Non-profit & Groups

FutureHeights auction kicks off in November

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

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

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

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

HBC offers discounted home tour tickets for bicyclists

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

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

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

Annual Shaker Lakes Hike & Run scheduled for Sept. 20

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

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

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

Teen campers write about exploring Cleveland with LEI

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

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

Doan Brook seeks volunteers for Sept. 5 storm drain stenciling

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

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

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

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

Student buys CH home through new land bank program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artful plans August and fall fundraisers

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

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

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

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

FutureHeights to offer neighborhood mini-grant program

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

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

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

Heights Heritage Home Tour planning is underway

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

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

IPM invites participants to join in its immersion experience programs

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

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

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

Cleveland leadership program seeks applicants

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

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

Unity Center hosts public forum on world religions

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

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

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

FutureHeights and CHPD to host forum on policing in Cleveland Heights

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

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

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

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

GrowingHeights seeks new coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Heights musicians May 19 at Rockefeller’s

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

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

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

Officer West scholarship fundraiser set for May 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FutureHeights launches community-building initiative on April 21

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

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

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

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

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

Annual Reaching Heights Adult Spelling Bee planned for April 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zagara's hosts Harvest for Hunger fundraiser beginning March 9

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

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

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

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

Jazzercise classes help keep Heights food center healthy

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

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

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

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

Ohio Dems Pepper and Turner to present new strategic plan on Feb. 10

David Pepper, new Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) chairman, and Nina Turner, former state senator and ODP chair of political engagement, will detail their “Main Street Initiative” on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m., at the Cleveland Heights Community Center.

The initiative is the ODP’s new strategic plan to provide direct support to local candidates and staff, including financial investments to targeted races, messaging, voter contact, fundraising training, and access to cutting-edge technology and data. 

According to Pepper, “This strategy and fund represent our commitment to build this party from the local level, where it all begins.”

Turner said, "As Democrats, it’s our responsibility to care about the welfare of all Ohioans, and our Main Street Initiative is an opportunity to put our values into action."

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 10:49 AM, 02.09.2015

CH group plans March 12 pop-up dinner at the Alcazar

We Are Cleveland Heights, a group that seeks to promote living and working in Cleveland Heights, is holding a pop-up dinner on March 12 at the historic Alcazar, 2450 Derbyshire Road, which was recently purchased by Montlack Realty.

Planting the Seed, a five-course dinner prepared by fire food & drink, SoHo Kitchen & Bar, Marotta's, FarmShare Ohio, Luna Bakery Café and On The Rise will take place on Thursday, March 12, 6:30–9:30 p.m. Drinks will be provided by The Wine Spot, La Cave du Vin, Parnell's Pub and Phoenix Coffee. Entertainment will be provided by The Grog Shop, and table decorations by Four And Twenty Mercantile. Tickets are $75 per person and are available online at or at Luna Bakery Café. Valet parking is included.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 11:54 AM, 02.27.2015

Social innovator Ruth DeGolia brings her story home to the Heights on March 11

You may wonder what the label Mercado Global is in a garment you have bought from Anthropologie, J. Crew or Urban Outfitters. 

On March 11 you can find out about this ethical fashion brand and social enterprise at a fundraiser called, Fashioning Change: Harnessing the Power of Markets for Women in Guatemala. It will be held from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at The Wine Spot, 2271 Lee Road. Proceeds will support Mercado Global’s educational and market access programs.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 2:31 PM, 02.26.2015

Go bananas at LEI's third annual fundraiser

Lake Erie Ink (LEI), a writing space for youth, is hosting its third annual fundraiser for people of all ages to showcase their quick, creative wordplay skills during a Giant Bananagrams Tournament. The event will take place on March 21, 2–5 p.m., in the Cleveland Heights High School Social Room, making it one of the community's last opportunities to enjoy the space before construction on the historic school begins this summer.

Inspired by the fast-paced, Scrabble-like word game, teams of two to four players will compete on a 30-by-30-foot Bananagrams board with 1-foot-square tiles in front of a live audience, with plays and words announced by a guest MC.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 2:28 PM, 02.26.2015

IPM sponsors life-changing trips to Colombia and Wyoming

International Partners in Mission (IPM), based in Cleveland Heights, works across borders of faith, culture and economic circumstance to create partnerships that build justice, peace and hope. The core program provides financial and technical support to 60 community-initiated programs in 20 countries. They include El Salvador, India, Kenya, Nepal and Nicaragua, and the focus is on women, children and youths.

IPM also organizes immersion-experience programs—short-term travel opportunities to the countries where it works. Participants, many from Northeast Ohio, learn about the history and culture of these countries, and walk in solidarity with the locals whose work IPM supports.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 2:17 PM, 02.26.2015

Peppler named executive director of nonprofit training organization

Nancy Peppler, Cleveland Heights resident and president of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education (BOE), will become the new executive director of Cornucopia/Nature’s Bin, a nonprofit that provides community-based employment training for people with disabilities.

Peppler will begin her new position on March 9. She will succeed Scott Duennes, who has served as executive director of Cornucopia/Nature’s Bin for 30 years, and who will retire effective March 20. Duennes and Peppler will work together through the end of March to effect a smooth transition for the organization.

“On behalf of the board of directors of Cornucopia, I am delighted to welcome Nancy Peppler as the new executive director,” said Tony Rospert, board president.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 9:49 AM, 02.10.2015

City Club announces high-school essay competition

It’s that time of the year when the City Club of Cleveland announces The Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Competition, an opportunity for students to explore the complexities of our constitutional right to free speech while building essential writing and critical thinking skills—and win prizes.

The Adelsteins have been lifelong residents of Northeast Ohio, philanthropists and environmental activists for decades, establishing the Free Speech Competition in 2012 as part of the City Club's centennial. Although Stanley died in December, their legacy continues.

This year, the competition is open to all high school students, not just juniors and seniors. Students in grades 9–12 in public, private, parochial, charter and home schools in Cuyahoga and surrounding counties are encouraged to submit an essay on the topic “How can teens utilize free speech to inspire change in their communities?”

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 6:27 PM, 01.29.2015

Annual meeting for Heights gardeners is Feb. 17

Heights Community Garden Network (HCGN) will host its annual meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m., in meeting room A at the Lee Road Library. HCGN was created to help Heights residents and community gardeners share information. The group offers an informative website and an e-newsletter, a small grants program for community gardens, technical assistance for new gardens, workshops and volunteer opportunities.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 11:25 AM, 01.29.2015

HCC presents original play to mark MLK holiday

Heights Community Congress (HCC) will commemorate the Martin Luther King holiday by presenting “A Conversation After A Funeral,” an original play by Mary Weems, Cleveland Heights resident and former CH poet laureate. The event will take place on Jan. 21, at 7 p.m., at Hope Lutheran Church, 2222 North Taylor Road.

“A Conversation After a Funeral” is an imagined dialogue between two young people, Emmett Till and Anne Frank, set at the conclusion of Till’s funeral. Emmett Till (played by J’Vaugh Briscoe) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at age 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Anne Frank (played by Miranda Coble) was a diarist and writer who went into hiding during the Holocaust and wrote about her experience.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 11:05 AM, 01.13.2015

Fourth-grader plans book drive for Little Free Libraries

Because his birthday lands during the week of the Martin Luther King holiday, Kenji Sakaie—a Roxboro Elementary School fourth-grader, Cleveland Heights resident, avid reader and Heights Library fan—along with his parents, wanted to recognize his special day with more than just sweets and treats. When thinking of an appropriate service project, a book drive seemed a natural for this family of book lovers.

Kenji will be collecting new and gently used books that he and his parents will distribute to the Little Free Libraries in the Heights and on Cleveland’s East Side. Any extras will go to Cleveland's Little Free Library program for its other sites around town. The book drive will run through Friday, Jan. 23.

While Kenji and his family especially want to encourage reading among children, they are accepting donations of any books donors want to share with others.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 10:20 AM, 01.13.2015

Service day benefits local nonprofits

It was all about collaborating and giving back when Church of the Gesu in University Heights sent a group of families to team up with Youth Challenge (YC) participants and volunteers to create holiday ornaments and cards as part of its annual Service Day on Saturday, Dec. 6.

The ornaments they made will be sold at the Youth Challenge Holiday Show on Dec. 14 to benefit YC’s free programs. The cards will be sent to residents of the local L’Arche community. In addition, the YC kids brought toiletries to donate to L’Arche Cleveland. 

Youth Challenge is a nonprofit that provides adapted sports and recreational opportunities to children with physical disabilities. Trained teen volunteers are paired one-on-one with participants to play, socialize and have fun. YC serves children throughout Northeast Ohio and has offices in Westlake and in Shaker Heights at the Hanna Perkins Center.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 4:21 PM, 12.12.2014

Sustainable Heights Network to host meet and greet Nov. 12

Heights residents may fondly recall Networking Nights hosted by the Sustainable Heights Network as a way to network with sustainability professionals, advocates and concerned citizens and to learn what is going on in this area. After a hiatus of a few years, the organization is bringing back the tradition. A brief program with an event on the new back patio at Nighttown from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

With a theme of Sustainability in the Heights: Past, Present and Future, the evening will include a review of our sustainability legacy by Cleveland Heights Director of Planning Richard Wong, a presentation on current innovations in sustainability by Transportation Planning Director Chris Bongorno of University Circle, Inc. (who grew up in Cleveland Heights), and a discussion on the future of sustainability in the Heights led by community development expert Mark Chupp, Ph.D. of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and board member of FutureHeights.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:39 AM, 11.06.2014

Second annual music festival keeps Lee Road hopping

FutureHeights extends its thanks to the many individuals and organizations who contributed time money and energy in support of the second annual Heights Music Hop. More than 1,500 people turned out to the district to enjoy great music, craft beer and local merchants on Oct. 11.

The group is seeking feedback on the event to help in its planning for next year. Take the survey at

For other questions or inquiries, e-mail

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Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 1:55 PM, 10.21.2014

Literary event to benefit women's educational nonprofit

Maria Doria Russell, an award-winning novelist and scientist, will be the featured local author at the third annual “An Afternoon With . . .” literary event and dessert reception, on Saturday, Nov. 1. The event, hosted by the Cleveland Heights Chapter Q of P.E.O. International, a philanthropic educational organization, will take place at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church, 3031 Monticello Blvd., at 2 p.m.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 9:55 AM, 09.30.2014

Mark your calendars for fall Friends events

Heights residents are invited to join the Friends of Heights Libraries for two special October events, and to mark their calendars for the Friends’ fall Mega Sale. 

On Sunday, Oct. 5, in cooperation with FutureHeights and Reaching Heights, the Friends will co-host the semi-annual Welcome Home gathering for Heights residents, this time featuring a panel of Heights authors. Participants (at press time) include poet George Bilgere, youth author Tricia Springstubb, novelist Thrity Umrigar, and rock biographer James Henke. Join us at Nighttown from 2–4 p.m. to celebrate our community and its diverse treasures. Refreshments will be provided, and a cash bar will be available. Everyone is welcome, and new residents to the Heights are especially encouraged to come, meet neighbors, and learn what makes living and working in the Heights so special.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 9:28 AM, 09.30.2014

Building a city of neighbors in Cleveland Heights

Welcoming Heights is a new initiative aimed at creating a “city of neighbors” in Cleveland Heights through activities and services that promote a welcoming environment for immigrants who have made the city their home. The initiative is based in the beliefs that all humanity is connected and that people discover their humanity by sharing their unique experiences with others.

The initiative is part of an effort to assist members of the immigrant and refugee community to integrate into life in Cleveland Heights and Greater Cleveland, and also to enrich the entire community through activities in which all residents are welcome to participate. On Sept. 9, in the first of a series of meetings regarding the project, participants endorsed the ideas of establishing a “welcoming hub” in a Cleveland Heights library and possibly setting up a Welcome Wagon for new immigrants and refugees living in the community.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 2:50 PM, 09.29.2014

10th Annual Online Auction supports FutureHeights

FutureHeights is accepting donations for its 10th Annual Online Auction, which serves as a major fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

The auction supports the efforts of FutureHeights to create a stronger community in Cleveland Heights and University Heights. FutureHeights engages volunteers to help produce the Heights Observer community news; provides fiscal agency to various neighborhood-based groups; hosts numerous community-building events and activities, such as the Best of the Heights Awards and the Heights Music Hop; and presents community forums, tours and speakers.

An online preview begins Oct. 11, and bidding begins Nov. 21 at

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 2:25 PM, 09.29.2014

IPM trip stirs memories of Sister Kazel

As a Beaumont School student, Alyssa Bovell had learned about Sister Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun who taught at the school before undertaking missionary work in El Salvador, where she was murdered in 1980. Bovell's August trip to the Central American country, with International Partners in Mission (IPM), drove home the impact of Kazel’s sacrifice.

“To be there, to hear about the history of El Salvador and the civil war and see the challenges that people are still facing today, there aren’t words to describe that,” Bovell said.

A resident of South Euclid, Bovell began a two-year fellowship at IPM’s Cleveland Heights headquarters after graduating in May from the University of Dayton with a major in international development and political science.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 2:20 PM, 09.29.2014

Find out who’s Best of the Heights Sept. 23

From May through August, Heights residents voted for their favorite Heights businesses in 22 categories, including Best New Business. Each year, FutureHeights—a nonprofit dedicated to promoting civic engagement in the Heights through information, education, and advocacy, and the publisher of the Heights Observer community news—conducts the Best of the Heights survey to recognize the unique attributes of locally owned businesses here in the Heights, and their contributions to the local economy.

“Heights residents recognize how lucky they are to have such an amazing diversity of independent businesses in our community, and want to show their appreciation,” said Clare Taft, president of the FutureHeights Board of Directors.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 10:36 AM, 08.29.2014

IPM's 40th anniversary will draw experts and celebrities from around the world

What does a renowned television host and travel writer have in common with the mother of a 2014 Academy Award winner recently featured on a Vogue magazine cover?

Rick Steves, host of public television’s “Rick Steves’ Europe” and public radio’s “Travel with Rick Steves,” and Dorothy Nyong’o, director of the Africa Cancer Foundation and mother of Lupita Nyong’o of Kenya, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “12 Years a Slave,” are among the speakers and panelists coming to Northeast Ohio in October to celebrate the 40th anniversary of IPM (International Partners in Mission). The nonprofit organization is headquartered in the historic Rockefeller Building in Cleveland Heights.

IPM works with women, children and youths across borders of faith, culture and economic circumstances to build justice, peace and hope.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 10:17 AM, 08.29.2014

Sept. 13 clam bake to benefit HRRC

Come and celebrate fall with a Clam Bake fundraiser for Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC), the Cleveland Heights nonprofit. The event will be held on the grounds of the McGregor Home, 14900 Private Drive, East Cleveland, on Saturday, Sept. 13, 5–9 p.m. Patrons will enjoy a relaxing evening filled with fun and fellowship, festive music, an auction of unique items and enticing experiences, and—of course—a delicious, traditional clam bake.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:38 AM, 08.29.2014

Heights Youth Club encompasses scholarship, fun and responsibility

The Heights Youth Club (HYC) offers Heights students in grades one through 12 a smorgasbord of after-school activities, five days a week, 3–7:30 p.m. The club’s young people aspire to excel in school, and bring their book bags to the club with plans to do their homework—with the help of volunteer tutors, if need be—during the club’s Power Hour.

Roscoe Morgan, executive director of HYC, stated proudly that 50 percent of those students who come to the club with serious intentions about school make the honor or merit rolls. Morgan, who leads with a firm hand and wearing a broad smile, said, “I have the honor of coming to work for the students. A privilege. I learn and grow every day.”

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:22 AM, 08.29.2014

Heights Music Hop seeks volunteers for Oct. 11 event

Do you enjoy music? Do you enjoy working with local merchants? Do you enjoy volunteering? 

On Oct. 11, Lee Road will once again be filled with free music at the second annual Heights Music Hop, and volunteers are needed to welcome people to the Cedar Lee Business District, help bands move gear, staff tables, and help set up and tear down. Volunteer perks include a T-shirt and free admission to the official after-party at The BottleHouse.

The Heights Music Hop will serve as one of the kick-off locations for Cleveland Beer Week (Oct. 10–18), and includes more bands and venues than last year’s inaugural event.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:13 AM, 08.26.2014

Authors to share their thoughts on living and working in the Heights at Oct. 5 event

Three Heights civic organizations will host Welcome Home: Heights Authors, the second in a series celebrating some of the amazing people who call the Heights home, on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2–4 p.m., at Nighttown, 12387 Cedar Road.

The free event will feature a panel discussion by Heights authors about why they like living and working in Cleveland Heights and University Heights.

Panelists include novelist Thrity Umrigar, whose latest book, The Story Hour: A Novel, is a LibraryReads pick; children’s book author Tricia Springstubb, whose What Happened on Fox Street was an Indie 2010 Pick of the Year; James Henke, a former writer and editor for Rolling Stone magazine and author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley; and poet George Bilgere, winner of a 2003 Cleveland Arts Prize and 2014 Creative Workforce Fellowship, whose work has been frequently featured on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” on National Public Radio.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 10:34 AM, 08.29.2014

Wayne Mortensen to speak at FutureHeights annual meeting

Wayne Mortensen, director of design and development for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and a Cleveland Heights resident, will deliver the keynote address at the FutureHeights annual meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the former Pontiac dealership, 3077 Mayfield Road.

Not your typical annual meeting, FutureHeights will give a brief overview of its annual activities and will then lead an interactive discussion about the state of the community. FutureHeights will present data showing current trends. In his keynote address, Mortensen will challenge participants to leverage the community’s strengths to confront its current challenges. He will highlight how similar communities have responded to adversity by defining a preferred future.

Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley will respond, as will Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights.

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Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 11:50 AM, 07.31.2014

Bob Cheshier Memorial Little Free Library installed at St. Paul's

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd., is the site of the Bob Cheshier Memorial Little Free Library. Although Cheshier died just over a year ago, his legacy lives on in the Little Free Library movement that he brought to Cleveland.

The movement began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading, and placed it on a post in his front yard with a sign that said, "free books." His friend Rick Brooks, a youth and community development educator, saw the potential of the idea as a way to achieve a variety of goals for the common good.

The resulting Little Free Libraries movement has the dual goals of promoting literacy and a love of reading, and building a sense of community through shared skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

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Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 10:32 AM, 07.31.2014

Nonprofit yoga service organization sponsors online benefit auction

North American Gurukul (NAG), a Cleveland Heights-based nonprofit organization, is sponsoring its sixth annual Connect, Discover, Serve online auction. The auction runs through July 12.

For the fourth consecutive year, a portion of the auction proceeds will benefit the Heights Emergency Food Center. The auction also helps to support NAG’s yoga service programs for recovery centers, halfway houses, prisons and inner city schools.

Beverly Singh, founder and director of the Atma Center on Lee Road, founded NAG in 2004, to support awareness and growth of Satyananda yoga throughout North America.

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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 11:46 AM, 07.01.2014

HRRC Director Kathryn Lad to retire

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC), the Cleveland Heights-based nonprofit that provides tools and techniques for homeowners to maintain their homes, announced in a May 21 press release that its executive director, Kathryn Lad, will retire on June 13. 

According to the release, since taking the helm of the organization in 2006, Lad has helped redefine HRRC as a respected regional resource with a healthy new base of support. Throughout this process, she remained committed to client service.

"The recent economic crisis continues to impact the homeowners of our community," Lad said. "In recent years, in response to the needs we saw among the people we served, we added special services for seniors—to help them deal with contractors, maintain their property, and maximize their chances of remaining at home even if their physical health declines. We also introduced a series of classes for new homebuyers, and services to help people threatened by foreclosure."

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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 11:12 AM, 05.27.2014

HRRC searches for new leader

Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) has launched a search for an executive director to advance its long-standing focus on home maintenance for healthy and diverse neighborhoods. This is only the third time in 43 years that the Cleveland Heights-based nonprofit has changed leaders.

Rob Josey, HRRC board member, and Shouresh Amir-Tahmasseb, president of the HRRC Board of Directors, are co-chairs of the search committee, formed at the organization’s June 9 board retreat, to find an effective leader who embraces HRRC’s mission and core commitments to equity, empowerment and sustainability.

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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 1:42 PM, 06.30.2014

Cleveland leadership program seeks applicants for 2014

In 2006, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, along with former Cleveland Mayor Michael White, established a leadership training program for engaged neighborhood leaders. The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (NLDP) is a free, 15-session community engagement training program for residents of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs.

“A large part of Cleveland’s future depends on the strength of its neighborhoods,” said Michael R. White, NLDP program director. “The Neighborhood Leadership Development Program identifies, engages and trains leaders working to improve their communities. Through an intensive, nine-month program, NLDP develops skills and abilities that will benefit its participants, their neighborhoods and the city for years to come.”  

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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 1:26 PM, 06.30.2014

Sunday at Cain Park

We Are Cleveland Heights, an organization that comprises both residents and business owners, is hosting a Sunday in the Park event at Cain Park on June 1, 2–4 p.m.

We Are Cleveland Heights encourages park visitors to bring their families, fly kites, play instruments, bring a picnic, read a book, meet neighbors, and enjoy time in the park with others.

For more information on this event, and about We Are Cleveland Heights, visit

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 11:24 AM, 05.30.2014

FutureHeights and Reaching Heights move to Coventry Village neighborhood

Two Heights nonprofits—FutureHeights, the community-building organization that publishes the Heights Observer, and Reaching Heights, the organization that supports public education in the Heights—are the newest tenants at the Coventry Building, 2843 Washington Blvd., the former Coventry Elementary School. The two organizations have both moved in to Suite 105, formerly occupied by the Open Office. 

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 11:19 AM, 05.30.2014

Heights foodies to speak at welcome event on June 26

Three Heights civic organizations will host Welcome Home: Heights Foodies, a reception to welcome new and potential residents of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, at The Wine Spot, 2271 Lee Road.

The free event will feature a panel discussion by Heights foodies and entrepreneurs about why they like living and working in the Heights. Panelists are Chef Jonathan Sawyer, owner of The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat; Tommy Fello, owner of Tommy’s restaurant; Keith Logan, owner of Sweetie Fry; and Adam Fleischer, owner of The Wine Spot.

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 11:06 AM, 05.30.2014

Kick off the summer at HYC's Taste of the Heights June 11

It’s time for Taste of the Heights, the annual Heights Youth Club (HYC) fundraising event that brings together great tastes from many local restaurants. The event takes place at the club, 2065 Lee Road, on Wednesday, June 11, 6–9 p.m.

Sample specialties from Anatolia Café, Barle Soup and Sandwich, the BottleHouse Brewery, Brennan’s Colony, Cafe Tandoor, Dewey’s Pizza, Joey’s Bistro, Katz Club Diner, Lopez, the Mad Greek, Mister Brisket, New Heights Grill, Nighttown, O’Rielly’s Irish Pub, Pacific East, Pizzazz, the Rib Cage, the Stone Oven, Sweetie Fry, the Tavern Company, Taste, Tommy’s and Zagara’s Marketplace.

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 10:50 AM, 05.30.2014

HRRC annual meeting is June 3

The annual meeting of the Cleveland Heights-based, nonprofit Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC), will take place on Tuesday, June 3, 7 p.m., at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, 1 Monticello Blvd. The public is invited to attend this free event.

After a brief review of the past year and election of new HRRC board members, staff and clients will share stories of HRRC and the community it serves.

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 9:38 AM, 05.30.2014