Heroes and Sheroes | Celebrating the game-changers who walk among us

by Kenyona Sunny Matthews

Community Organizers. Grassroots Organizers. Heroes. Akron is full of those seeking to be the change we wish to see in this world. These folks work hard every day to ensure Akron is moving forward.

Community activism through local folk seeking to make our world better is a beautiful thing. Akron is birthing some great movements towards change, focusing on issues around criminal justice reform, educational system overhauls, poverty, racism, and homelessness.

Despite facing many challenges, local community leaders are stepping up and seeking an equitable and just world. We have followed Sage Lewis and the Homeless Charity. We have seen him fight for a population many folks have tried to ignore. We have watched in awe of Darrita Davis as she fights for people’s economic and social justice.

Everyday heroes fighting for us! They understand that economic justice is a human right — not a privilege. They recognize that our freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are constitutional rights for all and not privileges for the few. I am in awe of the countless hours and dedication these two and so many others in Akron give to the people. It takes a special person to fight for others and risk your own comfort.

One of the qualities I admire the most is how Akron justice fighters empower the community to serve themselves.

Sage Lewis created a community where — for the first time — homeless people were in the building for the mayor’s State of the City address.

Darrita Davis (Co-Director of Community Outreach for The W.O.M.B.) is working hard to help Akron residents. She fights for voting rights, handles voter registrations, organizes community events like back-to-school drives, and is working on several initiatives meant to reform our criminal justice system. One of her current projects is bailing out incarcerated mothers who are being held on nonviolent offenses for minimal bonds that they cannot afford.

Anyone can rant and rave at a protest, but these people are on the ground, doing the work. They are deep in the trenches, working for and with the people our society shuns. Their work is honorable, just, and needed to heal our community. They are true heroes.

Have you ever wondered what you can do to help these groups? Have you ever sought to volunteer or support these two and all the other community change agents?

I urge you to reach out to them and join them. I urge you to give of your time, energy, and money, where you can and when you can. Find groups like The W.O.M.B. and join them in the fight for humanity! The work we put into making a better community will not always be easy, but I can promise you it will be rewarding.

Humankind owes it to one another to work for the greater good. These leaders need your help. Akron needs your help. We need to be change agents working on the people’s movement. We are the saviors WE have been waiting for, and WE will make Akron a better place for us all. We are in this together.

If you are interested in donating to Darrita Davis’s organization, The Way of Mind and Body (W.O.M.B.), you may do so in person or by mail at 915 East Market Street, Akron, Ohio 44305. For further inquiries regarding The W.O.M.B. (including PayPal donations), contact thewayofmindandbodyakron@gmail.com

To donate to Sage Lewis’s The Homeless Charity, you can do so at https://www.thehomelesscharity.org, or by mail: The Homeless Charity, PO Box 1479, Hudson, Ohio 44236. For further inquiries regarding The Homeless Charity, call 234-417-0711 or email sage@thehomelesscharity.org

Kenyona “Sunny” Matthews is a motivational speaker focusing on issues of diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. She is a University of Akron School of Law graduate who wants to make the world better for her daughter by challenging us to deal with our issues around race, class and gender.

Photo: The property near The Homeless Charity where people once lived in dozens of tents. From After Tent City, Feb. 2019, by Rosalie Murphy.