Hannah Simionides is a licensed social worker in the Akron community. Daughter of Duane and Lisa Crabbs, her passion for urban non-profit and inner-city ministry developed at a young age. She completed her undergraduate degree at Malone University, and her masters degree at the University of Akron in 2016. Currently, Hannah is employed at Summit County Juvenile Court and helps coordinate a program for youth who live in Summit County and have been sex trafficked or are at high risk to be trafficked. Working with people on the margins has taken Hannah all over the world, and one of her favorite places to live and serve is Eastern Europe. Hannah is married to Peter Simionides, and together they live in Akron’s International District- North Hill. They both have a passion for engaging other ethnicities and diverse cultural backgrounds- as this is how they see Jesus’ image most clearly on display. This blog is a part of the 20/20 Come and See series.
My partnership with South Street Ministries stems more from biology rather than choice. I may have a fancy Greek last name now, but I am certain Duane and Lisa pulse through my veins. Of course, I never had a choice to be born a Crabbs child either. None of us get the privilege of picking where we are born and to whom. Despite the seemingly lack of choice, I deeply honor and value the ways my parents thoughtfully invited us children into the story. After all- the Gospel is an invitation, not a forced mold, structure, or agenda to be pushed forward. From day one my parents allowed for us to choose in or choose out of the mission. What a gift it has been- both the choosing and the saying yes!
I can speak for all my siblings when I say that growing up in Summit Lake was unique. It was less of an “experience” and much more of life just happening. Racial and economic diversity was not something we simply witnessed, but it became woven into everyday life. The joy and the sorrow that unfolded within the community was not distant, but rather uncomfortably close. Creating my identity in our neighborhood was both natural and intimidating as I tried to make friends in homes that looked much different than mine. Running a ministry out of your home meant that sacred space is hard to come by. It means this: multiple people having a key to our front door, a yard full of young children, a constant meeting in the kitchen, my dad’s office in the dining room, church in our living room, and the occasional person in recovery in our guest room. Sharing physical space was easy in comparison to sharing the emotional and spiritually attention of my parents with so many in need.
The best part of all, is that my parents did not live on mission apart from us children. As a family, as one unit, we were often present in the dark and light moments. Part of South Street’s mission statement is “taking shared risks.” My parents did just that while raising us children. There are specific memories I hold in which life was not safe or easy. It was risky both spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. These risks were shared together as a family, and because of that I saw the depth and richness of life with Jesus. This is the abundant and full life scripture talks about! I often think about the way C.S. Lewis wrote regarding Aslan. “Is he safe? Oh, course he’s not safe. But he is good.” I wholeheartedly believe I would not be the Christ follower I am today without the decisions my parents made for me as a child, and the good work of South Street Ministries. I think many Christians abuse the idea related to being in the world, but not of the world. They use it as an excuse to isolate themselves from broken and hurting places. This was not my growing up experience. I saw the gospel in action every single day, in both word and deed.
It is really hard for me to comprehend all that South Street Ministries is now. For so long, it was two committed people wearing twenty hats. Just as my parents invited us children into the mission, they invited so many more “unlikely partners.” I am blown away from how incredibly designed the website is, or the fact there is even a blog that people read. South Street Ministries could now fully function if Duane and Lisa stepped away. What a testimony to the work of making disciples!
For the last 7 years or so I have not been involved in the regular rhythms of life in South Akron. It is a shock to my system to step back in. This many people care about Summit Lake? Another person bought a house here? That person is employed here? Recently, I attended an event in Summit Lake that was hosted at the Pump House. It was a beautiful, creative, and inspiring art event in which adult professionals collaborated with young people in the community. Although this particular event had nothing to do with South Street Ministries, I couldn’t help but to stop and wonder if we would all be here celebrating these successes without the prior decades of daily obedience from Duane and Lisa Crabbs. What joy it brings my soul to see the numerous amounts of people that commit to life in South Akron. What pride and honor I have in my heart for the two people I get to call mom and dad. My parents will be the first people to step out of the limelight, and highlight the courageous work of others in the community. But for now, we pause, and thank God that the Gospel narrative came alive through their lives and Jesus used them in bringing the Kingdom to our little corner of the earth.
To become an unlikely partner in the work of South Street Ministries, click here.