In the Summit Lake community, one of South Street’s primary ministries is youth engagement and development. RICH KIDS, Bike Shop, and Open Gym all work with Summit Lake youth in Summit Lake. South Street’s community partners further this ministry through the work of Students With A Goal, the Front Porch Fellowship, Girls On the Run, and other amazing programs!
The Summit Lake neighborhood was historically Akron’s playground during the rubber boom. Over time disinvestment and decline saw the community shift into statistically the highest crime and poverty neighborhood of Akron in the latter 1990’s, when South Street was founded. Over the next few decades, houses were demolished and Summit Lake presently hosts the highest concentration of abandoned and vacant properties in Summit County.
There has always been a strong contingent of neighbors and residents who have fought, served, and advocated for the community’s good. Presently, Summit Lake has seen the investment of the Akron Civic Commons along the Towpath and is investigating further development into the core of the Summit Lake neighborhood. South Street Ministries serves with the developing Summit Lake Community Development Corporation.
The only population South Street serves and partners with that does not have a specific geographic focus is the Reentry Community. Reentry is a broad term for any individual coming home from an institution (prison, jail, facility) or working through various challenges/cases within the legal system. The Reentry population is diverse and broad, and South Street seeks to work with individuals towards redirection and restoration.
The Front Porch has become a hub and home for reentry engagement, ranging from drop-ins, the reentry meeting, Faithful Servants Urgent Care clinic, and broader collaborative work with other community/reentry partners. On a spiritual level, Reentry is about grace, forgiveness, identity, and restoration; South Street provides pastoral support along this journey home and advocates for a deeper theology of reentry.
South Akron was previously known as Goosetown due to its strong European-immigrant population (and their propensity to raise geese).
Presently South Akron is a neighborhood without a strong sense of identity. There is still a manufacturing presence in the community and a large amount of businesses. South Akron is home to the Summit County Jail and other community institutions, and the community has a strong sense of recovery with many churches and programs supporting sober-living. Brown St. and Grant St. parallel the north to south stretches of the community and reflect the scope of businesses, services, homes, and hardships within the neighborhood.
South Street Ministries is a member of the Christian Community Development Association (ccda.org), and attends conferences and events regularly for training. CCDA was founded on the three R’s: relocation, redistribution, and reconciliation. Today CCD embodies eight values–redistribution, relocation, reconciliation, leadership development, empowerment, wholistic approach, church-based, and listening to the community.
South Street enacts the Christian Community Development philosophy as we engage our work in the community. As a faith-based non-profit and the diversity, breadth, and Christ-centered model of CCDA most closely reflects our denomination direction.