Non-profit & Groups

Cleveland leadership program seeks applicants for 2016

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with former Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership training program for engaged neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is a free, 15–session community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland and its inner–ring suburbs, who are working on projects within the City of Cleveland and who are determined to make a positive impact on their communities. After the application process, 20 committed individuals are chosen for the program year. NLDP participants and graduates have many interests and are working on a wide variety of issues to improve life in their communities.

Greg Bell of Washington Boulevard in Cleveland Heights, and a recent NLDP graduate, is one such person. 

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 1:29 PM, 06.20.2016

CSU's Viking Planners present study of Cedar Lee Business District

Viking Planners, a team of graduate students from the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, presented a market study of the Cedar Lee Business District to an audience of more than 125 at the Cedar Lee Theatre on May 9.

FutureHeights, through its Heights Community Development Alliance program, had contracted with the students to complete the study as their capstone project. Robert A. Simons, professor and former director of the Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development program at Levin College, and Jim Kastelic, program director for the Ohio office of the Trust for Public Land, co-taught the class.

“This was the first time Viking Planners completed a project outside the City of Cleveland, and it was a competitive process to be selected for the study,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. “We wanted to bring a planning project to Cleveland Heights, and Cedar Lee was the best fit with the class’s objectives. The streetscape and high school renovations are going to have a big impact. We wanted to see how we could build on these projects and the district’s lively arts and restaurant scene.”

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 10:31 AM, 05.30.2016

Thank you to Coventry playground volunteers

April 30 was the 45th biannual volunteer work day at the P.E.A.C.E. playground and gardens near the Coventry school building. The playground was built in October 1993 after three years of intense planning and fundraising by a group of dedicated Coventry Elementary School parents. Every spring and fall since 1994, a call goes out for volunteers, who repair equipment, and plant and maintain the gardens. Those who have time also “adopt” an area of the gardens to maintain on their own.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 9:42 AM, 05.30.2016

HRRC executive director announces departure

The Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) Board of Directors of has accepted the resignation of Executive Director Ben Faller, who is leaving to take a teaching position at the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Law.

Tikeesha Allen, HRRC’s program director, has been named interim director, and will be working closely with Faller, the board of directors and HRRC staff to ensure a smooth transition while the board conducts a search for a new executive director. Information on the search process is available at www.hrrc-ch.org/search.

“Ben has been an excellent leader. I’ve enjoyed working closely with him, as has the entire board,” said Marc Lefkowitz, HRRC board president. “Under Ben’s leadership, we’ve seen significant growth in our program participation—in line with expansion in our capacity to meet the needs of homeowners and more thoroughly serve them through hands-on repair classes, loans and a range of technical assistance in home ownership.”

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 11:57 AM, 04.17.2016

FutureHeights presents 'The Bloodless Jungle'

Peter Lawson Jones’s new play, "The Bloodless Jungle," tells the story of State Senator Ethan St. John, a rising political star who is running for a pivotal seat in Congress. In the midst of the campaign, his best friend from high school is accused of a serious crime and St. John is faced with a daunting choice: does he abandon his friend, whom he believes may be innocent, and focus on winning the election, or risk jeopardizing the campaign by supporting his friend? The play centers around the decision he makes and its consequences.

FutureHeights will present a staged reading of the play to benefit its Heights Community Development Alliance (HCDA) program on Sunday, June 5, at Ensemble Theatre. The two-act drama, directed by Terrance Spivey, former Karamu House artistic director, features a diverse cast, including veteran Cleveland TV news anchor and reporter Leon Bibb.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 12:48 PM, 04.30.2016

Ten Thousand Villages plans anniversary celebrations

This year, Ten Thousand Villages in Cleveland Heights is celebrating five years in the Cedar Fairmount district. Originally located in downtown Cleveland, Ten Thousand Villages has been bringing fair-trade handicrafts to the Greater Cleveland area for 13 years. Named “Best Place to Buy a Gift” in the 2013 FutureHeights Best of the Heights Awards, Ten Thousand Villages has become a mainstay for unique, handcrafted items.

Ten Thousand Villages supports more than 130 artisan groups in developing countries, such as Burkina Faso, Chile, Pakistan and others. Each item represents fair wages, healthcare and education for its artisans, especially women. As a nonprofit organization, Ten Thousand Villages prides itself on serving the Cleveland Heights community through educational outreach, such as school visits and community partnerships.

Over the past five years, Ten Thousand Villages has donated more than $10,000 to organizations, including the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District, The Music Settlement and the Dougbe River School of Liberia. The store is able to do this through community shopping nights in which a percentage of sales benefit a nonprofit's mission.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 1:12 PM, 04.30.2016

Jason West scholarship fundraiser is May 22

On May 26, 2007, Cleveland Heights Police Officer Jason West responded to a routine disturbance call and was shot getting out of his car. His death shocked the community. In response, local residents, West’s family and friends, business owners and fellow officers established a scholarship fund in his memory. Each year, graduating seniors from the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement program at Cleveland Heights High School can apply for the scholarship.

To raise money for the fund, the scholarship committee is holding its annual Mega Raffle on Sunday, May 22, at the New Heights Grill on Lee Road. Tickets for the raffle are $2 and can be purchased at several local businesses: Quintana’s Barber & Dream Spa on Taylor Road; and Shawn Paul Salon, New Heights Grill and Parnell’s Pub on Lee Road. Tickets will also be on sale at Zagara’s Marketplace on May 14. Last year’s raffle raised more than $8,000.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 8:19 PM, 04.29.2016

FutureHeights events to focus on Heights business districts

“Strong business districts with a vibrant mix of retail and services are vital to our ability to attract new residents, maintain property values and sustain the long-term health of our community,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. “We’ve identified a growing need to support our districts by working to ensure that existing businesses remain strong and actively recruiting new businesses and new uses for vacant spaces.”

FutureHeights, the nonprofit that works toward a vibrant and sustainable future for Cleveland Heights and University Heights, will host two events that focus on Heights business districts.

The first is a presentation of a Market Study of Cedar Lee by Viking Planners, a graduate-level class from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University (CSU). Heights Community Development Alliance, a program of FutureHeights, hired the class to conduct a study of the Cedar Lee Business District during its spring semester. The students examined various aspects, including parking, safety, retail mix, and potential redevelopment and infill sites. They will present their findings on Monday, May 9, 4–6 p.m, at the Cedar Lee Theatre (2163 Lee Road). 

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 3:50 PM, 04.29.2016

Beth El presents talk on fostering civil discourse

Rachel Eryn Kalish will speak on the topic of Fostering Dialogue in the Jewish Community at a Lunch and Learn at Beth El – The Heights Synagogue after services (approximately 12:15 p.m.) on Saturday, May 14. A vegetarian-friendly lunch will be served, and the public is invited. The event is free of charge, but attendees should call 216-320-9667 to make a lunch reservation.

In the San Francisco Bay area, when the topic of Israel threatened to rip apart the Jewish community, leadership teamed up with Kalish, a visionary mediator/facilitator to create The Year of Civil Discourse. A little more than a year later, the area became a model of civil discourse. At this time of political polarization, this talk will explain how it was done, and provide some of the basic tools.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 8:55 PM, 04.29.2016

Montford Community Garden seeks new members

Now in its fourth year of operation, the Montford Community Garden (MCG) is seeking gardeners for the 2016 growing season.

Located in the heart of the Noble neighborhood, at the intersecion of Montford and Windsor roads, MCG serves residents of the area—which comprises Montford, Windsor, Englewood, Cambridge, Roanoke, Lowell and Northampton roads—as well as residents of other parts of Cleveland Heights, as space permits. Unlike other area community gardens, MCG does not currently have a waiting list.

MCG's mission is to create an organically sustainable sanctuary that provides opportunities for community growth, encourages healthy lifestyles, and supports diversity thru social interaction, education, exercise and neighborhood beautification.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:45 AM, 04.19.2016

RoxArts hosts Kentucky-Derby themed benefit on May 7

The arts have been a top priority at Roxboro Elementary and Middle schools since 1981, thanks to the parent fundraising group RoxArts, formerly known as REAP (Roxboro Enrichment Arts Program). RoxArts, a nonprofit organization, will hold its annual adult benefit on Saturday, May 7, at the B-Side Barcade & Lounge in Coventry Village. All proceeds from the benefit fund artists-in-residence, field trips, assemblies and capital projects that enhance the arts education for all children in kindergarten through eighth grade in both schools, impacting more than 1,000 students.

Funded projects at Roxboro Elementary School include, but are not limited to, the Science of Sound, Shen Yun Chinese dancers, professional reenactments of black history and women’s history during all-school assemblies, and printing of the new Rox Reader, the school newspaper. At Roxboro Middle School, RoxArts has helped fund an all-school annual Jazz Week, new equipment for the music and drama programs, and an eighth grade field trip to the Violins of Hope exhibit and concert.

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 1:02 PM, 03.28.2016

Church of the Saviour hosts April 26 talk on human trafficking

Human trafficking is happening right here in Greater Cleveland.

On April 26, at 7 p.m., Lynn Kallay, a representative of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.) will speak in The Parlor at Church of the Saviour, at 2537 Lee Road.

S.O.A.P. is a hands-on outreach group that fights sex trafficking. Kallay will provide background information about trafficking in our area, and throughout Ohio. Those interested in training for this outreach program can learn about upcoming workshop dates from Kallay.

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 8:49 AM, 03.28.2016

FutureHeights Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program awards five Cleveland Heights projects

FutureHeights launched the second round of its Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program this spring, approving approximately $4,700 in grants to support five projects in Cleveland Heights. Grants are intended to spur small, grassroots projects to improve quality of life and build community.  

The awarded grants are:

  • Forest Hills Homeowners Association and Boulevard Elementary School received $830 for the Boulevard Elementary Outdoor Classroom Enhancements project. This project will enhance the outdoor classroom by planting additional vegetation, constructing an outdoor percussion space/music wall, installing bird feeders and “grow box” Plexiglas containers to house ants, worms and plants, to educate students on the way nature modifies environments for survival.
  • Oxford Community Garden received $1,000 for its Garden Tasting and Pollinator Garden project, in which a 6,000-square-foot permaculture edible food forest will be built around the garden's perimeter.
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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 9:48 AM, 03.22.2016

Fifth annual CH St. Baldrick's event raises more than $105,000

The Cleveland Heights Community Center was "buzzing" on Sunday, March 6, as 180 men, women, boys and girls shaved their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer research. The fifth annual St. Baldrick’s event was held in honor of Heights youngsters Austin Gallagher, a 9-year-old two-time cancer survivor (and six-time shavee), and Garrett Gulden, a Heights High freshman currently undergoing maintenance treatment for leukemia; and in memory of Rebecca Alison Meyer, who died on her sixth birthday, in 2014.

Twelve teams of children, parents and teachers from local schools participated in the event, and raised more than $105,000. The afternoon was filled with a range of emotions, from the excitement of children, to the sadness of loved ones, to an overwhelming sense of hope.

Event organizer Krissy Gallagher said that the reason her son Austin is alive today is because of research that someone funded 20 years ago. Austin lost his entire right kidney and half of his left kidney to survive a bilateral Wilms tumor. He currently is cancer-free, but will one day need a kidney transplant. “Let’s do this for the next child diagnosed,” Gallagher urged Sunday’s attendees. “Let’s harness the courage and generosity of these young people to change the future of childhood cancer.”

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Volume 9, Issue 4, Posted 1:32 PM, 03.08.2016

GCC identifies key challenges facing Cleveland Heights

More than 80 Cleveland Heights residents came together on Sunday, Jan. 31, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Fairmount Boulevard, to identify what they consider to be the biggest challenges facing Cleveland Heights.

Called the “Cleveland Heights Listening Session,” the program was initiated by Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), an organization representing 40 different religious congregations in the Cleveland area, as well as partner organizations in Cuyahoga County. GCC comprises diverse groups of Catholic and Protestant churches; the Islamic Center of Cleveland; Jewish synagogues and temples; and Unitarian Universalists.

Members of both St. Paul’s and Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, located at the intersection of Monticello Boulevard and Lee Road, organized the program. Khalilah Worley, associate organizer of GCC, moderated. Two representatives from Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish's staff attended the event.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 11:30 AM, 02.02.2016

HCDA updates community on progress

Heights Community Development Alliance (HCDA) presented its quarterly progress update to about 50 stakeholders on Jan. 20. HCDA, now a program of FutureHeights, is focusing on three initial project areas within Cleveland Heights: cross promotion of events; economic development, particularly addressing storefront vacancies; and marketing the city.

The group announced a new partnership with CoolCleveland.com and an upcoming Cleveland State University Market Study of the Cedar Lee Business District. It also discussed the results of its citywide survey regarding promotional efforts among Cleveland Heights businesses. HCDA conducted research into successful programs addressing commercial vacancies, and shared options for targeting vacancies here. FutureHeights will host a Cleveland Foundation intern for 11 weeks this summer, who will help develop HCDA programs and funding sources.

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 9:15 AM, 01.31.2016

HCC's World Café explores racial divide

Heights Community Congress (HCC) is an advocate of social justice, a monitor of fair-housing practices and a facilitator for building strong, diverse communities. Even now, in 2016, after monumental strides in racial equality, racial division still exists in the United States. Hcc is working to diminish that racial divide, right here in the Heights.

In celebration of Black History Month, and to kick off a new program year for HCC, a World Café discussion will take place at the Lee Road Library on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 12:19 PM, 01.29.2016

FutureHeights announces second round of community-building workshops

FutureHeights is proud to launch the second round of its Community-Building Workshop Series, a multidisciplinary neighborhood leadership development program designed for individuals enthusiastic about positively contributing to the community in which they live, work and play. Participants will develop leadership skills as well as gain knowledge and tools to help make their community strong, safe and vibrant.

Last spring, 14 residents from several neighborhoods, such as Noble, Forest Hill, Cain Park, Boulevard and Severance, completed the first series of workshops.

The program is funded by the City of Cleveland Heights through Community Development Block Grants and by individual contributions to FutureHeights.

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 11:49 AM, 01.29.2016

Heights Youth Club names new director

Rodney Collins, an experienced youth leader and boxing fitness instructor, has been named director of the Heights Youth Club (HYC), located at 2065 Lee Road. HYC is one of 14 sites operated by Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland (BGCC).

Collins will be in charge of all operations at HYC; he served as director of the BGCC’s Broadway Club for the past 18 months.

“The Boys & Girls Club is a place where kids come first and they matter,” said Collins.

Collins grew up in Toledo, where he played football, basketball and track. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and master’s degrees in religion and divinity from Liberty University. He moved to Cleveland in 1995. Collins has more than 20 years of experience in the corporate and nonprofit worlds.

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Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 11:36 AM, 12.22.2015

CH resident works to make wind a viable regional energy source

Cleveland Heights resident Sarah Taylor is focused on making the world a safer, healthier place. In 2006, she formed Windustrious Cleveland. Its goal is to create a wind farm off the shores of Lake Erie and use wind power to replace fossil fuels as a source of energy in this region.

“Although the use of fossil fuels powered the industrial revolution, their time has now come and gone,” Taylor said. “We realize that we are inflicting tremendous harm on our atmosphere and climate with our continued usage of those fuels, and we should change course as fast as possible. The planet and its living organisms are being rapidly damaged, with some of those life forms already beyond repair.”

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 10:50 AM, 12.31.2015

FutureHeights mini-grants program awards three Cleveland Heights projects

FutureHeights launched the first round of its Neighborhood Mini-Grants Program this fall, approving approximately $2,400 in grants to support three projects in Cleveland Heights. Through the program, FutureHeights seeks to help Heights communities leverage their many assets and provide tools to enable neighborhood leaders to work together on creative solutions to the challenges that face the community.

The three grants were awarded to:

  • Cedar Taylor Merchants Association received $1,000 for its Public Art Project, which aims to improve the Cedar Taylor Business District in Cleveland Heights through a public art installation.
  • Noble Neighbors in Cleveland Heights’s Noble neighborhood received $1,000 for its Beautification Project, in which the group will plant annuals [in] perennial beds. Custom garden markers will identify the gardeners and planters as Noble Neighbors members.
  • RAFT in the Bellfield neighborhood of Cleveland Heights received $414.08 for its RAFT Coexist Project, which aims to highlight place and build community through placing 12-by-8-foot movable wooden platforms on a vacant lot.
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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 11:05 AM, 12.15.2015

Heights Arts thanks Tommy's and announces end of New Year's tradition

For 14 years, starting in 2001, Tommy’s restaurant on Coventry Road hosted a New Year’s Day pancake breakfast as a fundraiser for the local nonprofit organization Heights Arts.

Owner Tommy Fello donated all of the ingredients as well as his own time, and a core of his restaurant staff would come in and provide a foundation of competence around which an army of enthusiastic—but not necessarily experienced—volunteers would chaotically swirl.

This year, Tommy and his crew will get to spend New Year’s Day at home with their families, as Heights Arts and Fello quietly decided last year that the 2015 breakfast would be the final edition.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 9:33 AM, 12.08.2015

FutureHeights takes on new grassroots economic development effort as official program

The FutureHeights Board of Directors voted in October to make a newly formed Cleveland Heights community and economic development group one of its official programs.

The group, the Heights Community Development Alliance (HCDA), was formed out of an effort to gather merchants, institutions and residents in the Cedar Lee area to discuss ways to strengthen relationships to promote economic vitality and quality of life in the business district. HCDA plans to operate with a citywide focus, but is initally concentrating in the Cedar Lee Business District to develop successful programs that can then be rolled out to other areas.

HCDA will initially focus on three core areas: cross-promoting Cleveland Heights events; marketing Cleveland Heights to outsiders and residents; and economic development, primarily around commercial vacancies.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 10:13 AM, 12.01.2015

Young artists fight childhood cancer

On Oct. 6, a nontraditional art show opened at Phoenix Coffee on Lee Road. It drew a special crowd of artists, surrounded by family, friends, and customers eager to purchase pieces. Of the 20 pieces in the collection, 11 sold during the exhibit’s opening night. 

The Big Feelings exhibit is the creation of the We Hate Cancer Club, which was founded this past summer by a group of Cleveland Heights kids ranging in age from preschoolers to middle-schoolers. The goal of the exhibit is to increase awareness about, and raise funds for, children’s cancer.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 11:55 AM, 10.30.2015

Shop with a conscience at Nov. 22 fair trade festival at Forest Hill Church

Finish your holiday shopping early and feel good about your purchases at the Shop with a Conscience Fair Trade Festival on Sunday, Nov. 22, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church.

For nearly a decade, Forest Hill Church has hosted Cleveland Heights’s Ten Thousand Villages shop for an annual day of fair trade shopping. Three years ago, it added additional fair trade vendors and opened the event to the public. This year, local artists and craftspeople will be featured as well.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 10:18 AM, 10.30.2015

Heights family establishes nonprofit to help bereaved families reconnect

The number of families who deal with the death of a child every year is staggering. In 2012, the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfilled 14,000 wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses. That same year, 9,000 kids (ages 2-14) died from illness. For many, “there is a grieving family with siblings on the other end,” said Kat Meyer, Cleveland Heights resident and co-founder of Rebecca’s Gift.

Despite meaningful grief services for surviving parents and siblings, families often remain overwhelmed by the financial and logistical impacts of illness and loss. Just managing day-to-day, many are not able to see the potential benefits of taking a break, together. Mindy Stewart, LPC, pediatric bereavement specialist at Hospice of the Western Reserve, said, “Planning your first family vacation away, while living in this season of grief, may feel just as daunting or heart-wrenching as planning a funeral.”

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 6:08 PM, 10.29.2015

GrowingHeights is working for the monarch

GrowingHeights, in partnership with a local AmeriCorps program, made some sweeping changes to the butterfly gardens on the corners of Cedar Hill and Euclid Heights Boulevard. The group set to work to both beautify and benefit greenspace, and to save the butterflies.

The collaboration is meant to impact AmeriCorps members' nearby neighborhoods through environmental service and educational opportunities. The Cleveland Heights cohort of GLISTEN AmeriCorps members is coordinated by Augustina Odenbrett, and all Cleveland Heights AmeriCorps members are CH-UH high school students. GLISTEN stands for Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 5:44 PM, 10.29.2015

Oct. 24 literary event to benefit women’s education

Local mystery writer Sam Thomas will speak at the fourth annual “An Afternoon With . . .” literary event, which will take place on Oct. 24, 2 p.m., at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd.

The Cleveland Heights Chapter Q of P.E.O. International is hosting the event, which will benefit the organization’s scholarships, grants and awards for the educational advancement of women. Tickets are $15.

Thomas, who teaches history at University School, is the author of The Midwife’s Tale, The Harlot’s Tale, The Witch Hunter’s Tale and, due out in March, The Midwife and the Assassin. His books reflect his historical knowledge and perspective.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 9:20 AM, 10.02.2015

Celebrate Best of the Heights on Oct. 7

Best of the Heights is back! It’s an annual party celebrating the best businesses the Heights has to offer, as voted upon by readers of the Heights Observer. From May through August, readers voted for their favorite Heights businesses. Find out who came out on top at the Best of the Heights awards party on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Tucker Hall, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Each business nominated for an award receives one free ticket. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 216-320-1423 or visit www.futureheights.org.

“We are fortunate to have so many independent businesses in our community that contribute to our quality of life,” said Richard Stewart, president of the FutureHeights Board of Directors, “The Best of the Heights is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate each of them and show our appreciation, and it’s always a lot of fun.”

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 6:49 PM, 09.30.2015

Sruti Basu joins FutureHeights staff

On Aug. 31, FutureHeights welcomed Sruti Basu as director of community-building programs, a new staff position at FutureHeights. Basu will provide one-on-one mentoring to support neighborhood community builders, nurture new neighborhood organizations, meet with community stakeholders to assist local government in addressing problem areas, and organize and attend community meetings.

She holds a Master of Public Administration from the Bernard Baruch College at City University of New York, and a Master of Science in Social Administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She has worked for the Greater Houston Community Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, Neighborhood Connections and Slavic Village Community Development Corporation.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 6:07 PM, 09.30.2015

Forum on Severance future is Oct. 21

FutureHeights invites those interested in the future of Severance Town Center to attend a public forum on the topic on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m., at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd.

Attendees will hear about the history of the site, its current legal and ownership status, and the land use and zoning regulations affecting the property. Additionally, presenters will discuss examples of redeveloped properties on comparable sites in other cities, and provide a summary of thoughts gathered from local developers regarding the site’s potential. Participants will have the opportunity, both at the forum and afterward, to express their opinions on the future of this important community asset.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 1:41 PM, 09.30.2015

JCU hosts Oct. 10 Ohio Fair Trade Expo

Celebrate Fair Trade Month at the Ohio Fair Trade Teach-In and Expo on Saturday, Oct. 10, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at John Carroll University (JCU). The event is free and open to the public.

Since 2005, the Ohio Fair Trade Expo has showcased socially and environmentally conscious consumerism with artisan demonstrations, speakers, workshops, family activities and a fair trade marketplace. Hosted by JCU, this year’s expo marks the school’s recent designation as the fifth Jesuit university to earn Fair Trade University status from Fair Trade Campaigns, a grassroots movement mobilizing consumers and advocates across the United States to increase the availability of fair trade products.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 1:22 PM, 09.30.2015

The Heights was hopping at Heights Music Hop

Lee Road was hopping Sept. 19 at the third annual Heights Music Hop presented by FutureHeights. Participants enjoyed a variety of free music at 18 venues along Lee Road. Merchants offered food and drink specials, including a free pig roast at The Rib Cage. An afterparty at the BottleHouse capped off the evening, with music by The Admirables. FutureHeights thanks its hardworking Music Hop Committee—Dan Budin, Jim Henke, Greg Bonanno, Patti Carlyle, Jeff Coryell, Adam Fleischer, Jennifer Greene, Emily Hornack, Gillian Irwin, Mike Kinsella, Justin Markert, Susan Christopher Riethmiller, Kelley Robinson, Richard Stewart, Saroya Queen Tabor and Clare Taft—our volunteers and staff. And many thanks to our sponsors and partners: Cuyahoga Arts & Culture; Cedar Lee Special Improvement District; Simply Charming; Motorcars; The Wine Spot; Dewey’s Pizza; New Heights Grill; Cellar Door Records; City of Cleveland Heights; Realtor Susan Delaney, Howard Hanna; Keller National; Jakprints; Digizoom Media; Kimble; Brite Winter; Larchmere Porchfest; Beachland Ballroom; Grog Shop; WJCU; WRUR; Heights Arts; ARTFUL; and Greg Bonanno. See more photos at heightsobserver.org/photoblogs/heights-music-hop-2015.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 1:08 PM, 09.30.2015

Young artists explore 'Big Feelings' to fight children's cancer

When she told her parents that she wanted to form a club, seven-year-old Elizabeth Kikel might have been thinking about clubhouses. But, because her parents said that a club had to be something with a true purpose—“a thing you care about together”—Elizabeth ultimately created something that will have wide-reaching and long-lasting impact.

The We Hate Cancer Club was founded in the summer of 2015 by a group of Cleveland Heights kids ranging from in age from preschoolers to middle-schoolers. The criteria for membership are specific: (1) members must be kids; and (2) members must hate cancer.   

A few adults have asked to become members; the kids in charge thoughtfully rejected this idea. “There are a lot of things for adults,” Elizabeth said, “not for kids.” Parents are allowed to help with projects and sit nearby during club meetings, which have taken place at members’ homes and at Phoenix Coffee on Lee Road.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 11:48 AM, 09.29.2015

Nighttown hosts Oct. 4 friend- and fund-raiser for Syrian refugees

Do you watch in despair as thousands of men, women and children flee from the violence in Syria, hoping to find a place where they are safe from the Assad regime and ISIS? Have you been moved to tears by the goodness of 12,000 people in Iceland willing to open their homes to refugees in response to their government's suggestion that the country take 50, or the sight of Germans driving in their cars to pick up weary families?

Nighttown is hosting a fundraiser on Oct. 4, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., organized in response to the current Syrian refugee crisis, and donations will be used to help this group specifically. Representatives of the three refugee resettlement agencies in Cleveland will be present to describe the process of resettlement, from how the government decides how many refugees to accept, to what the agencies do once an individual or family arrives in Cleveland. Refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have made Cleveland home, will talk about their experiences.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 9:01 AM, 09.22.2015

Lake Erie Ink begins fifth year of creative writing programs for youth

As a new school year begins, Lake Erie Ink’s (LEI) fifth year of writing programs for young people is underway as well. Registration is open for Ink Spot, serving fourth- through eighth-graders, and Evening Ink, for students in grade six and older. LEI’s first Weekend Ink: Telling Tales—a program about storytelling that is open to all ages—will take place on Sept. 19.

Located in the Coventry school building in Cleveland Heights, LEI has roots in the creative writing programs its founders provided for youth on the East Side of Cleveland.

During the 2010–11 school year, they facilitated four Library Writers Clubs for students in grades 4–12, as an expansion of the work they had been doing in the classrooms. The library clubs were a hit. Young writers continued to show up and ask for more.

Since opening its doors in 2011, LEI has worked with more than 3,000 young writers throughout Greater Cleveland, and has been involved in more than 20 different school communities throughout the region.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 6:44 PM, 09.14.2015

FutureHeights auction kicks off in November

The 11th annual FutureHeights Online Auction will take place in November. The auction will feature hundreds of items, ranging from one-of-a-kind experiences to gift cards from many area merchants.

“Our local merchants have unique items that you won’t find anywhere else,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights. Residents can preview auction items beginning Oct. 7, and bidding runs Nov. 6–22 at www.biddingforgood/futureheights.

"The auction is a lot of fun," said Rebecca Price, co-chair of the FutureHeights Online Auction Committee. “Bidders can get some amazing bargains on gift certificates to local restaurants and shops, handmade jewelry, tickets to sporting events, and unique getaways. Local business donors receive terrific online presence throughout the auction's run, and a tax deduction.”

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 6:12 PM, 09.30.2015

HBC offers discounted home tour tickets for bicyclists

Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) is partnering with Heights Community Congress (HCC) to offer discounted tickets to HCC’s Sept. 20 Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour, to encourage bicycling as a means of transportation during the tour.

Tourgoers who would like to ride a bike on the tour can purchase advance tickets for $15—a $5 savings off a standard pre-sale ticket—through the HBC website, www.bikesintheheights.org, beginning Sept. 1. Contact Sarah O'Keeffe at chbikecoalition@gmail.com with any questions.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 8:29 PM, 08.31.2015

Annual Shaker Lakes Hike & Run scheduled for Sept. 20

The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes will hold its annual Shaker Lakes Hike & Run on Sunday, Sept. 20. Runners and hikers of all ages and abilities are invited to participate. The event benefits the Jenny Goldman Fund and environmental education, promotes health and wellness, and celebrates the Shaker parklands.

The 5K and 10K races will begin at 8:30 a.m., at the intersection of South Park Boulevard, North Park Boulevard and North Woodland Road, finishing at the Nature Center. The courses take runners along the tree-lined streets of the Shaker parklands, around Lower Shaker and Horseshoe lakes. The 10K course extends east along Shelburne Road to Chesterton Road and back to the Nature Center along South Park Boulevard.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 8:22 PM, 08.31.2015

Teen campers write about exploring Cleveland with LEI

College student and Heights High graduate Maya Watkins was a summer intern at Cleveland Heights-based Lake Erie Ink: a writing space for youth. Working with students who took part in LEI’s Teen Camp led her to reflect on “what it was like to be a young kid, with limited mobility and busy parents who can’t always take you everywhere you’d like to go.” With LEI, the teens visited Terminal Tower’s observation deck, rode the Rapid, and visited MOCA Cleveland. The experience inspired Watkins to share, below, first-person accounts of the interest and excitement the teens felt, traveling around Greater Cleveland with Lake Erie Ink: “It was a pleasure to work with these students, and see the art they created as they looked for inspiration around the city. I hope that our community can sense their interest and enjoyment from their own words.”

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 1:38 PM, 08.31.2015

Doan Brook seeks volunteers for Sept. 5 storm drain stenciling

The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership (DBWP) is looking for volunteers to help “paint the town” on Saturday, Sept. 5, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in Cleveland Heights. This will be nonprofit organization's final Storm Drain Stenciling Saturday, for this year.

Volunteers are needed to help mark curbs next to residential storm drains with the stenciled message “Lake Erie Starts Here," and to distribute information about the signage to neighborhood residents. 

On Sept. 5, participants will meet at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd., for a short stenciling demonstration and to pick up needed supplies and street assignments. Refreshments will also be provided.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 10:26 AM, 08.25.2015

Student buys CH home through new land bank program

The Cuyahoga Land Bank is handing over the keys to the first home sold through its BRAIN (Buying and Retaining Academic Investment Now) program to Cleveland State University (CSU) student Peter Camba.

“Brain gain”—the attraction and retention of young professionals with higher-education degrees—has long been touted as an economic development driver, and affordable housing is one of the factors in retaining young talent. With several well-respected universities in the area and an inventory of vacant homes ready to be renovated and returned to productive use, the Land Bank recognized an opportunity to play a role in retaining talent in Cuyahoga County by connecting students and recent graduates with great, affordable housing. With this goal in mind, it created BRAIN.

BRAIN offers eligible students and recent graduates the chance to purchase a newly renovated home at a discount of 15 percent off the purchase price and an additional 5 percent of the purchase price to be applied to closing costs.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 9:04 AM, 08.10.2015

Aug. 15 fashion event at Nighttown is dedicated to women's empowerment

For a second year, Ten Thousand Villages in Cleveland Heights and Dress for Success Cleveland are partnering for a fun event that brings together fashion and fundraising. The event also combines a passion for fashion with the empowerment of women. It will be held on Aug. 15 at Nighttown, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Volume 8, Issue 8, Posted 11:32 AM, 07.31.2015

Artful plans August and fall fundraisers

In last month’s edition of the Heights Observer, James Henke introduced local artist Shannon Morris and Artful, a new, start-up Heights nonprofit.

Artful is a community effort, intent on creating an Artful space in the Heights. The founding committee consists of artists, educators, and local business owners, all with strong ties to the area. Artful (which, as ARTFUL LLC, is a registered nonprofit in the state of Ohio) has been approved by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts to receive free legal assistance as committee members move ahead with the project. Another beneficial development has come in the form of an anonymous challenge grant of $25,000. While this requires that the committee raise $25,000, members are hopeful that, with community support, they will raise enough funds to receive the matching grant.

Artful’s first fundraiser, called playFUL, will be a kickball tournament to be held on Aug. 9, 3:15–7 p.m., at Denison Park. According to Sarah Curry, Artful’s artists and education advocate, the intention is to “encourage the community to come together to be playful,” while helping Artful secure the funds it needs to develop the project and make it a reality.

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Volume 8, Issue 8, Posted 9:32 AM, 07.28.2015

FutureHeights to offer neighborhood mini-grant program

FutureHeights, in partnership with the City of Cleveland Heights, is launching a neighborhood mini-grant program for Cleveland Heights residents. FutureHeights will award grants of up to $1,000 to neighborhood-based groups.

“Our goal is to help neighbors leverage their many assets and provide tools to enable them to strengthen their neighborhoods,” said Richard Stewart, president of the FutureHeights Board of Directors. “Having a little bit of seed money for a project can make a big difference.”

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 4:26 PM, 07.01.2015

Heights Heritage Home Tour planning is underway

With Cleveland’s roller coaster weather—It’s Spring! It’s Winter! It’s Summer! No, it’s Spring!—it might be hard to imagine the crisp days and cool nights of September, but that’s exactly what the Heights Heritage Home Tour team has been doing since early March. The team has been busy planning the always-popular tour, sponsored by the Heights Community Congress (HCC), and is in the midst of lining up another amazing roster of homes and gardens. 

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 1:31 PM, 06.29.2015

IPM invites participants to join in its immersion experience programs

An Immersion Experience Program (IEP) with International Partners in Mission (IPM), an international nonprofit based in Cleveland Heights, is a life-changing opportunity to discover another culture, primarily by interacting with locals who are implementing initiatives focused on improving their communities.

IEPs are short-term trips to the places where IPM works. IEP participants, many of whom are from Northeast Ohio, will learn about the socio-economic, political, cultural and historic realities of these places.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 4:17 PM, 06.26.2015

Cleveland leadership program seeks applicants

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with then-Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership training program for engaged neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is a free, 15-session community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs who are working on projects within the City of Cleveland and who are determined to make a positive impact on their communities.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 4:08 PM, 06.26.2015

Unity Center hosts public forum on world religions

The Unity Center of the Heights celebrates the diversity of the Heights with a Civilization Transformation Forum on July 19 at 1:30 p.m. The forum is open to the public, and no registration is required.

Cynthia Rantala, founder and moderator of Civilization Transformation, and founder of Hershey Montessori School in Concord Township, Ohio, will moderate the forum and ask participants, “What is this world coming to? What is happening in this country with all these other religions coming into play here?”

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 4:06 PM, 06.26.2015

FutureHeights and CHPD to host forum on policing in Cleveland Heights

“Understanding Policing in Cleveland Heights,” an open forum with Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson and other representatives of the CHPD, will be held 7–8:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 9, at the Cleveland Heights Community Center.

Hosted by FutureHeights, the event will help residents understand how the police department is evolving to protect and improve public safety in Cleveland Heights.

Topics will include the use of software and other technologies to track and prevent crime; improvements in data collection and analysis; management strategies that are being applied within the department; and activities to foster closer connections between the department and the community it serves. Ample time will be reserved for questions.

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Volume 8, Issue 6, Posted 1:46 PM, 05.29.2015

GrowingHeights seeks new coordinator

Gardeners are drawn to the restorative energy of soil, sunshine, sky, water, plants and, ultimately, eating the fruits and vegetables of their labor. However, gardening alone in one’s backyard can be isolating. The alternative: community gardening.

Here in the Heights, gardeners can connect with one another through GrowingHeights (formerly Heights Community Garden Network), where individual and community gardeners come together to share information, resources, food and friendship.

Samantha Provencio has been the coordinator of GrowingHeights for two years. During that time, she has combined her experience as a gardener and garden leader with her love of community-building, developing relationships with, and facilitating connections between, gardeners. Provencio has endeavored to make each community garden a gathering place, with the goal of becoming self-sufficient, with the network helping to achieve that goal.

This summer, Provencio is moving to Virginia with her family, and GrowingHeights is looking for a new coordinator.

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Volume 8, Issue 6, Posted 11:04 AM, 05.29.2015

Meet Heights musicians May 19 at Rockefeller’s

There are more musicians per capita in the Heights than anywhere else. That's what people say. Come and find out if that's true on Tuesday, May 19, as Heights-based nonprofits FutureHeights, Friends of Heights Libraries and Reaching Heights present Welcome Home: Heights Musicians, the third in a series of events highlighting the interesting people who live in the Heights.

Welcome Home: Heights Musicians takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Rockefeller’s restaurant, 3099 Mayfield Road.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 1:28 PM, 05.01.2015

Officer West scholarship fundraiser set for May 3

On May 26, 2007, Cleveland Heights Police Officer Jason West responded to a routine disturbance call and was shot as he was getting out of his car. His death shocked and angered the community. In response, Cleveland Heights residents, together with West's family, friends, local business owners and fellow officers, established a scholarship fund in his memory. This year, 11 graduating seniors from the Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement program at Cleveland Heights High School have applied for the scholarship.

To help raise money for the award, the scholarship committee is hosting its Annual Great Cleveland Heights Mega Raffle on Sunday, May 3, at the New Heights Grill on Lee Road. Tickets for the raffle are $2 and can be purchased at several local businesses: Quintana’s Barber & Dream Spa on Taylor Road, Shawn Paul Salon on Lee Road, New Heights Grill on Lee Road, and Blush Boutique on Coventry Road. Tickets are also available from any committee member and on the night of the event. Last year’s Mega Raffle raised more than $8,000 for the scholarship.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 9:35 AM, 04.28.2015

HCC hosts April 24 public forum on educational redlining and school ratings

Aren’t you curious when a neighbor’s house sprouts a “For Sale” sign? What a surprise one of Heights Community Congress’s (HCC) board members experienced when he went online to look up a neighbor’s house that was for sale. He discovered that the house, on the Multiple Listing Service, had a big red #3 in its description. The red #3 was a rating of the local elementary school in the neighborhood. The question he asked was simply, “Where does this rating come from?”

Thus began a year-long quest by HCC’s Fair Housing Committee to research the school rating numbers that appear on many national real estate websites and in some television advertising.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 11:01 AM, 04.07.2015

FutureHeights launches community-building initiative on April 21

What do you love about your neighborhood? What does your neighborhood need to make it a better place for you and your neighbors?

On April 21, FutureHeights, the nonprofit community group that publishes the Heights Observer, will announce a new opportunity for Cleveland Heights residents to learn more about their neighborhoods and learn how to use community resources to work collaboratively to make their neighborhoods better: the Community Capacity-Building Program.

FutureHeights will make the announcement at its annual meeting on Tuesday, April 21. Bill Traynor, a nationally known community development expert will give the keynote address.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. at Motorcars Honda, 2953 Mayfield Road. Attendees will also get a chance to see Motorcars’ solar canopy installation, which the company says will provide up to 70 percent of its energy needs, and hear about other planned investments along the Mayfield Road corridor.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 1:29 PM, 03.30.2015

Annual Reaching Heights Adult Spelling Bee planned for April 15

How well can you spell? You are invited to come and find out at the Reaching Heights Adult Community Spelling Bee. The 24th annual edition of this campy yet competitive community event takes place April 15 at 7 p.m. at Cleveland Heights High School. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Unlike the youth version, this spelling bee is a team event. Three spellers work together to write down the letters in the word given to them, and then send a teammate to the microphone to read out the team’s best guess. Teams are encouraged to dress in costumes that represent their company, school or organization, or other fun themes. This year the organizers look forward to welcoming returning competitors such as the Ms. Spellers (Roxboro Elementary and Middle school PTAs), the Episco-spellians (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church), and Upper Case (Case Western Reserve University), who come to this seriously fun competition dressed in graduation caps and gowns.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:15 AM, 03.24.2015

CH's St. Baldrick's event raises more than $100,000

The Cleveland Heights Community Center was abuzz on Sunday, March 15—abuzz with generosity, kindness and courage. More than 165 men, women, boys and girls shaved their heads to raise money for St. Baldrick’s, the national foundation that funds more childhood cancer research than any other organization in the world, except the U.S. government.

This year’s local event, now in its fourth year, was held in memory of Rebecca Meyer of Cleveland Heights, who died from a brain tumor on her sixth birthday last June. It also was held in honor of Roxboro Middle School student Garrett Gulden, who recently finished cancer treatment, and Fairfax Elementary School second-grader Austin Gallagher, a two-time survivor of kidney cancer.

Shavees from Shaker schools, CH-UH schools and Gesu School, among others, competed against, and cheered on, one another during an afternoon of marathon head-shaving. Team Fairfax—25 current Fairfax students and one teacher—raised the most money, bringing in more than $32,000.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 10:56 AM, 03.17.2015

Forest Hill Church invites participants to visit last stop on the underground railroad

Another pilgrimage has been planned by Forest Hill Church, this time to Detroit on Saturday, April 25. The deadline for registering is March 20.

The one-day trip will include a stop at the First Congregational Church for the Underground Railroad Living Museum "Flight to Freedom" tour. The tour includes a re-enactment of the original Underground Railroad passage that operated 1840–63. Visitors will be shackled with wrist bands at the entrance of the tour and begin their experience by entering through the "Door of No Return" in Africa, before becoming passengers on the Underground Railroad on a journey to the First Congregational Church and freedom.

The trip also includes a visit to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African-American experience.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:47 AM, 03.17.2015

Zagara's hosts Harvest for Hunger fundraiser beginning March 9

In the spirit of combating hunger, Heights residents are invited to enjoy six days of delicious fundraising at Zagara’s Marketplace this March, to benefit the Harvest for Hunger and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Beginning March 9 and 10, and continuing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for two subsequent weeks, three local specialty food purveyors will donate items to benefit the food bank. All items are generously donated by Joanne Lynch of Euclid Beach Popcorn, Bill Mitchell of Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates, and John Emerman of Stone Oven, and most can be purchased for $2.

The fundraising festivities will commence on Monday and Tuesday, March 9 and 10, noon to 7 p.m., with Euclid Beach Popcorn. Remember the sights, sounds and tastes of Euclid Beach Park with a bag containing those luscious taffy kisses and a popcorn ball (popped popcorn 50 cents).

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:28 AM, 03.03.2015

Jazzercise classes help keep Heights food center healthy

At their annual fundraiser, Jazzercise class participants from Cleveland Heights and South Euclid contributed more than 230 pounds of food and $800 in cash to the Heights Emergency Food Center, and raised another $1,350 for LifeAct (formerly the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance), which offers suicide prevention programming at area high schools.

Each year, the Jazzercise classes nominate organizations for the fundraiser, and select the two that receive the most votes as beneficiaries. 

Class members raised money during each class by contributing to have a favorite routine added to the exercise set—or to have a less-than-favorite routine thrown out.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:27 AM, 03.03.2015