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Dr. Mansour Lectures at The City Club; 19th Annual Top O' the Towers Benefit

On Friday, March 4th, we went to the City Club to hear a lecture by Dr. Riyad H. Mansour who has been Ambassador and IMG_8582Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations since 2005.

Dr. Mansour contended that a two-state solution is the best way to address the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict and liked it that France is talking about this now. He is hopeful that an international conference will be conveyed before President Obama's term expires so that he can get the United States involved in it. Thus, the next U.S. President will have to flow with a current that has been established.

Dr. Mansour believed if such a thing doesn't happen the extremists of both Palestine and Israel will IMG_8583continue to push both places into a confrontation even more intense than it is now.

This intensity was recognized by Mr. Dan Moulthrop, City Club CEO, as he opened the program by saying that "passions" are often quite high when the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is discussed so he called on all of us to remember that the City Club is a place for "reason, free speech, and a vital and vigorous exchange of ideas."

We are proud to say that on this day this program was attended by people associated with CAIR, the Anti-Defamation League, NOCMES (Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies), the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, along with Cleveland Peace Action and all parties couldn't have behaved with more respect and civility towards each other.

IMG_8581We met several people including a CSU student who knows an international student who would like to settle here in the United States and may ultimately need the help of Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

What particularly interested us was Dr. Mansour's background.  As the program notes stated, he was "born to a refugee family that lived in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank." His father was one of the lucky 200 persons a year chosen through a lottery process to be allowed to immigrate to the United States. He settled in Youngstown and became a steel worker. Dr. Mansour thus obtained his Master of Science in Education Counseling from Youngstown State University and his doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling at the University of Akron. He told us that he roots for all the sports teams of Cleveland which is like a second home to him.

We asked him about the immigration process between Palestine and the United States and he said that he thought it was easier in his father's time than it is now because once they were settled here in the United States, immigrants, like his father, were able to bring their families here, person by person sometimes, and pretty soon a "colony" was established which, as he said, is the story of the United States.

Of course, the subject of Palestinian refugees came up in the Q and A and Dr. Mansour believed that thiIMG_8580s issue would have to be addressed in the course of international negotiations and then voted via referendum in both Israel and Palestine.

Speaking of immigration, he concluded by the program by saying that "Mr. Trump" is concerned about the "brain drain" facing the United States and thinks it just might be a good idea to support some of the international students who wish to remain in the United States because "it is good for business."

On a less cynical note, our friend Mr. Raymond Bobgan, Executive Artistic Director of the Cleveland Public Theatre, called our attention to a play titled "Wrestling Jerusalem" that will be opening in May which "follows one man's journey to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Mr. Bogdan urged all of us to consider seeing it because it makes us realize that the people caught up in this turmoil are individuals, just like us.

IMG_8587On Friday night we drove to LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility in Westlake in order to attend the 19th Annual Top O' the Towers Benefit on behalf of St. Augustine Health Ministries which, as we have written before, is a "mission-driven, faith-based, not-for-profit organization founded by the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Cleveland" which is "dedicated to providing a continuum of health care and social services within our community."

At LaCentre there was several different food stations, anIMG_8595 interesting looking drink dubbed "the blarney blush, the opportunity to take part in silent auctions, music by "The New Barleycorn", Mr. Bob Gale (who we have seen at all kinds of events) acting as auctioneer and Mr. Dan Coughlin (sportswriter and author) acting as emcee. Things were set up so that all of the bidding could be done via one's cell phone. Mr. Coughlin got out his own flip phone to show us how easy it was and Mr. Gale kidded him about how IMG_8594flip phones are now out of style; in fact, he suggested that Mr. Coughlin's cell phone be auctioned off!

During the brief program, Mr. Rick Meserini, President/CEO of St. Augustine's, paid tribute to the work of the Holy Family Home in Parma which was founded in 1956 by the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne as a home for terminally ill cancer patients. The Sisters managed it for 48 years and in 2004 St. Augustine Health Ministries took over its administration and now strives to emulate all of the great things that the Sisters did during their tenure.

It was mentioned several times throughout the program that the money raised at this event would go towards the purchase of a new bus to take the residents of St. Augustine's to the store and on occasional field trips. The current bus is around 20 years old and in need of many repairs. Mr. Tim Tobias, whoIMG_8592 drives the bus more than he drives his own car, talked about the constant problems that he has with the wheelchair lift and regards the purchase of a new bus to be "exceedingly important" otherwise the St. Augustine patients would not be able to travel as much and this would really dampen a lot of spirits.

Accordingly, $59,000 would have to be raised but five minutes were devoted to people making direct pledges of financial support for this project and at the end of five minutes almost $22,000.00 was raised so it is a safe bet that the additional $37,000.00 was raised before everyone went home.

We talked to several people who were enjoying themselves including Mr. Bill Kutschbach and his wife, Ms. Vicky Kutschbach,who traveled all of the way from Columbus because the firm that Mr. Kutschbach works for, HW & Company (a CPA firm), has done some work for St. Augustine's. This was the tenth Top O' the Towers for Mr. and Mrs. Kutschbach.

We, ourselves, had a good time visiting with Father Januarius Lyimo, who is a chaplain at St. Augustine's although he defines himself as a missionary. Father Lyimo is here from Tanzania and we asked him how long he plans to stay in the Cleveland area. Father Lyimo said that he would be with us "as long as God wants" and since it appears that there is quite a bit of work to be done here so Father Lyimo has no plans to leave in the near future.

Written by:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

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

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