ACCESS Shelter | Support from Mace®

Let’s Empower Vulnerable People to More Forward with Confidence

Our primary mission as a company is to help keep people safe, so they can confidently move through life. We believe safety is a fundamental human right and an essential part of strong communities. That’s why we’ve been looking at who is most vulnerable in our community and identifying ways Mace can help.

We’ve connected with LGBTQ support organizations, homeless shelters, and other groups that support the needs of underserved populations. One group we reached out to was ACCESS, a shelter serving women and children experiencing homelessness in Akron, Ohio. 

We recently caught up with Jackie Hemsworth, the Executive Director for ACCESS Shelter. She has spent the last 20 years working to support the homeless and knows all too well the struggle women experience trying to overcome their circumstances and move forward.

How does ACCESS help women and children?

​We help women and their children along their journey so that they are exiting into a permanent housing opportunity. Beyond basic necessities, we provide wrap-around services like life skills training, medical care, parenting classes, and more. 

Our goal is to help women to be more empowered. That's really the name of the game here. We want women to be more confident and take control of their lives.

Can you tell us about the challenges your residents face?

The women who come to ACCESS often face multiple barriers to finding a permanent residence. They may lack education and resources. Some struggle with mental health issues or substance abuse disorders.

Moving forward–and the time that it takes to move forward—presents a lot of challenges. We have women here who are trying their very hardest. They’re working as much as possible, but it’s not covering the cost of living. That, and many have children, who they’re trying to get to school or daycare using public transportation. 

These are very, very difficult life challenges to overcome all at one time—being able to afford a place to live, working as much as possible, taking care of children, finding transportation, and then actually finding a place to rent. It’s a lot to overcome, and it takes a community to make it happen.

Q: How has Mace® helped your cause?

When our residents leave our shelter, we want them to be safe. Many of them work second and third-shift jobs, so they’re walking around the community when it’s dark. We can’t always be there with residents out in the community, but we can offer them an extra measure of protection to help keep them safe.

Mace® approached us offering pepper spray to give to our residents, and we also plan to do training sessions in the future. We appreciate having a way to help ensure our residents’ personal safety.

It's important for all of us to recognize that we're in this together. I really appreciate members of the corporate community like Mace looking out for underserved populations. We all need to lift each other up, empower each other to be our best selves and be as independent as possible. Having Mace pepper spray helps the women we serve go out in the community and move forward with greater confidence. 

ACCESS is dedicated to serving women and children experiencing homelessness in our community. The shelter for women and children is located at 230 W. Market St. in Akron. ACCESS encourages women in the attainment of permanent housing by providing a supportive environment that includes programs for education, advocacy, and empowerment. Learn more at

If you are experiencing a housing crisis in the Akron area, call 2-1-1.

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