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At The City Club with Mr. Lowery; 2017 LEDI Award and Fundraising Dinner; Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio Celebrations; 16th Annual Armenian Food Festival and Bazaar

On Friday, September 22nd, we went to the City Club for a program featuring Mr. Wesley Lowery, the "Washington Post" reporter whose work initiated the "The Fatal Force" data-gathering project regarding police shootings which won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016. He also wrote a book entitled "They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement" which describes the "Black Lives Matter" movement in a U.S. historical context which was for sale that day in the City Club Lobby.

In the course of his presentation, Mr. Lowery talked about how he was first assigned to report on the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson in August, 2014 and how the unusually large public outcry opened his eyes to the proposition that highly questionable shootings and other forms of possible police misconduct were a recurring issue in African-American/ethnic communities.

What was particularly disturbing was that there were very few statistics available so that the extent of this problem could not be evaluated on a national scale and thus "The Fatal Force" project was launched which used newspaper accounts from around the country to determine the number of police shootings a year which ended up totaling over twice the amount that the U.S. Department of Justice initially determined. "The Fatal Force" project figures also revealed that the number of African-Americans/people of color involved in these shootings was disproportionately larger than their percentage of the population.

According to Mr. Lowery, what really troubled him the most was that people had been trying to express their outrage for a long time but very few authorities and/or the media had been willing to listen to them and the result was that until relatively recently there had been no meaningful dialogue as to how to address this problem. Therefore, he saw his role as a journalist to listen to all of the people involved in such matters as police shootings and tell their stories.

As for ourselves, when we arrived at the City Club we didn't know much about Mr. Lowery but we soon learned that he was raised in the Cleveland area and attended "Shaker Heights High School". Therefore, it was only fitting that he be introduced by Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., the Superintendentof the Shaker Heights Schools. Moreover, Mr. Lowery let it be known that he was no stranger to the City Club; he had attended quite a few programs here when as a student and even helped to facilitate a couple of them. During the Q and A, a question was asked by another party who was no stranger to the City Club either; he was a dignified but obviously quite progressive older man, also a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, who recalled that when he was a spunky young guy he confronted former Governor George Wallace of Alabama (at one time an infamous segregationist) when he spoke at the City Club years ago so we all gave him a round of applause for his audacity.

We also got to meet Mr. Lowery's parents and younger brother and sat next to a very nice guy named John who embraced Mr. Lowery when he first walked in because, as it turned out, they attended Ohio University together.

Afterwards, we told Mr. Lowery that we worked for "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" and we were interested in knowing about confrontations that people who immigrated to the United States from the regions of Asia and the Middle East may have had with the police because most of Mr. Lowery's presentation seemed to center on African-Americans with some references to Hispanics. Mr. Lowery acknowledged that what we were asking was quite pertinent so we exchanged contact information and agreed to correspond on this matter.

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Another important person who was there at the City Club that day who figured prominently in Mr. Lowery's life was Ms. Natalie Sekicky, his journalism teacher at Shaker Heights High School so we asked her if Mr. Lowery was a good student. Ms. Sekicky smiled and said that they used to go back and forth at times (as we interpreted this it meant that Mr. Lowery had a mind of his own and his own way of doing things) but it was a relationship that they both very much benefitted from having.

 

Our second event for Friday was the 2017 Liberia Economic Development Initiative (LEDI) International Life Changers Award and Fundraising Dinner that was held this year at in the Glasscock Family Ballroom just above the Student Center at CSU.

As Mr. William T. Tarpeh, member of the LEDI Board of Directors, wrote in the evenings's souvenir booklet, "since 2007, LEDI has been working hard to improve the economic capacity of our brothers and sisters in Liberia, West Africa. Today we are here to raise funds to further the mission of LEDI by sending severely impoverished students to school and breaking ground on the modern library construction project, which are urgently needed, life changing projects."

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From what we learned from our friends, Mr. Rufus N. Darkortey and his wife, Ms. Joan Curran Darkortey, Co-Founders of LEDI, the physical foundation for the long-planned library in Liberia is finally starting to be laid (Mr. Darkortey was there to witness this) and should be completed in three years. In the meantime, LEDI continues to award its Leann Peiffer Scholarships to deserving students and to make alternative business grants to women so that they may start small businesses to subsidize the income of their families.

On this occasion, Ms. Latoya Smith, Assistant Vice President and Talent Acquisition Manager of Fifth Third Bank, acted as the Mistress of Ceremonies and LEDI International Life Changer Awards were presented to Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper, Senior Managing Partner of "Improve Consulting and Training Group"; Ms. Kelly Falcone-Hall, Chief Executive Officer of "Western Reserve Historical Society"; Mr. Brian Hall, Executive Director of the Commission on Economic Inclusion and Senior Vice President of the "Greater Cleveland Partnership"; Ms. Radhika Reddy, Founder of "Ariel Ventures"; and Mr. Chris Ronayne, President of "University Circle, Inc." for their vigorous support of LEDI's mission which is "to significantly reduce poverty and change the lives of poor, disadvantaged, and marginalized people around the world with specific focus on Liberia."

In 2015, Ms. Margaret W. Wong was a Life Changer Award recipient and we were quite pleased when Ms. Wong's contributions were acknowledged several times throughout the course of the evening. For instance, during his address, Mr. Darkortey said that Ms. Wong was one of the "huge champions" of the library project and paid tribute to her for always being available when financial assistance or moral encouragement is needed.

 

On Saturday, September 23rd, our main function was the 34th Annual Dinner, 5th Research Showcase, and 26th Annual Chiraag (a celebration of the "radiance" that guides the organization) of the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio (AIPNO) which took place at the Global Health Center in Cleveland. This was the first time that we had ever attended this particular gathering although we have attended several functions of benefit to AIPNO's Medical Yatra so we were quite pleased when Dr. Jaya Shah, a distinguished pediatrician, received the "Distinguished Physician of the Year Award" and especially happy when she acknowledged the contribution of her beloved husband (and our good friend) Mr. Ramesh Shah for hard work that he does organizing successful Medical Yata functions like the brunch at the Shiva Vishnu Temple that we attended the previous weekend.

Prior to that evening, we looked up AIPNO's mission statement and learned that it was founded in 1983 by "a few dedicated physicians of Indian origin of Northern Ohio. It now has a membership of over 300 multi-specialty physicians "geared towards enhancing the quality of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine and supporting efforts to improve the availability of health care to under-served populations in the community and in India."

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Accordingly, during his speech, Dr. Hari Balaji, the President of AIPNO, said that "we at AIPNO have demonstrated keen interest in research and service. It is no secret that the Indian sub-population is significantly underrepresented in the mainstream medical research studies conducted in North America, as the Indian population is a fairly new immigrant community. To fill that need, AIPNO has embarked on a multi-generational longitudinal observational study of the Indian sub-population in InSpin (Asian Indian Sub Population in North America Longitudinal Registry). We strongly believe this study will benefit several generations and act as catalyst for the Indian Medical community to launch several such other studies. The observations from this study will help validate protocols and guidelines for the Indian sub-population in particular and medical science in general."

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We especially liked visiting the Research Showcase wherein medical students as well as several people who were even younger displayed data and photos concerning various investigative projects that they were hard at work on dealing with such subjects as the exciting possibilities of creating prostheses via 3D printing, advanced directives for patients admitted to the intensive care unit, future for compliance with ACGME program requirements, and treatments rendered by physicians compared to those of advanced care practitioners.

The atmosphere of this gathering one of great friendliness and we really liked chatting with such learned people as now retired Dr. Ivan Tewarson who was "an early member of AIPNO" as well as Professor Eswar Shankar, Cancer Biologist at CWRU, who assured us we were not out of place there even though medicine/science is not our field because "every day is a learning experience and we learn from everybody that we encounter."

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Our last event for the weekend was a stop at the 16th Annual Armenian Food Festival and Bazaar held at St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church on Richmond Road in Richmond Heights where we enjoyed a terrific lunch composed of vegan lamejun (Armenian pizza); green beans cooked with olive oil, tomatoes, and onions; and bulger pilaf which is cracked wheat cooked with thin egg noodles.

We said "hello" to Father Hratch Sargsyan and his wife, Yn. Naira Azatyan, and finally got to meet Mr. Ari Terjanian who arranged for "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" to have an ad posted in the festival souvenir program booklet which also contained an informative chapter about the history of Armenian immigration pertaining to Cleveland.

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Most of all, however, we enjoyed watching a performance of the "Hamazkayin Araz Dance Ensemble" under the direction of Ms. Nayiri Karapetian which traveled all of the way from Detroit to perform for us and they did so quite elegantly.

Subsequently we read that the goal of the ensemble "is to make every Armenian present, proud of their Armenian heritage, and make every non-Armenian impressed and wishing that they were Armenian too."

In our opinion, they more than lived up to his because, not only were the young male and female dancers quite skillful in their craft, they were very professional about donning their stylish costumes and performing with great physical enthusiasm outside in the parking lot in what must have been at least 85 degree weather while we, ourselves, could barely get by wearing a light shirt and walking shorts and hiding in the shade of our umbrella that we keep in our car for rainy weather.

In short, these talented people earned our respect as well as our applause.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

 

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