ActOn Love Not Hate emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words.
It all began during the Spring of 2020 Covid-19 lock down in Bexley, Ohio. My kids and I looked forward to our daily dose of Dr. Amy Acton during her 2pm briefing. We discussed her scientific data as much as the comfort she provided with her honest and easy to understand interpretations of the information.
Dr. Acton infused us with positivity when we felt helpless...told us we were doing a good job staying home when all we wanted to was get out...empowered us with facts when it was hard to find the truth. Dr. Acton was the strong yet vulnerable leader we needed and a role model unmatched by any other public figure in recent memory.
But not everyone felt the way we did. Extremists in the Ohio state legislature unleashed anti-Semitic attacks against Dr. Acton. Every Republican in the Ohio House sought to curb her power. Her home was besieged by protesters carrying guns–shaking our quiet community to its core.
It was at this point that I was driven to let Dr. Acton know we supported her. I created the "ActOn Love Not Hate" slogan and my sons and I painted signs with it to communicate our deepest appreciation.
At first, we re-purposed donated lawn signs with our own painted message and delivered locally, upon request. When we couldn't keep up with the demand, the signs were professionally printed. People from all over the state (and beyond) donated money earmarked for a local educational institution in her honor, to fight ignorance and hatred by empowering people with knowledge, and we provided yard signs in return.
What started as a subtle response to the acts of hatred against her soon took on a deeper meaning. The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a police officer‘s excessive force, sparked worldwide protests for justice and equality.
Another unexpected result was that Dr. Acton fans not only wanted to show support for her, but were inspired by the message that provided a level of encouragement and positivity for themselves. Anna White of Media, Ohio said it best on her Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club Facebook post: “ Amy Acton has been a solid leader and inspiration to my family since the beginning of all of this! I ordered two [signs] so my father could have one as well in his yard. This sign is a great reminder of how to go about my day and I hope it continues to inspire others.”
To date, our signs can be seen on lawns in Bexley and Columbus. We have shipped around the state of Ohio to towns such as Ottawa, New Franklin, Bedford, Solon, Akron, Orrville, Norwood, Miamisburg, Youngstown, Avon lake, Medina, Massillon, Eastlake, Defiance, Chillicothe, Fayettville, Oberlin, Springboro, Warren, Blufftown, Toledo, Cincinnati, Sheffield Lake, Cleveland, Beachwood, Shaker Heights, Bay Village and beyond.
By September, we determined that Ohio State University would be the perfect home for our collective donations. In collaboration with the College of Public Health’s Director of Development, our funds coupled with our determination sparked the creation of a new scholarship fund entitled Dr. Amy Acton Future Leaders of Public Health Scholarship. The fund will lift up students who have overcome adversity and aspire to follow in the footsteps of the great public health leaders before them.
We are hoping to make a difference in other people's lives, and it feels awesome to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
Wendy Gross Almasanu,
Founder, ActOn Love Not Hate