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6th annual A Cause for Clams; Indians/White Sox game from the Allstar Box; Brunhc to Support Medical Yatra; Unveiling Ceremony of The Hungarian Monument

On Saturday, September 24th, we went to the Pilla Center at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike to attend our first event img_4725which was the 6th annual "A Cause for Clams" which was a clambake put on for the benefit of Ursuline Piazza HIV/AIDS Services.

As our program notes stated, "founded nine years ago by Sister Susan Zion, Ursuline Piazza addresses gaps in services for infected and afflicted by HIV/AIDS in the Greater Cleveland Community. Ursuline Piazza is able to provide counseling, social services, transportation and educational programming."

We hadn't been to too many events at Ursuline College so we got lost and couldn't find the Pilla Center. Fortunately, Mr. Richard and Ms. Patty Welsh were driving by at the time when we were standing img_4727by our car looking perplexed so they invited us to follow them. So we ended up finding the Pilla Center within the next two minutes and making two new friends.

When we checked in at the door, we were warmly greeted by Sister Susan who remembered us from when we both attended a chili-cookoff at the Thirsty Parrot at the end of 2015. We also met Ms. Holly Moyseenko, the new Program Manager for Ursuline Piazza, who told us that she likes to read our blog which made us feel good.

 The food looked great and even though we do not eat meat or clams we filled up on some excellent vegetarian appetizers as well as potatoes and clams when dinner was served.

Sister Susan's consideration and kindness towards others was on display when we met Ms. Sara Schoonmaker, Mr. Roger Massawe, and Mr. Kilian Tereba img_4729who are studying nonprofit managment at John Carroll University. They interviewed Sister Susan for a classroom assignment and so she invited them to attend the clambake. We spoke to them for a while and learned that Mr. Massawe and Mr. Tereba came here from Tanzania to attend college.

Music for the evening was provided by the "Renegade Gentlemen Band" and they played the old Monkees' song that contained the lyrics, "then I saw her face, now I'm a believer" as a tribute to Sister Susan.img_4730

We admired the sweater worn by Mr. Harry Keagler and told him that we did. As it turned out, he is a retired architect who helped design the office space of Margaret W. Wong and Associates on Chester Avenue. We also saw Mr. Michael Love, the Economic Development Director at South Eucild who we frequently encounter at the Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce meetings. Mr. Love told us that he had worked with Ursuline Piazza when he was involved with Bridge Builders and it was a good association.

After a while, we got tired of standing so we sat down next to Mr. Joel Griffin who works at Ursuline Piazza doing a lot of its paperwork but more and more he is edging into counseling. He seems to us a good person to counsel others because he has a disease (not AIDS) which threatened him with dehabiliation. Fortunately, he received the support that he needed, takes better care of himself, and now has a greater appreciation of life than ever before. Mr. Griffin told us that when he wakes up in the morning he believes that each day will be a good day if he chooses to make it so.

"It's up to you," he said with quiet resolve.

Next, we got to go to Progressive Field and watch the Indians/White Sox game from the Allstar Box where a fundraiser was taking place for Judge Cynthia Rice of the 11th District Court of Appeals who is running for a seat on img_4731 the Ohio Supreme Court. The affair was organized by Ms. Joyce Barrett, a very prominent Cleveland attorney and very good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

 "We were young attorneys together," Ms. Barrett told us.

We were very glad to be there because, even though we are not that interested in sports, we really wanted to show support for Judge Rice who we believe would and will be a welcome addition to the Ohio Supreme Court. For Judge Rice and her family, the evening was a combination of greeting supporters and a welcome respite from a gruelling img_4732 campaign schedule.

Another supporter of Judge Rice who was there was Ms. Emily Hagen, a candidate for Ohio State Senate in the 24th district who we are rooting for also.

We talked to Mr. Anthony Zacharyasz, Strongsville's Deputy Chief of Police, who told us that he was pleased that Judge Rice had received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.

img_4735After we got home, we did some research and found this quote by Mr. Jay McDonald, President of the Ohio FOP and Vice President of the National FOP:

"Judge Rice has served 13 years on the Appellate Court and has over a decade of experience working side by side with law enforcement as a Trumball County Prosecutor and Assistant United States Attorney. On the Supreme Court, the FOP feels that Rice will apply the law impartially to protect all Ohioans, relying on insight into criminal law and procedure she gained from her experience working with law enforcement."

The next day was Sunday, September 25th, and we began the day by attending a brunch at the Highland Heights Community Center in support of "Medical Yatra" which, as stated on the A.I.P.N.O. website, "is a humanitarian img_4751mission organized under the umbrella of Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio (A.I.P.N.O.) reaching out to poor and destitute particularly in underdeveloped countries. 'YATRA' is a Hindi word for pilgrimage."

This will be the 17th year of the "Medical Yatra" and this time it is going to Bhopal. We talked for a few minutes with Dr. Saroj Mahalaha who told us that she will leave for Bhopal in early November to help set things up for the other 15 doctors and 15 volunteers to arrive in January.

 Before we sat down for brunch, we examined and were fascinated by the various prostheses/prosthetics that were img_4743on display and explained to us by Dr. Dayaprasad Kulkarni and Dr. Murty Vuppala.

We then enjoyed an excellent meal of crepes with potatoes which we dunked into sambar and/or coconut chutney. During our meal, we shared a table with Dr. Swati Sathe who shared with us information about another India-flavored concert that will be going on in Playhouse Square in early November that we just might go to because really liked the Kailash Kher concert in August put on for Project SEWA.img_4746

 As we ate we listened to Mr. Ramesh Shah talk about the "Medical Yatra" and explain that among the afflictions scheduled to be treated will be visual impairments and those donating $1 a day for 360 days will help 12 people gain/regain their sight. All of the money given will be used to purchase medicine and equipment because everyone going on the pilgrimage is providing their services for free.

Our second and last evident for Sunday was the unveiling ceremony of the Hungarian Monument at Fairport Harbor Memorial Park. At one time Fairport Harbor used to be home of many people who had immigrated to the United States from Hungary but the area is becoming more diversified and many of their descendants are moving away. Thus, perhaps the purpose for the creation of this landmark is best captured by the mission statement of the Hungarian Heritage Museum, Inc. that is "to preserve Hungarian culture and the history of the Hungarians in Northeast Ohio, so that present and future generations can remember their heritage."


Moreover, another part of the message it seeks to convey is that via this monument, "we honor all Hungarians; not only those Hungarians that came to the United States to start new lives, those that stayed behind and endured many hardships, and those that travelled elsewhere."

One of the speakers was Reverend Louis Medgyesi of the Hungarian Reformed Church. Rev. Medgyesi spoke of how he immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1956 when he was a boy but one "never shakes his roots." He reminded us that we are a nation of immigrants and briefly talked about the history of Hungarian immigration to the United States and how grateful they were to be "received with open arms" by this country.

Ms. Karen Bidlack and her sister, Ms. Kristine Butsko, respectively the President and Secretary of the Hungarian Heritage Museum, were instrumental in the realization of this project. During her remarks, Ms. Karen Bidlack said that this signifies "our respect for the dedication of our ancestors." She talked about how plans for this venture began in 2008 and how happy everyone was to finally see things come to fruition.


Lake County Commissioner Judy Moran, the daughter of German immigrants, said that the commonality shared by all immigrants who have come to the United States at various times is the "search for a better life." She went on that it was troubling to her that in recent times the immigrant groups have been drifting apart but she hoped that things like this monument would pull us back together. She considered what was happening here on this day to be testament to what a small town and a dedicated group of people can do when they when they really want to.

Several people like Ms. Christine (Kapostasy) Jansing, now NBC's Senior White House Correspondent; Mr. Joseph img_4793Reho; and Mr. Robert Bigley, Sr. shared with us poignant memories about growing up in Fairport Harbor, their families, and what their Hungarian Heritage meant to them.

Soon it was time for the monument to be unveiled and it was beautiful. Its design was explained in the program notes which were read by Mr. Wiliam Lukshaw:

At the top of the monument there was a crown signifying the crown of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary and the beginnings of it as a nation.

Then there are the words "Kedves Hazank" translated as "Our Dear Homeland" meaning that although many left Hungary to settle elsewhere they did not forget the customs and traditions of their homeland while they "adopted new customs from their association with 'Americans' and other nationalities."

Beneath these words, there was the etching of the lighthouse of Fairport Harbor putting forth a broad beam of light that represented "both hope and the light of freedom that all immigrants strive for."

Then there was the Hungarian Flag and that of the United States referring to "the home that they left behind and the new home they were coming to."


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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