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Fundraising for Ward 14 Cleveland City Councilman Cummins; Annual Joseph's Home "Perseverance in Hope" Gathering; Community Awareness Breakfast

On Thursday evening we attended a fundraiser for our friend, Ward 14 Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins that was held on the patio at Johnny's on Fulton Road.

IMG_2350 We talked to Councilman Cummins about his plans for the future and he told us that he was very excited about prospective housing development projects that have a good possibility of coming to fruition. Also present was Mr. Jeff Ramsey, Executive Director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development who invited us to the ribbon cutting for the "Lion Mills Building" on West 25th Street that will take place on June 29th. It will offer 36 units of affordable housing. Another promising endeavor is the Aragon Ballroom on West 25th Street which should open sometime this Fall.

 We were pleased to see a lot of people attend this fundraiser including our friends Mr. Joe Meissner, Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan, Mr. Greg Coleridge, Ms. Angela Shuckahosee, Mr. Bill Denihan (who was also at the Joseph's Home luncheon we attended earlier) and Mr. Pierre Bejjani.

 We also got to talk to former Cleveland City Councilman John Lawson who is a good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong and told us to say hello.

 Another admirer of Ms. Wong was Mr. Fred Geis who has worked with Ms. Wong on some immigration matters. He told us that he likes Ms. Wong because she is straight forward and "zero filter" in stating the truth as she sees it.

 Ms. Shannon Fogarty Jerse, General Counsel of Government Affairs of St. Vincent Medical Center requested that we thank Ms. Wong for her continued support.

 Speaking of housing, earlier in the day we attended two events where shelter for those in need figured prominently.

 For lunch we went to Windows on the River for the annual Joseph's Home "Perseverance in Hope" gathering. We have attended this event at least three times and talked about this with a woman named Barbara who had also been to more than one. Barbara said that she considered them to be a "wonderful, wonderful thing."IMG_2323

 As we know, Joseph's Home was founded in 2000 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine to serve homeless men whose health is quite fragile. The occupants are provided with food, clothing, and shelter as well as medical care for the duration of their stay. Ultimately, the goal is to help them achieve medical, financial and housing stability.

Before the meal started we said hello to Ms. Christine Horne, the Executive Director, and Ms. Carrie Benedict, Chair of Joseph's Home Board of Directors. Ms. Benedict remembered sharing a table with us at a this luncheon one or two years prior.

 On this day we shared a table with four people who work at Joseph's Home who were Ms. Terry Cloud, Housing IMG_2327Locator; Mr. Al Gibson, Operations Manager; Mr. Marcus Redfearn, Social Worker; and Mr. Jamie Greene, a full-time volunteer.

We had a very good conversation with Ms. Pam Bradford from the Center for Families and Children. She told us that she didn't make it to the CAVS parade but watched it on television and was very impressed by the diversity of the turnout. She was touched by the number of young families who chose to get up early and take their small children to this "momentous" occasion.

 Finally, we shook hands with Mr. Dick Clough and told him that our next event was the groundbreaking for the Russian Cultural Garden. Mr. Clough said that he believed that his friend, Mr. Ken Kovach would be there wearing a colorful outfit celebrating his Russian heritage. Mr. Clough was right because Mr. Kovach was indeed there and wore black pants and a beautiful blue tunic that had a gold collar.

For breakfast, we drove to Cuyahoga Falls to attend a community awareness breakfast on behalf of CANAPI which is the Community Aids Network/Akron Pride Initiative.

We learned that the two organization successfully joined forces in 2010 and listened to presentations by Mr. Phillip J. Montgomery, President of the Board, and Ms. Rebecca Callahan, the Executive Director. It is the mission of CANAPI "to empower an inclusive community through education, outreach, and awareness while eliminating stigma and HIVIMG_2320 transmission."

 Mr. Montgomery said that part of their plan was for more community outreach and advocacy.

 Ms. Callahan spoke and showed slides that illustrated the programs that CANAPI offered which included housing, nutrition, and AIDS prevention. In terms of housing, stability assistance has been provided to 300 households in Summit and Portage counties. It was stressed that affordable housing for people living with HIV was vital because such individuals were three times more likely to become homeless.

 As far as the Akron Pride Initiative, programs are available concerning teen pride (social activities and education), advocacy and support, and their annual "Game Change" conference for professional development on LGBTQ issues.

 Another presentation (and a moving one at that) was given by Ms. Gizelle Jones, Executive Director of Jewish Family Services, who spoke about how her late brother was stricken with AIDS and the stigma he faced.

 During breakfast, we shared a table with Rev. Kurt Wieser of Grace United Church of Christ of Loyal Oak. We told him that we had gone to an IRTF event last Saturday and it turned out that he was very familiar with the organization and knew several of the people that we knew.

 Other people we talked to were Mr. Russell W. Balthis, Law Director of Cuyahoga Falls who remembered working with Margaret W. Wong and Associates on some immigration issues when he, himself, worked for former Attorney General of Ohio Richard Cordray.

We met Judge Linda Teodosio of Summit County Juvenile Court and Judge Joy Malek Oldfield of Akron Municipal Court who is a good friend of Ms. Sherrie Miday who is running for Common Pleas Court Judge in Cuyahoga County.

 From a legal professional we learned that sometimes people who have immigrated to the United States get into legal skirmishes mostly involving minor offenses. A lack of translators is a problem so there is talk about conducting hearings at the International Institute of Akron which would be a more comfortable environment.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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