A Beacon of Hope

Posted on July 01, 2024


With a mission to ensure the most vulnerable have access to critical prescriptions and education, Beacon Charitable Pharmacy has become a lifeline, delivering hope and health to countless families in our community.

For many in our community, Beacon Charitable Pharmacy is a guiding light, providing essential medications to those who cannot afford them. Since its founding in 2002, the pharmacy has filled more than 327,000 prescriptions valued at over $37 million. Today, it’s the only full-time, nonprofit, charitable pharmacy in Northeast Ohio and one of just three in the entire state of Ohio.

In 2002, leaders from the Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton convened organizations to address the growing need for affordable prescriptions for underinsured and uninsured individuals in our community. The solution?  Establish an innovative, independent nonprofit to coordinate prescription assistance, maximize resources and advocate for the vulnerable population. 

The Prescription Assistance Network of Stark County, Inc. officially opened on November 18, 2002 in the basement of Mercy Hall on Mercy Hospital’s campus, thanks to the generous support from local foundations. It was later renamed Beacon Charitable Pharmacy to better reflect its mission.

In 2011, the pharmacy moved to a 4,100-square-foot space in the Ken Weber Community Campus at Goodwill. Located in downtown Canton, this location allowed Stark County residents to access the pharmacy, along with more than 20 other community services in one building.

Beacon Charitable Pharmacy is licensed by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and operates like a commercial pharmacy–– staffed with a licensed pharmacist and technicians who provide high-quality services, medications and vaccinations at a fraction of the cost patients would normally pay at a commercial pharmacy. 

Through Beacon, patients with low or moderate incomes can fill their prescriptions for free or at a discounted price. For patients without insurance, they can fill their prescriptions for $2 for one script, $4 for two scripts or $5 total for three or more scripts. Over 90% of the medications are donated through the Ohio Drug Repository, which receives donations from nursing homes and long-term care facilities. This approach saves patients money for other necessities.

More than 20 years later, Beacon Charitable Pharmacy continues to provide free or inexpensive prescriptions to uninsured and underinsured residents of Stark County. The pharmacy has expanded in every aspect––in size, patient numbers, community partnerships and the counties it serves, now also covering Carroll, Lorain and Summit.

In August 2023, Dr. LaTrice Snodgrass became the new executive director after the retirement of founding executive director Carol Risaliti. Under LaTrice’s leadership, Beacon has expanded its footprint by moving into a new  space, opening a satellite location in Alliance at The Commons and launching a pharmacy on wheels.

Relocating wasn’t an easy decision for Beacon Charitable Pharmacy, which had long benefited from sharing a roof with other community services at the Community Campus at Goodwill. However, when Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital offered to donate a physician office building, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. This move allowed the pharmacy to transition from renting to owning, increased visibility and accessibility and expanded its services to better serve patients.

The new facility on 13th Street NW in Canton is conveniently located in a high-traffic area near major hospitals, physician practices and clinics. It offers easy access to Routes 77, 62 and 30 for patients across the entire county, and has a bus stop out front. 

After acquiring the new building, support from local foundations helped the pharmacy undergo a $1 million renovation to better suit its needs. The new 5,800-square-foot facility features more intake offices, including a sizeable handicap-accessible office, an expanded education room, ample parking and direct storefront access.

Beacon welcomed patients at the new facility in March 2024 and will soon begin offering evening and weekend hours to further accommodate the needs and schedules of patients like Patricia.

“Words cannot express my gratitude for all of your help and services,” expressed Patricia.

“I am sure that there would have been many months that I would have been unable to take my medication as prescribed without the assistance of the amazing staff at Beacon Charitable Pharmacy.”


A highlight of Beacon’s growth has been the launch of a sprinter van called POW, or Pharmacy On Wheels. 

“One of the major barriers to accessing health care is transportation,” shared LaTrice. “With our new mobile charitable pharmacy, we can make the pharmacy portable and bring access to medications and health education to people in underserved communities.”

Licensed by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, it’s the first charitable mobile pharmacy in Ohio and the second mobile pharmacy of any kind in the state. 

In 2023, Beacon filled more than 25,000 prescriptions, valued at more than $4 million, to individuals at 250 percent or below the federal poverty level, including Mr. Dukes.

Mr. Dukes has Type 2 diabetes, which requires him to test his blood sugar. He had been using glucose strips for years but recently started using the Libre, a continuous glucose monitoring device he acquired through Beacon. He describes the new device as a blessing: “It gave me confidence because when I was doing it the old-fashioned way, I would get stressed out because the meter would say error, error, error. I kept going through test strip after test strip, and it [my sugar] was getting low. It was just a pain.” 

He recalls a scary moment: “I remember when I dropped really low… and my wife found me on the floor. The thing about it, with the Libre, when I drop, it will let me know and it wakes me up. I can take action to get my blood sugar back up. That’s a great big help. My wife, she works midnights sometimes, and I’m by myself. This alleviates some of the fears we have at night when she’s not there.”

A significant benefit over the last year for Beacon has been the implementation of House Bill 558, which allows charitable pharmacies to accept prescription drugs from individuals and distribute them to uninsured and low-income Ohioans. This law enables prescriptions to be used to improve patients’ lives rather than being wasted. LaTrice said they often receive donations from community members who have medication left over from a prescription they no longer need, or when a loved one passes away and they are left with unused medications.

The pharmacy has received insulin, cancer medication and other prescriptions, made possible through this bill. Last year, the pharmacy received a donation of Eliquis valued at approximately $10,000 from a family in Cincinnati who lost the patriarch of their family. Eliquis is what Beacon considers a gold star drug used to treat and prevent blood clots and strokes, retailing at over $700 per month. 

As the new executive director, LaTrice is focusing on developing an enhanced strategic plan that prioritizes community partnerships to drive healthy outcomes.

“We want to collaborate with other
nonprofits to help more people in our community who are in need,” she said.

The pharmacy is discussing a satellite location in Massillon and at Gonder Place, a new project designed to bring health services to Southeast Canton residents. 



1. Volunteer:  Sign up to help sort, count and organize donated medications by emailing info@beaconpharmacy.org, signing up online or calling 330-445-1087.

2. Donate Medications: Donate unexpired prescription medications and other high-need items.

3. Make a Gift: Financial donations of any size are welcome anytime.

4. Donate Your Talents: Use your passion and expertise in areas such as marketing, strategic planning and fundraising to help strengthen the pharmacy.

Learn more about Beacon Charitable Pharmacy at beaconpharmacy.org.

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