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Coffee Contacts at Eastern Lake County; Let's Talk about Gun Control; 2016 International Festival at the Horizon Science Academy; Presentation of The Maltz Heritage Award

IMG_1229 On Thursday, May 19th, as we do twice a month, we started the day off at the Mentor/Eastern Lake County "Coffee Contacts" on this day held at "California Imports Too" on Mentor Avenue in Painesville. Ms. Andrea McKinney, who has owned this business for a couple of years, told us that the main function that it performs is to help people find a bathing suit that properly fits them.

Among the people that we met was Ms. Karen Bowersox, Executive Director of "Downs Designs Dreams" which designs clothes for the disabled and people with special needs. We learned that Ms. Bowersox has clients in such countries as Germany, New Zealand, England, Ireland, and Iceland thus she IMG_1234is truly an international business person.

When it came time for us to introduce ourselves and make any pertinent announcements, we mentioned that during most of the upcoming weekend we would be tabling at the Asian Festival in Asia Plaza. We quickly added that the food and the company there were quite good. Before we sat down (we only had 30 seconds) we managed to also say that on the 27th of May, we would be taking part in the bathtub races in Painesville.

Next, we went to the City Club where its Youth Forum was putting on a discussion about gun control. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by Mr. Phil Hedayatnia, CEO of the Youth Forum Council, as well as Ms. Kirsten Pomales, its secretary.

The audience for the day was largely composed of students from New Tech East High School, John Hay Early IMG_1242 College, Shaw High School, Solon High School, and St. Martin de Porres. Come to think of it, there were not too many older people in attendance except for the high school chaperones and our friend, Mr. Bill McLaughlin, a City Club regular, just as we are, along with Mr. Duane Deskins, First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Cuyahoga  County, and, of course, ourselves.

We shared a table with a couple of students from Solon High School which has a very diverse population including many students from India and other Asian countries. One of the students we sat with said that this was "very cool."

The discussion was moderated by Youth Forum Council member Ms. Tiolu Oresanya and the participants were Ohio State Representative Ms. Nickie Antonio (District 13) and Ms. Angela Ladson, the mother of two sons who had, very sadly, lost their lives due to gun violence at an early age. Ohio State Rep. Antonio also recalled that when she was 11 there was a shooting on her street which resulted in several people that she knew being either killed or severely injured. This motivated her to become "an advocate for sensible gun laws."

At the start of program, Ms. Oresanya reviewed mixed results of gun control in several countries such as Australia (gun crimes down but crime as a whole stayed the same); United Kingdom (homicides relatively quite low); and Germany (Nazis took advantage of citizenry's lack of firearms to repress them). During the course of the conversation the participants talked about/answered questions concerning the intent of the second amendment; the problems with making guns so accessible to people; the effectiveness of our current gun laws which are not always enforced; and whether or not such weapons really make us safe.IMG_1238

Other topics touched upon included those that addressed the root causes of violence. For instance, the possible need for schools to be more aggressive regarding the teaching of proper values to young students. It was also said that there was a need for more accessible mental health services and better community relations with local police officers.

IMG_1237Afterwards, Ohio State Rep. Antonio shared with us a copy of HB 494 a bill that she introduced with Ohio State Rep. Janine Boyd referred to as the "Safe at Home" legislation. As the summary said, this legislation is meant to protect victims of domestic violence through providing further judicial discretion and encouraging state-level enforcement, allowing for the transfer of firearms away from domestic abusers in the case of their conviction of a domestic violence crime or during the instance of an active protection order. Presently, many domestic violence abusers are prohibited from having guns under federal law but are not required to surrender their guns when they become prohibited. While federal background checks ensure that domestic abusers cannot buy firearms from gun dealers, only state law can ensure that they surrender any guns they already own. HB 494 will correct shortcomings in state law that allow many domestic abusers to have access to firearms as well as lowering the frequent and deadly intersection between domestic abuse and gun violence."

We agree with the last line of the summary that reads, "through proper enforcement, the new legislation will make a difference in the lives of Ohioan women." We plan to write to some of our legislators urging them to consider supporting this bill.

Our third event of the day was the 2016 International Festival at the Horizon Science Academy on South Marginal IMG_1273 Road in Cleveland which took place from 3pm to 5pm in the gym. It was organized primarily by Mr. Gurtug Yalvac, the Assistant Director who told us that the students put together at least 20 different booths featuring information about different countries and their cultures as well as a sampling of their food.

Many of the students involved had immigrated from the country whose booth they were staffing or had parents or relatives who did. This was not always the case, though, because quite a few of the students just wanted to be involved in this special project so they simply chose a country and went to work.IMG_1274

During our short time there, we were visited booths representing the United States, Japan, Turkey, Italy, China, India, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Greece, Philippines, Belize, Taiwan, Brazil, Scotland, Turkmenistan, Spain, Azerbaijan, Senegal, and Ghana.

IMG_1275It was good run into our old friends Mr. Ken Kovach, Mr. Murat Gurer, and Dr. Asim Datta there also; we plan to see them again on Friday night at the CAMEO banquet.

In addition to the booths, there was international music, dance, and a makeshift soccer game.IMG_1277

As we were leaving, a young man shook our hand and urged us to leave with "no negative vibes" but with "positive vibes." We assured him that he didn't have to worry because attending this event made us feel pretty good.

Our last event for the day was the presentation of the Maltz Heritage Award which took place at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The notes in our program booklet read, "committed to building bridges of understanding between people of all faiths, races, cultures and ethnic backgrounds, each year the Maltz Museum to Jewish Heritage honors an individual whose leadership, vision, and humanity have changed our region for the better."

This year the person chosen to received this tribute was President Barbara Snyder of Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). Since assuming office in 2007, President Snyder has helped CWRU climb out of debt; overseen IMG_1286the tripling of undergraduate applicants; enacted policies that have made CWRU a more international campus; forged a unique ongoing relationship with the Cleveland Clinic which resulted in the Health Education Campus being created; and  contributed to the revitalization of University Circle.

President Snyder's honor was presented to her by Mr. Milton Maltz, co-founder of the Maltz Museum. During her brief but moving acceptance speech, President Snyder thanked the "100's and 100's of people" who contributed to the progress of CWRU. She also talked about how much she liked working with Mr. Maltz and his wife, Ms. Tamar Maltz on the renovation of the Temple-Tifereth Israel which is now the home of the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center. At the conclusion of her speech, Mr. Maltz said that there is nobody quite like this lady who works hard, enjoys her work and doesn't quit.

We are pleased to report that Margaret W. Wong and Associates purchased a table for this event which was shared by Ms. Margaret W. Wong, Ms. Cecilia Wong, Ms. Rose Wong, Ms. Lily Yao Hwang, Mr. Bernard Lee, Ms. Mal Mixon and his wife, Ms. Barbara Mixon.

IMG_1287 There must have been 500 or so people there so we got to walk around before the program started and had good visits with:

***Professor Michael Scharf who we saw at the Maltz Museum last week when he gave a presentation about Adolf Eichmann. We discussed the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform after the next U.S. President is elected.

IMG_1288***Ms. Stephanie Turner who we shared a table with at the Cuyahoga County Democratic dinner last Sunday. We talked about that dinner and prospective Vice Presidential choices for Ms. Hillary Clinton.

***Dr. Eric Klein from the Cleveland Clinic who praised President Snyder for the work that she has done with the Cleveland Clinic.

***We talked some more with Mr. Irv Rosner about the powerful exhibit at the Maltz Museum concerning the apprehension and trial of Adolf Eichmann.

Two other highpoints of the evening occurred when Ms. Nupur Goel read her essay which was the 2016 Youth Speak Out Grand Prize winner for 2016.  We had heard her read her essay before at the City Club. In it, she talked about how her fellow students treated badly because she was of Indian descent but she responded positively by helping to establish at elective at her high school regarding the understanding of non-western cultures. The other highlight was a performance by the 2016 Youth Sing Out winner which was Cleveland Heights High School.

Another thing that we liked about the Maltz Heritage Award program were the Invocations by the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. and Rabbi Richard Block.  Rev. Dr. Moss prayed for us "to stay on the road to truth no matter how long, lonely, and less traveled" that it may be and Rabbi Block prayed that we all might have a life that accounts for something good no matter how unpopular that it might be at the time. Rabbi Block went on to say that on this night we "celebrate an individual whose life truly counts and enhances the opportunities for others to make their lives count" who was, of course, President Barbara Snyder.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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