2016 Celebration of Goodness Luncheon
On Thursday, June 30th, we attended the 2016 Celebration of Goodness Luncheon presented by the Values-in- Action Foundation (consisting of Project Love and Purple America) at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven. Among the several entities listed as a "luncheon supporter" was Margaret W. Wong and Associates.
On this day, the "Sam Miller Goodness Awards" were presented to Mr. Bruce Akers, Community Leader and Retired Mayor of the City of Pepper Pike; Dr. Akram Boutros, MD, the President and CEO of the MetroHealth System; Mr. Bill Considine, President and CEO of Akron Children's Hospital; and Mr. Calvin D. Williams, Chief of Police of the City of Cleveland.
In a supplement to the program notes, Ms. Kristen Hampshire wrote that these honorees are people "who have dedicated their careers to creating a thriving, healthy, and safe neighborhood."
What's more, as the program notes, themselves, stated the individuals honored were"extraordinary examples of those going above and beyond to make our community one of kindness, caring and respect." These notes described Chief Williams as someone who has "kept Cleveland safe during the recent challenges facing the police and our community while respecting all involved." They credited Dr. Boutros for bringing "new vitality to the MetroHealth System in serving Cleveland's most vulnerable populations while inspiring a spirit of collaboration throughout our whole community." Mr. Akers was noted as "a tireless, longtime civic leader and cheerleader of Northeast Ohio's most worthy causes." And, of course, Mr. Considine "created one of the country's best children's hospitals and leads with kindness, compassion and integrity."
The program got off to a fine start with our friend Mr. Ratanjit Sondhe, Board Chairman of Values-in-Action, delivering the official "welcome" in which he emphasized the need for "civility" which is often lacking in our interactions to be re-introduced and be made ever-present. We agree with Mr. Sondhe as he contended that more "civility" in our daily encounters; whether they be social, professional, or political; would help us meet our challenges with more "grace and freedom" and help us to achieve more positive, productive results. Mr. Sondhe credited the successful programs of the Values-in-Action Foundation as having gone a long way towards encouraging this approach. He concluded his remarks by saying that if more "civility" were to be applied, then we would grow as individuals and as a community. There would be "a complete absence of discrimination, marginalization, and inequality."
But the highlight of the day was Mr. Sam Miller, Co-Chairman Emeritus of Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (among other wonderful distinctions). As Mr. Sondhe, Mr. Rob Briggs (Advisory Board Chairman), and Mr. Stuart Muszynski, President and CEO wrote in a letter that appeared in the program, "This year's celebration is in tandem with Sam Miller's 95th birthday. So, first, a brief tribute to Sam. In many ways, Sam Miller has been the Mr. Rogers of Cleveland for the past 60 years. Whether a community project, political leadership or civic good, Sam has been behind all of them. He was set an expectation for acting in the interest of doing good in our community. He has shaped our 'neighborhood' by embracing it as his own-almost like family. Affectionately, we have come to refer to our Celebration of Goodness as 'Welcome to Mr. Miller's Neighborhood.'
Mr. Miller was there so we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him as a cake and a glowing sparkler were delivered to his table. Mr. Miller, physically frail, but strong of heart and mind then rose and spoke to us for a few minutes as Mr. Muszynski held the microphone for his dear friend. Mr. Miller talked about his early life in Cleveland as the child of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the challenges he faced like knowing the Yiddish, Russian, and Polish languages but not English; it took him a while to learn it. He talked about what it was like being the only white student in a school otherwise composed of people of color and other experiences regarding his education and his service in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII. One of the latter that particularly touched us was how he almost got into trouble for drinking out of the same bucket as an African-American. He concluded by saying that an important lesson that he learned was to "never be afraid of people not like you."
As far as "civility" and "positive interaction" go, we had a good time visiting with people in the foyer before we went into lunch. We talked to a young woman named Anderina who remembered seeing the table for Margaret W. Wong and Associates at the Asian Festival which she like very much largely due to the energy of the youth that she saw performing there. We also visited with Reverend Dr. Larry R. Howard from the Historic Greater Friendship Baptist Church and his wife, Gwendolyn who is connected with the School of Social Work at CSU; both of them had heard of and admired Ms. Margaret W. Wong.
Before we went into lunch, we saw another person taking notes (just as we do) so we walked over and said hello. As it turned out, she was a reporter for the "Jewish News" and was trying to be as accurate as possible in her coverage.
During lunch, we sat with Ms. Hedy Milgrom, Mr. Mike Cole and Mr. Alan Gross from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. When we told Mr. Gross that we lived in Euclid Beach he quickly suggested that we try a bakery located just a few blocks from us named "Archie's Lake Shore Bakery" which is quite renowned. In fact, he recently purchased a cake there for his mother's 90th birthday. We enjoy a treat now and then and are often up to trying out new things so we just might follow Mr. Gross' suggestion.
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC