“I’m a freshman at Kenmore-Garfield High School. I joined the Build Akron crew in the summer of 2013. I was bored one day when I saw people painting and doing work on houses, so I asked if I could start volunteering. I’ve done a lot of work around the community. When I look around I get to tell people ‘Hey, I did that!’ I makes me feel influential.
“We started (Summit Lake) Build Corps about two years ago at the old Pump House. We’ve learned about building, painting, electrician work, insulation, plumbing, and more. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in the field and I could see myself being successful in the future.
“The project on Ira Ave. started in September with the demolition of the inside. It took us until now (January) to finish. There will be two apartments upstairs for people to rent, a community room downstairs, and a library. The idea, too, is we’ll have tutors come in and help students.
“We’re all about giving back to the community. That’s what this key symbolizes. We invite all to come back and watch how this house progresses and how it will serve the community.”
“I go by Master Lee. I have my black sash in Kungfu and a black belt in karate and Taekwondo. I study Chinese medicine and now practice Qi Gong. Check me out on Facebook.
“When I used to live in a bad neighborhood in West Akron, people would tell me they used the bus to ‘get out and see Akron.’ So I did. I tell people to use the bus and go see everything Akron. Taking the bus works good for me … until I save up enough money to get a car.”
Don Drumm heads to his studios every morning around 9 a.m. dressed in his usual outfit — blue jeans smudged with grease and paint, a button-up jean shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black suspenders and black velcro shoes. A clear nylon washer sticks out from his shirt to keep a button in place. Several different pens poke out of his right shirt pocket, and keys dangle from his jeans and clink as he walks up the gravel path.
His workshop is across the street from his galleries on Crouse Street in Akron. The Don Drumm Studios and Gallery stand out with the pastel pinks and purples of the eight houses.
He pushes open a gate with a “Beware of Dog” sign and walks to the door of his office, a pink house with purple trim. A long coffee stain zigzags down the gravel driveway next to the house as a result of a recent experiment, when he emptied an old pot and wanted to see how long the coffee trail could last.
After turning the radio to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” he sits down in his workshop to work on his current project — small metallic sculptures inspired by ziggurats, ancient stone structures from Mesopotamia.
“I used to answer phones for METRO. I helped out temporarily for a few months. I had the bus routes memorized and everything well before that!
“I’ve been riding the bus for over 50 years since I was little. Growing up, I would ride with my grandmother and my mother. We used to go down to First Federal Bank to pay our house bill and we would stop at a place called Scott’s Store on the way back. It used to be where the baseball stadium is now.
“I’m good friends with the bus drivers, too. Are you working hard?” Richard teased Op. Matt who was passing through the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center.
“I ride the #1 & #2, #3 & #6, the #9 & #30. I remember one time I was riding with Op. Ruth up to Rolling Acres and there was a pregnant woman on the bus — who was due in two weeks — but went into labor right there on the bus. The operator stopped the bus and the woman had her baby in the paramedic!”
“My husband and I are celebrating 28 years of marriage. We’ve been together for 33 years … since we were 18. He would come see me everyday when I worked at the Burger King on Vernon Odom. That’s where I first met him.
“I’ve been riding the bus since I was 14. I would take the bus to school on the other side of town and back. The bus drivers are so nice and have great personalities. They pay attention to where we get off and always check on us if we’re sleeping or something, ha, so we don’t miss our stop.”
“I was a junior in high school when I joined the United States Navy through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) in April 1992. I left for boot camp on November 1, 1993. I was in for eight years — my end date was May 26, 2001. I did five years active and three years reserve. My job was in engineering. We worked on potable water, diesel engines, and took readings on nuclear reactors on the USS Kiddy Hawk.
“I’ve been everywhere … Dubai; Bahrain; we were the last ship to go through the Panama Canal; Thailand; Hong Kong; Singapore; Perth and Sydney, Australia; Hawaii about a thousand times; the Bahamas; and Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan.
“For boot camp, I went to Great Lakes, Ill. from November 1993 to January 1994. Then from January 1994 to 1995, I went to 32nd Street in San Diego, Calif. Naval Station on board the USS Cape Cod AD-43. There I was a MMFN — a Machinist’s Mates Fireman. From ’95 to ’96 I was stationed at Point Loma on board TWR Narwhal 842 for the 11th Squadron and I became a MM3 a Machinist’s Mates 3rd Class. Then I got into the USS Kiddy Hawk in Coronado, Calif. from ’97-’98. I went to the Reserves in ’98 and became a NMCB-1323 through May 26, 2001. I got out because my mother got sick, otherwise I would’ve stayed in.”
Michael joined the METRO team in 2007 as a Bus Operator and now works as a Road Supervisor/Dispatcher. Growing up, Michael knew joining the armed forces was the path he wanted to take.
“My whole family was pretty much military. My grandfather was in the U.S. Army and I had a cousin who was the Senior Chief in the Navy … he actually flew me to Pensacola to show me how everything ran before I enlisted. I was there for about two months. I found it interesting and that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
“Being in the military made me who I am today — a good husband, a good father to my kids, and a good grandfather to my grandkids. It prepared me for real life and the job I have now. Being a leader. And, I’m a coach so it showed me how to have patience and to be a leader to the younger ones.
“Every Veteran’s Day, my wife makes me a steak with salad and a loaded baked potato. So, Sunday when I get off there will be a steak waiting for me. I get off (work) at 6 p.m. Monday so I’ll be able to go get my free meal.”
“I’m a single mom of two toddlers. I rode the RTD bus for nine years when I lived in Colorado and I’ve been riding in Akron for almost five years now. It’s a great service and it’s super convenient. When I went to Stark State I used to take SARTA (Stark Area Regional Transit Authority).
“I spend about 80 hours traveling a month — I take my kids to school then go to Cuyahoga Falls for work. I take the bus to go grocery shopping, too. It’s a lot (of hours), but you do what you gotta do.”