Let’s Make a Difference celebrates 20 years of helping Medina students
The GazetteDec 03, 2020 1:00 AM
MEDINA — “One day, a voice told me this is what I needed to do,” Michelle Powell said Wednesday, looking back at two decades of help provided to Medina students through her organization, Let’s Make a Difference.
“I remembered the struggles I went through,” she said. “I was evicted. I got to points where I didn’t know where my kids’ next meal was coming from. I wanted to do everything I could to help other kids and families get through those situations.”
For 20 years, Powell and Let’s Make a Difference (LMAD) have raised funds to help more than 800 Medina students with costs associated with field trips, school lunches, art supplies and other needed purchases.
LMAD also offers area kids summer programs, lawn mowing work, and its “Step Up” initiative, helping Clagget Middle School students with homework, nourishment and keeping a positive outlook amid typical and atypical stresses.
“It’s been quite a journey for me,” Powell said. “I’ve never tried to think of myself as some superwoman, just someone who cares and who decided to walk the walk. I remember what the worst times of my life felt like and know how hard it can be for a kid to go to school who’s experiencing things like that outside of school.
“They can’t buy the things they need and their entire education can get derailed.”
Powell said LMAD typically raises between $10,000 and $13,000 in a given year but that COVID-19 has drastically reduced that total in 2020. In October, LMAD was presented a $1,020 donation from the Kent Area Chapter of The Links Incorporated, a group dedicated to “enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.”
Even through overall fundraising difficulties this year, her program still is planning robust services as a new strategic plan takes effect and fresh board members make their presence felt.
“Over the past three years, we’ve had some really great board members come on with energy and really great ideas,” she said. “Everyone’s dream is to get a building set up here in Medina and possibly get a van or some sort of vehicle to pick kids up.”
The program has used Cups Cafe, 126 N. Court St., and the Union Square Community Room for work with students.
“Cups is such a great and important part of our community and we’re all thankful for every little bit of help they’ve given us,” Powell said. “Tim (Van Arsdale) started that place as something to bring people together and it’s certainly done that for us. He’s never been anything but generous and gracious in helping us.”
LMAD is looking for new volunteers and an individual capable of taking over some of Powell’s classroom duties, she said.
The founder has no plans of stepping away but said she’d like to see her role evolve over the next few years.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m not needed in the classroom anymore with the good people we’ve found,” Powell said. “I still like that work but I really want to be out there in the community talking to people and fundraising. I also want to spend more time with my own kids. They start to miss me sometimes.”
“I never thought I’d be the director, CEO, founder of anything,” Powell said. “I’m still the same person who came from a struggle and remembers what it’s like to have the only thing in my fridge but a few hot dogs bundled together. This program is a product of God, not a product of me.”
“It would’ve been nice to have our 20th anniversary fall in a better year,” she added. “No matter what, we’re not going anywhere. I just want to do what I can.”
Contact reporter Jonathan Delozier at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.