FutureHeights benefit raises funds, honors Zagara

John Zagara, FutureHeights' Person of the Year.

Despite the threat of storms, and a power outage just hours before the event, guests enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars celebrating and raising funds for the community-building work of FutureHeights at the nonprofit's annual benefit party, "A Summer Night’s Dream," on Saturday, July 29, at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. 

The evening included live orchestral music from Opus 216, musical stylings by DJ Neilism, costumed performers from Robin VanLear and company, and a delicious selection of food and drink from The Fairmount, Quintana’s, and CLE Urban Winery. 

During the program, guests heard remarks from Kristine Pagsuyoin, FutureHeights’ new executive director. John Zagara, FutureHeights’ "Person of the Year," was honored for his commitment to Zagara’s Marketplace, and he spoke of his love for the Heights community.

Auctioneer Michael Berland engineered another spirited live auction—including several bidding wars!—as guests competed to have the winning bid on items such as Guardians/Dodgers tickets, local date-night packages, and naming rights for a new Heights Observer mailbox on the Coventry PEACE Campus.

“FutureHeights is so grateful for the support that we receive to continue our programs and serve the communities of Cleveland Heights and University Heights.  I was so inspired to meet many new supporters and happy to connect with long-time friends,” said Pagsuyoin.

As Cleveland Heights' and University Heights’ community-development corporation (CDC), FutureHeights’ mission is to facilitate an equitable, prosperous and vibrant future for the two communities through economic and social development, and the meaningful engagement of residents.

Outside of the annual benefit, which raises much needed operating funds for the organization, there are many ways for residents to get involved with and support the work of FutureHeights year-round: Join a committee (there are many!) or volunteer, write for the Heights Observer, attend one of FutureHeights’ free community programs. 

All are great ways to make new friends, learn something new, and make your city a better place in which to live.

Cleveland Heights and University Heights are unique cities, beloved by many. By investing in and supporting FutureHeights, residents are investing in and supporting the future of the Heights community.

For more information on ways to volunteer and get involved, visit the "volunteer with us" section of FutureHeights’ website, at www.futureheights.org.

Julie Hammond Gierke

Julie Hammond Gierke is volunteer chair of the FutureHeights Annual Benefit Committee. She is a Heights native and closely involved with Heights Tree People, a volunteer group working to rebuild the tree canopy and foster a tree culture in Cleveland Heights and University Heights. She is currently helping organize the Coventry Village Library Urban Mini-Forest project which is funded, in part, through a Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy program grant. 

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Volume 16, Issue 9, Posted 1:43 PM, 09.01.2023