Non-profit & Groups

Volunteers clean up Coventry park and playground

On Oct. 15, a crisp sunny day, volunteers gathered at the hilltop of the Coventry Playground at 9 a.m. for the biannual fall clean-up day.

The volunteer groups comprised members of the Cleveland Heights Youth Committee, Heights High’s swim team and Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN), B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), Heights High alumni, and the hardworking Coventry Playground Committee, headed by Erick Kauffman.

Their first project was to set up the tent and tables to hold the food for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast treats, donated by Zoss The Swiss Baker and Phoenix Coffee, were quickly consumed, and appreciated. Then the work began.

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 5:42 PM, 12.01.2016

Remembering Sunny Ravi Patel

On Friday, Oct. 14, just after 8 p.m., 15-year-old Sunny Ravi Patel was murdered by an armed robber while helping at the Mr. Hero sandwich shop that his aunt and uncle own on South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights. He was not an employee, but a dutiful nephew working hard to help his family succeed. The criminal shot Sunny, and he passed away from his injuries just hours later.

Sunny Ravi Patel is the only son of Ravi and Pinal Patel of Highland Heights. A sophomore at Mayfield High School, his friends describe him as hardworking, caring and an avid Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

Mayfield students hosted a candlelight vigil on Oct. 21, prior to the school’s varsity football game. They asked students, staff and community members to wear Cleveland Cavaliers attire for a "Cavs Night" theme in his memory and to show support for his family.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 10:24 AM, 11.01.2016

Lake Erie Ink hosts Nov. 12 storytelling workshops for families

Every holiday season offers opportunities to share family stories across the generations. On Nov. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Lake Erie Ink will explore the art of storytelling with kids of all ages. Using family stories as the inspiration for the day’s interactive workshops, participants will engage with guest artists from the Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers (CABS) and GroundWorks DanceTheater.

At 10:30 a.m., Eris Eady, artist, poet and CABS member, will share her secrets for keeping an audience intrigued. She will help attendees craft their stories into tales that can be shared for years.

Pizza will be served at 12:30 p.m.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 7:44 PM, 11.01.2016

McMillan Early Learning Center celebrates expansion

On Oct. 11, The Centers for Families and Children (The Centers) hosted an open house at its McMillan Early Learning Center, at 1941 S. Taylor Road, to celebrate the site’s recent expansion.

Attendees toured the renovated center, which now offers care for infants ages 6 weeks to 18 months, in addition to its toddler and preschool programs. The expansion included a new infant classroom, serving eight children; a toddler classroom, serving 10 children; and a large indoor gym for physical development. Added to the existing toddler classroom and three preschool classrooms, the expanded space enables the center to serve a total of eight infants, 20 toddlers and 59 preschoolers.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 7:08 PM, 11.01.2016

Heights residents invited to Nov. 16 forum on building community

Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents are invited to attend Community-Building for Change—a free public forum and workshop, hosted by FutureHeights and Neighborhood Connections—on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 6:30–8:30 p.m., at the Cleveland Heights Community Center Atrium, 1 Monticello Blvd.

The interactive workshop aims to provide attendees with the knowledge and skills they need to create and maintain strong, effective neighborhood groups, and empower residents to take effective action in supporting and improving their community.

The forum will explore such topics as effective organizing and goal-setting for volunteer organizations, and strategies for creatively solving challenges.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 1:24 PM, 11.01.2016

Rebecca's Gift helps grieving families

“We did it!” said Kat Meyer, of Rebecca’s Gift. The Cleveland Heights-based nonprofit, founded in 2015, has already provided meaningful help to local grieving families. And it feels really good.  

Meyer and a dear friend, Karla Winnan, started Rebecca’s Gift to honor the loss of Meyer’s six-year-old daughter, who died from brain cancer in June 2014. Over the months that followed Rebecca’s death, Kat and her husband, Eric, wrestled to manage grief and day-to-day living, while also rediscovering their other two children.

Young siblings of a terminally ill child may never have experienced their parents without the preoccupations of illness; explained Mayer, “They never had their mom’s full focus.” 

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 11:50 AM, 11.01.2016

HRRC offers classes for all

“Aren’t your repair classes just for women? . . . for Cleveland Heights residents? . . . for people with a low-enough income?”  Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) staff members hear questions like these all the time.

In fact, the people who take HRRC’s home repair classes are young and old, rich and poor, men and women, total beginners and folks with some know-how, the physically able and the physically challenged. They have one thing in common: they want to learn how to repair their homes themselves. Among those who have taken HRRC’s classes are:

  • Mothers and daughters, like Marian and Kathryn, who learned to do plumbing repairs together;
  • New homeowners Priyanka and Ryan, who came to learn how to maintain their new South Euclid house for years to come;
  • Joe, a senior, who’s lived in his Shaker Heights home for decades but still wants to do his own repairs when possible;
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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 11:38 AM, 11.01.2016

Revolution Books to close after 33 years

Revolution Books, located on Mayfield Road near Coventry Road, will close on Oct. 23. According to the people who work there, the closing of the store—owned by the Revolutionary Communist Party—has nothing to do with poor sales or other problems.

Instead, they said, they want to spend more time spreading the word about a Communist revolution to the people of Cleveland.

Lee Thompson, one of the store’s workers, said, “We cannot do all of that and maintain the store.”

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 11:24 AM, 10.18.2016

Friends of Heights Libraries plans annual meeting and fall sale

For 54 years, Friends of the Heights Libraries has provided funding and countless volunteer hours to support the nationally recognized Heights Libraries system.

Friends invites community members to its annual meeting on Sunday, Oct. 16, 1:30 p.m., at the Lee Road Library. It will celebrate the Heights Libraries’ centennial with a presentation by Amia Wheatley, local history librarian, on the history of the Heights Libraries.

The organization’s semiannual Mega Sale of thousands of books, CDs and DVDs will kick off on Thursday, Nov. 10, 5–8:45 p.m., with a preview night for members (memberships will be sold at the door for $10), and will continue through Sunday, Nov. 13.

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 12:09 PM, 09.30.2016

4th Annual Heights Music Hop draws record crowds

Cleveland Heights was brimming with record crowds in its Cedar Fairmount and Cedar Lee business districts on Sept. 23 and 24, respectively, at the 4th Annual Heights Music Hop, presented by FutureHeights. Event organizers estimate that more than 5,000 people attended the popular live-music festival, which featured 77 acts in 28 venues.

The districts’ businesses, restaurants and bars—many of which served as venues for the music performances—filled to capacity with event attendees.

"We were thrilled that so many people came out to enjoy both nights of the festival. It was a huge success," said Daniel Budin, FutureHeights board member and Music Hop chair. "Cleveland Heights was in the spotlight as we provided two nights of fun for thousands, and combined top regional acts with homegrown talent in our unique and exciting business districts. I'm especially grateful to the city and the police department for their cooperation and support."

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Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 12:01 PM, 09.27.2016

HRRC hosts free Boomer Fest on Sept. 17

Are you one of the millions of Americans born between 1946 and 1964? If so, you’ll want to be part of Home Repair Resource Center’s (HRRC) “Boomer Fest ’16: I Can See Clearly Now” on Saturday, Sept. 17. Boomer Fest will take place at the Senior Activity Center at the CH Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd., 10. a.m. to 3 p.m. This free event will offer advice, discussions, products and other resources to help attendees plan their futures, and an opportunity to win prizes.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 10:37 AM, 09.01.2016

Heights residents respond to CSU Viking Planners' Cedar Lee study

On May 9, Cleveland State University’s Viking Planners, a team of graduate students from the school’s Levin College of Urban Affairs, presented the findings of its Cedar Lee Market Study to the Cleveland Heights community at the Cedar Lee Theatre. The students’ study produced many recommendations concerning branding, design, wayfinding, and residential development for the business district. FutureHeights, the nonprofit community development organization that had commissioned the study, created an online survey to solicit community feedback on the plan. Forty-six community members responded.          

The survey asked for opinions on Viking Planners’ branding recommendations for Cedar Lee, which included a “Heart of the Heights” logo and tagline, with three sub-districts named Cain, Cedar and Silsby. The students proposed gateway signs at the district's entrances, information kiosks, a new Heart Park on a lot at the west end of Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard, branded sidewalks and branded bike racks.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 11:37 AM, 09.01.2016

Lake Erie Ink splashes into its sixth year

With the start of the school year comes the start of Ink Spot, Lake Erie Ink’s (LEI) creative after-school program. Ink Spot takes place at LEI’s Coventry location, 2843 Washington Blvd., and its satellite location at Noble Elementary School. Running Monday through Thursday, Ink Spot offers homework assistance and creative expression activities for students of all abilities. The program has expanded this year to welcome third-graders.

An Ink Spot Open House takes place Tuesday, Aug. 23, 3:30–6:30 p.m. Visitors can drop-in to learn more about LEI's program, where students in grades 3–6 participate in activities after school.

LEI’s fall season officially kicks off on Sept. 13 with a college essay writing workshop geared toward helping teens with one of the most difficult parts of applying to colleges: crafting a personal essay.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 10:44 AM, 08.23.2016

HRRC names Allen its new executive director

The board of directors of Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) has appointed Tikeesha Allen as HRRC’s new executive director. Allen has served as the organizations interim executive director since the departure of Benjamin Faller in May.

A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Allen has devoted her career to the nonprofit sector, focusing on community and social issues. For the past five years, she’s directed her attention toward solving problems plaguing homeowners in Cleveland Heights and the region’s inner-ring suburbs. Since joining HRRC in 2013 as housing counselor, and later serving as program director, Allen has helped countless individuals realize the dream of owning their own home.

“I can’t begin to express how gratifying it is to share in the joy my clients feel when they reach the end of their journey and finally have a home to call their own,” said Allen.

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 9:15 AM, 08.09.2016

SHN suggests sustainable activities for August

The Sustainable Heights Network (SHN) advocates for evidence-based community actions and education that will result in a positive impact on our environment and quality of life. SHN suggests the following sustainable things-to-do for Heights residents, for the month of August:

Sustainable Transportation: August’s heat is not kind to marginal automobile batteries, and it’s the month with the second-most battery failures. Have yours checked, along with  tire inflation and condition.

School begins late this month. Be alert to changing traffic patterns, including new bike riders en route to and from school.

Parents, this is a good time to walk or bike to school with your child to explain the route and the rules of safe travel.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 6:07 PM, 07.28.2016

Nonprofit Coit Road Market supports community's nutrition needs

The Coit Road Farmers Market—with its mission of providing residents of Cleveland’s urban East Side and inner-ring suburbs with access to affordable, locally grown, farm-fresh products—has become increasingly proactive in addressing community needs to improve the health of area residents.

The nonprofit, community-based market’s efforts on this front include offering free cooking classes; Produce Perks to double EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) customer buying power; WIC and senior coupons; resident transportation; and collaboration with health care providers through Cuyahoga County’s Produce Prescriptions program.

The market also offers a staffed resource center for residents who are working to improve their health through eating more fresh foods.

WIC coupon distributions will take place on Saturdays, Aug. 13 and Sept. 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 6:01 PM, 07.28.2016

Tri-C honors Tracy Oliver with distinguished service award

The Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Foundation Board of Directors has awarded its 2016 Heath Oliver Distinguished Director Award to Tracy Oliver, in recognition of her exemplary service to Tri-C and its students.

Oliver, a Cleveland Heights resident and director of media and local affairs for Dominion East Ohio, joined the board in 2003 and has dedicated herself to making higher education accessible to Greater Cleveland residents.

She has repeatedly championed requests from the foundation and provided opportunities for Tri-C students, particularly through grants awarded from the Dominion Higher Educational Partnership.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 10:37 AM, 07.19.2016

Community development experts speak at FutureHeights Annual Meeting

On June 1, FutureHeights hosted an interactive panel discussion, Rediscovering Our Neighborhood Business Districts, at its annual meeting. Richey Piiparinen, director of the Center for Population Dynamics at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, facilitated the panel and cited census data to set the context. Cleveland Heights residents are highly educated, he said, and the Heights is among a handful of communities in Cuyahoga County with large numbers of highly educated young professionals.

More than 51 percent of Heights residents have a college degree, and more than 27 percent have advanced degrees, he said. This is much higher than average for the county (30 percent and 12.4 percent) and the state (29 percent and 11 percent). The numbers are even higher for young adults (65 percent for 25–34 year olds and 55 percent for 35–44 year olds). This is a trend that the city could leverage for growth, he said.

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Volume 9, Issue 7, Posted 4:28 PM, 06.30.2016

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