Non-profit & Groups

FutureHeights awards mini-grants to 10 projects

FutureHeights awarded $6,452 in grants to support 10 projects in Cleveland Heights and University Heights in the spring round of its 2021 Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program.

University Heights Symphonic Band received $1,000 for its 50th Anniversary Celebration. The band plans to use grant funds to purchase new music arrangements that highlight various social issues and works by BIPOC and LGBTQ composers. For more information visit www.universityheightsband.org.

Cedar Fairmount Arts received $1,000 to transform two vacant lots on Cedar Road, at South Overlook Road and Delaware Drive, into a park for community use, adding much-needed greenspace to the district.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:43 AM, 04.30.2021

FutureHeights' 2021 annual meeting is June 9

On June 9, FutureHeights will present its 2021 annual meeting on the outdoor patio of Boss Dog Brewing Company, 2179 Lee Road. The program will also be livestreamed for remote viewing.

FutureHeights, a nonprofit community development corporation, strives to engage Heights residents to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

This year’s meeting will focus on the unique neighborhoods in the Heights, and Cleveland Heights' 100-year history. FutureHeights will also report on its activities and accomplishments, as well as its vision for the future.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:57 AM, 04.30.2021

Heights Music Hop will return in 2021, issues call for musicians

After taking a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, the eighth annual Heights Music Hop festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, in the Cedar Lee Business District.

Heights Music Hop showcases local, live musical talent to promote the Heights as home to the arts, while also helping to support the local economy and celebrate the community’s diversity, walkability and great quality of life.

In the past, performances have occurred within local businesses; this year, FutureHeights will present the event on outdoor stages throughout the district, to ensure the safety of participants.

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Volume 14, Issue 5, Posted 10:55 AM, 04.30.2021

Free native trees available on Earth Day

This Earth Day, April 22, The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will offer a limited supply of seedlings of three native tree species. They’ll be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Friends Pavilion, at 2600 South Park Blvd. If seedlings remain at the end of the day, those will be distributed on Saturday, April 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The bare-root 12- to 15-inch seedlings will be accompanied by planting instructions. The three native species are:

Cercis canadensis, redbud, is one of the first spring flowering trees in Northeast Ohio, blooming simultaneously with Cornus florida, white flowering dogwood, creating a pink haze in the landscape.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 10:30 AM, 04.01.2021

CH celebrates Arbor Day with plantings and cleanup

On April 30 at 10 a.m., Cleveland Heights’ forestry crew will lead an Arbor Day celebration at the city’s new park, at Noble and Roanoke roads. The celebration will mark Cleveland Heights’ 43 years as a Tree City USA.

City foresters will plant two trees on the tree lawn, and Heights Tree People will plant three trees inside the park. Noble Neighbors’ garden patrol will lead spring cleanup work, including weeding, mulching, and planting new native pollinator plants. 

Heights community members are welcome to attend and participate, and are asked to wear a mask and observe 6 feet of social distancing.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 10:21 AM, 04.01.2021

Park restoration group seeks volunteers

Friends of the Walt is a volunteer organization of University Heights residents who are beautifying and maintaining the Walter Stinson Community Park on Fenwick Road, to benefit people and wildlife. Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan organized a volunteer workday last August, after which several participants decided to form an organization to continue the effort.

Bird and insect populations and diversity have declined over the last century, especially the last 30 years, due to habitat loss and fragmentation (unlinked patches of undeveloped land), climate change, pesticide use, and pollution. Invasive exotic plant species have started to dominate natural parklands here in Northeast Ohio. There is a growing national movement to start restoring communities and yards to ecological health.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 10:20 AM, 04.01.2021

Mental health seminar open to teens and caregivers

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, the Youth Department at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland will host a special event for parents and students on the increase of mental health issues among young people, and how to recognize signs of opioid and other addictions.

The interactive seminar recognizes the impact of pandemic-related isolation that many teens have experienced this past year. It will provide the opportunity to ask questions, connect with resources, and find out more about mental health issues in young people.

Panelists are LoToya Logan, LISW-S, founder and executive director of Project LIFT Services; and Ayme McCain, LSW, OCPC, associate director of Prevention, Wellness & Community Outreach for Recovery Resources.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 10:15 AM, 04.01.2021

Reaching Heights announces 30th annual spelling bee

Reaching Heights' Community Spelling Bee is going virtual for the second consecutive year. 

For 30 years, Reaching Heights has presented this competitive event to bring the community together for fun and to raise money in support of excellence in public education. This year, the spelling bee will take place on Wednesday, April 28. 

Teams of competitors from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community, representing its public schools, local businesses, churches, colleges and universities, and The Cleveland Orchestra, are gearing up to compete for the coveted Big Plastic Bee Trophy. 

Although last year’s event was virtual, more than 400 people watched as the Dewey Decimators—staff members of the CH-UH libraries—captured the prize and maintained their multi-year winning streak.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 10:07 AM, 03.31.2021

Online neighborhood discussion planned for April 29

FutureHeights, the community’s nonprofit community development corporation, would like to hear from you about how you view your neighborhood. On April 29, at 7 p.m., FutureHeights will host “Shared Space: What Makes a Neighborhood?” via Zoom.

The forum will explore the various neighborhoods in Cleveland Heights and University Heights, what makes them unique, and how residents and neighbors can best help them thrive.

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 10:05 AM, 03.31.2021

Series to explore links between public education and democracy

The public is invited to attend a virtual, three-part series about School House Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy, to be held on Zoom on March 10, March 24 and April 7, 7–8:30 p.m. Author Derek Black, professor of constitutional law at the University of South Carolina, will kick off the March 10 meeting.

School House Burning documents how public education at public expense became embedded in every state constitution because an educated citizenry is essential to a successful democracy. 

This historic journey that made "education the state's absolute and foremost duty," began with the Northwest Ordinance of 1785 and 1787. The critical role of public education was confirmed during Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 3:52 PM, 02.25.2021

School district employees start bike donation program

Between June and October of last year, Stephen Walker and Jerod Johnson gave away more than 100 bicycles to children who needed them; most lived in Cleveland Heights. The experience was so heartwarming, they want to keep it going.

It all started at the end of 2019 when Walker learned from a friend, Bill Pavilonis, that the Brecksville United Methodist Church had about 40 hand-me-down bicycles—largely kid-sized—that the church wanted to donate to children who didn’t have bicycles.

Walker has jobs with both the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district and the city of Cleveland Heights Recreation Department. He sees bicycles as a way to get children away from watching TV and into exercise, through an outdoor activity that sets them on the path to health and wellness. His jobs enabled him to identify children who would benefit from a bicycle giveaway, and to find people and resources to help.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 3:51 PM, 02.25.2021

Environmental series aims to educate and inspire

Beginning March 2, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership will present a series of six free, live Zoom presentations designed to inspire the community to enrich habitat with native plant species. Register online at http://bit.ly/3cMa5gZ.

Both nonprofit organizations work in the Doan Brook watershed that drains into the Great Lakes—the largest freshwater system in the world—via Lake Erie. As caretakers of this ribbon of water that runs through the Heights communities, they work against the invasion of plant species introduced from other continents that escape garden cultivation.

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Volume 14, Issue 3, Posted 7:57 AM, 02.23.2021

FutureHeights expands Neighborhood Mini-Grants program to UH

The FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants program is now available for projects in both Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

“We are excited to be able to support the grassroots work of our neighbors in University Heights,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. “We support one another in many ways already, and share a school and library system. This is another opportunity to strengthen our interconnected communities.”

To date, the Neighborhood Mini-Grants program has provided a total of $30,386 to 47 projects in Cleveland Heights. Funded projects range from gardening and beautification, to community and social services.

“Projects are driven by residents and neighborhood groups who know their neighborhoods' needs and assets intimately,” said Fisher. “In 2021, we’d love to support more projects led by new voices, such as teens, young adults and those under 35.”

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:29 PM, 01.29.2021

Noble Neighbors reflects on a year of COVID creativity

Noble Neighbors responded to adversity with creativity in 2020. While COVID-19 necessitated restricted gatherings, it exposed overwhelming generosity.

Springtime planning for the annual "We Are Noble" festival was suspended with the Ohio stay-at-home orders. In those early days of the pandemic, restriction horizons were discussed as weeks or perhaps a month of inconvenience. When it became clear that Ohio might not open back up until the summer (so naive in hindsight), Noble Neighbors pivoted toward a creative approach for its annual neighborhood celebration.

Noting that the festival has two main goals—to enjoy one another as neighbors and to invite others to enjoy the Noble community—the celebration launched into COVID-safe expression along four themes: show, support, serve and savor. Neighbors showed they cared by decorating their front doors, storefronts and yards with signs of encouragement, congratulations for graduates, flags and holiday lighting.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 12:10 PM, 01.29.2021

Church members provide diapers to those in need

When families struggle financially and seek assistance obtaining essential items, community resources are generally available for free food and clothing. Diapers, however, are in constant demand, but often not offered through local pantries because they are expensive and “non-essential” in limited food budgets. Families with babies and toddlers are left with the significant challenge of obtaining this basic item.

Thanks to donations from the Metropolitan Ministry fund at Cleveland Heights’ Church of the Saviour UMC, the congregation has been meeting the demand for diapers for the past several years, distributing them at the Father Michael Wittman Ozanam Center, an East Cleveland food pantry and clothing bank serving Cleveland’s East Side.

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Volume 14, Issue 2, Posted 11:44 AM, 01.28.2021

Community groups plan elected-mayor public forum

FutureHeights, the community development corporation for Cleveland Heights, and Citizens for an Elected Mayor (CEM), the grassroots group that advocated for passage of Issue 26 in fall 2019, are co-sponsoring a public forum to help prepare voters to directly elect a mayor, for the first time, in 2021.

“Electing Our First Mayor: Moving Cleveland Heights Forward” will take place via Zoom, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 3.  

In preparation for the forum, the groups are asking citizens to complete an online survey to help identify the top issues that a new mayor will need to address in order to move Cleveland Heights forward. Visit https://conta.cc/2LSDmv3 to participate.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 11:08 AM, 01.01.2021

Heights Bicycle Coalition joins Bike Cleveland

Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) signed an agreement with Bike Cleveland to become a local chapter of that organization. The process started in February 2020, and the document was signed in August. HBC sees the partnership as one that will increase its capacity to advocate for bicycling safety and infrastructure, and streamline membership benefits for residents of Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Shaker Heights and South Euclid.

The chapter will be organized around four committees focused on advocacy, communications, events and rides. Heights community members are welcome to join any of these committees to contribute to these efforts. 

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 11:30 AM, 12.02.2020

'Friends' volunteer to maintain and restore natural habitats

The world locked down last spring. People could not gather, travel, sit in a coffee shop with friends, shop, hug, kiss a cheek, or breathe on each other. As guidance became clearer on how the coronavirus spread, the outdoors became a refuge. Outside, people could satisfy the need to be social without being physically close. People could share experiences, breathe fresh air and walk briskly.

Some noticed that, while they’ve spent much of their lives indoors, the outdoor world of plants, water, birds, insects and animals had been neglected. One retiree, Don Vicarel of University Heights, walked with his wife, JoAnn, as she recuperated from knee surgery. He posted a cranky note on Nextdoor: “If the city can cite us for unsightly lawns, can we cite the city for the unsightly Bradford path that runs from Canterbury to Taylor?” The octogenarian said he was feeling particularly irritable because pandemic isolation prevented him from volunteering in the nearby public school.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 8:46 AM, 12.01.2020

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. reaches agreement with Heights Libraries

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus (CPC) has reached an agreement with Heights Libraries on a 15-month lease of the former Coventry school building, which has been home to arts and community-service nonprofits for more than a decade. This agreement includes a path toward a 99-year lease, and allows CPC to sublet spaces to other nonprofits and build on its mission—to create a robust arts and culture center by supporting tenants through affordable rent and special programming.

An independent organization, CPC represents the building’s current tenants: Ensemble TheatreARTFULLake Erie InkFutureHeightsReaching HeightsCleveland Heights Teachers Union and Cleveland Arts Prize-winning artist Robin VanLear

Community residents founded Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Inc. in the 1990s, to build and maintain the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Playground. In 2017, the organization expanded its mission to pursue the vision of an integrated campus where everyone can “create, show, learn and grow.”

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 9:50 AM, 10.27.2020

FutureHeights awards small grants to five CH groups

FutureHeights, the community development corporation for Cleveland Heights, awarded a total of $2,825 in small grants to five groups through its semi-annual Neighborhood Mini-Grants program this fall.

“We are excited to help fund these projects that will have a positive impact on several Cleveland Heights neighborhoods,” said FutureHeights Executive Director Deanna Bremer Fisher.

Since the program’s inception in 2015, FutureHeights has awarded $30,386 to 47 groups based in neighborhoods throughout the city.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 6:24 PM, 11.01.2020

Lake Erie Ink embarks on its 10th year

Lake Erie Ink: A Writing Space for Youth (LEI) is beginning its 10th year. The Cleveland Heights nonprofit provides creative-expression opportunities and academic support for kids and teens, through community after-school programs, writing workshops, and other creative undertakings.

LEI offers a range of writing workshops for Greater Cleveland youths. This year, because of the pandemic, LEI has moved its workshops and events online. 

Its popular "Stories of Suspense" workshop will be presented via Zoom this year on Saturday, Oct. 24, 10:30 a.m. to noon. One of Cleveland’s own mystery-thriller writers, D.M. Pulley, will lead it.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 3:25 PM, 10.23.2020

Immigration advocates celebrate first year with online event

Americans Making Immigrants Safe (AMI) is celebrating its first anniversary with an online celebration and fundraising event on Sunday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m. A group of Cleveland Heights residents founded the nonprofit.

The event, “Cultural Connections,” will feature music by and recipes from 14 immigrants whom AMIS supported in its first year, from Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Jordan. 

AMIS’s annual report, to be distributed at the event, shows that the nonprofit raised $47,648.86 in its first year, and used 96.4% of that money to support immigrants; only 3.6% went to “overhead.”

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 5:46 PM, 10.05.2020

Crowe named head of Peacemakers Alliance

Myesha Crowe, an experienced youth-development professional, is the new executive director of Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance (CPA). A nonprofit violence-prevention organization, CPA conducts street outreach in the city’s higher-risk neighborhoods, provides violence interruption services at MetroHealth Medical Center and University Hospitals, and helps youths in the juvenile court system find positive paths.

Crowe lives in Cleveland Heights with her daughters Elle, 7, and Cori, 3.

She served as the group’s interim director, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Cleveland State University.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:48 AM, 10.01.2020

'Heights Conversations' continue virtually

In spring 2020, a group of nonprofit and public-facing organizations, led by Heights Community Congress (HCC), planned to host conversations in which diverse groups of Heights residents would come together around a shared meal to have conversations centered around race to raise awareness and build community. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, thwarted those plans.

As the year wore on, it became apparent to group leaders that discussions about race were more urgent and necessary than ever, and they sought a way to move forward, with participant safety as a top priority. At 3 p.m., on Sunday, Nov. 15, the group will host “Heights Conversations: Let’s Talk About Race,” virtually.

Organizers are seeking community members to participate as facilitators and participants.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:54 AM, 10.01.2020

Ron Register Scholarship recipients announced

The Ron Register Scholarship Committee has announced that Damari Loretz and Alaysia Brooks are the recipients of its awards for the 2020–21 academic year.

Both are graduates of Cleveland Heights High School and members of the National Honor Society.

The scholarship is named in honor of Ron Register, who served on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education for 16 years. 

Damari Loretz excelled in Honors, Advanced Placement, and College Credit Plus courses, including physics. She made the Honor Roll every semester, and her class rank was 27 out of 409. She participated in numerous extracurricular activities.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 5:32 PM, 09.30.2020

FutureHeights to unveil Cedar Lee Mini-Park design

FutureHeights, the community development corporation for Cleveland Heights, is working on a redesign of the Cedar Lee Mini-Park, a 7,500-square-foot, city-owned site located between Boss Dog Brewing Company and Heights Arts in the Cedar Lee Business District. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, FutureHeights will share the new design at a Virtual Open House. Register to attend the Virtual Open House at http://bit.ly/CedarLeePark.

The design is the result of more than two years of civic engagement with community members and stakeholders, to remake this underutilized area into a vibrant public space that is attractive, welcoming, and offers opportunities to gather and host public programs. Through surveying, visioning, design sessions, and in-person interviews, a FutureHeights-led steering committee sought to understand the community's desires and aspirations for the site. In fall 2019, through an RFP process, the group selected landscape design firm MKSK Studios, of Columbus, Ohio, to illustrate the community's vision.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:12 PM, 08.31.2020

FutureHeights mini-grants deadline approaches

Tuesday, Sept. 15, is the deadline for applicants to the FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program. The program, which began in the fall of 2015, provides funding of up to $1,000 to grassroots or neighborhood groups in Cleveland Heights who have creative solutions, projects, and programs that build on and enhance existing assets in their neighborhoods.

To date, the Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program has provided a total of $27,461 to 42 projects in Cleveland Heights.

Residents who have ideas for improving their Cleveland Heights neighborhood are invited to apply for a grant. The program is guided by a grant-making committee comprising seven Cleveland Heights residents with a history of community involvement. The committee reviews and makes all grant decisions.

For more information, e-mail FutureHeights at sbasu@futureheights.org. Learn about the projects funded to date, and download an application at www.futureheights.org/programs/community-building-programs/. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Sept. 15.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:00 AM, 09.01.2020

CH church hosts online immigration forum

The Immigration Task Force of Forest Hill Church Presbyterian is offering a live educational webinar, “Immigration: History and Current Issues,” on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7–8:30 p.m.

This forum is intended for those who are seeking a basic understanding of the root causes of immigration problems, and the legal difficulties immigrants currently face. The forum is free, but requires advance registration.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:08 AM, 09.01.2020

LWV provides voting and ballot info

Under pandemic conditions, the safest way to exercise one’s right to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election is to register to vote online (deadline Oct. 5), and vote by mail (aka by absentee ballot). Given concerns about U.S. postal service delays and the potential effect on by-mail voting, the League of Women Voters of Great Cleveland (LWVGC) urges all voters to act promptly in registering to vote (or checking their registration status), requesting a ballot, and returning it.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:22 AM, 08.25.2020

Church teens open Little Free Pantry

A Little Free Pantry—an outdoor cabinet stocked with free food and supplies for those in need—opened on Aug. 12 at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, at Scarborough and Coventry roads. A project of the church’s middle- and high-school youth group, the 27-by-32-inch cabinet is located at the entrance to the church parking lot.

More than 1,000 Little Free Pantries are now open across the U.S., part of a grassroots project begun in 2016, by Jessica McClard in Arkansas, to respond to community food insecurity. In the Cleveland area, seven Little Free Pantries are have opened.

“Our teens were looking for a way to give back to their community and respond to pressing local needs,” explained Peggy Roberts, who helped spearhead the project. “This was a group effort of students and our Fairmount members and staff, and we hope our neighbors will join in this community-operated caring project.”

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:20 AM, 08.25.2020

Heights Observer named Ohio's best community newspaper

The Heights Observer was named “Ohio’s Best Community Newspaper” at an online ceremony Aug. 7 for the Press Club of Cleveland’s annual All-Ohio Excellence In Journalism program. The award doesn’t include daily newspapers, which are judged in a separate category.

Observer columnists Carla Rautenberg and Deborah Van Kleef earned first place for Public Service Coverage among non-daily newspapers for their monthly “Heights of Democracy” column. They won for their explanatory writing surrounding last year’s public debate and vote over the city manager v. strong mayor form of government.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.11.2020

Emergency food center remains open

As the pandemic rages through the world, confusion about virtually everything—including what businesses and services are open—has become the new normal. Some people who would benefit from visiting the Heights Emergency Food Center (HEFC) may not be aware that it is open for business. And visiting the center does not represent an undue risk, as stringent safety precautions are being enforced.

Located at 3663 Mayfield Road (at Disciples Christian Church), the center (216-381-0707) is currently open Mondays, 4–6 p.m.; Tuesdays, 9–11:30 a.m.; Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Fridays, 9–11:30 a.m. On the last two Thursdays of each month, it also is open 5:30–7:30 p.m.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:33 AM, 07.30.2020

CH resident receives state award

Cleveland Heights resident Alexandria Ruden, a senior attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (Legal Aid), is the 2020 recipient of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Robert Denton Special Achievement Award. The award honors an individual “selflessly dedicated to increasing victim’s rights.”

Ruden has personally helped more than 5,000 survivors of domestic violence in her 40 years of practicing law. She began her legal career at the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland in 1980. In 1984, she joined Legal Aid, where she began its domestic violence practice. At Legal Aid, Ruden helps survivors of domestic violence obtain and improve their safety through representation in Civil Protection Orders (CPO), divorces, and child custody cases.

Ruden’s career achievements have influenced laws, policies, procedures and entire systems, impacting countless lives. She envisioned, helped design, and implemented the Domestic Violence Department at Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:33 PM, 07.20.2020

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. tenants again face uncertain future

March 29 marked the second anniversary of Heights Libraries taking control of the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. property, which comprises the beloved playground, adjacent greenspace and the former Coventry School building. At the time, the future for the building’s tenants—arts and community-service nonprofits—looked bright. Today, however, they face eviction. Again.

Amid recent negotiations for a long-term lease, Heights Libraries issued a July 9 press release that casts the tenants as disorganized, and raised the possibility of tearing the building down in order to . . . well, that’s not clear. The situation is eerily reminiscent of the handling of the property in 2017.

A full history is available at the Coventry PEACE Campus website.

After Heights Libraries purchased the property in 2018 for $1 from the CH-UH school district, the 501(c)3 nonprofit Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Inc. board, then a playground association, transferred its nonprofit status to the newly formed Coventry PEACE Campus (CPC) group.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:32 PM, 07.14.2020

Food pantry serves 300 families weekly

Every Tuesday morning for the last seven years, dedicated volunteers from Forest Hill Presbyterian Church and the surrounding neighborhood have gathered at the church to unload trucks and vans full of donations for Abundance Food Pantry. For six hours, these hardworking volunteers pack about 60 pounds of food per family into bags and boxes, which currently are distributed to about 300 households each week.

In 2019, these donations provided enough groceries for 420,000 meals. By working with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Abundance Food Pantry has been able to reduce its cost to 4 cents per meal, and offer many healthy choices, with more than 35 percent being fresh produce.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:28 AM, 07.03.2020

Heights Tree People planting trees through May

Heights Tree People (HTP) [the subject of a February Heights Observer article] is a group of volunteers who plant trees for free in people’s front yards in the Heights. They continue to plant trees this spring for homeowners who would like a tree planted. 

The group plants trees practicing social distancing—following the six-foot rule and wearing masks. All contact with them can take place via e-mail. “We have planted more than 65 trees this spring, since March 1. Spring planting lasts through May,” said Laura Marks and Bill Hanavan, HTP founders.

The group plants trees in all Heights neighborhoods, but it is hoping people who live near Cleveland Height High School, especially, will contact them.

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:47 PM, 04.30.2020

AMIS seeks help for immigrants during COVID crisis

A new Heights-based organization, Americans Making Immigrants Safe (AMIS), is seeking to help some of the most vulnerable Ohioans affected by the coronavirus pandemic—our undocumented neighbors.

A 501(c)3 nonprofit, AMIS formed in 2019 as an outgrowth of the effort to assist Ansley Damus, a Haitian man who, upon requesting asylum in the U.S., was detained in a windowless Geauga County prison for more than two years without being allowed to communicate directly with his family. [Shari Nacson covered his story in a February 2019 Heights Observer article.]

A group of concerned Greater Clevelanders successfully fought for his release with legal help from the ACLU. Damus lived for about a year with his sponsors, Gary Benjamin and Melody Hart (now a member of CH City Council).

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 1:30 PM, 04.20.2020

Barr's legacy inspires volunteer corps

Jill’s Literacy League. If it sounds like a band of superheroes, that’s because it sort of is. Formed in memory of Jill Barr, the University Heights mother who died of complications of pneumonia in February 2018, the Literacy League is the newly launched volunteer corps of The Literacy Cooperative’s Imagination Library program.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) is a national program, managed by The Literacy Cooperative here in Cuyahoga County, that mails one free, new book to every registered child each month from birth to age 5. For a child enrolled at birth, the result is a home library of nearly 60 books at no cost, which helps to enhance family literacy, increase vocabulary, and prepare children for a life of learning and love of reading.

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:05 PM, 04.20.2020

TOH opponents seek to place 'advisory vote' on fall ballot

Some Buckingham Condominium residents are concerned about the impending construction of the Top of the Hill (TOH) project immediately adjacent to their building, and its detrimental impact on their property values. They have decided to legally oppose the construction of the project.

The group, Heights Voices Count, has engaged Connick Law of Beachwood as legal counsel, formed an LLC to direct its opposition, and has commitments of thousands of dollars in financial support. The group's members are beginning a petition drive to place an "advisory vote" on the November ballot, to advise Cleveland Heights City Council that its citizenry does not want the TOH project to be built as it currently is rendered.

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:46 AM, 04.20.2020

LWV needs meeting observers

The Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland is looking for volunteers to observe meetings of Heights governing bodies. The goal of the Heights Chapter is to cover Cleveland Heights and University Heights city councils, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education, and the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees. It needs observers for all four.

The only requirement is that observers be impartial and unaffiliated with the election campaigns of individuals seated in the body covered. Observers do not participate in public comments before the body they cover, unless the LWV authorizes them to do so.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:03 PM, 04.01.2020

East Side food bank anticipates increased need

As public health and economic repercussions of the coronavirus continue to impact our community, the Father Michael Wittman Ozanam Center (FMWOC), a local food pantry and clothing bank, is preparing for an increased need for food assistance.

Support for the all-volunteer organization comes from 14 churches in the eastern suburbs, including Cleveland Heights’ Communion of Saints Parish and Church of the Saviour.

The center is located at St. Philomena Church, 13824 Euclid Ave., in East Cleveland. It operates every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as a registered agency with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank under the sponsorship of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Cleveland Council.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:17 AM, 03.20.2020

Census hiring event is Feb. 29

On Saturday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Cleveland Heights City Council Member Davida Russell will host a census-worker hiring event for Cleveland Heights residents. It will take place at Central Bible Baptist Church, 2285 Noble Road.

Census takers will be paid up to $22.50 per hour, and Russell said she is hoping an additional 200 Cleveland Heights residents will be hired.

To RSVP to the hiring session, e-mail councilwomanrussell@gmail.com. For more information, call 216-333-3137.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:24 AM, 02.27.2020

Seeking participants and hosts for dinners about race

On Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, a special discussion will be taking place around dinner tables in Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

As part of the advance planning for “Heights Dinners: Conversations About Race,” organizers are currently seeking participants—hosts, facilitators and guests—for the dinners, which will be held in private homes and other locations in the two cities.

At each dinner, a host, a trained facilitator, and up to eight guests will gather for a shared meal and guided conversation.

Several community groups are coordinating the dinners: Heights Community Congress (HCC), FutureHeights, Reaching Heights, Heights Libraries, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, and Home Repair Resource Center. 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:15 AM, 02.28.2020

Noble Road church presents "Senior Scams" forum

Scams target people by phone, computer, mail and knocks on the door. Becoming informed is the best way to combat scams.

Noble Road Presbyterian Church has invited Danielle Musil, consumer affairs specialist from the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs, to present a community forum on “Senior Scams.”

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:32 PM, 02.27.2020

Church of the Redeemer advocates for inclusion

Church of the Redeemer UMC invites the community to a luncheon on inclusion on March 29, 12:30 p.m., in Fellowship Hall. Martha E. Banks, the keynote speaker, will address the topic "Trying Again to Include Everyone: A Preview of the 2020 United Methodist General Conference." After her talk, there will be a time for questions and discussion.
 
In 2019, the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted, by a slim margin, to assert the church's prohibition against same-sex weddings and gay clergy. UMC has been in turmoil since that vote, as its progressive members have rebelled against the decision. As a result of that vote, ministers have been brought to trial and have lost their credentials—at great expense to them, the church and the community.  

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:30 PM, 02.27.2020

Nonprofit provides paid youth employees to businesses

Does your business need extra help this summer? Heights businesses that partner with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) give young people a chance to gain skills and develop good work habits.

Each summer, YOU, a nonprofit workforce development organization, employs 1,500 youths, ages 14–19, from economically distressed areas in Cuyahoga County. YOU provides the wages; employers in the Greater Cleveland community, including Cleveland Heights and University Heights, provide meaningful work experiences. A job coach, who visits two to three times a week, is assigned to each work site.  

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:29 PM, 02.27.2020

Koonce named to Boys & Girls Clubs leadership post

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio (BGCNEO) has named Robert Koonce chief development officer. Koonce, who lives—and grew up—in Cleveland Heights, brings more than 13 years of nonprofit fundraising experience to his new role.

Koonce previously headed development for Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland (BGCC), beginning in 2015.

In his new role, Koonce will oversee all fundraising, development operations and communications for BGCNEO, an organization created last year by the merger of clubs in Cleveland, Akron, Lorain County and Erie County. BGCNEO serves more than 8,600 kids at 39 locations, providing safe, fun, after-school places for kids ages 6–18, focusing on healthy lifestyles, academic success and character.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 8:49 AM, 02.28.2020

Two CH residents join United Way board

United Way of Greater Cleveland has named two Cleveland Heights residents to its Board of Directors—Andrew “Randy” Paine, and Vanessa Whiting.

Paine, president of Key Institutional Bank, serves on the board of the KeyBank Foundation. He previously served as chairman of the board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, chairman of KeyBank’s corporatewide United Way campaign, on the board of visitors for DePauw University, and on the board of directors for Special Olympics Indiana and Meals on Wheels in Indianapolis.

Whiting, president of A.E.S Management Corp., is an attorney with extensive experience in real estate and small business enterprise law, focused on affordable housing as well as community and economic development.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 8:46 AM, 02.28.2020

Ohio Democratic Party chairman to outline 2020 plan on Feb. 13 in CH

On Thursday, Feb. 13, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper will join the Cleveland Heights Democrats, Shaker Heights Democratic Club, and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Women’s Caucus to lay out a plan to turn Ohio blue, up and down the ballot this November. 

“Cuyahoga County is one of the most important counties in the country during presidential elections, and that will be the case this year as well,” Pepper explained. “In addition to Cleveland itself, inner-ring suburbs like Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights are areas we’re going to lean on heavily this year in our push to mobilize our strong democratic base and flip some of those suburban women who have been repulsed and turned away by the GOP’s extreme behavior.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:04 AM, 02.11.2020

RoxArts hosts 'leap day' benefit

Celebrate leap year at a "FUN"draising event for the RoxArts in Tiger Nation Fund on Saturday, Feb. 29, at the B-Side Lounge, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd. in Coventry Village. This "extra night" in 2020 is an opportunity to enjoy fabulous food, drinks, dancing, live music, fashion and fun, all while benefiting arts and science enrichment in Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools. Attendees are invited to show their Tiger Nation pride by dressing in black-and-gold attire. 

RoxArts invites the entire CH-UH community to take a "leap forward" in 2020 by advancing the inclusivity of arts and science enrichment for all CH-UH schools, grades K-8.

General admission tickets are $35, and CH-UH teachers get in for just $25. VIP tickets are also available. Ticket holders receive admission to three events: Benefit party with hearty appetizers, beer and wine until 9 p.m., Silent Disco ($10 value), and the Carlos Jones reggae concert ($15 value).

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:18 PM, 01.31.2020

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. to hold chili cook-off

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. (People Enhancing a Child’s Environment) Campus will host its second-annual chili cook-off 5:30–8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2843 Washington Blvd.

Tickets are $5 per person (or $20 per family) and include all-you-can-eat chili, fixings, sides, dessert, beverage, and one vote for their favorite chili. Families will receive three “votes” for their entrance price. Attendees who wish to vote for more than one chili can purchase extra “votes” for $5 each or 6 for $20.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:27 AM, 01.03.2020

Neighborhood Leadership series helps community member realize a dream

Donna Johnson has lived on the same street in Cleveland Heights since 1995. Her children attend Heights schools, her professional life is rich with connection to the nonprofit world, and she has an active sense of volunteerism. “Community is important to me,” Johnson said. “Without it, neighborhoods decline.”

In recent years, though, Johnson felt a disconnect with her neighbors. “It seemed like every spring there were new faces on my street. I knew my neighbors on either side, but felt a strong need to connect and engage with more of my neighbors,” Johnson said.

One day she read a Heights Observer article about how FutureHeights was conducting a Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series, and she decided to apply.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:46 AM, 12.03.2019

Mini-grant helps community leaders create aging-well guide

Forest Hill neighbors Sue Kenney and Judy Charlick saw a need for a resource about at-home services for the aging members of their community. Through discussions with others involved in a local social activity committee, they decided to do some research and compile a list of nonprofit and public organizations that could benefit the older population. The result: Cleveland Heights Aging Well At Home Resource Guide. 

“This document lists background info about services available by category.  For example, grocery delivery, home repair assistance, social activities, and transportation,” Kenney said. Both the city of Cleveland Heights and the Forest Hill Homeowners Association offer online access to the guide, which can be found at https://chparks.com/DocumentCenter/View/527/CH-Aging-Well-At-Home-Resource-Guide-May-2019.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:11 PM, 12.02.2019

FutureHeights awards fall mini-grants

FutureHeights awarded $3,585 in grants to support five projects in Cleveland Heights in the fall round of its 2019 Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program:

Bradford Road Neighbors received $1,000 for the Bradford Road Pollinator Path (BPP) project, an expansion of a current project to rehabilitate a WPA-era pathway constructed as a safe walkway for children en route to Canterbury Elementary School. The goal is to bring sustainable plant life to the pathway to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the path as well as support indigenous growth, replacing invasive plants. Phase 1 of the project will focus on the area between South Taylor and Queenston roads.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:41 AM, 11.01.2019

Learn how to help keep kids safe

Keeping children safe from abuse and neglect is the main focus of The Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), but the agency can’t do it alone—it relies on the support of the community to help keep children safe and families healthy.

To enable Heights residents to get to know DCFS—what it does, and how neighborhoods can work with the agency to help families—representatives will be in the Heights on Tuesday, Nov. 12, for an In Your Neighborhood event.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:31 AM, 11.01.2019

Preschool hosts bake sale and craft show

Heights Cooperative Preschool (formerly St. Paul’s Cooperative Preschool) is excited to host its annual combined bake sale and craft show on Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Church of the Redeemer, 2420 South Taylor Road.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the school so that it can continue to provide a fun, safe, and nurturing environment in which kids can learn and grow.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:27 AM, 11.01.2019

Novemberfest celebrates Swedish heritage Nov. 2

Novemberfest is Peace Lutheran Church’s annual celebration of its Swedish heritage. This year, the 46th Novemberfest event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Novemberfest features a home-cooked Swedish meal, the opportunity to purchase handmade crafts, a bake sale, a Swedish “coffee house,” a sale of attic treasures, and more.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.29.2019

FutureHeights director to be WOVU radio guest on Oct. 15

FutureHeights Executive Director Deanna Bremer Fisher will be a guest on WOVU 95.9 FM Radio’s “Morning Inspiration,” a community roundtable discussion that covers local news events and topics. The show, which will air on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 9–10 a.m., is hosted by Jae Williams, general manager of WOVU.

WOVU is a community radio station broadcast by Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc. (BBC), the nonprofit community development corporation serving Cleveland’s Central and Kinsman neighborhoods. Similar to the Heights Observer, the mission of WOVU is “to provide an inclusive media platform that connects, engages, and informs the entire community to achieve ongoing social and economic progress for all.”

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 5:09 PM, 10.13.2019

LEI youth writers attend international congress

Three veteran Lake Erie Ink (LEI) participants attended the second International Congress of Youth Voices, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 7–11. This year’s congress gathered 130 young writers and activists, ages 16–20, from all around the world, with the goal of enabling them to learn with and from accomplished writers, activists and elected officials.

For the three local delegates, the selection process began with LEI nominating them to the 2019 Congress. After acceptance and submission of required materials, Tess Kelly (of Pepper Pike), Ayelet Travis (of University Heights), and Grace Yoo (of Mayfield Heights), traveled with Amy Rosenbluth, LEI’s executive director, to be part of the event.

According to the congress, “student delegates are chosen based on their commitment to leadership and social justice and their passion and eloquence as writers.” This opportunity to cultivate leadership among accomplished youth was created by author Dave Eggers and nonprofit leader Amanda Uhle.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:53 PM, 10.02.2019

Dougbe River School plans annual gala event

The Dougbe River Presbyterian School, a mission in Africa that was conceived of in Cleveland Heights, will hold its annual fundraising gala on Sunday, Oct. 27.

The school is the first ever in a remote region of the West African nation of Liberia, which is the birthplace of Isaac Monah, elder in the Noble Road Presbyterian Church. He left Twarbo Region in 1990, fleeing Liberia's civil war. 

In 2007, shortly after returning from a visit to Liberia, Monah brought his idea for the school to the church's elders, where it was met with enthusiasm.

Working with other worship communities and individuals, the school opened in 2012. It now has about 160 students, boys and girls, from preschool through ninth grade. The school is open to all regardless of religious affiliation.

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:38 PM, 10.02.2019