Non-profit & Groups

FutureHeights to unveil Cedar Lee Mini-Park design

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:12 PM, 08.31.2020

FutureHeights mini-grants deadline approaches

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

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

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

For more information, e-mail FutureHeights at Learn about the projects funded to date, and download an application at Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Sept. 15.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:00 AM, 09.01.2020

CH church hosts online immigration forum

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 8:08 AM, 09.01.2020

LWV provides voting and ballot info

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:22 AM, 08.25.2020

Church teens open Little Free Pantry

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:20 AM, 08.25.2020

Heights Observer named Ohio's best community newspaper

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.11.2020

Emergency food center remains open

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:33 AM, 07.30.2020

CH resident receives state award

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:33 PM, 07.20.2020

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:32 PM, 07.14.2020

Food pantry serves 300 families weekly

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:28 AM, 07.03.2020

Heights Tree People planting trees through May

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:47 PM, 04.30.2020

AMIS seeks help for immigrants during COVID crisis

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 1:30 PM, 04.20.2020

Barr's legacy inspires volunteer corps

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:05 PM, 04.20.2020

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 11:46 AM, 04.20.2020

LWV needs meeting observers

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 4:03 PM, 04.01.2020

East Side food bank anticipates increased need

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 11:17 AM, 03.20.2020

Census hiring event is Feb. 29

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 11:24 AM, 02.27.2020

Seeking participants and hosts for dinners about race

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

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 9:15 AM, 02.28.2020

Noble Road church presents "Senior Scams" forum

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:32 PM, 02.27.2020

Church of the Redeemer advocates for inclusion

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 3:30 PM, 02.27.2020

Nonprofit provides paid youth employees to businesses

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:29 PM, 02.27.2020

Koonce named to Boys & Girls Clubs leadership post

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 8:49 AM, 02.28.2020

Two CH residents join United Way board

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 8:46 AM, 02.28.2020

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:04 AM, 02.11.2020

RoxArts hosts 'leap day' benefit

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 5:18 PM, 01.31.2020

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 10:27 AM, 01.03.2020

Neighborhood Leadership series helps community member realize a dream

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 11:46 AM, 12.03.2019

Mini-grant helps community leaders create aging-well guide

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

“This document lists background info about services available by category.  For example, grocery delivery, home repair assistance, social activities, and transportation,” Kenney said. Both the city of Cleveland Heights and the Forest Hill Homeowners Association offer online access to the guide, which can be found at

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 4:11 PM, 12.02.2019

FutureHeights awards fall mini-grants

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:41 AM, 11.01.2019

Learn how to help keep kids safe

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:31 AM, 11.01.2019

Preschool hosts bake sale and craft show

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 9:27 AM, 11.01.2019

Novemberfest celebrates Swedish heritage Nov. 2

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.29.2019

FutureHeights director to be WOVU radio guest on Oct. 15

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 5:09 PM, 10.13.2019

LEI youth writers attend international congress

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:53 PM, 10.02.2019

Dougbe River School plans annual gala event

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

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

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

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

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:38 PM, 10.02.2019

Belarusian delegates visit CH

In August, a delegation from the country of Belarus—advocates and leaders in the field of diversity and inclusion—visited Greater Cleveland to observe and learn about programs here for those with disabilities. They plan to take what they learned back to Belarus, and implement the ideas there. Cleveland Heights’ Loving Hands Group (whose principal, Judith Eugene, is third from left in the photo) was among the companies and organizations that the delegation met with. The U.S. Agency for International Development funded their visit, in partnership with World Learning, and Cleveland Council on World Affairs planned their itinerary.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 1:10 PM, 10.02.2019

14th annual Fair Trade Expo comes to JCU

“There is no better way to eradicate poverty, strengthen families, and better our global community than through the empowerment of women,” said Kara Valentine, co-founder of Threads Worldwide, a social enterprise that provides sustainable income opportunities for women worldwide through the creation and sale of fair trade jewelry and accessories. 

Valentine and Angela Melfi, Threads co-founder, will be the keynote speakers at the Ohio Fair Trade Teach-in & Expo on Saturday, Oct. 26, at John Carroll University’s Dolan Science Center. 

Fair trade, a system of commerce that is respectful and equitable to both purchasers and producers, has made access to education, dignified housing, and work much more possible. This, in turn, means that families have a greater chance of staying together and avoiding a treacherous journey to migrate elsewhere. 

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:50 PM, 10.02.2019

Blackout didn’t stop the 'rock out' at HMH19

The seventh annual Heights Music Hop (HMH19), which took place Sept. 12–14, turned out to be unlike the previous six hops. It had more bands—82 in total—and 34 venues, in three districts over three nights: Thursday in Coventry Village, Friday in Cedar Fairmount and Saturday in Cedar Lee. The last evening featured a makers’ market of local vendors on the vacant lot at Lee Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard.

The evening of Friday the 13th began beautifully. The sun was out and the winds were calm for the first part of the evening, but the full moon portended something ominous. The forecast had called for rain and potential thunderstorms beginning about 10:30 that evening, but at about 8:30 p.m. a brisk wind blew in, culminating in a violent storm that the National Weather Service later confirmed was a microburst.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 6:30 PM, 09.30.2019

HCC cancels annual tour due to storm

Due to extensive storm damage that occurred on Friday, Sept. 13, Heights Community Congress (HCC) had to cancel its 42nd Annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour, and its Sept. 14 preview party.

HCC had been planning its annual home and garden tour, set for Sept. 15, since last February. The profits from this annual tour are a major source of support to HCC’s ongoing mission to monitor and advocate for fair housing practices in the Heights and throughout Cuyahoga County. It is HCC’s largest fundraiser, and an opportunity to showcase the beauty and diversity of the Heights.

HCC had sold more than 600 tickets in advance of the tour. Anyone who would like to request a refund should visit HCC’s website,, for details. (Refund processes vary depending on where and how the tickets were purchased.)

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 8:54 AM, 09.24.2019

Cleveland Heights hit by massive storm

Portions of Cleveland Heights suffered damage during a severe storm the evening of Sept. 13.

The city's public relations department posted this statement on social media: Last evening the west end of our community was hit hard by a severe storm. The damage to homes and cars by fallen trees is devastating and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured given the extent of the destruction. Many of our roads west of Lee and south of Cedar and along Northpark were impassable with downed trees and power lines. The City responded immediately last evening with crews working vigorously through the night to clear roads that could be safely cleared while Police and Fire secured unsafe areas. That work continues today along with First Energy’s work on power lines and the power outage. Safety continues to be our priority and we ask that you treat ALL DOWNED LINES AS LIVE AND DANGEROUS. Residents should also be aware that wires could be hidden by debris and extreme caution should be practiced. Most hazardous areas have been blocked off with yellow caution tape but there may be others that have yet been identified. Please be careful, keep children away from hazard sites, and call 9-1-1 if you encounter a hazard that has not been reported. Currently there are over 29,000 customers without power throughout the county, down from 61,000 last night. The majority of the outages are in east side suburbs including Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, and Shaker Heights. We do not yet have an estimate on when power will be restored and will provide frequent updates when new information becomes available.

FutureHeights has announced that Heights Music Hop will go on as scheduled in the Cedar Lee Business District on Saturday, Sept. 14. Most of the businesses in the district have power. The organization is working with the venues that are without power and the musicians on solutions to enable the majority of performances to go on as planned.

Heights Community Congress, however, has announced that it has cancled the 42nd Annual Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour that was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 15. In an e-mail, the organization said, "This cancellation is due to the aftermath of the storm that hit the Heights on Friday night that caused extensive damage to trees and property with many downed power lines in the area." Those who who purchased tickets for the event are asked to contact the HCC office by phone at 216-321-6775, e-mail, or visit for more information.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 3:23 PM, 09.14.2019

Noble Neighbors to host election forums

Noble Neighbors will host two election forums this fall at Noble Road Presbyterian Church, 2780 Noble Road. The first, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, will feature candidates for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education and Cleveland Heights City Council. The second, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, will focus on proposed changes to Cleveland Heights’ form of government. Each forum will begin at 7 p.m.

Noble Neighbors forums are characterized by a few unique components. The audience is asked to agree to a social contract, a common expectation of one another intended to make the evening more productive. Audience members agree to refrain from responding to the candidates or the issue representatives throughout the presentations. No one applauds or makes any gesture or vocalization, either in support or disapproval of a candidate or representative's position. Past audience members have observed that this has allowed them to listen more easily, without distraction.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 1:42 PM, 09.02.2019

First Baptist is a summer mobile pantry site

This summer, First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland is partnering with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to become a mobile pantry produce distribution center. A mobile pantry is a food bank truck full of food that is brought to a central location where clients can pick up food, as they would from a regular pantry.

During First Baptist’s 12th year of Faith in Action, on Sunday, June 2, church volunteers kicked off of its summer food giveaway program, preparing and distributing the food, including potatoes, corn on the cob, watermelons, tomatoes, butternut squash, eggplant and zucchini.

For the remainder of the summer, First Baptist Church will distribute food on the first Saturday of the month—July 6, Aug. 3, and Sept. 7—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:04 AM, 06.28.2019

Cedar Fairmount SummerFEST moves to Saturday

Cedar Fairmount SummerFEST organizers promise some new twists and changes for the upcoming festival, Aug. 10, 1–6 p.m.

The biggest change for merchants and shoppers? SummerFEST is on a Saturday this year.

"Many of our merchants are closed on Sunday and so requested a day change. We're accommodating them by moving SummerFEST to Saturday. We're also only closing a part of Lennox this year, so traffic may move smoothly down Surrey," said Sal Russo Sr., president of the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:02 AM, 06.28.2019

FutureHeights to host two public meetings: July 16 and 18

On Tuesday, July 16, 7 p.m., a FutureHeights-sponsored panel will discuss neighborhood revitalization through beautification at The BottleHouse Brewery & Meadery, 2050 Lee Road. (The event, which was originally slated for June, was rescheduled due to the city's scheduling of a Top of the Hill public meeting for the same evening.)

Speakers, including Tom Gibson, Phyliss Thomas, George Fleming and Jan Kious, will discuss the macro-level social implications that gardening, planting flowers, and beautification can have on a neighborhood, or, in some cases, an entire community.

Then, on Thursday, July 18, FutureHeights will host the last in a series of community meetings to share plans for, and gather input about, the Noble Road commercial corridor.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 8:53 AM, 06.25.2019

Common Ground conversations to take place this Sunday

For the second year, the Cleveland Foundation’s Common Ground initiative is bringing residents together for a series of conversations on a common theme. Various community organizations will host forward-looking conversations around the topic “My Environment” in various locations throughout the region on Sunday, June 30. Host organizations will also share a meal or a snack with participants.

According to the foundation’s website, “Common Ground is a day of community conversation. United by a common question, all Common Ground conversations have the same goal: to create spaces where meaningful connections are made and purposeful actions begin.”

Several Cleveland Heights-University Heights groups are hosting conversations. Here is a list, and information on how to register to participate:

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 8:46 AM, 06.25.2019

Heights High grads win first Register scholarships

Two accomplished Cleveland Heights High School 2019 graduates are winners of the first Ron Register scholarships. Treasure Eiland was student vice president, and captain of the volleyball team. Trevion Johnson was a soccer all-star who has been working multiple part-time jobs to live on his own since junior year.

The $2,500 scholarships were awarded May 26 at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, where the scholarship committee, members of the congregation, and donors celebrated the winners.

The scholarship is named in honor of Ron Register, who served on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education for 16 years. When he retired in 2017, the Black Caucus of Forest Hill Church brought together diverse elements from the church and community to create the fund.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 12:26 PM, 06.24.2019

David Budin and the Heights Observer win statewide honors

For the second year in a row, the Heights Observer won second place in Ohio’s largest journalism competition for the title of Ohio’s best non-daily community newspaper.

David Budin’s “Songs and Stories” column, which has appeared in almost every Heights Observer issue over the past decade, was honored with second place as well in the category of best column.

While the Heights Observer was judged against other non-daily newspapers, Budin was judged against columnists from every type and size publication in the state.

The awards were announced June 7 at the 2019 All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards, presented at the House of Blues by The Press Club of Cleveland.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 10:29 AM, 06.11.2019

May 7 LWV forum aims to help voters make sense of judicial elections

The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland (LWVGC) is hosting a forum, Making Sense of Local Judicial Elections, on Tuesday, May 7, 7–8:30 p.m., at the Lee Road Library, 2345 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. 

Many Ohio voters skip the judicial portion of their ballot because they don't know who or what they're voting for. Forum panelists will explain the structure of the Ohio judicial system and the role local judges play in the lives of residents. The panelists will also provide the tools voters need to research candidates, enabling them to make informed choices on Election Day.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 4:47 PM, 05.06.2019

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. to host Burning Man co-founder May 31

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus will host a discussion with one of the founders of the annual Burning Man festival, an event that draws more than 70,000 people to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for a week of creative expression, at a fundraising event to benefit the campus on May 31.

The event, "The Art of Community: A Discussion with Burning Man Co-Founder Michael Mikel,” is a unique opportunity to learn about the “10 Principles of Burning Man” and how they can apply to permanent communities and placemaking.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 11:12 AM, 05.02.2019

Nighttown hosts Officer West scholarship fundraiser

Nighttown will host the 2019 Officer Jason West Memorial Scholarship Mega Raffle fundraiser on Sunday, May 5, 5–8 p.m. Raffle tickets are $2 and can be purchased from any committee member, at Quintana's Barber & Dream Spa, CLE Urban Winery, Shawn Paul Salon and Nighttown, or at the event.

This year will mark the 12th anniversary since a group of Cleveland Heights residents and business owners first came together to start the scholarship, which honors the memory of Officer West, a member of the Cleveland Heights Police Department, who lost his life in 2007 while responding to a disturbance call.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 10:48 AM, 04.30.2019

March 4 fundraiser to benefit all-volunteer food and clothing bank

A March 4 fundraiser at Lopez Southwest Restaurant is planned to raise awareness of, and donations for, The Father Michael Wittman Ozanam Center.

This all-volunteer food pantry and clothing bank, located at the St. Philomena campus of Communion of Saints Parish, operates with the support of volunteers from 15 churches and other organizations on Cleveland’s East Side, including Cleveland Heights’ Communion of Saints Parish and Church of the Saviour.

A registered agency with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, the center operates every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each week it provides 75 families with free food and clothing. It has been serving families in East Cleveland and the surrounding area since 2006.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:54 AM, 03.04.2019

Heights residents among those who will pitch their visions for change

Four Cleveland Heights residents are among those who will present 28 visions of creating positive change in Cleveland at Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, a civic pitch competition, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m., at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland.

Heights High graduate Brian Hall, 20, will pitch “Bee Friendly Neighbors”—an idea to establish beehives in Cleveland and suburban backyards. Hall tends bees at a hive on his grandfather’s farm in Portage County, and wants to provide those interested with a bee box, pair them with experienced beekeepers to maintain the hive and teach participants about bees, and sell honey and wax products at local markets.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 6:47 PM, 02.13.2019

CH parent develops free service to connect special needs adults

Craig Matis has lived in Cleveland Heights for nearly 40 years. The father of an adult son with special needs, Matis discovered that, once his son left school, the effort to socialize with others was difficult for him. He found that other parents shared his concerns—that outside of an academic environment, it was difficult for those with special needs to find and develop connections with others.

In 2013, Matis initiated Connect to One (, an online service that matches up those who are disabled, both mentally and physically, and seeking one-on-one friendships and/or relationships.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:35 AM, 02.01.2019

RoxArts event will benefit CH-UH students

RoxArts is hosting its first event benefiting a new fund promoting the arts and sciences for all 3,350 Cleveland Heights –University Heights elementary and middle school students.  The art auction on March 9, at 7 p.m., will be held in Harcourt Manor, a mansion that was a setting in a Captain America movie, and will feature some of Cleveland's finest artists in photography, sculpture, jewelry and print. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be catered by fire food and drink.

For nearly four decades, RoxArts has raised money for enhanced arts curriculum at Roxboro Elementary and Middle schools. Last year, the RoxArts board and the Heights Schools Foundation (HSF) partnered to form RoxArts in Tiger Nation: A Creative Arts and Sciences Fund to bring arts enrichment opportunities to K-8 students in all CH-UH schools. This will be the kickoff event for the new fund.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 10:16 AM, 01.31.2019

Kaye Lowe: 18 years building Cedar Fairmount

If you’ve enjoyed the landscaping, community art and ambiance of Cedar Fairmount, you’ve appreciated the work of Kaye Lowe, who’s dedicated the last 18 years of her professional life to building the "Gateway to the Heights.”

In May 2000, Lowe became executive director of the Cedar Fairmount Business Association. With a small, dues-based budget, Lowe undertook the coalition-building work that would evolve, nine years later, into the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District (CFSID). According to CFSID President Sal Russo, Lowe “has been the heart and soul” of the operation. Through Lowe's work, the neighborhood has been characterized by stable businesses, signature landscaping, and community art.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:19 PM, 01.02.2019

Heights Arts launches internship for CHHS students

As executive director of Heights Arts—and as a Cleveland Heights High School (CHHS) parent—Rachel Bernstein was in a unique position to cultivate a partnership between Heights Arts and the high school. “Heights Arts was long searching for an authentic way to connect with CHHS,” she said, noting that the organization’s strategic plan includes a goal of increasing audience diversity and engagement. 

Last spring, an idea took shape that would allow this collaboration to flower: adding student interns to the organization's longstanding exhibitions committee. The students would gain valuable experience about developing and presenting art exhibitions, and Heights Arts would tap the students’ perspectives.

Heights High art teacher Laura Skehan quickly identified about a dozen students who would be good candidates. Heights Arts narrowed the field to a half-dozen and conducted individual interviews with the finalists in the summer and early fall.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 12:46 PM, 01.03.2019

Introducing Noble Community Center

Noble Community Center is a community center without walls.

Over the summer, the center provided games and sports activities on available green spaces along Noble Road for children and adults to play, meet one another, and have fun. Local businesses provided water and canopies to keep everyone cool, and residents provided snacks, refreshments and game equipment.

The mission of the nonprofit is to arrange opportunities where all residents who live on the north side of Cleveland Heights can get together, talk, play games and participate in other engaging social, civic and educational activities that build a sense of community. Noble Community Center’s objective is to lessen neighborhood tensions, support the underserved, and improve the well-being of neighborhood residents.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 11:19 AM, 01.02.2019

Local foundation gets gold seal

The McGinty Family Foundation, a University Heights-based nonprofit dedicated to helping education, has received the 2018 GuideStar Gold Seal of Transparency. The seal means that the foundation has provided financial statements, goals, and other key metrics that the GuideStar website says “give potential donors and funders better insight” into their work.

GuideStar is the nation’s largest nonprofit database, with information on 2.7 million organizations. It awards four transparency levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum (

Foundation Executive Director T.P. McGinty said receiving the seal “means we’ve done our due diligence,” and it “allows us to stand out among nonprofits. We’re honored to receive this award.”

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 11:10 AM, 01.02.2019

Shop for cookies and crafts on Dec. 1

Heights Cooperative Preschool (formerly St. Paul’s Cooperative Preschool) is excited to host its first-ever combined bake sale and craft show on Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stop by the bake sale table for coffee and gift-worthy baked goods, enjoy relaxed holiday shopping for items by local crafters, and enter to win some great prizes at the chance auction.

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

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 9:53 AM, 11.27.2018

Heights Bicycle Coalition hosts Dec. 2 public party

Every December, Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) celebrates its progress, outlines its plans, and recognizes community “roll models” at a free public event.

This year, join the fun on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m., in the Secret Garden room at Nighttown, 12383 Cedar Road.

HBC president Steve Reinhardt will provide a brief update on HBC’s accomplishments in 2018 and the outlook for 2019. Then HBC will recognize this year’s roll models:

  • Richard Wong, Cleveland Heights Director of Planning, representing all city staff who have planned and implemented infrastructure improvements to make the community more bicycle friendly;
  • Chipper the dog, one of the volunteers who have made after-school bike clubs successful at Fairfax and Canterbury elementary schools;
Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 10:12 AM, 11.27.2018