

Community improvement nominees

  • Hope Town Recovery Housing - "In 2021, Ted St. John opened Hope Town in Windham. Hope Town offers those in recovery access to safe, clean, affordable, and drug/alcohol free housing while connecting them with access to treatment, peer support, food, jobs, healthcare, transportation and community. With Hope Town, Ted has not only beautified the community in his restoration of the space but also the hearts of people that live here."

  • Mila's Hope and Rowyn's Dreams Playground - Susan Monegan, a community member and grandmother of a special needs child, realized Portage County did not have an all-inclusive playground and decided to do something to change that. With God's grace, the playground opened in September 2021 in Randolph."

  • The Main Street Mile - "Chelsea Gregor, who serves on the Board of Directors for Main Street Ravenna, has been paramount in the development of the Main Street Mile. Chelsea took the idea to develop and brand the downtown district of Main Street in Ravenna and put together a way to capitalize on the history, promote locally owned business and create a fun way to provide the health benefits of a mile (which she walks everyday during her lunch) to create a destination for anyone and everyone who lives, works or visits downtown Ravenna. This project creates and defines a sense of place in a community working to revitalize and change the narrative of the downtown district. "

Community service nominees

  • Open Arms Adoption: Adoptive Program for Kids with Significant Medical Needs - "Open Arms Adoption launched their adoption program with kids with significant special needs in 2021. The organization has devoted additional resources to reach prospective Ohio families that are willing and able to be trained to adopt and care for these most precious children. Open Arms has facilitated adoptive placement of four infants born with significant medical needs ranging from spina bifida to Down Syndrome to cleff palate."

  • Kent State University Habitat for Humanity Chapter - From Habitat for Humanity of Portage County's earliest beginnings, the Kent State Chapter significantly impacted the mission to build homes for those in need of safe, decent, and affordable housing. Each year, a group of university students are vetted to join the campaign chapter. In 2021, students gave up their Saturday's to work on job sites. The chapter also continued fundraising to make a donation to Habitat."

  • The Portager - "The Portager is a locally owned news source exclusively for Portage County. The Portager covers local government, businesses and nonprofits, schools, and things to do around town. The news source is a forum for the community to come together and be accountable for the health and prosperity of one another."

economic development nominees

  • Buckeye Quality Meats - "Originally the old Shell Station in Streetsboro was planned for a sandwich shop but after meeting with the owner, the city was able to present data showing how a butcher shop would serve the area well and the entire facility was redesigned to meet that need. Buckeye Quality Meats has been a wonderful addition to the community. They have donated generously to the city's bicentennial and the local food pantry."

  • Moffett - "Moffett, a subsidiary of Hiab, makes three wheeled forklifts. The city of Streetsboro devoted countless hours to the cultivation of the relationship and showcasing why both Texas and Georgia would be inferior site locations. The opening of this facility will bring at least 100 news jobs to Streetsboro."

Health initiative nominees

  • Celebrating Families: Children's Advantage - "Celebrating Families is a program ran by Children's Advantage Family Center to help families affected by addiction heal. The program offer guided discussions with clinical trauma therapists. Family meal time is provided in a comfortable atmosphere for families to process their emotions, growth and begin to rebuild their resilience together."

  • CIT Coordinator & Mental Health Outreach: Mental Health & Recovery Board & Coleman Health Services - "In 2021, Portage County's Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) expanded from the annual officer training week to building a better community-based system by bringing together law enforcement, mental health professionals, and other partners to improve community responses to mental health crises and to help people get into the services they need. These efforts led to the creation of the Mental Health Outreach Program, in collaboration with Coleman Health Services."

  • Food for Life Market: UH Portage Medical Center - "The Food for Life Market is a part of the food is medicine initiative that takes a holistic approach to address food insecurity as a social determinant of health. The Market at UH Portage is a food pantry and educational program offered to address food insecurity in our community. Since 2021, the Market has served over 32,000 pounds of food to more than 2,000 individuals."

  • Let's Talk About It - Mother's in Recovery Support Group: Townhall II - "An idea that started with a case manager who was concerned about the expectations put on the mothers on his case load that differed drastically from the fathers on his case load, this support group brings mothers in recovery together once a month to talk about the issues that only other mothers in the same situation would understand. This space provides moms in recovery with a safe, understanding, and judgment-free platform. The group is mostly peer led with a prevention education specialist and case manager on hand to keep the conversations flowing. As needed, educational components are added. The group is extremely popular within the community and has been meeting since October of 2021."

Youth initiative nominees

  • Girl Scout Take Action Project - "The Girl Scout Group received a wish list of items for foster children from The Bair Foundation and began collecting these items in the community. Despite the setback of Covid-19, the girls were able to collect a lot of toiletry items, clothes, pajamas, baby diapers and wipes, and numerous other donated items. They filled 22 backpacks, 4 large duffle bags, 3 medium sized boxes, and 2 large grocery sacks. This initiative provided great impact to the children in foster care."

  • Mission: Hope & Housing - "DECA students Cameron Lantz and Brandon Melin, students of Kent Roosevelt High School, chose Coleman Health Services as their DECA project to help raise funds for housing for youth that age out of the foster care system in the Kent area. They raised $2,365 to help the many young adults who end up on the streets and homeless after aging out of the system."

  • Streetsboro Community Garden: Robb Kidd's Sociology Class - Mr. Kidd's Sociology students were challenged to create a community-based project. One class decided to create a community garden. With much time and effort put in, the class found a location at the Chapel at Tinker's Creek. The students plowed the area, installed fencing, helped with promotion and joined a planning committee that would work to address the zoning, guidelines and future of the garden. Early community involvement is active and positive. Some students even remain active with this project post graduation."




Located at the NEW Center at NEOMED

4209 OH-44 Rootstown, OH 44272

2021 Winners

Community Improvement Award: Restoration 44 Coffee Shop

Community Service Award: Portage CARES Community Food and Supplies Drive

Economic Improvement Award: Independence of Portage County New Operations Center

Health Initiative Award: Children's Advantage Family Center

Pandemic Initiative Award: Portage County Health District

Youth Initiative Award: Comprehensive Case Management & Employment Program

Community Hero Award: Jane Palmstrom

2019 Winners

Best Economic Development Initiative- Ravenna7

Best Community Service Initiative - Raven Packs

Best Cultural Arts Initiative - THRIVE

Best Healthy Communities Initiative - HOPE Program

Best Student Initiative- Streetsboro- Community Connect

Community Hero - Leon Jankowski

2018 Winners

Best Economic Development Project - Chestnut Commerce Center, Ravenna Facility Renovation

Best Community Service Project - Passages, Fatherhood Celebration

Best Arts and Culture Event - Portage County Randolph Fair

Best Health Initiative - Drug Prevention Campaign, Portage Substance Abuse Community Coalition

Most Engaging High School - Crestwood High School, Junior-Senior Seminar

Community Hero - Direct Support Professionals, Independence, Inc.

2017 Winners

Best Economic Development Project - Sirna & Sons, Ravenna Facility Expansion

Best Community Service Project - Duma Meats, Kansas Wildfire Relief Effort

Best Arts and Culture Event - Ravenna Art On Main

Best Health Initiative - NEOMED Free Clinic

Most Engaging High School - Kent Roosevelt High School, Summer English-As-Second-Language Program

Community Hero - Scott Snyder, Hero's Rock

2016 Winners

Best Economic Development Project - Pyrotek (Metaullics Division), Aurora Manufacturing Facility

Best Community Service Project - Kent Brunch Bunch Charity Auction

Best Arts and Culture Event - Ohio Chautauqua, Brimfield Historical Society

Best Health Initiative - Project DAWN, Portage Co. Health District/Mental Health & Recovery Board

Most Engaging High School - Field High School Little Free Library

Community Hero - Paul Ferder, Kent Mold & Manufacturing

2015 Winners

Best Economic Development Project - NEOMED Education and Wellness Center

Best Community Service Project - Health Professions Affinity Community (HPAC)

Best Arts and Culture Event - Kent Heritage Festival

Best Health Initiative - Portage County Safety Council

Most Engaging High School - Aurora High School Service Learning Project

Community Hero - Patti Harjung, Brimfield Police Department

2014 Winners

Best Economic Development Project - Catacel Corporation

Best Community Service Project - Root House

Best Arts and Culture Event - Mantua Art on the Hill

Best Health Initiative - Ravenna City Schools Personal Improvement Program

Most Engaging High School - Aurora High School Independent Learning Experience

Community Hero - Kathleen Schuman, City of Streetsboro