Local residents honored at City of Cleveland’s Senior Day
(Plain Press, June 2019) The City of Cleveland celebrated Senior Day on May 21stand senior citizens from throughout the City of Cleveland came to Public Hall to celebrate. They were greeted as they entered the hall with a program with glossy pictures and biographies of seventeen seniors being honored this year for their service to the City of Cleveland. One senior citizen was nominated by each City Council Representative.
Honorees in wards served by the Plain Pressincluded: Gary Horvath in Ward 3; Barbara C. Rogers in Ward 11; Julia Smith in Ward 14; Dolores Watson in Ward 15; and John Lavelle in Ward 16.
The biographies in the program included a wealth of information about each senior citizen. In the introduction to the program, Mayor Frank Jackson said, “Today, 17 special seniors will be recognized for the contributions they have made to improve the lives of others. These individuals represent thousands of local seniors who devote their time, talent and efforts to make Cleveland a great place to live, raise a family and grow old. I congratulate the seniors being honored here today.”
Gary Horvath, nominated by Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack, is a lifelong Cleveland resident. The biography notes Horvath’s involvement throughout his life with boxing as a golden glove boxer, a coach, mentor and trainer. Horvath spends much of his time at the I’ll Make Them Pay Old Angle Boxing Gym on W. 25thStreet. “He connects with his community through his unselfish giving of his time and resources to the sport of boxing and the gym that he loves,” says the statement in the program. The program says the gym services over 100 children, teenagers and adults each month. Gary is quoted as saying that, through boxing, kids learn how to be “strong mentally, physically and spiritually.” The biography also describes Horvath’s involvement in the neighborhood block club in his Ohio City neighborhood and his membership in St. Patrick’s Parish on Bridge Avenue.
Barbara Rogers was nominated by Ward 11 Councilwoman Dona Brady. The program profile says she was born on the West Side of Cleveland and attended St. Procop grade school and St. Procop all girls high school. Rogers serves as a precinct committee person in Ward 11, participates in the First Police District Safety meetings, volunteers at the Rocky River Nature Center, and is a member of the Green Team where she helps with gardening and landscaping. Rogers has been a member of St. Vincent De Paul Parish for over fifty years.
Julia Smith was nominated by Ward 14 Councilwoman Jasmin Santana. Smith came to Cleveland soon after graduating from a high school in Georgia at age 16 according to the program. Smith, now retired from a career that included being employed at H.H. Frisch Knitting Mills and Dalton Industries, is enjoying taking courses at Cuyahoga Community College. Smith is also involved as an active member of Scranton Road Bible Church. She has served as acting Treasurer of her apartment’s Local Advisory Council, executive of the local Democratic Club and as a Ward 14 Precinct Committee Mediator.
Dolores Watson was nominated by Ward 14 Councilman Matt Zone. Watson, according to the program, has lived in the EcoVillage neighborhood for ten years. Watson worked for a number of area nonprofit organizations and labor unions over the years including: Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland, Earth Day Coalition, and District nine to Five Service Employees International Union. Watson is an active member of the Greater Cleveland Beekeeping Association, involved with the Lending Library, and an active member of the Eco-Village Neighbors Block Club. Watson also participates in activities of the Westside Village Group, a group of seniors that work together to help each other age in place. Watson has served on the board and committees of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland and has participated in Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Initiative’s Vital Neighborhoods Working Group. Watson volunteers her time working with West Side Tree Stewards, a group helping to reforest the City of Cleveland.
John Lavelle was nominated by Ward 16 Councilman Brian Kazy. Lavelle, born in County Mayo, Ireland, moved to Cleveland in 1976. He is a regular marcher in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, walking with the Cleveland Pioneer’s Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred heart. According to the program, he serves as the group’s Vice President and was honored by the group as Pioneer of the Year in 2009. Lavelle, now retired, worked in landscaping, drove a Senior Citizen’s Bus for South Euclid Tri-City Office on Aging and worked in the maintenance department of both Central National Bank and Key Bank. Lavelle volunteers doing catering with the West Side Irish American Club helping with decorating for major events. He has served on the board of trustees for the West Side Irish American Club and the club named him Man of the Year in 2001. Lavelle is a member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society which works to assist neighbors in need of food or help with utility bill payments. Lavelle is a founding member of his local block watch and is involved with the Memorial Banners project, an effort to line Jefferson Park with American flags to honor service men and women. Lavelle also is known for helping his neighbors as a handyman and grass cutter.
Editor’s Note: The above descriptions of the senior citizens honored by the City of Cleveland at its Senior Day celebration are summaries of profiles in the City of Cleveland’s program for Senior Day provided by the Cleveland Department of Aging.
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