“Sing Out” for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

On Wednesday, June 4th, we attended the 8th biennial “Sing Out” for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square which turned out to be an evening that was both very moving and a lot of fun.
We encountered a lot of people that we knew at this event including Megan O’Bryan (former president and CEO of the Rape Crisis Center), Judge Maureen Clancy (Cuyahoga Common Pleas), Judge Donna Fitzsimmons (Rocky River Municipal Court), David Fleshler (Associate Provost for International Affairs at CWRU), Michelle Tomallo (Plexus), Merle Johnson (Cleveland Teachers Union), Kate Kennedy (Cleveland Stonewall Democrats), Michael Wager (Congressional Candidate for Ohio’s 14th District), Cindy Einhouse (the Beck Center) to name only a few.

The title for this particular Sing Out was “You’ve Got the Music in You” and consisted of a large ensemble on stage singing uplifting songs that inspire people to join forces such as “If You Want to Sing Out” and “Thank You for the Music” interspersed with short speeches and tributes.

One such tribute was for the Char and Chuck Fowler Family for the leadership and support that they have provided throughout the years to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Another was to the recently deceased poet Maya Angelou because “she wrote and spoke of the issues that brought us all year tonight” and “her legacy will be about caring for people”.

Now celebrating its 40th year, The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center has a very astonishing history starting off in 1974 as only a hotline that received calls dealing with a variety of problems but became the Rape Crisis Center after the volunteers noticed that the vast majority of calls concerned rape and sexual assault. In 1976 it received its first grant and the founding volunteers Jeanne Van Atta, Carie Zander, Lorraine Schalamon, and Lynn Hammond became the first paid staff.

According to our program notes, in 2013 the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center was able to provide the following assistance:

***717 people received individual and/or group therapy

***7,596 people participated in prevention education programming

***2,911 calls were answered on our 24-hour hotline

***491 rape survivors were provided face-to-face support and advocacy at local hospitals and law enforcement agencies

***946 people received information and outreach after making police reports

***1,626 professionals (medical, law enforcement, mental health service providers, etc…) were trained on how to respond to rape and sexual assault.

A short film was shown wherein two survivors of sexual assault talked about how the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center helped them. One of them said that the support offered is life-changing and that she is a totally different person from when she first walked in the door of the center.

We made a couple of new friends tonight also who work at the center. The first one is Lauren Smith with Events and Marketing who very graciously came to our aid when we couldn’t locate our tickets early in the evening. We thanked her again after the event and Ms. Smith told us that she estimated that there were 700 people here tonight. We also visited for a moment with Sondra Miller who is the President and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center who praised the work of Margaret W. Wong and Associates and said that Margaret W. Wong was a terrific lady who has done a lot for the community.

When we were first being seated we were visiting with the person next to us and told her that we worked for Margaret W. Wong and Associates. A man in the row behind us suddenly sat up and told us that his name was David J. Sylvan and that Margaret Wong assisted him with his immigration paperwork when he first came to the United States about 22 years ago. Mr. Sylvan recalled Ms. Wong helping him with two H1B’s and a labor certificate and wishes her the best.

The grand finale for the evening consisted of the onstage ensemble, and any one in the audience who wanted to join in, singing “You’ve Got the Music in You” by the New Radicals – a song which couldn’t have been more appropriate because by the end of the evening we all felt like we really did have the music in us and we played the song on our i-phone all the way home.

One person were pleasantly surprised to find here tonight was a friend of our from the Mentor Chamber of Commerce named Mark Wainright who drove all the way from Lake County to be here because he strongly believes in what the center is doing. He also brought his 20 year old son which we thought was an excellent thing to do because, among other things, tonight’s program was a true contribution of guidance for young people.

In fact, it was guidance for all of us no matter how old we are.