Non-profit & Groups

Preschool hosts bake sale and craft show

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

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

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

Novemberfest celebrates Swedish heritage Nov. 2

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

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

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

FutureHeights director to be WOVU radio guest on Oct. 15

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

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

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

LEI youth writers attend international congress

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

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

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

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

Dougbe River School plans annual gala event

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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. 

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Volume 12, Issue 10, Posted 12:50 PM, 10.02.2019

Blackout didnít 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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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;
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Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 10:12 AM, 11.27.2018

Students get work started on Langton Road pocket gardens

In early November, six Cleveland Heights High School students helped the Noble Neighborhood's pocket garden project take a step forward. The project, launched last spring, aims to build community spirit and increase property values through coordinated landscape beautification. (A March article in the Heights Observer provided background information on the project and can be found at

The students—Martin Vaynshtok, Mi'Kail Williams, Jay Ward, Jachelle Knowles, Christopher Edwards and Saunjae Andrews—spent six hours spreading cardboard and 20 cubic yards of compost, topsoil and mulch on 11 frontyard garden beds on Langton Road. The six are students of Steven Warner, career-based intervention instructor at Heights High. "I am proud of the work the students did on Langton Road,” said Warner. “It was great to see them working together in the community."

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Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 9:56 AM, 12.03.2018

Afternoon with author benefits women's education

The Cleveland Heights Chapter Q of P.E.O. International will host its seventh annual Afternoon with an Author on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2 p.m., at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd. All proceeds will benefit P.E.O. International Projects for Women’s Education (  

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 3:05 PM, 10.31.2018

Church bazaar support fair trade and cottage industry

Shop for unique holiday gifts that make a difference in our community and in communities around the world at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church’s annual fair trade bazaar on Sunday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Vendors will include the Inter Religious Task Force, Holy Land Handicrafts and Noonday Collection, and local business Golden Goddess—a line of sustainable, organic cosmetics produced and sold by Cleveland Heights resident Ajah Hales. The sale of jams and other edibles will benefit Camp Lilac for transgender teens.

Items from more than 13 countries will include jewelry, purses, clothing and more—offering perfect gifts for all ages. Prices range from $4 to $50 and up.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 6:16 PM, 10.31.2018

Free program counsels families struggling with addiction

An estimated one out of ten people who use alcohol before the legal drinking age will develop drug addiction or another substance abuse disorder, as will six of ten who use other drugs before the age of 15.

Addiction negatively impacts users’ lives and the lives of those who love them. Thoughts like “it can’t happen in my family” or “it’s just a phase” can fuel years of denial, during which behavioral and financial difficulties take their toll. Stigma often prevents family members from identifying problems and seeking help. Loved ones believe that they somehow must have caused or contributed to the user’s illness and therefore should be able to cure or at least control it. The truth is the opposite.

The family education and support group at Saint Alban Episcopal Church is designed for family members and significant others concerned about a loved one’s abuse or addictive use of alcohol or other drugs.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 11:20 AM, 10.30.2018

Family Connections hosts Sept. 28 clam bake benefit

Family Connections of Northeast Ohio, a nonprofit dedicated to serving families with young children, with facilities in both Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, will host its annual benefit at Dino's, at Cleveland Metroparks’ Acacia Reservation, on Friday, Sept. 28.

The public is invited to enjoy an open bar, silent auction, and a family-style clam bake. The casual evening will begin at 7:30 p.m. for those purchasing the regular $100 tickets. Patrons who reserve $200 tickets will receive program recognition and reserved seating, and be welcomed at a special patron reception beginning at 7 p.m.

The benefit will feature the presentation of the Carolyn Grossman Award to an individual who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to strengthening families and helping parents prepare young children for success in school and in life.

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Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 10:59 AM, 09.17.2018

Peace Lutheran offers free permaculture class

Local permaculture expert Tom Gibson will teach a special abbreviated course on the topic on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Peace Lutheran Church, 3470 Mayfield Road. Over a continental breakfast, Gibson will lead a review of permaculture techniques. Hands-on construction of a “lasagna” bed will follow, and then a hot lunch will be served in appreciation. 

Lasagna gardening, also known as sheet gardening, is a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method that produces rich, fluffy soil with very little effort. The name refers to the method of building the garden bed, by adding layers of organic material that will “cook down” over time, resulting in soil that will help your plants thrive.

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Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 10:26 AM, 10.01.2018

Vampires, zombies and witches are coming to Lee Road pop-up costume shop Oct. 19

During the weekends of Oct. 19 and 26, old costumes will be brought back from the dead at the Costume Exchange Pop-up on Lee Road. Located in the former Heights Music Shop space, at 2174 Lee Road, the temporary shop will sell gently used costumes for $5 a set.

The project is a collaboration between Reaching Heights and local start-up The Old Vaudevillian (TOV). Proceeds from costume sales will benefit the Patti-Jackson Music Lesson Scholarship fund through Reaching Heights.

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Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 2:58 PM, 09.27.2018

Friends of Lower Lake volunteers restore native habitat

The Shaker Parklands, a green oasis in the midst of suburbia, span Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. The boundaries are North Park Boulevard on the north; Eaton Road on the east; Martin Luther King Boulevard on the west; and an irregular line following Fairhill Road, South Park Boulevard into West Park Boulevard, South Woodland Road, and South Park Boulevard on the south and southeast. The main artery is Doan Brook, which spills into Lake Erie. Everything that happens in the Parklands doesn’t stay in the Parklands. Everything that happens ultimately impacts the Great Lakes, the largest body of freshwater in the world.

The Parklands contain four lakes. The Shakers first deforested the area 200 years agao by damming Doan Brook for lumber and flour mills, creating Horseshoe and Lower lakes.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 1:12 PM, 09.01.2018

Lessons learned: my internship with Lake Erie Ink

Thirty minutes into my summer internship with Lake Erie Ink, my boss asked if I could help with a printing issue. I hardly knew what to do, being an English major and economics minor. But we needed attendance sheets for that week’s camp. I learned my first important lesson about nonprofits while fiddling with the computer controls: people in nonprofits do whatever they can, wherever they can. Nonprofit staffers wear many hats, and I was eager to start wearing some of my own.

My collection of hats grew steadily over the course of the summer. In a single week, I might be a techie, a janitor, an office assistant and a data entry clerk. The next week, I might be a teaching assistant, a guest speaker, an artist or an editor. From my co-workers I learned new and unexpected skills: how to operate a commercial printer, unlock push bars, and set up a projector and speaker.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 10:42 AM, 09.05.2018

Volunteer Match

Heights Observer’s Volunteer Match column lists opportunities for residents to lend their time to worthy organizations in and around the Heights.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 1:20 PM, 09.01.2018

FutureHeights honors Steve Presser at benefit event

Julia Kious Zabell, board president of FutureHeights, presented Steve Presser with the "Champion of Independent Businesses" award, hand-crafted by Cleveland Heights artist Shayna Roth Pentecost, at the 2018 FutureHeights benefit, Living is Big Fun in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 1:46 PM, 09.01.2018

FutureHeights programs encourage front-porch culture

On July 17, FutureHeights facilitated a public forum titled “Placemaking: How to Create a Front Porch Culture.” The event, in which four panelists discussed the ways in which they created front-porch cultures in their neighborhoods, took place at The BottleHouse Brewing Company, with more than 40 Heights residents attending. 

Dawn Arrington and Katharyne Starinsky spoke about their experiences helping to coordinate Larchmere’s Annual PorchFest, a free music festival that takes place on 30 different front porches in the Larchmere neighborhood. Through help from residents and volunteers, the event now welcomes more that 9,000 attendees.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.14.2018

Church hosts neighborhood block party

Central Bible Baptist Church will host its annual neighborhood block party on Saturday, Aug. 18. The block party will take place at the church, located at 2285 Noble Road, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the entire community.

For the past 10 years, the church has hosted the block party to engage, educate and empower adults and children of all ages. This year’s event will feature words of empowerment, food, music, games, crafts, special performances, a clothing drive, face-painting, cooking demonstrations, free Christian books and resources, and a puppet show. There will also be free health screenings and educational materials focused on important health issues.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 12:23 PM, 07.31.2018

Loving Hands plans Tibetan monk visits

Cleveland Heights-based Loving Hands Yoga and Reiki is planning events for the Cleveland stops of two touring groups of Tibetan Buddhist monks.

The events will be held Aug. 12–18 and Oct. 17–22. Presentations, including lectures, healing rituals, empowerment ceremonies and debates, will be non-religious and open to the public, regardless of faith.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 12:00 PM, 07.31.2018

Leadership program seeks applicants

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with then-Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership training program for engaged neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is a free, 16-session community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs who are working on projects within Cleveland and who are determined to make a positive impact on their communities.

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 10:16 AM, 06.29.2018

Heights Observer honored as one of Ohio's top community papers

The Heights Observer took second place in competition for the title of Ohio’s best non-daily community newspaper. The award was announced June 1 at the 2018 All-Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards, sponsored by The Press Club of Cleveland.

Media nominate themselves for the awards. More than 750 entries were submitted across all categories of the competition, which were divided by size and type of media. In addition to non-daily community newspapers, categories included large daily newspapers (more than 75,000 circulation), small dailies, business publications and trade journals, alternative publications, magazines, digital media and student media. A panel of journalists from outside Ohio judged the competition.

In selecting the Heights Observer, the judges wrote—in their typically abbreviated fashion—“Its very words showcase the community’s commitment to each other.”

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 10:58 AM, 06.05.2018

North Coventry block party is Aug. 4

On Aug. 4, FutureHeights, in partnership with the city of Cleveland Heights and several community groups, will host a back-to-school block party in the North Coventry neighborhood. The event will celebrate the beginning of a new school year with food, music and other activities. The party will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Avondale Avenue, a portion of which the city will close for the event.

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 6:12 PM, 06.28.2018

FutureHeights' 2018 annual meeting is June 20

On June 20, FutureHeights will present its 16th annual meeting in the common space in the Coventry building, 2843 Washington Blvd., where it has its offices. FutureHeights, a nonprofit community development corporation, strives to engage people in their communities and to create a bright future for Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents.

This year’s meeting will discuss the current status of housing development in Cleveland Heights, including its issues, challenges, and assets. Then, the solution and the vision that FutureHeights has for the city and its residents will be presented, with help from keynote speaker Sally Martin.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 3:52 PM, 06.01.2018

Bhutanese refugees make a home in Cleveland Heights

Recently, Cleveland Heights City Council approved formation of an Immigration Task Force.

Some residents may be unaware that Cleveland Heights is home to refugees from Bhutan, who live primarily in the Noble neighborhood. Bhutanese refugees have also relocated to several other eastern suburbs, including Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Richmond Heights and South Euclid.

Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayas, between India and China. In the 1990s, Bhutan stripped the minority Bhutanese (Nepali-speaking and largely Hindu in majority Buddhist Bhutan) of their citizenship, and more than 1 million were exiled to refugee camps run by the United Nations in neighboring Nepal.

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 11:44 AM, 06.01.2018

Boss Dog hosts Officer Jason West scholarship fundraiser on May 20

Boss Dog Brewery on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights will host the 2018 Officer Jason West Memorial Scholarship Mega Raffle event on Sunday, May 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. The annual event raises money for the Officer Jason West Memorial Scholarship. Raffle tickets are $2 and can be purchased from any committee member or at the event on May 20.

Officer Jason West, a Cleveland Heights police officer, was shot and killed on May 26, 2007, as he exited his patrol car when responding to a disturbance call. "When Jason was killed, this city lost not only a dedicated police officer, but also a very dear friend and neighbor," said Liz Radivoyevitch, co-chair of the Scholarship Selection Committee. "Officer Jason West was a hero, not because of the way he died, but because of the way he chose to live his life—as a devoted son and brother, and loyal friend; as a mentor and role model to young adults in the community; and as a dedicated police officer. Protecting and serving the city of Cleveland Heights was something that Jason did willingly each and every day he put his uniform on."

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 12:47 PM, 04.30.2018

Students and others 'brave the shave' for cancer cure

The Cleveland Heights Community Center was abuzz on March 25 as more than 200 men, women, boys and girls shaved their heads and donated their hair to raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation.

St. Baldrick's is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research in the world, and a significant portion of those funds are raised here in Cleveland.

District parent Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, mother of two-time cancer survivor Austin, started the local event in 2012. It has since raised more than $710,000. This has been the most successful year yet, with $143,000 raised so far.

CH-UH students from Canterbury, Fairfax and Roxboro elementary schools, Heights Middle School, and Heights High were among those who generously stepped up to “brave the shave.”

The funds raised locally are donated to St. Baldrick's through the Rebecca Alison Meyer Memorial Fund, in memory of the Fairfax kindergartner who died in 2014, on her sixth birthday.

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 9:15 AM, 04.24.2018

Volunteer Match

Heights Observer’s Volunteer Match column lists opportunities for residents to lend their time and talent to worthy organizations and causes around the Heights.

Submit your organization’s volunteer needs by calling the FutureHeights office at 216-320-1423 or e-mailing

Items submitted on or before the Heights Observer print issue's monthly story deadline will be considered for the next column. (To see past columns, visit, and search “volunteer match”.)

The CARE Program is a collaboration between four senior centers: Solon Senior Services, Cleveland Heights Senior Center, Maple Heights Senior Center and Community Partnership on Aging. It needs volunters to assist local, older adult homeowners complete tasks (yardwork, changing batteries and lightbulbs, kitchen cleaning, first floor and interior window washing, etc.) in and around their homes in order to help them maintain safety and independence.

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 8:01 AM, 05.01.2018

Recapping a conversation on civil rights

“What was your first experience of prejudice?”

That was the question posed by representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) at a dinner held at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights on Feb. 22.

One participant described his terror listening to a sermon in his church that predicted that homosexuals were going to hell. Only nine years old at the time, the participant already knew he was gay.

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Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 9:15 AM, 03.30.2018

HYC member is Youth of the Year finalist

Mercedes Klouda, a four-year member of Heights Youth Club (HYC), is one of five finalists for Youth of the Year honors at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. The winner will be announced on March 9.

Beverly Burgess, former Heights Youth Club director, said of Klouda, "[Her] work ethic, self-esteem and personal resilience traits are inspiring to the club staff and her peers. When faced with a challenge, she works tirelessly to achieve her goals and sets high expectations for herself.”

For the past nine years, Klouda has volunteered at the Ebenezer Food Pantry at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, spending thousands of hours serving meals to community members.

In 2016, she was part of a church group that traveled to the Dominican Republic and helped build a church in one of the most poverty-stricken regions of that country.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 1:13 PM, 03.01.2018

Kiwanis returns to the Heights

Kiwanis International has returned to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community with a new club, Kiwanis of the Heights. It intends to continue the work that the old Cleveland Heights and Cedar Center clubs started years ago, providing service to the community’s children and adults with disabilities.

Spearheaded by the club president (the author), the new club achieved charter status last November. Yvonne Conner serves as treasurer, and Cassandra Swift serves as secretary. Dee Ann Long Marsky, Cindy Seaman and Eva Bekes serve as the club’s board.

Kiwanis of the Heights’ commitment to service will begin by establishing Key and Builders Clubs in the local school system, and an Aktion Club for disabled adults. These clubs should be fully active by fall 2018. The school clubs are designed to teach high school and middle school students about leadership, community and service in a structured program of self-government, fundraising, and volunteering for community projects. Future near-term plans include K-clubs in the various public elementary schools, appropriate clubs in the community’s private primary and secondary schools, as well as Circle-K Clubs at John Carroll University and Notre Dame College.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 12:43 PM, 02.20.2018

HCC appoints Dillenbeck as new executive director

The board of Heights Community Congress (HCC) has announced that Eric Dillenbeck is its new executive director. He assumes the role from Martha Goble, who is retiring. His first official day was Jan. 1.

Dillenbeck has been an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. for the past 15 years. He most recently served as associate pastor of Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights. A veteran of the nonprofit world, Dillenbeck is currently the coordinator of community partnerships at Youth Opportunities Unlimited, where he works with nonprofits throughout the Cleveland area to provide workforce-readiness training and jobs for youths and young adults.

As HCC’s executive director, Dillenbeck will oversee HCC’s Fair Housing Enforcement audit program, and will be responsible for the agency’s diversity programming, its annual Heights Heritage Home and Garden Tour, and the volunteer management these activities entail. He will serve as HCC’s main public contact and liaison with other like-minded agencies.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 9:42 AM, 02.12.2018

Jan. 24 community meal will benefit Reaching Heights

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the BottleHouse Brewery and Meadery, at 2050 Lee Road, will host Northeast Ohio’s first Soup and Bread Experiment (SBE) of 2018. The event will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., or until the soup runs out. The event is free to the public, with donations requested, but not required, for the hot meal. Money raised will benefit Reaching Heights, the nonprofit that supports the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools.

At the last SBE fundraiser, in November, Krista Hawthorne, executive director of Reaching Heights, was so impressed she wanted to plan an SBE event for her own organization.

“The soups were delicious!” said Hawthorne. “They ran the gamut from exotic coconut vegan curry to hearty deconstructed stuffed cabbage stew. The drinks available for purchase from the BottleHouse were as exciting as they were warming. The bartender navigated me through the world of meads, sours and bitters to find the perfect accompaniment to my meal. I even squeezed in a game of pinball at the BottleHouse’s mini arcade. The best part of the evening, however, was the opportunity to break bread with other Heights community members for a good cause.”

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 11:15 AM, 01.21.2018

Reaching Heights presents annual awards

In December, Reaching Heights held its annual meeting in the Platinum Lounge of Motorcars Honda in Cleveland Heights. Each year at this event, Reaching Heights welcomes members and the community to review of the year’s highlights, to thank outgoing board members and welcome new board members, and to recognize caring community members and local businesses for their contributions in embracing a shared responsibility for the successful education of all students attending CH-UH public schools.

Reaching Heights members, board and staff thanked Darrin Gamble for serving for three years as board treasurer and overall “financial guru” for the nonprofit.

The Reaching Heights Board of Directors voted to accept Ditte Wolin, Tiera Briggs, Lance Godard and Kim Skillern-Samuels as new board members.

Geizel Canady-Ashford received a Friend of Public Education award for her many contributions, including serving as a tutor to many students, as a PTA member at Noble Elementary and Monticello Middle schools, and as PTA vice president at Heights High.

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 11:49 AM, 01.21.2018

Beth El's food drive honors MLK's legacy

Beth El - The Heights Synagogue (BETHS) will sponsor a food drive in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Sunday, Jan. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All donations will go to the Heights Emergency Food Center.

In addition to food donations, checks made out to the Heights Emergency Food Center will be welcomed. Donations of money enable the center to purchase large quantities of food at a discounted cost. Donations of food are also appreciated, as they help meet a more immediate need.

Those wishing to make a donation should simply drive up to BETHS, at 3246 Desota Ave., any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Someone will be there to collect the donations—there will be no need to get out of the car, or be inconvenienced in any way.

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Volume 11, Issue 1, Posted 1:46 PM, 01.02.2018

Jan. 23 public forum to focus on civic engagement and neighborhood organizing

FutureHeights invites neighborhood residents who are interested in building a strong community through civic engagement and neighborhood organizing to attend a free public forum and workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 7-8:30 p.m., at The BottleHouse Brewing Company, 2050 Lee Road.

Attendees of the Community-Building for Change forum will participate in an interactive workshop that will cover topics such as civic engagement, effective organizing, and creatively solving challenges.

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Volume 11, Issue 1, Posted 1:41 PM, 01.02.2018