The Rotary Club of Akron had the privilege of listening to Christine Curry, CEO of OPEN M at our Tuesday, November 17th meeting.  You can view the presentation by clicking here.
Christine began her official duties as CEO of OPEN M, on July 20, 2020.   Prior to joining OPEN M, Curry served the Northeast Ohio Medical University as special assistant to the president and as stewardship and development program coordinator within the University’s Division of Advancement. She previously spent two years as a member of the City of Akron’s Mayor’s cabinet as director of communications, and more than 18 years at The University of Akron, in a variety of roles including director of development/stewardship and donor services, director of alumni relations and as a public relations representative. 
She is a strong believer in giving back to her community and currently serves on the Akron Roundtable Board of Trustees, LeBron James Family Foundation - LAB Community Board and our Lady of the Elms Board of Trustees. Curry is a member of Leadership Akron - Class 24. 
The Vision for OPEN M is to be a community leader in breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming lives, one person and one family at a time.  Their Mission is “A Christian ministry, to provide pathways out of poverty for all by feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and strengthening the community.”
OPEN M (Opportunity Parish Ecumenical Neighborhood Ministry) was formed in 1968, at a time of poverty, crime, riots, and war. In Akron, longstanding neighborhoods were being destroyed, and white residents were fleeing to the suburbs. Into that chaos, four churches came together to establish an urban ministry in one of Akron’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. Calvary Evangelical United Brethren Church and Main Street Methodist and began ministering to people via backyards and front porches. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and Wooster Avenue Christian Church joined the effort, rounding out OPEN M’s original Covenant Churches.
OPEN M took the name Opportunity Parish Ecumenical Neighborhood Ministry to reflect the place (Opportunity Park) where they minister, and the idea that the neighborhood itself was OPEN M’s parish. From the beginning, OPEN M has been open to all people, without regard to class, race, income or religious affiliation.
OPEN M continues to develop new and innovative programs to help people in the community become more self-sufficient. Today, more than 1,000 volunteers and many additional Covenant Churches and other supporting organizations help OPEN M continue growing, but their core purpose remains the same: Feed the Hungry, Care for the Sick, and Strengthen the Community.
Their core programs include:
Employment Services:
Employment Services offers various programs and educational opportunities to assist each participant in finding meaningful and lasting employment.
One Job, One Year
OPEN M’s mantra is ‘One Job. One Year.’ With their Employment Services team, supported by partner resources, they help participants reduce the barriers that keep them from lasting employment. Key elements of Employment Services include:
A job readiness and financial literacy workshop
An emphasis on job retention
A customized mentoring program
Transportation assistance
Relationships with core employers in the community
By training participants to succeed in the workplace, Employment Services also helps Summit County businesses, providing them with a dependable source of productive, reliable, entry-level workers.
Hunger is one of the biggest issues facing our community today. Food on the table or in the fridge is something that most of us take for granted. For some, it can prove to be one of the largest hurdles to overcome yet is still one of the most important. Open M’s Food programs help individuals feed their family with emergency food assistance, hot lunches, and monthly food giveaways.
Health Services offers a Free Dental Clinic, Pharmacy and Medical Clinic that provides primary healthcare, with a range of specialties, to those without insurance.
OPEN M established a nursing clinic in 1979, in response to the serious lack of available health services for the poor and working poor. In 1995, OPEN M transformed their nursing clinic into the Free Medical Clinic, significantly expanding services. Initially, the clinic operated out of six different locations, but in 1999, they consolidated their programs into a single 22,000 square foot facility, further increasing the programs offered. In 2006, OPEN M added more space by expanding their clinic to include a full-service pharmacy, along with additional offices for medical personnel. In 2012, they began to transition the focus of healthcare services, moving away from crisis intervention and toward prevention.
OPEN M Challenges:
The COVID pandemic has created multiple challenges for OPEN M.  These challenges include an increase in demand for all services, a drop in volunteers who are often older individuals who have a higher risk of getting infected with COVID 19 and are hesitant to continue to volunteer at this time, and an increase in expenses related to creating a safe environment for their staff, volunteers and individuals needing their various services.
In partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, OPEN M will host three Mountain of Food distributions throughout the months of November and December. The direct distributions will take place on Nov. 20, from 9 - 11 a.m., Nov. 24 from 2 - 4 p.m. and Dec. 18 from 9 - 11 a.m. The extra November Mountain of Food will take the place of the Thanksgiving Eve meal held at OPEN M in years past.  This program provides mainly perishable foods such as, bread, fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and more.  Due to the unprecedented need throughout Northeast Ohio, the Mountain of Food program has been extended beyond Summit County to residents of all counties with no referral required. Guests are served on a first-come-first-serve basis and asked to stay in their cars at all times while practicing current social distancing guidelines.  In a typical year, more than 80 tons of food move through OPEN M’s doors and out into the community through a culmination of food programs. As unemployment continues to rise, along with food insecurity, OPEN M anticipates serving a record number of people in 2020. The Mountain of Food program is one of four programs provided by OPEN M to alleviate hunger in our community. For more information on OPEN M food programs, please call 330-434-0110 or visit  OPEN M is actively seeking volunteers to assist with the Mountain of Food program. To volunteer, please email or call 330-434-0110 to speak with Development Manager, Jess Rist. 
Wanting More Information:
Rotarians wishing to know more about OPEN M, the number of individuals served in each program and other information about OPEN M are encouraged to check out their website: