“I remember seeing a picture of the flu pandemic that really struck me. I decided I wanted to get pictures to document the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a dark time for everyone and I want to try and put a positive light by highlighting the people in our community.
“Portraits of a Pandemic is a series of portraits that document the duality of life this pandemic is creating among those with essential jobs and those staying at home. With the Stay at Home mandate in place by Governor DeWine, life has changed drastically for many people. Only the Essential businesses remain open, while others are forced to close up shop. While many people are bound to their homes and restructuring their lives, there is a whole workforce out there working to combat this pandemic and serve the community however they are able.
“I’ve been working for Todd Biss Productions for 10 years. When I came up with this idea, my boss Todd told me to run with it. We share the same vision and he’s added to the collection, too. It’s a crazy difference I see between essential workers and those staying at home.”
“I recently rode METRO SCAT for the first time. My wheelchair van needed to be repaired and was out of commission for an entire week. At the time I was working for Akron Public Schools and did not want to miss work for the week. I was unaware of the application process and had not thought of the time it would take to put everything together. So I rescheduled my car, took care of the application, and was utilizing SCAT in a few days time. The SCAT service was EXCELLENT! They were on time each day, the drivers were very kind and courteous and I have been encouraging all of my neighbors and constituents about the importance of applying as soon as possible so the service is there when you need it.
“I have been blessed with having a wheelchair accessible van and the ability to drive myself when I need to go places throughout my day. However, I know not everyone is that fortunate. The need for public transportation is vital to a community – for students, families, workers, and seniors. Many disabled persons would be lost without public transportation. When attending anything, your first question is ‘How am I going to get there?’ and we are lucky that METRO is here to answer that question for us.”
Sharon Connor was elected Ward 10 Akron City Council in November 2019. Prior to, she has been involved in the Goodyear Heights community and serves as president of the RIGHT Committee, a group that’s worked for more than a decade to improve Goodyear Heights’ housing and green spaces and expand historic designations.
“Leaders should always be supporting services and agencies that ‘Lift People Up.’ For many people METRO is that service that is the first step to upward mobility.”
“Last year I became a fan of riding the DASH around downtown. I work at State and Federal Communications, near Quaker Square, so at lunchtime I like to ride through downtown and see the progress on construction. Sometimes I walk toward Bartges, catch the bus at GoJo, and then ride back to the office. This year, I am looking to use METRO to commute to work at least one day a week. This is a big step for me. I’ve been using the trip planner to see what it would take and then I’ll arrange my schedule. I think riding METRO is one of the most important things anyone can do in our community. I’d love to see us depend less on our automobiles. I also think higher demand for public transportation would improve our environment and our cities’ culture.
“Akron and Summit County seem to be at an important juncture, a kind of ‘hitting the reset button’ with our planning and investment. I am looking for our leadership to take the lead on making Akron a place that values (and invests in) good public transportation and green space. This could be our chance to set a new standard, something Akron could become famous for.”
“I save probably $50 a month by riding the bus. I have a car, but choose to ride public transit. It stops me from spending a lot in gas money and I like the ride. It’s convenient and gets me from Point A to Point B.
“I take Routes #3, #6, and #1. It takes me about 10-15 minutes each way to get where I need to go. I’ve been riding METRO, off and on, for about five to 10 years.”
“I was a prisoner in my own mind. I didn’t want to get on the bus because I was ashamed of what was left after my surgery – my speech impediment – but it’s gotten a lot easier. I’m a people person; I like interacting with different people and I’ve met people in my travels. I’m not saying I might not find my husband on the bus, but I’m cool!
“I spend about an hour on the bus getting where I need to go. I take the Route #2 to work at Goodwill Industries in the Arlington Plaza, and the Route #19 to my doctors appointments at Akron City Hospital.
“Public transportation is important because everybody doesn’t have the ability to drive or the financials to maintain a car and insurance. I can’t really say how many years I’ve been riding, but METRO bus has never hurt me!”
Before arriving at ACCESS, Alexa had custody of only two of her four children, was home insecure, and struggled with addiction, but she knew she wanted to make a better life. After taking a leap into sober living for a few months, Alexa and her children found themselves without a place to sleep. She was able to bring her family to stay as ACCESS Shelter.
Alexa began taking full advantage of life skills programming as well as working through her individualized service program. She gave it her all, made strong connections with staff, especially the Health and Wellness Coordinator.
Alexa now has re-gained custody of all her children, has a job as a recovery coach at a non-profit, her own car, and the goal to help women experiencing homelessness and struggling with addiction.
Story and Photo Credit: ACCESS, INC
“I’m a foster grandparent. I truly believe I was chosen to be a helper to others. From the beginning of life, this was my calling.
“I love working with the kids. We don’t know what their home lives are like. We know they need love and support, help with their schoolwork, and their families need help, as well. We try to lift up children and their families together.
“I love Akron and I always will. The Lord will continue to use me in whatever way he needs.”