Ravenna residents show they C.A.R.E.

Andrew Hampp

Children Always Resisting Enemies stand by beliefs in anti-drug march

Rev. Davey Bennett of the Lighthouse Ministries stands in prayer at the Way Cafe Saturday afternoon. Bennett read about the C.A.R.E. march against drug use in the papers and came to show his support. “There is a lot of drug activities in this area,” he sa

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

“No to drugs! No to drugs!” chanted a crowd of at least 30 people as it marched down the residential streets of Ravenna Saturday morning.

Just then, Nikita Dokes, Ravenna resident, broke into song.

“I’m a solider . in the army of the Lord,” she sang, and it echoed all the way down Henderson Street.

The chanting and singing were part of an anti-drug march held by Children Always Resisting Enemies, a new organization headed by members of the United Church of Jesus Christ of Apostolic Faith in Ravenna. The march began at the church on Terrill Street and continued for a mile to the Fellowship of Believers Spiritual Growth Center on Chestnut Street.

Co-founder Deseree Perry said the group formed last month in order to raise drug and crime awareness in the community as well as in its drug dealers.

“We don’t want to run the drug dealers away, we hope to run them into the church,” Perry said as she sprinkled the contents of a bottle of “blessed oil” on the pavement of Terrill Street. “We need peace on our streets. Our kids need to see something positive.”

More than a dozen children walked in the march alongside their parents, holding signs with messages such as “Be life. Do not let life be you,” and “Be not the world.”

Also participating was Ravenna city council member Joe Bica, who said the march was the latest in a series of positive changes for the city, following the new library, the passing of the levy for a new high school and the election of new mayor Kevin Poland, who was unable to attend Saturday’s march.

“It’s got to stop,” Bica said of the city’s drug activity. “From a city government perspective, the most important thing is to start cleaning up the neighborhoods, making sure the police forces are staffed properly so we don’t have to be out here marching.”

Sonny Jones, a corrections officer with the Portage County sheriff’s department, could not comment on the Portage County Drug Task Force’s involvement with Ravenna’s drug activity. However, he said there is a definitive course of action that needs to be taken in order for the city’s drug woes to be rectified.

“What will turn this thing around is when people in the know start doing something about it,” he said. “If the sheriff’s department doesn’t show up in 10 minutes (after you call), you get back on the phone and you call the Record-Courier, the (Akron) Beacon Journal.

“It all affects your community, and whatever affects your community affects the people as well.”

Bica, a life-long Ravenna resident, said the city has come a long way since his childhood.

“When I was growing up, there weren’t these issues,” he said. “Most of my neighbors were families. Everybody knew everybody; there wasn’t this business of drugs or theft. It just seemed like a more conscientious community.

“I’m going to make it a point to mention this to the rest of the city council to make sure they’re aware and continue on in this mission.”

In addition to community involvement and neighborhood outreach, the most important thing the C.A.R.E. members stressed on Saturday was the protection of children from drug solicitation.

“What I hope is that it’s not just the kids here participating who learn something,” church member Rob Jones said. “So that when somebody does come to them to make them try drugs, (the kids realize) drugs destroy minds and deteriorate the body from the inside to the outside. “

Contact public affairs reporter Andrew Hampp at [email protected].