by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, March 2018) Speaking at the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO) annual meeting, Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone stressed the importance the neighborhood organization places on economic and racial equity, and affordable housing.
Over 300 people gathered at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School cafeteria on February 22, for the organization’s 44th annual meeting to listen to Zone and other speakers while enjoying a spaghetti dinner followed by an awards presentation.
DSCDO Treasurer Chris Warren introduced Zone as the first city legislator in the country to become President of the National League of Cities. In keeping with his role as President of the National League of Cities, Zone urged those present to read two published reports available on the National League of Cities website at nlc.org. The reports are titled: Keeping the American Dream Alive: Expanding Economic Mobility and Opportunity in America’s Cities; and Municipal Action Guide: Advancing Racial Equity in Your City.
Zone said the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization’s service area contained one of the most diverse populations in the city of Cleveland. He praised the organization’s commitment to affordable housing. He said Detroit Shoreway now manages 295 units of affordable housing. Zone said, Aspen Place, which will bring 40 more units of affordable housing to the neighborhood, is now under construction next to the W. 61st Rapid Station on Lorain Avenue. Aspen Place is slated to open in the Fall of 2018. DSCDO’s 2017 Annual Report distributed at the meeting says each household in Aspen Place will receive a free monthly bus pass.
Zone praised resident involvement in creating a workshop for anti-racist bystander intervention training. He urged participation in the workshop to be held at Calvary Reformed Church on May 9th. Zone also noted some residents became involved in a restorative justice project to create alternative forms of sentencing for juveniles. He said the project began after some residents learned that some preteens were involved in a crime spree in the neighborhood.
Zone urged residents to participate in the community discussions of the book, Evicted, in partnership with Cogswell Hall and the Cleveland Public Library. He also urged attendance at the Capitol Theatre’ s Racial Equity Film Series.
DSCDO Managing Director Jenny Spencer said 100% of the funds raised from DSCDO membership dues, about $3,000, go into a Neighborhood Fund to fund grassroots “effective neighboring” in the neighborhood with grants of up to $250. Spencer said that, “effective neighboring,” as described by the Mandal School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, means efforts to establish relationships where neighbors cross ethnic, cultural, economic lines and meet people outside their social circles. Spencer urged residents to come up with ideas and suggestions and apply for the grants.
DSCDO Executive Director Jeff Ramsey was honored for his 30 years as an employee of the organization. Ramsey said he was recommended for a job with the organization in 1987 by then Councilman Ray Pianka. Ramsey started as a community organizer, worked on housing and economic development, became assistant director under Executive Director Bill Whitney and was named executive director by the Board of DSCDO in 2003.
Councilman Matt Zone began the awards portion of the agenda with a Special Recognition of Maria Belmonte, who runs the cafeteria at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and made over 2,000 meatballs for the spaghetti dinner that DSCDO guests were enjoying that night.
Councilman Matt Zone presented Irene Catlin Award to Moneeke Davis for her many efforts in the neighborhood including organizing a formal Winter Ball for children, serving as a Climate Ambassador, and working with Recess Cleveland to bring free play, barbecues and community building to a vacant lot on Madison and W. 77th during the summer months.
Sean Watterson, Owner of the Happy Dog, presented the Sean Kilbane Award to Rick Dambrosio of Dampers Automotive at 7981 Lorain Avenue for making significant improvements to his establishment. Dambrosio is also a participant in efforts to Liven Up Lorain. The annual report describes Liven Up Lorain as an effort funded by a $27,000 Neighborhood Solutions grant from Cleveland Neighborhood Progress to add safety improvements to the Antiques District on Lorain Avenue, as well as public art installations by local artist Nicole McGee.
Mariah Hayden received the Sustainability Award for her work on UpCycle Farm at W. 85th and Detroit Avenue.
County Council Representative Dan Brady presented a Neighborhood Improvement Award to Nick Berardi and Marco Burello for their efforts in restoring properties on W. 83rd and Detroit Avenue.
Irene Fanara was also honored with a Neighborhood Improvement Award for opening of the Water Garden Café on Lorain Avenue.
State Representative Nickie Antonio and State Senator Michael Skindell presented the Community Spirit Awards.
Jessica Serio received an award for her work with the West Clinton Block Club, the Kids Book Drive and the Tree of Hope Gift Drive.
The staff of the Lorain Branch Library were honored for their assistance with education, family meals, 3D printing, activities for children, organizing community meetings on safety and human trafficking and collaboration with efforts to Liven Up Lorain.
Artist Haley Morris was honored with a Community Spirit Award for involving neighborhood children in the Art & Heart painting of a mural on the rear of the Ripcho Studio Building at W. 76th and Colgate Court.
Jodi Santosuosso of the Daily Press received a Community Spirit Award for providing a gathering space for the community and local artists to display their work, as well as her involvement with yoga classes and promotion of adoptable dogs with City Dogs.
Casandra Vasu received a Community Spirit Award for administering Detroit Shoreway’s Facebook page which now has 2,200 members. She is also involved in the Franklin Block Club and helped with the Art & Heart Colgate Court Mural Project.
The W. 80s Stakeholders group, which includes representatives from businesses and organizations in the area from Lake Avenue to Franklin Boulevard between W. 74th and W. 85th Streets, received a Community Spirit Award for their efforts on safety and quality of life issues in the neighborhood.