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Eastern Lake County Coffee Contacts at Howard's Jewelry; La Villa Hispana Community Engagement Townhall; Stonewall Democratic Club Meeting

On Thursday, January 19th, we got up early and drove to Mentor where we attended an Eastern Lake County Coffee Contacts at "Howard's Jewelry" in the Great Lakes Mall which has hosted at least four or five such events in the past six years.

We got to meet Mr. Howard Hurwitz who owns "Howard's Jewelry" and Mr. Lou Fatica, the Operations Manager, and learned that the enterprise actually has several locations in Northeast Ohio and that it gives very generously to children's charities on a consistent basis.

In addition, we met a person from a restoration company who works with a lot of people and was glad to have a card from Margaret W. Wong and Associates on file.

On this day it was announced that the Coffee Contacts theme for 2017 would be "free networking" and Ms. Kristin Strauser offered several suggestions for improve our networking skills which were to prepare an introduction for yourself and to give yourself a positive self-talk in advance, come with handouts (i.e. small bags of candy for instance), have plenty of business cards within easy reach, listen to what the other person is saying to you (we think that this might be the most important suggestion of all, and to be oneself and have fun.


In the early evening we attended a community engagement townhall for "La Villa Hispana" which was held at the Family Ministry Center on Fulton Road. All of the attendees received copies of the 2017-2022 community engagement action plan for this ambitious but achievable project whose mission is "to be the economic and cultural center of the Latino Community in Cleveland."

The action plan described "La Villa Hispana" as "nestled within Clark-Fulton, a neighborhood of Cleveland's near west side, expanding outward from the intersection of Clark Avenue and West 25th Street."

This townhall was coordinated by Ms. Myra Rosario from All Media Design Group and Mr. Luis Cartagena from The Hispanic Business Center. During the course of the night, we were addressed by steering committee members Ms. Jenice Contreras, Executive Director of the Hispanic Business Center; Ms. Lourdes Negron-McDaniel, Director of Inclusion and Diversity of The MetroHealth System; Mr. Juan Molina Crespo, Executive Director of The Hispanic Alliance; and Mr. Adam Stadler, Managing Director of the Metro West Community Development Office about the history of the project and plans for its future.

Basically, at this time the three areas of development have been identified as community engagement, economic development, and arts and culture. These will be implemented by support of new and existing business, promotion of arts and culture, the development of real estate projects which will serve as catalysts, grassroots community engagement, improvement of streetscapes, ensurance of safety, proper marketing, and economic empowerment of residents.

Ms. Contreras said what everyone involved would like to see would be for the Clark Avenue/West 25th Street to be for the Hispanic community what Little Italy and Asian Town Center are for their communities but this will take time, patience and, most of all, community engagement which was defined as "the process of working collaboratively with groups of people who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being."

When it was his turn to speak, Mr. Molina Crespo acknowledged that in the course of the next four years (i.e. the incoming Trump administration) we must fight to retain the gains that we have made in terms of social progress. Instead, "we must wrap our arms around each other and respect our differences." Mr. Molina Crespo went on to say that we must build a strong social/organizational structure and leverage our political capital when the appropriate time comes.

Interestingly, Mr. Molina Crespo's words along with the above definition of community engagement were also well-suited for what took place at the Stonewall Democratic Club meeting which took place at the Market Avenue Wine Bar in Ohio City and was our last event for the day.

Mr. Rob Rivera, the club president, said that the goal of the night was to discuss surviving "the America as of tomorrow" referring to President-elect Trump actually becoming the President on Friday at noon.

Ohio State Rep. Nickie Antonio (Democrat-13th District), the guest speaker, made several suggestions along these lines but the one that stood out for us was the need to collaborate like never before with such entities as immigration networks, those working on behalf of public education and health care for all.

We, as well as Ohio State Rep. Antonio, give high credit to the Stonewall Democrats for helping to establish patient-long term strategies for organizing at the local level to pass anti-discrimination legislation in Lakewood and the public accommodation ordinance in the City of Cleveland. Thus, we plan to start going to their meetings again (we had allowed out membership to lapse but we renewed) and be more active in the next four years and beyond.  


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.


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