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Launch to 40 Luncheon Focusing on the PHuture; Song and Story; 21st Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference

On Friday, April 22nd, we went the Renaissance Hotel for the 35th annual Providence House luncheon IMG_0329which was billed as the "Launch to 40 Luncheon Focusing on the PHuture" aka the future.

Our program notes stated that Providence House is "Ohio's first and one of the nation's longest operating crisis nurseries the U.S. and Canada today." It offers "free, voluntary (non-custodial) emergency shelter to children newborn through 10 years old who are actively living in crisis situations which place them at risk of abuse or neglect." Also offered are "support services to families to resolve crisis, improve parenting skills, and strengthen the family." Since it was founded in 1981, it has "provided support to 8,000 children and families in crisis."

Mr. Duane Bishop, Jr., Providence House Board Chairman and Chief Operating Officer at Forest City Commercial Group, recalled during his "welcome comments" how he came to an annual luncheon aboIMG_0325ut 20 years ago and became really motivated to become involved with Providence House. He said that the progress that Providence House has made in those 20 years has been really remarkable.

There must have been 300 people packed into the Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance on this day but, before she said the opening prayer, Sr. Hope Greener, CSJ and Providence House Founder, told us that the first of these luncheons was attended by only 94 people. It was held in the basement of St. Patrick Church and an arrangement was made with the Kroger Company that entailed the food being provided for free in exchange for a company representative being the main speaker. Things worked out great and the luncheons continued over the years.

Ms. Karen Dolan, Luncheon Chair and Providence House Trustee, said that the purpose of this luncheon was to celebrate the 35 years of accomplishments as well as to proclaim the goals for the next five years leading up to Providence House's 40th anniversary. Ms. Natalie Leek-Nelson, Providence House CEO and President, said that these goals were to serve 5,000 more children and families; make sure that each child in Ohio has access to a place like Providence House; get the word out regarding the success IMG_0327of the Providence House model which has already been written about very positively in national publications; and raise the necessary monies to keep Providence House secure and functional.

Along these lines, a video was shown of Ms. Leek-Nelson's young son who taught us all how to make use of an app which would allow us to donate during the luncheon. It was both cute and funny because it reinforced the contention that if an adult has a problem with his/her computer or cell phone just ask a small child.

Two institutions and one person were then honored with an "Every Child" award for supporting Providence House steadfastly over the years. The "company" awardee was Forest City Enterprises, the "community" awardee was Saint Joseph Academy and the "individual" awardee was Joe Cimperman. It was noted that one of Mr. Cimperman's last actions before he resigned from the Cleveland City Council was to arrange for a crosswalk to be constructed between the two nurseries on West 32nd Street.

IMG_0339A special award was also given to Ms. Daisy Lopez who was the first child care provider hired back in 1981 now retiring. Sr. Hope Greener said that she must have rocked thousands of babies asleep during her tenure.

During lunch we sat at the United Way Table with campaign associates Ms. Ashley Davis (who has worked with Margaret W. Wong and Associates before on United Way activities) and Ms. Rachel Dursi. Sitting a few seats away from us was Mr. Ben Miladin, Director of Health Community Impact for United Way, who asked a pertinent question regarding public assistance recipients last week at the City Club. Also at our table was Dr. David S. Crampton, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Scienceat CWRU. Several of Dr. Crampton's former students now work at Providence House.

When we first arrived at the Renaissance, we were greeted by Mr. Roger Barnhard, Providence House's Community Outreach Developer, who worked with Ms. Wong when she was on the board of University Hospital Connect. Ms. Barbara Ragon, Executive Director of the North Coast Men's Chorus, was there too and very hard at work coordinating the volunteers who were making this luncheon a fine experience for us all.

And even though she was quite busy attending to some last-minute details, Ms. Leek-Nelson stopped and posed for a photo in which she smiled, waved and said, "hello, Margaret!"

On Friday night we went to the East Side Irish American Club on Lakeshore Blvd. to attend a "Song and IMG_0353Story" program commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin. It featured two actors playing in turn an Irish woman drawn into the conflict and Mr. Padraic Pearse, one of the its leaders, offering commentary on the events leading up to the rising, the rising itself, and the immediate aftermath and its ultimate impact.

Interspersed with this commentary were Irish songs played and sung by several musicians/singers which reflected/established the tone for the events talked about by the actors. Nearby, there were banners that presented a detailed account of what we were watching.

One section of the performance that we found particularly moving was when the Irish woman talked IMG_0349 about another woman that she knew who insisted upon marrying her fiancé the night before he was to be executed for his role in the rising.

When the program ended, we complimented Mr. Jack Kilroy for writing, producing, and directing the program.  It reminded up of St. Patrick's Day where the design of the floats of both the East Side and the West Side Irish American Clubs concerned aspects of the Easter Rising.

We learned that Saturday night, there would be another performance at the West Side Irish American Club that was already completely sold out.

Altogether, the entire program lasted for less than one hour but the message was powerful and the songs were lovely so it was well-worth our time to be there.

The next day was Saturday, 'April 23rd, and we spent most of the day at Lorain Community in Elyria tabling on behalf of Margaret W. Wong and Associates at the 21st Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference.

IMG_0372Right away, we sold two copies of Ms. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" which were purchased by Ms. Lillian Barretto who worked for Head Start and was eager to learn about the things talked about by Ms. Wong in her book and by Ms. Laura Holloway from the Lorain Dept. of Job and Family Services who believed that its contents might help her to do her job even better.

One person who was there who had already read "The Immigrant's Way" was Mr. Rico Neller who works for "La Prensa" and said that Ms. Wong was "a good lady who has accomplished a lot." Among the other people who we connected with, there was Mr. Bill Harper, Executive Director of United Way of Greater Lorain County, who recognized us from our attendance at other events and gave us a hearty welcome. Other people who stopped off at our table incluced Mr. Joel Arredondo, President of the Lorain City Council, and his wife, Ms. Joyce Arredondo who is the Redevelopment Administer at the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority.IMG_0381

And, of course, our very good friend, Ms. Mari Galindo-DaSilva was present and looking forward to attending a workshop later in the day titled "Bridging the Gaps Through Oral Histories: Telling Our stories" which, as the program notes indicated, was to "examine the importance and value in telling our stories to our children and how to pass these stories on to future generations."

The entire day consisted of several series of workshops including one about Latina empowerment put on by Ms. Lilleana Cavanaugh, Executive Director of the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs, who we had seen the previous week at the ICC-WIN annual summit. Another workshop presenter was our friend Ms. Kathie "High Voltage" Dolgin who would be discussing how to make great foods while "avoiding risky ingredients."

IMG_0363Other workshops concerned how to interact positively with law enforcement; the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and its possible impact on the Hispanic/Latino community; and transitioning from prison back to the community.

We were able to sit in on a very good one put on by Ms. Veronica Dahlberg, Founder and Executive Director of HOLA about the history and the need for DACA and DAPA. Ms. Dahlberg also discussed the mission of HOLA and introduced several people who HOLA had helped over the last several years who gave moving testimonials about facing deportation and/or other matters like what it is like being a Latino college student in today's environment. For us, one thing that was particularly telling was a section concerning the possible harmful effects of ankle bracelets (often placed on people awaiting deportation proceedings) particularly on pregnant women.

Earlier in the day, everyone met in the dining area for introductions including those of the workshop coordinators who discussed what they sought to accomplish. There was a poetry recital by the renowned Ms. Denice Frohman whose thoughtful work concerned the challenges faced by people who have to struggle to make themselves understood due to their accents.

And there was a surprise but very welcome visit by Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr. who holds the distinct honor of being one of the few Latinos to be honored by both the U.S. government and the government of Mexico and has been recognized no fewer than four times as one of the 100 most influential HispanicsIMG_0370 in America. He has earned many degrees and has been awarded quite a few honorary ones. On this day he talked about his concerns that about certain political movements that seek to take away a lot of the hard-fought-for rights that Latinos and other people of color have gained over the years. He seemed especially concerned about the calls to abolish bilingual services.

Dr. Andrade thus encouraged Latino youth to become informed on what is happening and to take up the mantle of those who came before them by continuing to work for progress. Along these lines, he urged everyone to take part in the upcoming elections and said that no one there should leave Lorain Community College without registering to vote.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

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