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Fundraising at The Sterling Recreation Center; World Refugee Day Picnic; 35th Anniversary Celebration of the Interreligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF)

IMG_2229On Saturday, June 18th, we spent most of the morning and early afternoon at the Sterling Recreation Center on East 32nd Street helping out at a fundraiser organized by our friend Ms. Chia-Min Chen, Asian Liaison of the Community Relations Board in Cleveland, in order that uniforms might be purchased for the Cleveland Scrappers Beep Baseball Team and books might be obtained for two libraries put together by the Books for Africa Library Project, Inc.

Ms. Donna Wheeler and Mr. Jeff Dell, both very involved with the Cleveland Scrappers, explained to us that it is a baseball team for those who are blind or visually impaired. It is called "beep baseball" because there are beeping mechanisms on the softballs and buzzers on first and third base. Mr. Dell told us that the Scrappers recently playedIMG_2224 in Chicago and Indianapolis and Ms. Wheeler said participation in such sporting exercises helps build confidence and self-esteem.

The Books for Africa Library Project was started in 1997 by a married couple Mr. Kirt (from Akron) and Ms. Hilda (from Ghana) Bromley who were at the Sterling Recreation Center to provide information about their project which has helped to establish over 60 new libraries in rural African regions over the years.

To raised funds, there were plenty of cookies, Asian pastries and other items to be sold.

Mr. Jeff Su gave a demonstration of "Bajiquan" a Chinese martial art and other Ms. Sara Showman gave a storytelling presentation for all of us. In addition, several promising young pianists performed and there was Chinese gymnastics dancing.

Best of all was when Ms. Chen, herself, beautifully and energetically sang several hymns with Mr. Bromley who both IMG_2230sang and provided accompaniment  with his guitar.

We really wanted to go to the World Refugee Day Picnic hosted by the International Services Center (ISC) which took place from 1pm to 4pm on that Saturday but, unfortunately, we were so busy helping at the Sterling Recreation Center that we missed most of it but we still got to stop by and say hello to Ms. Karen Wishner, Executive Director, and Mr. Alassane Fall, the AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator.

We were told that the day was indeed a success because, perhaps, 300 people spent time there including refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Bhutan, and the Sudan.

World Refugee Day is actually on June 20th but the ISC wisely chose to celebrate is on Saturday instead. We read on the ICS website that World Refugee Day is acknowledged in more than 100 countries "in order to draw the public's attention to the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution."

Our last event for the day was the 35th Anniversary Celebration of the Interreligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) which was held in the Viva Dance Studio on East 38th Street.IMG_2237 Except for a chilling but necessary report on conditions in Honduras by Ms. Sophie Fruechtenicht who visited there in February, 2016 it was a very upbeat, festive evening with some great vegan tamales and lots of good conversations IMG_2242including a couple with old friends Judge Diane Karpinski and Mr. George Hrbek now retired from the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries but still active the humanitarian front.

If this were not enough there were stunning dance numbers Dr. Julio Aponte and Mr. Rodrigo Lewellan (where they portrayed sugar cane workers celebrating the sunset); Ms. Connie Bartholomew and Mr. Robert Dobrowski who we always look forward to seeing at IRTF events; and one that was especially astonishing titled "Tango Takes to the Air" in which was an a type of aerial act performed by Ms. Vanessa Lange on silk ropes.

We were inspired to take a salsa lesson but we just couldn't get our own feet to work...maybe next year!!!


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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