Kent State University Assistant Professor Jennifer Mapes, Ph.D., was honored with the Volunteer of the Year award by Main Street Kent during the organization’s annual awards celebration. Main Street Kent is a nonprofit organization focused on the revitalization of downtown Kent and is an affiliate of the national Main Street program and the Heritage Ohio program.
Mapes, a faculty member in Kent State’s Department of Geography and a member of Main Street Kent’s design committee, received the award for creating kiosk and online maps in downtown Kent.
“I was really flattered to be recognized by an organization that I respect so much and has played such an important role in the revitalization of downtown Kent,” Mapes says. “It’s been a great collaboration, and I look forward to continuing to work with them on many future projects.”
Mapes says that she got involved with creating the downtown kiosks and maps because she has been a fan of the National Main Street organization for as long as she had been studying small towns, and was impressed with the work done by Main Street Kent.
“I was excited to see that they were working with the city to install map kiosks around downtown,” Mapes says. “They sat empty for a few weeks, and so I emailed them asking if they’d like me to work with them to make the maps, and they said yes! We’ve been working together since then to create these maps and update them annually.”
Mapes also is helping to make smaller locator maps around town; creating an online map for the Main Street Kent website, with the help of Nathaniel Lee, ’16, Kent State alumnus and current master's student in the Department of Geography; and creating maps for a variety of downtown festivals, including the upcoming Potterfest.
At Kent State, Mapes teaches a Master in Geographic Information Systems class in Cartographic Design and is currently authoring a book with Routledge titled “The New American Small Town” which will include information about Kent’s downtown revitalization.
The Main Street Kent awards ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of the organization in 2016, including the successful Art and Wine Festival, receiving three awards at the annual Heritage Ohio conference, beautifying downtown Kent through the Adopt-A-Spot program, clean-up days and graffiti removal, bringing the Inside|Out Art Program to Kent, hosting the Clydesdales and much more.
Other award recipients included:
Venice Café: Small Business of the Year for hosting a multitude of Main Street Kent events, including Santa’s Tavern Trek, a celebratory happy hour after the annual Heritage Ohio evaluation, and a half-day marketing strategy session for the group.
Portage Community Bank: Large Business of the Year, in honor of its consistent board participation and strong financial support since Main Street Kent’s beginning.
The Kent Historical Society: Nonprofit of the Year for its gracious hosting of the annual awards event, strong leadership on the Main Street Kent board of directors, and assistance with photography and composition of the historic panels on the downtown kiosk maps.
Jim Bowling of the city of Kent: The President’s Award for his unwavering support, responsiveness and willingness to connect the right people to make things happen, and his key role in the creation of the Dan Smith Community Park.
Michelle Hartman, vice president of operations for the Burbick Companies/Acorn Alley: The Ron Burbick Award for volunteering to help a variety of nonprofit ventures, including Main Street Kent, the Chamber of Commerce, Dan Smith Community Park, Kent Social Services, Brunch Bunch and more.
“It’s more of a social gathering in a casual atmosphere, so we can thank our people for all they do for our organization throughout the year,” says Heather Malarcik, executive director for Main Street Kent.
Food and beverages were donated by several local businesses, including Belleria, Dave’s Cosmic Subs, Erie Street Kitchen, Fresco, GRAZERS, InstantWhip Foods, Newdle Bar, Mad Cap Brew Co. and Panini’s. Guests enjoyed the good company of supporters, volunteers and board members from the organization.