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Pasta for Casa Fundraiser, Social Justice through a Photographer's Eye; Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce Coffee Contacts

On Wednesday night, after we left the "International Relations Conversation" at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, we hurried over to Thwing Ballroom CWRU to stop off at the "Pasta for Casa" fundraiser put on by Kappa Alpha Theta and the Social Justice Institute for the benefit of CASA in Lorain County.

We wanted to attend this because we had picked up a flyer about it last week at the forum regarding Syrian refugees organized by the Social Justice Institute.

Subsequently, we looked up CASA's website and learned that CASA is "Court Appointed Special Advocates" for children. It's mission is to support and promote "court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected children in the United States be safe, have a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive." We read further and discovered that its volunteers ensure that the children "don't get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home."

We got to meet and visit with Mr. Claude Thompson, Ms. Kathleen M. Bevaque, and Mr. Fred Wright three CASA volunteers from the Lorain division and hear about what they do. They told us that CASA is an adopted charity of Kappa Alpha Theta so we complimented its president, Miss Rachel Hudespeth and her team for their hard work on behalf of such a meaningful organization.

When we left CWRU about 6:40pm we didn't believe that we were going to be able to make it over to Beachwood by 7pm to attend our last program of the day at the Maltz Museum which was titled "Social Justice through a Photographer's Eye" but thanks to our GPS (we would be lost without it) we managed to make it by 7:08pm so we only missed the introduction.

The event was billed as a community conversation with Mr. Ron Haviv who has been a photojournalist for 30 years now and covered 25 conflicts and worked in at least 100 countries. It was presented by "Facing History and Ourselves" and the Allstate Foundation in partnership with the Maltz Museum.

Mr. Haviv's photos were used by President George H.W. Bush as part of the justification for the Panama invasion in 1989 and were used as evidence to convict war criminals in the Balkan conflict. Accordingly, Mr. Haviv and his fellow photojournalists are usually in a vulnerable area documenting the troubles years before the situation actually explodes and it was his deep regret that his widely viewed work has never actually prevented the terrible violence from taking place.

The audience assured him that, at the very least, the images produced by Mr. Haviv and people like him have helped to document historical happenings so that we can study them later and learn from them. One person said that even though the Vietnam War has been over with for over 40 years the photos taken of it will forever remain in his mind.

In the course of the conversation, Mr. Haviv said that is what a good photograph does; it "creates an emotional connection" between the viewer and the image, otherwise it will soon be forgotten.

Along these lines, in the audience that evening was Mrs. Barbara Marlowe and her adopted daughter, Miss Teeba Furat Fadhill Marlowe who was badly injured in Iraq in 2003. Mrs. Marlowe briefly talked about how she and her husband were inspired to help Teeba by a photograph of her that appeared in the "Plain Dealer" in 2006. Thus Teeba was brought to the United States in 2007 and given a series of surgeries and ultimately adopted by the Maxwell family.

We believe that this is a worthy testimony about how a photograph can make a difference in the individual lives of people and thus we encourage Mr. Haviv and those in his profession to continue in their efforts at fair, honest documentation.

Also at the Tuesday night happening at the Maltz Museum was Ms. Maribeth Joeright, a photographer who we know through our involvement with the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce. On Thursday, March 2nd, we ran into Ms. Joeright at Coffee Contacts and discussed Mr. Haviv's presentation with her. We both found it very moving and inspiring; in fact, Ms. Joeright had once taken some photos of Miss Teeba Marlowe here in Northeast Ohio when she was associated with the local news media so she was familiar with her story.

This particular Coffee Contacts, put on by the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce as always, took place at "Laketran-Lake County Regional Public Transportation" on Lakeshore Blvd. in Painesville and between 60-70 people were present for this gathering which was sponsored by "Laketran" and "Deepwood Industries" which helps developmentally disabled people find employment.

On this day, we listened to a short but heartfelt talk by Mr. Bob Fratino, the Director of Community Employment for "Deepwood Industries" about the partnership that his organization and "Laketran" have created. Because of this partnership, many people have access to transportation that has enabled them to go to work each day and "Laketran" has been great in hiring people with special needs to clean its offices as well as its buses. All told it has been a productive arrangement for all concerned.

As we were networking, we had a conversation with a man about the how his mother came her from Germany and obtained a Green Card. Years later, however, she returned to Germany for a few years and thus did not renew her Green Card. When she returned to the United States (where she lives now), getting her Green Card re-established was "the nightmare of the century" for the family.

On a lighter note, we enjoyed talking to our friend, Mr. Chris Baxter of "Atlas Cinemas" about this year's Academy Awards and the infamous snafu that occurred during the Best Picture presentation. For the record, Mr. Baxter, who had been studying the trends of the award winners of the past few years, was the only person that we have met who correctly predicted that "Moonlight" would win Best Picture; we, ourselves, were predicting a "La La Land" sweep, as was nearly everyone, and thus did not do so good on Oscar night.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC