Non-profit & Groups

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

Milestones benefits local autism community

On Oct. 28, Milestones Autism Resources hosted more than 250 guests at its 2017 annual benefit. The nonprofit raised more than $250,000 to fund its  autism helpdesk, a free resource for families and professionals looking to connect with valuable, regional services.

John Carroll University student Cory Irwin, an individual on the autism spectrum, captivated attendees.

“My mom will say the only person who understands me more than she or my father does is probably Miss Haley at Milestones,” Irwin said. “She has been working with me so I can learn how to talk to my co-workers, advocate for myself and build a career in the field I love. While I am a work in progress, I can tell you my confidence is growing at a steady pace daily.”

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 11:00 AM, 11.30.2017

LEI has 'The Write Stuff' for December

Lake Erie Ink (LEI), the local writing space for youth in the former Coventry School building, is offering several opportunities for creative expression in December. On Dec. 4, LEI is holding a college essay workshop for interested teens. Evening Ink workshops will be held on Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, and there will be an Open Mic Night on Dec. 15. Over winter break, LEI will host Creative Play Days for students in grades 2–5.

Jill Levin, LEI's program director, believes that creative expression outside academic work “provides a chance [for youngsters] to make something entirely apart from the context of grades or adult approval, allowing kids to explore more about themselves.” She thinks school breaks are a great time for writing.

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 10:43 AM, 11.30.2017

Baby Gym reopens at Peace Lutheran

Peace Lutheran Church will reopen its Baby Gym on Saturday, Dec. 2. The gym offers a place where parents can play with their children and connect with other parents in a relaxed atmosphere.

The gym is free and open to the public on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. to noon.  Children must be 6 or younger and accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

The gym offers slides, climbers and tunnels for the development of gross motor skills. A separate playroom features a kitchen set, tool bench, dress-up clothes, and other age-appropriate toys for dramatic play.

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 11:26 AM, 12.01.2017

Heights Arts seeks next CH poet laureate

Heights Arts has begun the process of selecting the ninth Cleveland Heights poet laureate, who will serve from April 2018 to March 2020. The term of the current Cleveland Heights poet laureate, Christine Howey, ends March 31, 2018.

Poets from across Northeast Ohio are encouraged to apply. Candidates are not required to live in Cleveland Heights, but must demonstrate a strong connection to the city.

Heights Arts will accept online applications through Dec. 31. Detailed information about the responsibilities of the Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate are available on the Heights Arts website,


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Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 10:51 AM, 10.31.2017

Local businesses are helping kids stay warm

As all Greater Clevelanders know, fall may be lovely, but winter is just around the corner. Some Heights residents don’t have the proper gear to stay warm.

Many CH-UH students rely on their schools to supply clothes to help keep them warm and dry. In addition to helping them stay comfortable and healthy, hats, gloves and warm footwear help kids make it to school.

If you were supposed to walk one or two miles to work, would you be likely to do it with frozen fingers and toes?

Our schools play an invaluable role, and they need our help.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 4:29 PM, 10.01.2017

Documentary film explores costs of privatizing education

A free screening of “Backpack Full of Cash,” a documentary film about school reform that uses public funds to privatize education, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. in the Cleveland Heights High School auditorium, 13263 Cedar Road.

The film, narrated by Matt Damon, uses case studies in two urban school districts to explore how charter schools and vouchers undermine America’s public schools and alternatives to strengthen them.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 1:42 PM, 09.29.2017

HRRC plans a full autumn schedule

Now that fall is in full swing, the Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) begins its busy season. In October, HRRC offers classes on insulation and caulking, composting, hardwood floor refinishing, interior painting projects, and much more.

Organizers are especially excited for a Women’s Home How-To Carpentry Series beginning Oct. 4 and running every Wednesday through Nov. 15. Participants will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with power tools and learn some basic carpentry, as well as how to hang drywall, lay and grout ceramic tile, and paint, among other projects.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 1:37 PM, 09.29.2017

Oct. 28 event benefits women's education

The Cleveland Heights Chapter Q of P.E.O. International will host its sixth annual Afternoon with an Author event on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m., at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 1:31 PM, 09.29.2017

FutureHeights to host Oct. 10 public forum on creative place-making

FutureHeights will hold a public forum, Creating Great Places in the Heights, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at The BottleHouse Brewing Company, 2050 Lee Road.

Desirable communities sometimes happen out of sheer luck, but more often become great by design. In this community forum, organized by FutureHeights' Civic Engagement and Planning & Development committees, a panel will discuss the art of place-making.

More than just building physical spaces, place-making is the art of elevating the human experience of a space.


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Volume 10, Issue 10, Posted 12:11 PM, 09.26.2017

'Mulch Madness' funds scouts' summer activities

When the members of Boy Scout Troop 22, based at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, took on a mulch-delivery fundraiser in spring 2017, they hoped to sell around a thousand bags of mulch in the first year.

The scouts proved to be great salesmen and exceeded expectations, selling a whopping 4,200 bags of 3-cubic-foot hardwood mulch.

The only downside? Needing to work out the logistics of delivery. Factor in some 25 scouts and adults, ranging in weight from 75 pounds to 200 pounds, hauling more than 4,000 60-plus pound bags. and you have "Mulch Madness."

Troop 22 scouts rose to the occasion, with some smaller scouts carrying bags weighing more than they do, and some of the boy leaders carrying two bags. The physical labor of the volunteers was coordinated with loaned vehicles, trailers, and storage from Jet Dock, a local company, to make for a formidable effort.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 4:46 PM, 09.03.2017

FutureHeights celebrates Cleveland Heights on Sept. 15 benefit

FutureHeights will host its first-ever “Celebrating Great Living in Cleveland Heights” fundraising event on Friday, Sept. 15, 6–8:30 p.m. The event will highlight some of the things that make Cleveland Heights a great place to live: beautiful homes, wonderful amenities, fascinating history, and creative, talented residents. 

Guests will be treated to a selection of delicious treats from some of Cleveland Heights’ most talented local chefs and restaurateurs, including Bodega, Fix Bistro, Lopez on Lee, Luna Bakery and Café, Marotta’s, Taste, and The Fairmount. CLE Urban Winery will offer a tasting of its locally handcrafted wines, and legendary Nighttown will provide a special signature cocktail to make the evening memorable. There will be music from Roots of American Music, plein air painting by local artist Jeremy Tugeau, a performance by Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Christine Howey, and other wonderful surprises.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 11:45 AM, 08.31.2017

Heights home and garden tour celebrates 40 years

“After 40 Years . . . There’s Still No Place Like Home” is the theme of this year’s 40th anniversary Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour, to be held on Sunday, Sept. 24, noon to 6 p.m.

The night before the tour, Height Community Congress” (HCC) traditional preview party is planned for Saturday evening, Sept. 23, at the iconic Alcazar. 

It has been 40 years since HCC began showcasing Cleveland Heights homes to the community. Organizers believe there is no place like (one’s own) home, but also know that Heights residents love viewing neighbor’s homes and taking in the wide variety of architecture and wealth of creative styles that are unique to this community.

This year, tourgoers will visit:

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 2:32 PM, 09.01.2017

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus to share its vision with the community

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Campus, the newly formed group that comprises several nonprofits housed at the Coventry School building, is planning two events in September to share its vision for the site with the public. “The organizations have come together to create a plan for the future that taps into the energy of creative place-making for cultural and economic development,” said Brady Dindia, president of the Artful Cleveland Board of Directors. “We envision a community gathering space and center for arts, education and enrichment.”

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 2:58 PM, 08.31.2017

New Heights-based organization forms to benefit community heroes

Cleveland Heights community members J. Shorey, Nancy Landreth and Chip Ramsey have launched a new foundation to serve the heroes in our community—firefighters, police officers, teachers, military personnel and others whose unique gifts and talents make the Heights community stronger and better. Heights Heroes, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization, seeks to identify and support those individuals, especially when they or their families need a little extra help due to injury or illness.

Heights Heroes is funded through donations of cars, motorcycles, boats—anything of value that can be rehabilitated and sold. Ramsey, owner of Washington & Lee Service, will repair the vehicles that have value; the organization will then sell them and put the profits back into the foundation. Items that cannot be repaired will be scrapped and the proceeds likewise put into the foundation.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 12:12 PM, 07.31.2017

CH residents invited to municipal court judge candidates forum

A public forum with the three candidates for Cleveland Heights municipal court judge will be held on Thursday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m., at Disciples Christian Church, located at the corner of Mayfield and Yellowstone roads.

The Cleveland Heights Housing Committee of Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) is hosting the forum, which offers Cleveland Heights residents the opportunity to meet and hear from the candidates.

The committee planned the forum as an outcome of a listening campaign about the concerns of Cleveland Heights residents, in which housing issues were identified as a top priority in the city. Specific issues include housing values that fell during the recession and have only recently begun to rebound, and the impact on neighborhoods of vacant, blighted and tax-delinquent houses.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 12:32 PM, 07.31.2017

Volunteers seek to establish Kiwanis Club in the Heights

A pre-organizational meeting for those interested in establishing a Kiwanis club here in the Heights is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m., at the Lee Road Library (2345 Lee Road).

The organizers invites anyone interested in joining a group that serves the Cleveland Heights and University Heights community, empowers youth (and adults) to become leaders through service to others, and provides opportunities to network with like-minded individuals, to attend the planning meeting.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 12:46 PM, 07.31.2017

Volunteers organize to care for Cedar Lee mini park

Over the years, the pedestrian space between the parking area behind the Cedar Lee Theatre and Lee Road has at times felt like a gracious park, and at others like little more than an alley through which one can take a shortcut because there happens to be a gap between the buildings. Businesses at this end of Lee Road estimate that every year well over 200,000 people come to see a movie, visit the gallery, enjoy a meal, or have a drink in a bar, and many of those people walk through the Cedar Lee mini park—without necessarily even knowing it’s a park.

Landscape designer Ann Cicarella is not the first activist to want to do more with the park, but she has some new ideas and specific expertise that could help sustain long-term improvements. “I am just one person in a long line of people who have tried for many years to improve the site,” Cicarella said.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 10:25 AM, 07.25.2017

Cleveland leadership program seeks 2017 applicants

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with former Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership training program for engaged community 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 the City of Cleveland and who are determined to make a positive impact on their communities.

Each program year, NLDP selects 20 committed applicants. The programs participants and graduates have many interests and are working on a wide variety of issues to improve life in their communities.

Allosious Snodgrass, a Cleveland Heights resident, is one such person.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 10:40 AM, 07.17.2017

FutureHeights to host June 13 public forum on development tools

FutureHeights will hold a public forum, Development Tools: Give Away or Benefit?, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, at its offices in the Coventry School building, 2843 Washington Blvd.

FutureHeights’ Planning and Developing Committee organized the forum to help inform Heights residents about real estate development tools, such as tax abatement, tax credits, and tax increment financing (TIF). Speaker Wayne Mortensen, director of design and development for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) and a Cleveland Heights resident, will explore the costs and benefits of these common financial tools that are commonly used in development projects throughout Northeast Ohio.

Mortenson is a Nebraska native. He and his wife, Jill, moved to Cleveland Heights in 2010.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 12:53 PM, 05.31.2017

HYC member earns Indians scholarship

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Heights High senior Devonte Simon about his involvement with Heights Youth Club (HYC), a Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland affiliate, located at the corner of Lee Road and Washington Boulevard. Simon is both an HYC member and junior staff member; he takes part in club activities, and also helps provide mentoring and other services for younger members.

As runner-up for 2017 Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, Simon was awarded a $3,000 college scholarship by the Cleveland Indians Charities.

Simon has taken part in the Boys & Girls Clubs national Keystone leadership training program. He traveled to Dallas last summer, along with 10 Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland student leaders, to attend the national Keystone convention. For Simon, it was an opportunity to learn and network with high-achieving peers.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 6:52 PM, 06.02.2017

CH resident brings free medical care to NE Ohio via Medworks

Zac Ponsky, a Cleveland Heights native, was sharing a beer with fellow volunteers after a day of service with a medical brigade in Honduras. His brother, Lee Ponsky, had started Medwish, a nonprofit that repurposes discarded medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid in developing countries. Despite the positive results of the day, Ponsky found himself wondering why “this type of medical charity was happening halfway across the world but not in my own backyard.”

From this idea, Medworks was born. Medworks, founded in 2009, is a local nonprofit that offers 100-percent free medical, dental and vision clinics to the medically underserved in Northeast Ohio.

The launch of Medworks was not without its bumps in the road. One of Medworks' first mass health clinics, projected to serve more than 5,000 patients at the Berea Fairgrounds, was canceled because it was planned during the height of the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 1:32 PM, 05.31.2017

FutureHeights annual meeting is set for May 24

FutureHeights, the nonprofit that works toward a vibrant and sustainable future for Cleveland Heights and University Heights, will hold its 15th annual meeting on Wednesday, May 24, at its offices in the former Coventry School building, 2843 Washington Blvd.

FutureHeights will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing inner-ring suburbs today, share its analysis of why a Community Development Corporation (CDC) is needed in Cleveland Heights and explain how FutureHeights is uniquely qualified to take on that role. Judy Rawson, former mayor of Shaker Heights, will deliver the keynote address. The event begins at 7 p.m. 

Judy Rawson has lived in Northeast Ohio since 1972. She served as mayor of Shaker Heights from 2000–07, following two terms on Shaker Heights City Council. During that time, she held leadership roles around regional issues, such as economic development, consolidation of services, housing, strengthening inner-ring suburbs, and linking the suburbs more closely to the city of Cleveland. She served on the Executive Committee of the Mayors and Managers Association during her mayoral tenure.

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 10:24 AM, 05.02.2017

Community remembers Officer Jason West

Cleveland Heights wasn’t just his beat—Cleveland Heights Police Officer Jason West had purchased a house in the city. He had always wanted to be a police officer, and protecting and serving the city of Cleveland Heights was something that he did willingly every day he put on his uniform. A fellow officer commented: “Even at shift change, if there was a late call, he’d take it. He was always willing to go the extra mile. He just loved the job.”

On May 26, 2007, Officer West responded to one more call, a disturbance call on Altamont Avenue. It was a routine call that would sadly cost him his life. He was shot while getting out of his patrol car.

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 11:23 AM, 05.02.2017

Heights Observer begins 10th year of publication

This April, the Heights Observer, a citizen-journalism publication written by and for Heights residents, begins its tenth year of publication—Volume 10, Issue 4. As the Observer reaches this milestone, FutureHeights is taking a look back at the project’s goals and asks readers to give feedback through an online survey.

Readers can access the survey on the homepage of the FutureHeights website at

The Heights Observer has its origins in a quarterly newsletter that FutureHeights began publishing in 2002. FutureHeights was founded as a nonprofit with a mission to preserve and strengthen neighborhoods and commercial districts in Cleveland Heights, and volunteers published the newsletter for its members, focusing on city planning, design quality and historic preservation. A strategic planning process in 2007 led to the creation of the Observer.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 10:28 AM, 04.03.2017

French Toast Breakfast to benefit nonprofit Coit Road Market is April 8

The Coit Road Farmers Market's Annual French Toast Breakfast will be on Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. to noon. Ten bucks gets you three slices of French toast and maple syrup, with a choice of bacon or chicken sausage, and coffee or apple cider. Plates will be provided for those who want to share with children under 10. As always, this meal is made using all locally produced ingredients.

Located for 84 years at 1500 Woodworth Road, near East 152nd Street and Noble Road, the market is non-profit and community-based. Its mission is to provide residents of Cleveland’s urban East Side and inner-ring suburbs with access to affordable, locally grown, farm-fresh products. Ohio Direction Card users get $20 worth of food for $10 charged to their card each day they shop at the market.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 6:48 PM, 03.30.2017

Burgess aims to expand HYC membership

Beverly Burgess’s ambitions for Heights Youth Club (HYC) are straightforward: Reach more of the youth of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and South Euclid with the after-school programming she has been overseeing as the club’s director since November.

Burgess, who joined HYC as assistant director in February 2016, said that the club currently has about 200 members. The sign-up fee, posted on a recruitment sign on the club's, front door, is just $10. Another sign on the door makes clear that the first order of business when a young person arrives at the club on a Monday through Friday afternoon is to do his or her homework for the day, and then move on to more fun activities. On the last day of February, those activities included a poetry slam honoring Black History Month.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 3:17 PM, 03.22.2017

Heights Community Congress celebrates Fair Housing Month

What does “neighborhood” mean to you?  Is it a place where you feel at home, where you can raise a family? Is it a place where you know people and they know you, where you shop, eat, live?  We all have different ideas of what neighborhood means, and Heights Community Congress (HCC) invites the community to explore two different perspectives of what constitutes a neighborhood, as the Cleveland Heights-based nonprofit celebrates Fair Housing Month.

HCC is proud to once again be a Community Partner of the Cleveland International Film Festival, which opens its 41st year at the end of March. HCC will sponsor two screenings of “Voices of the Hill,” directed by Carla LynDale Carter-Bishop, on Friday, March 31 at 4:05 p.m. and on Sunday, April 2, at 1:05 p.m.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 3:10 PM, 03.22.2017

March 5 forum to focus on refugees

Are you wondering what you can do to help those impacted by the agenda the 45th president is imposing? Would you like to know more about refugees—where they are from, how they arrived here and, most importantly, how you can help?

On March 5, at 10:30 a.m., Beth El - The Heights Synagogue (3246 Desota Road) will host a program about the refugees in our community and the organization, US Together, that is in charge of their orientation to the United States.

Danielle Drake from US Together will present information and answer questions.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 4:38 PM, 02.27.2017

FutureHeights to host vacant and abandoned properties forum

FutureHeights will host a public forum, Vacant and Abandoned Properties in Cleveland Heights and University Heights, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7, at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd.

As Northeast Ohio climbs out of the housing crisis, many Cuyahoga County communities are still dealing with issues of property abandonment. This panel presentation and discussion aims to help attendees understand the basics about vacant and abandoned properties, help translate applicable laws and policies, and discuss existing options and solutions.

The discussion will focus on answers to the following questions:

  1. What is a vacant and abandoned property, from a legal perspective?
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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 4:31 PM, 02.27.2017

Lutheran churches consolidate to form new congregation

On Feb. 5, the congregations of Hope Lutheran and Bethlehem Lutheran churches voted to consolidate their ministries to form a new congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) later this year. 

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 2:35 PM, 02.28.2017

Limited-edition Luna cookies to benefit Heights Arts

Luna Bakery & Café has collaborated with Heights Arts to create six cookie designs inspired by the public art benches of Coventry Village.

Each design adorns Luna Bakery’s signature sugar cookie base, and the cookies are available only during the month of February.

The cookies are being sold individually, for $3 each, with $2 of each cookie purchase benefiting Heights Arts’ community arts programs.

The cookies are available at Luna Bakery, as well as at the Heights Arts gallery, during the nonprofit art organization's February events. (To view Heights Arts’ February calendar, visit

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 3:08 PM, 02.03.2017

HCC's PechaKucha Night is 'Inspired by Art'

Heights Community Congress (HCC) joined the PechaKucha phenomenon last October, when dozens attended its Telling Your Story event. A group of speakers—professionals in a variety of fields—shared diverse stories in presentations that lasted just six minutes and 40 seconds apiece. Between presentations, audience members asked lots of questions, engaged in conversations and made connections.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 3:47 PM, 02.28.2017

LEI hosts fifth annual Kids' Comic Con

Lake Erie Ink will host its fifth annual Kids' Comic Con on Saturday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this all-day event, young people will have the opportunity to attend workshops with well-known comic creators.

The event features professional writers and illustrators, with Terri Libenson, cartoonist for the internationally syndicated comic strip "The Pajama Diaries," giving the keynote address.

Workshops will cover the two aspects of comic creation—drawing and writing—and will include the ever-popular “create your own comic character in clay.”

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 5:05 PM, 02.20.2017

Forest Hill Church invites community to celebrate Black History Month

“Speaking of Race: Black Lives Matter Here” is the theme of Forest Hill Church’s month-long Black History Month celebration, featuring entertaining, educational and musical events. All events are free and open to the public, with donations to the church’s food pantry or other free-will offerings welcome.

The series of programs kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 5, 12:30–2 p.m., with a presentation by Rev. Dr. Catherine Borchert exploring the 19th-century history  of race relations in the Presbyterian Church in Northeast Ohio. She will discuss how this history laid the foundation for race relations in the 20th and 21st centuries. Refreshments will be served.

During the weekend of Feb. 11–12, members of the church will be engaged in a direct action to support financial justice. Small groups plan to eat at black-owned restaurants throughout Greater Cleveland, and reflect together on the importance of supporting black-owned businesses.

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 6:04 PM, 01.30.2017

FutureHeights offers community-building workshops and mini-grants this spring

FutureHeights is offering several tools to help Cleveland Heights residents leverage their neighborhoods’ assets and enable creative projects to improve their quality of life through its Community Capacity-Building Program, including a series of workshops for neighborhood leaders and small grants to support neighborhood projects. 

Since the program’s launch in 2015, FutureHeights has awarded approximately $10,000 in mini-grants to support 13 projects in Cleveland Heights. Residents can apply for up to $1,000 for citizen-led neighborhood projects, events and activities. In addition, 25 residents—from several neighborhoods, including Noble, Forest Hill, Cain Park, Boulevard, Severance, Cedar Fairmount, Coventry and East Fairfax—have completed the workshop series, which takes place over several months each spring.

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 5:44 PM, 01.31.2017

Family Connections has helped Heights parents and kids connect for 35 years

When meeting new friends, it’s not unusual for a Cleveland Heights parent to realize that their paths have already crossed. “I think I recognize you. Did you use the Little Heights playroom at the library when your kids were little?” “Oh, I know you! We were in Baby & Me together.” When asking school-age families how they know one another, the winding roots often go back to one of these early moments.  

Little Heights and Baby & Me are community institutions that Cleveland Heights residents often take for granted. The programs nurture families, serving as a welcoming place to bring babies and toddlers during the long, lonesome and joyful days of early childhood. Families collect friendships, parenting advice and relief before moving on to other hubs as kids inevitably evolve.

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 5:41 PM, 01.31.2017

2017 HCC programs explore diversity and community

In a time of deep division in our nation, Heights Community Congress (HCC) continues to look for ways to come together as a community. By understanding and celebrate differences, HCC strives to strengthen community bonds. For 40 years, HCC has been an advocate for social justice, a monitor of fair housing practices, and a facilitator for building a strong, diverse community. The theme of this year’s programming from HCC is “Hands Across the Heights: Bridging the Gaps and Moving Beyond.”

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 1:32 PM, 01.31.2017

Family of Sunny Ravi Patel donates $20,000 to CH's police and fire departments

On Dec. 5, the Patel family donated $20,000 to the Cleveland Heights police and fire departments, in gratitude for their support during the tragic loss of Sunny Ravi Patel.

A family spokesperson said that the family is giving back funds from a GoFundMe account to "all of the groups that made a difference during our loss."

Patel was killed on Oct. 14 at his family's Mr. Hero shop on South Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 11:42 AM, 01.03.2017

LEI and Dobama join forces for youth playwriting workshop

Lake Erie Ink: a writing space for youth (LEI) is collaborating with Dobama Theatre to inspire young people from Cuyahoga County to put their playwriting skills to the test. On Jan. 21 and 28, kids will work with playwright Catie O’Keefe to write their own plays. A member of Dobama Theatre’s Playwrights’ GYM, O’Keefe has written plays that have been performed in the United States, United Kingdom and Amsterdam.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 10:28 AM, 01.03.2017

Heights students form community-service organization

Sporting grey shirts with the Heights tiger on their chests, members of the Cleveland Heights Youth Committee (CHYC) are popping up all around the Heights community.

Heights High students founded and comprise this newly formed youth group. Entirely self-directed, CHYC’s members are dedicated to promoting positive change in their community through student activism and leadership.

Currently, CHYC is sponsoring a coat drive, running through Jan. 1, at the close of which the students plan to organize the donated items and distribute them around the community. Drop-off locations for donated coats are at The Wine Spot, Quintana's Barber & Dream Spa, Lee Road Library, Coventry Village Library, CH-UH Board of Education, Zagara's Marketplace, Lopez, and Ben & Jerry's.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 1:19 PM, 12.19.2016