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Cleveland Stonewall Democrats' 2017 Annual Freedom Fund Reception


On Sunday afternoon, September 10th, we attended the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats' 2017 Annual "Freedom Fund Reception" at the "Astoria" on Detroit Avenue.

We were pleased when Ms. Alana Jochum, Executive Director of "Equality Ohio" was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Cleveland Stonewall Democrats Leadership Award. As she accepted her award, Ms. Jochum spoke of the need to form partnerships with people with whom we otherwise might not agree with because, thanks to these alliances, 19 cities in Ohio (with at least two more expected to act in the near future) have passed fully inclusive non-discrimination ordinances which protect the LGBTQ. She also spoke of the need to invest the time and energy to mentor promising young leaders because, as she maintained, without the guidance offered to her by people such as Mr. Rob Rivera, the president of Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, she would never have achieved what she has. Another person who Ms. Jochum acknowledged who has always been supportive of her is her husband, Mr. Graham Binnig who accompanied her on this day and couldn't have been happier for her.

The recipients of the 2017 Cleveland Stonewall Democrats Stephanie Tubbs Jones Freedom Award were Olmsted Falls Mayor Ann Marie Donegan and council members Jim Haviland, Bob Sculac, Ed Gorski, Paul Stibich, Terry Duncan, and Kyle Miller. Unfortunately council members Stibich, Duncan and Miller could not be present on this occasion but all of the others were and everyone spoke for a moment about how they managed to get a non-discrimination ordinance passed in Olmsted Falls at the beginning of 2017 which was not an easy task. Mayor Donegan admitted that some people were still not speaking to them because of it but they believe that they did the right thing and will always cherish this award on behalf of their city.


Prior to the award presentation, Mr. Rivera told us that this event was quite successful indeed with around 75 people in attendance who contributed to the raising of $10,000.00 which will be dispensed to local political candidates who have been supportive of the LGBTQ.

Among those present were former U.S. Congressperson Betty Sutton who currently a candidate for Governor of Ohio, District 2 Cuyahoga County Councilperson Dale Miller, District 13 Ohio State Rep. Nickie Antonio (who paid tribute to CSD members who had passed) and a wonderful assortment of other community/political leaders. 

Of course our good friend Ohio School Board Member Meryl Johnson was there with us and told us that Ohio State Rep. Janine Boyd (District 9), Cleveland, Cleveland Heights Mayor Cheryl Stephens and Councilperson Khalil Seren as well as herself  had hurried over to the reception from the dedication of Cleveland Heights High School which was attended by at least 2000 people including a person who graduated in 1948!

We visited with Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins, U.S. Congressional candidate Betsy Rader (District 14), and Mr. Dave Ream who were all present at a fundraiser held for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown the previous day that was also attended by Ms. Margaret W. Wong who, we were told, asked Senator Brown a very pertinent question regarding DACA during the Q and A. Regarding this subject, the more we think about it, we believe that we can safely say that almost everyone there at the "Astoria" on that afternoon was as upset about the Trump administration's plans to terminate DACA as we are.

Along these lines, we also met Ms. Roberta Duarte with whom we discussed Ms. Isabel Allende who we had seen at the City Club on Friday and Ms. Duarte had see at the Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards on Thursday. Ms. Duarte, a former Cleveland Foundation Fellow, has spent a great deal of her life in Paraguay so she could really relate to what Ms. Allende and the other authors present at the awards were talking about regarding what it truly means to be an American which involves being accepting of diversity and people from other countries and cultures.

Certainly the appetizers provided by the "Astoria" were delectable and we spent a lot of time at the various food stations. Mr. Steve Bennett, who we see all of the time at all kinds of community functions and is thus well aware of our schedule, approached us and asked (with a great deal of empathy), "do you ever get to eat meals on your own?" 


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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