The Health Foundation of Greater Massillon has awarded more than $2.8 million since it began in 1999.

Judy Higgins is getting her health back in order.

The Massillon resident suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.

Since she quit her job in 2003 to baby-sit her grandchildren, she has been without health insurance.

With a fixed-income and no insurance, Higgins said, she had to go without the prescription medication she needed to control her medical conditions.

Today, Higgins is getting the medicine she needs with help from the Prescription Assistance Network of Stark County.

The Prescription Assistance Network provided $2.6 million worth of prescription medication last year to uninsured county residents.

The Prescription Assistance Network gets funding from a number of organizations, including The Health Foundation of Greater Massillon, said PAN Director Carol Risaliti.

Over the years, the charitable pharmacy has received more than $283,000 from the foundation.

Close to a third of the Prescription Assistance Network’s clients come from Western Stark County, Risaliti said.

“We’re happy to have the partnership and support from the foundation,” she said. “They are looking at the total health of an individual and are maximizing their (grant) money.”


The Health Foundation of Greater Massillon began operations June 1, 1999. The foundation was created by a joint endeavor between Massillon Community Hospital and Akron General Medical Center, foundation President John McGrath said.

McGrath said the group began with $8 million in capital and a mission to focus on making the community a healthier, better place to live.

The group focuses its funding on not-for-profit organizations that give direct health benefits to those in need, followed by organizations with health-related needs such as fire departments and organizations that worked to make a healthy community, McGrath said.

During the last round of funding in 2013, the foundation awarded grants totaling $81,400 to five agencies including Meals on Wheels, Alzheimer’s Association, Boys & Girls Club of Massillon, Faith in Action of Western Stark County and Western Stark Free Clinic.

During its nearly 15 years in operation, the foundation has awarded $2,874,146 to organizations, McGrath said.


“I see our community as a better community to live and work in because of the funding we give out,” McGrath said.

The funding, he said, can make a difference in a person’s life.

The foundation has given out $1 million to the Western Stark Free Clinic alone, McGrath said.

“It’s had a tremendous impact,” he said. “They have been able to keep the free clinic running (with the funding).”

The foundation also has handed out $212,000 to the Boys and Girls Club for summer programs, $137,000 to Faith in Action for various programs including transportation for seniors to medical appointments, food and clothing and various fire departments to purchase medical equipment, he said.

“These are all things that really helped the community become a better community, provide better services and show our community this foundation can make a difference in people’s lives.”


Besides grant funding for health-related organizations, the foundation also works with area high schools to promote volunteerism and pride in the community, McGrath said.

The foundation provides seed money to high school students to develop a health-related program in their community, he said.

Once completed, each school will present projects that will be evaluated by their peers. The foundation will award $1,000 to the projects that show the most creativity, are the most efficient and are the best overall.

“We feel it is important to start having students in the schools learn what the benefit is to the community to give back and be aware of the needs of the community,” McGrath said.

The foundation also awards $3,000 or $4,000 to neighborhood associations to improve their community by focusing on leadership skills, advocacy and teamwork. Associations receiving grants dollars must have gone through the Leadership Training Classes and then attend monthly meetings of the Massillon Neighborhood Leadership Council.

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Two named to foundation board
Pastor H. Berry Carter Jr. and Linda K. Litman were appointed to the Health Foundation of Greater Masssillon Board of Directors by Mayor Kathy Catazaro Perry.

The mayor can appoint two members to serve on the 17-member board per the foundation Code of Regulations. The remaining members must apply to serve on the board. Foundation President John McGrath said the board tries to find individuals with a number of different backgrounds to provide a broad view.

Carter is the senior pastor at City Bible Church in Massillon.

Litman is vice president and wealth client adviser at First Merit Private Bank in Canton.

Grants available in 2014
The Health Foundation of Greater Massillon provides grant funding to not-for-profit organizations with a focus on health. Applications for the first round of funding are due Feb. 28. The grants will be awarded in June. To learn more about the grant and requirements, visit or call 330-837-6864.