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City Club Youth Forum: Power and Politics; My Life, My Letters and My Loves; University Hospital Annual Reception

On Thursday, September 29th, we went to the City Club for a City Club Youth Forum panel discussion titled "Power and Politics" in which Mr. Bishop Walton, a Youth Forum Council member, queried Ms. Christen img_4905DuVernay, Director of Look Up to Cleveland, Cleveland Leadership Center; Mr. Pat McDonald, Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections; and Dr. Joseph White, Ph.D., Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy, from CWRU.

Among the questions that Mr. Walton asked the panelists were:

Who has the most power in our political system?

How much control does social media and mainstream media have?

How can we as students become more engaged in the world around us?

It was a lively discussion and there were different opinions on how much power the media has over the political process and the way that people think. Part of the reason for this is that it was said that in the past there were three mainstream media networks but now with the advent of so many new venues things have gotten more fragmented. Conservatives may turn on Fox News because its viewpoint might mirror their own whereas a liberal might turn to img_4903 Jon Steward and Stephen Colbert. It was said that social media (i.e. facebook and twitter) is good as a platform for expressing one's own philosophy but not too effective in terms of changing minds because people tend to be rooted in their own values.

In terms of who actually has the most power, Dr. Walton believed thatpower was very shared and scattered now and hesitated to cite one particular entity. Mr. McDonald did lean towards the media and believed that the attention that Mr. Donald Trump garnered in the early stages of his campaign was instrumental in his acquiring the republican nomination for the U.S. Presidency. Ms. Duvernay contended that people do have the vote and they can make an impact; for instance, the person from "Black Lives Matter" who challenged Hillary Clinton in a forum has been said to have really influenced her.

img_4902The item that the panelists did all agree on was the importance of voting and being involved in the political process. Mr. McDonald suggested to the audience (mostly students) that getting involved in student government would be an excellent starting point and, even if they are not old enough to vote in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election they still get involved in the campaign. Ms. DuVernay stressed the importance of having "civil dialogue" with those who may think differently. Dr. White agreed with all of the above and urged the students to offer to supervise their older friends and relatives' children while they went to vote if need be.

During the Q and A, we asked the panel if the issue of immigration will grow increasingly prominent in the upcoming weeks before the U.S. Presdential election on November 8th. Dr. White replied that he believed that it definitely would in some form either directly or indirectly. In other words, it could be in the form of an ad, it could be discussed in a debate, or someone might make a remark that would cause people to think about it.

On this day the City Club was packed with students from such schools as Andrews Osborne Academy; Cleveland Montessori School; Cleveland School of Architecture and Design; Dike School of the Arts; Hawken School; Jane Addams Business Career Center; Laurel School; St. Martin de Porres; and Notre Dame Cathedral Latin School.

Of course the election was very much on the minds of most of the people present, no matter how old they were. Prior to sitting down for lunch, we  discussed the first debate with Ms. Mary Beth McCormack, an instructor at Cleveland Montessori School. She suddenly called over one of her students, Miss Maeve Cassidy, and asked her to share her thoughts on the debate with us. Miss Cassidy said that Mr. Trump seemed to be saying that the U.S. is being shaped by bad things and needs to be rescued (i.e. by him) whereas Secretary Clinton seemed to be saying that she realizes that the United States is in need of help in some areas and she would like to provide it.

Such an acute observation from a 7th grader makes us hopeful about the future indeed!

Later on Thursday we went to the Lakewood Library for one in a series of gatherings in which a local author discusses his/her work.

Tonight the author was Ms. Alida Henriette Struze who, in 2015, published "My Life, My Letters and My Loves" which is a collection of 65 annual Christmas letters that she wrote between 1950 and 2014 in which she talked about what img_4911 was going on in her life framed against what was going on in the world at the time. Copies of these letters were sent to family, friends, and co-workers at the Legal Aid Society in Cleveland who all looked forward to receiving them.

In fact, one friend who loved them was Ms. Margaret W. Wong who was inspired to start writing the letters that are sent out each year along with the invite to the holiday party put on each year by Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

Next week Ms. Struze will have her 95th birthday. She worked at the Legal Aid Society for 66 years in the social services division where it was her job to find legal assistance for those whose cases the Legal Aid Society was unable to take. At age 88, she finally retired. She told us that she never thought that when she wrote her first Christmas letter so long ago that it would be would become part of a book but it did.

Among the things that she wrote about over the years were what was going on with her "loves" which were family, friends, her church and nature. She recalled how people used to send her notes saying how much they looked forward to reading them each year and some were even a bit good-naturedly miffed when they, themselves, were not mentioned in them.

In addition to her letters, the book contains sections titled "Early Memories" about the first 29 years of her life and "More Memories of My Life" where she offers her perspective on such things as World War II; experiences that she had while working at the Legal Aid Society; the discovery that she was adopted; memories of Euclid Beach Park; a vacation in Hawaii; and a little trouble she had with some bookies after a relative who was a gambler died.img_4912

In terms of actually writing the book, she talked about how Mr. Joe Meissner, her colleague at the Legal Aid Society, had urged her to write this book for years. Finally, at an event that Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan gave for authors several years ago at Saigon Plaza she met Mr. Michael T. Petro, Jr. who offered to help  edit her material and publish the final product. And thus with Mr. Petro's assistance and the encouragement of her friends, her book finally came to be.

That night at the Lakewood Library, Mr. Meissner, himself, introduced Ms. Struze by saying that no lady was so beautiful and been involved in so many good things as Ms. Struze has been. In addition to her wonderful work at the Legal Aid Society, Mr. Meissner credited her for her involvement with the Lakewood Baptist Church that provides a lot of assistance to immigrants and refugees.

Privately, before the event started, Mr. Meissner said to us that "Alida is one of our angels" and, based upon the amount of love that was present that night, few if any would disagree.

img_4908Before we went to the Lakewood Library that evening, we stopped off at University Hospital for the annual reception put on by Dr. Nathan Levitan, MD, President of University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

The invitation received by Margaret W. Wong and Associates read:

"We gather to express gratitude to families who have remembered loved ones through gifts to cancer programs at University Hospitals."

We were warmly greeted by Mr. George R. Graham and Ms. Carolyn Teter, Development Officers with the Seidman Cancer Center. We then met Dr. Richard T. Lee, MD, Director of Supportive and Integrative Oncology who would be addressing the attendees later on.

We had some appetizers and told several people about Ms. Struze who we would be seeing very shortly. They were fascinated so we looked up the information about Ms. Struze's book and shared it with them.

Before we left, we had a great visit with Mr. Lee Seidman, a genuinely nice guy who grinned and told us that he loves to "goof off" now that he is retired. In turn, we told him that we like "goofing off" at the Root Café in Lakewood where we often go for coffee and a vegan cookie. Mr. Seidman was intrigued and asked if it was the type of place where he could have a friendly game of cards. We assured him that he could and even figure a game of chess or checkers into the bargain. He indicated that he just might go there and check the place out and thus we may get to see Mr. Seidman again in the very near future.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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