The heart of Cleveland Heights is lit again . . . by kids
How do you “feel” the community of Cleveland Heights? How about through music, laughter and delicious food, as residents found June 11 at Taste of The Heights. Here, the whole Cleveland Heights gamut joined the staff and board and kids of the Heights Youth Club (HYC) at a festival of fun that benefitted its youth. Taste of the Heights, HYC’s annual fundraiser, was a brilliant success for all involved.
Twenty Cleveland Heights restaurants were the key to its success as each donated the best of their menus to produce a generous smorgasbord of selections for guests. This at a time when the local restaurants of our community were voted the third best in the whole state!
Dorothy King, new HYC board member, was inspired seeing the result of the staff and board’s hard work to make this worthwhile event happen, and to see Heights residents support it so wholeheartedly.
Karen Gotwald, a Cleveland Heights native, reveled in the community that she found here and the concept of kids as the focal point. Although she had heard about this entity, it wasn’t until this evening at the club, chatting with board and staff members, that she felt the vitality of this program.
With a sparkle in her eye, Adrienne Williams, teen coordinator, talked about how she loves her job and the kids. She helped HYC’s Keystone honorary service group organize this year’s teen fair, which was a resource for dealing with issues of depression and suicide. Six fortunate members were even asked to attend the worldwide Keystone conference in Anaheim, Calif., where they interacted with 1,500 kids from all around the globe, breaking up into sessions to discuss issues such as stereotyping and bullying, and what we can do here to deal with these issues. They asked to be part of the MS Walk in which 12 HYC kids participated.
This summer, Williams delights in thinking about the many outings she will lead them on, such as a Nature Scavenger Hunt at the Shaker Lakes, lacrosse at Forest Hills, and community volunteering at places such as McGregor Home.
Club member Victoria Lewis summed it up: although she has only been part of HYC for two years and she was already a good student and cheerleader at Heights, it is through HYC that she knows who she is and what she wants to do. Meeting nuturing people such as Roscoe Morgan, HYC director, and Ron Soeder, director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland (BGCC), gave Lewis role models and confidence to get her ready for college and adulthood. This articulate, attractive, confident young woman, received a $1,000 scholarship from the woman’s board of BGCC, which she will use this fall as she enters Ohio University.
Another thoroughly delightful dimension of the evening, chaired by Joel Borwick, board president, and Eric Dillenbeck, board member, concerned the band, Otis and the Shoreway Saints. First-time guest Raul Gongora loved the live music and found the evening particularly enjoyable and inviting. Ann Randall and her husband found it to be a splendid place to celebrate their third wedding anniversary.
The added revenue raised by the event will be put to the good and critical use of helping pay for this year’s operating expenses at HYC.
Irene "Renie" Smith is a longtime Cleveland Heights resident, a founder of Heights Youth Club, and member of its board of directors.