The East Clevelander Magazine

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Editor’s Letter

A community can be defined as a group of people who share a common interest or goal. It can be a neighborhood, a city, a country, or even a group of people who are connected online. What makes a community strong are the relationships between its members. When people feel connected, they are more likely to support each other and work together to achieve common goals. There are many characteristics that can contribute to a strong community. Some may include: a sense of belonging, shared values, opportunities for connection and a sense of purpose. These relationships can last through generations, if properly nurtured. Communities can be powerful forces for good. They may also become sources of innovation and creativity.

Then there’s that old saying that ‘history always repeats itself.’ I like to believe that history prepares future generations for resilience and recovery. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands. In this issue of The East Clevelander Magazine, you will read about Shaw High School’s evergrowing community of alumni who are consistently resilient as they precedent circumstances that guide future alumni.

When we learn from the past, we are better equipped to deal with challenges in the present and future. Our alumni are a great example of this. They have faced many challenges personally, professionally and within society. They have always found ways to overcome hardships and produce substantial results. Our alumni are a source of inspiration for others, and they show us that anything is possible if we are resilient. In this issue you will also read about community, culture, resources and new opportunities coming to the city. Enjoy!

Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival: Sept. 14-22, 2023 at various locations. For event details, visit

The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 3
Rebuilding East Cleveland Together. For more information, visit Shaw High School Alumni Weekend: Aug. 31 - Sept. 3, 2023 For more information, visit


Tyisha Blade


Dennis Ficklin Jr.


Tyisha Blade

Sue Dean

Ryan Eisenhuth

Sherri Green

Aubrey McClendon

Audrey Simmons

Brandy Smith

Rich Weiss


Tyisha Blade

Arthur B. Hill II (cover)


Neighborhood Media

Submit story or content ideas:

Next deadline:

October 15, 2023 (for winter issue)

The East Clevelander Magazine provides space for opinion writing and letters to the editor from East Clevelanders. Opinions and information expressed in opinion articles and letters to the editor are solely the author’s and do not represent the opinions and/or beliefs of The East Clevelander Magazine, its affiliates or sponsors. Although The East Clevelander Magazine is supported by grants, donations and advertising, acceptance of advertising or sponsorship by The East Clevelander Magazine, does not constitute, and should not be construed as, having any influence over our magazine’s editorial content. Magazine content includes articles, reports, editorials, columns, promotions, sponsorships, display advertising (including copy), web and other digital content, social channels, and any other content across all platforms. Neighborhood Media, which publishes The East Clevelander Magazine, is responsible for the accuracy and factual nature of the information published. The East Clevelander Magazine is a curated publication, meaning magazine editorial staff will review, develop, revise and edit all content prior to magazine publishing and distribution. Magazine content can be published only with time permitting and with space available. Content for The East Clevelander Magazine will be published after the final acceptance and at the sole discretion of the Editor-in-Chief.

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The East Clevelander Magazine is proudly printed locally by Foote Printing on E. 55th St. near Grand Ave.

Circle East District and ConnectEC Invite Community to Reimagine the City

reimagination. The Land Bank welcomed community members to a tour of the Circle East District focus area. The tour began at the Mickey’s building; participants convened inside and were provided snacks and refreshments. Community members then chose between tours from Penrose or Woodlawn Avenues. Both streets are the focus for initial stages of redevelopment. The groups stopped at multiple places along the tour to discuss placemaking ideas together. “The walking tour was [provided] because some people need to look, feel and touch,” Lewis added. “They don’t want to see the streets on a map. They want to walk the streets to see what they want the community to look like, where they want benches and public art. That’s how they interact best.”

The City of East Cleveland, in partnership with the Cuyahoga Land Bank continues to invite community members for collaborative efforts to reimagine and rebuild spaces in the city. Circle East District is a Land Bank initiative created to help revitalize the residential and commercial areas at East Cleveland’s gateway to University Circle. According to the website, the Connect East Cleveland initiative is an “interactive process to reimagine public spaces in East Cleveland through community collaboration.”

ConnectEC recently presented the Public Open House 2.0 where stakeholders gathered at the Mickey’s building located on the corner of Woodlawn and Euclid Avenues to further discuss revitalization efforts.

The project’s concepts “encourage greater connectivity within the neighborhood; and between the neighborhood and amenities such as Lakeview Cemetery, Windermere & Superior Stations, and University Circle.” The process focuses on recommendations regarding the Circle East District’s development. During the Public Open House 2.0 event held on July 14, attendees were given the opportunity to choose their favorite design options through interactive engagement stations. Design options were based on feedback received from attendants at a community meeting held April 20 at the Salvation Army on Doan Avenue.

Representatives at the Public Open House 2.0 guided participants through activities and answered questions about placemaking (creating places and focusing

on transforming public spaces to strengthen the connections between people and these places). Design teams were able to share developments about public art, crosswalks, green spaces and other placemaking elements. Community members also discussed placekeeping (active care and maintenance of a place and its social fabric by the people who live and work there) and ways for residents to express creativity through collaboration.

Kamla Lewis is senior housing development project manager at the Land Bank. She said that initiatives such as Circle East District and Connect EC require a vast amount of community input. She also said that reimagining the city is greatly supported by community members; she looks forward to seeing the projects to fruition. “I love the way East Clevelanders participate,” Lewis said. “I have been doing this work for 30 years and I don’t have public meetings like this where people come up and hug me, except in East Cleveland.”

Each event builds onto the next and, Lewis said, a goal is to ensure that everyone is included in the process. Understanding that individuals learn, participate and interact in different ways, organizers considerately provide options that are inclusive at public input sessions. “For some it’s filling out a survey, others want to talk at a public meeting,” she noted. “Everyone participates in their own way.”

Another Connect EC initiative was the Neighborhood Walking Tour held May 24. The tour offered community members another option to participate in the city’s

Lewis also mentioned that it is imperative for community members to participate in the process that reimagines and revitalizes their cities. “Particularly when it comes to African American neighborhoods, we’ve not had a say in [the process],” she said. “In the design field, African Americans are a tiny minority. The spaces aren’t generally being designed by people who are minorities. So, we think it’s really, really important that the community be involved, and we want to make sure that it’s done in a way that isn’t an academic thing that may be hard to understand.”

For more information on how to get involved and stay connected, you can visit

Written By: Tyisha Blade
5 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Community members at ConnectEC event.

East Cleveland Alive! Features New Gathering Spaces to Energize the Community

New, exciting and innovative community engagement events are underway in East Cleveland. Ingenuity Cleveland, in partnership with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and The City of East Cleveland have been approved for a $75,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the East Cleveland Alive! project. According to Ingenuity Cleveland, the initiative features 18 months of events that “create gathering spaces for cultural exchange to occur; provide artistic programming to energize and engage community members; and co-create with residents of artworks to establish a sense of place.”

Emily Appelbaum is the executive director at Ingenuity Cleveland. She said East Cleveland Alive! is a project that compliments new, multifaceted investments in and around the neighborhood. “Specifically, the renovation of the former Mickey’s building,” she said. “The building is like the central hub; it’s a beautiful art deco (Arts Décoratifs) historic gem. We are excited to see new community spaces planned for that building.”

The focus of East Cleveland Alive! is the Circle East District, a 30-acre neighborhood being redeveloped by the Land Bank. Appelbaum said Ingenuity Cleveland was commissioned to work with stakeholders, artists and pillars in and surrounding the city with the common goal of highlighting unique events

that bring people to the city while celebrating existing businesses and residents.

Kamla Lewis is senior housing development project manager at the Land Bank. She said in recent studies such as The City of East Cleveland Visioning Project, community members have provided information about what type of community they want. “We’ve taken that information and built off of it,” Lewis mentioned.“The neighborhood said ‘we want this to be a diverse community.’ So, we want to bring people into the community who aren’t already here. In order to bring new people in, we have to find a way to start connecting people from outside the community with people inside.”

She also said a part of the goal with Ingenuity Cleveland is to start creating places, spaces and events where people from the city and surrounding areas can come together and break down barriers. Lewis said a goal of the East Cleveland Alive Project is to show off the strong sense of community in the city and introduce people who aren’t East Clevelanders to the residents. “We think that there is nothing more persuasive in encouraging people to move to East Cleveland than meeting East Clevelanders,” Lewis added.

Most of the events will have learning, hands-on, and food & beverage components. Applebaum said there are fully immersive experiences for each event. Grant funding will

be used, not only in creation of those unique experiences, but also for artifacts, public art and more. She also mentioned the impact of East Cleveland Alive! “We’ve gotten some beautiful feedback from residents that we have engaged. It sounds like people are really excited to see fresh energy for the city,” she said. “The world is in a moment of recovery after a challenging three years (due to Covid). East Cleveland has such a beautifully rich history of art, culture, musicianship and architecture. All of that deserves to be honored and made visible to people who would not otherwise consider East Cleveland as a destination for cultural programming.”

The monthly events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

6 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

Best Steak N Gyros Gets New Management, New Look and a New Location

If you’re looking for a spot to dine in for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can visit the family-operated restaurant Best Steak N Gyros located at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Forest Hill Boulevard.

Butch Love and Mark McKee are the current owners of the 24-hour eatery in the Forest Hill Shopping Center. They bought the establishment in June 2022 after the original owner’s spouse passed away.

After the purchase, Love said he focused on renovating and appreciated the former owners for keeping the establishment in business for 53 years.

“All we had to do was clean up and enhance the menu,” Love said. “For the last year, we have been in the process of earning while we burn. I’ve been completing all the renovations while we remain open. We also wanted to make dine-in [options] available to the community again.”

The entrepreneur made significant mention about the importance of feeding the East Cleveland community.

“If you cruise through [the city]

there’s really nowhere to dine in,” he said. “I’m big on that. I am praying that the community accepts, supports and knows how to appreciate what I’m trying to do.”

Love wants to continue serving the neighborhood and giving back to the city in which he was raised. “I’m from the community. I’ve been in East Cleveland since first grade. I went to Chambers [Elementary School], Rozelle [Elementary School], Kirk [Middle School] and Shaw [High School]. So, I’m here.”

Space in the rear of the diner will be available, beginning in August 2023, for events such as private parties where patrons choose between having their event catered or bringing their own meals and paying to utilize the space.

“We will also begin live entertainment and murder mystery dinners,” Love said. “All of this [will be available] in the space provided in the back of the restaurant.”

Love and contributing organizers also continued the tradition of feeding the community for Thanksgiving. The former owner paused the tradition after

her spouse’s illness. Love restarted the event in November 2022 and plans to continue for years to come.

The businessman said he’s acquired keys to a second location for Best Steak N Gyros at E. 5th and Euclid Avenue. He plans on opening the additional location in October 2023.

He makes good use of his time management to sustain the current restaurant while opening the new location. “My hours [usually start] at 5:30 in the morning [and end] at 7:00 at night…and that’s seven days a week,” he added. “I am looking to do all I can while I can.”

Love wants readers to know that the current location is totally remodeled. He commends their menu options as well as meal pricing. He welcomes patrons seven days per week.

“Come out and support,” Love expressed. If you want to host your next event at Best Steak N Gyros or you want to check out their menu, you can visit

“If you cruise through [the city], there’s really nowhere to dine in. I’m big on that.”
Written By: Tyisha Blade Before renovations (above) After renovations Best Steak N Gyros second location on E. 5th and Euclid Avenue
7 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Best Steak N Gyros original location at Forest Hill Shopping Center

NORA and Students of Promise Present HBCU College Tour for High School Students

The Northern Ohio Recovery Association, Inc. (NORA) recently provided an opportunity for students to embark on an out-of-state college tour and explore opportunities available outside of their neighborhoods. After a partnership with the Students of Promise Program, NORA was able to raise funds toward an HBCU tour in Georgia and Alabama for Shaw High School students this year. The Students of Promise Program is designed to increase the graduation rate and expose students to a myriad of opportunities including networking with their peers and adults in professional settings. The program is being carried out in several other schools including Warrensville Heights, Cleveland Heights and Bedford High Schools. The Students of Promise Program has served the community and students since 2007. This gave NORA an excellent opportunity for our students to join them for the college tour.

Colleges and universities visited on the tour included Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown College and Alabama State University. The historical landmarks that students visited included the World of Coca Cola, Georgia Aquarium, the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), Ebenezer Church, MLK Memorial Center, the Legacy Museum, Selma Bridge, the CNN Center and State Farm Arena. Students were also given the unique opportunity to be a part of a podcast created by Students of Promise. Professional videographers and photographers accompanied students on the tour to help create videos and podcasts which will be featured in a documentary also created by Students of Promise. The students are excited because they will soon see themselves on the big screen and witness the vision from a third-person point of view. Students and staff enjoyed the visit and the unique experiences that were very eye opening and exciting.

Established in 2004, NORA’s mission is “to empower individuals, families and

communities to support lifestyles of recovery.” NORA offers several services such as intensive outpatient program (IOP), sober housing, medicationassisted treatment (MAT), as well as having a Prevention Department.

The Prevention Department uses evidence-based programs (EBP) to help students develop the skills and knowledge to make healthy lifestyle decisions such as practicing safe sex and choosing to stay away from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD). NORA delivers these EBP’S at several schools.

For more information about NORA, visit If you want to view past college tour footage and for more information on the Students of Promise Program, please visit

NORA wants to thank all the following for their donations: AmeriHealth Caritas Ohio, East Cleveland Bridges of HOPE, Students of Promise, USA and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency. Prevention.

“The college tour was a great experience for students. From colleges to museums, I’m sure this is something they won’t soon forget.”
8 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

Spreading Gratitude Through East Cleveland: Susan Myrick Shares Her Story

Susan Myrick was born and raised right here in East Cleveland. As a graduate of Shaw High School who went on to attend Cleveland State University, Myrick’s life has been pretty typical for an East Cleveland native – except for the fact that she was born without arms.

As a child, Myrick had to learn to do the basic tasks of life using her feet. By the time she was a teenager, she learned to clean the house, cook food and even sew clothing using only her feet. “I also learned how to drive with my feet when I was 16, which I think is one of my biggest accomplishments,” Myrick proudly explained. Despite her physical disability, she maintained a cheerful outlook on life. “My mother always told me that God made me just the way He wanted me to be, so I never thought much of it.”

In time, Myrick grew a burning desire to share this message with other disabled people, so she trained to become a teacher’s assistant for special education


For the next decade of her life, Myrick worked in the East Cleveland City School District, helping elementary-aged children with intellectual disabilities learn how to read and do math. “I also taught them the most important lesson I have ever learned: that it’s okay to be different.” As Myrick got older, she was injured and her health declined at a faster rate than most of the other people her age. Unable to keep up with the children she taught, she had to retire early. But Myrick was not ready to stop making a great difference in her community.

Instead, she thought back to her days at Camp Cheerful, a summer camp designed for children with physical and intellectual disabilities in Strongsville. “First of all, I remember seeing children who were born without arms and legs. It was made clear to me that things could always be worse, so I learned to live with an attitude of gratitude.” Myrick also

remembers seeing children who were left behind by their parents because they were unable to support a disabled child. “Thinking back to them, I made up my mind to become a foster parent.”

Over the next 20 years, Myrick served as a foster parent for 10 teenage girls, including a few who were teenage mothers. It is obvious that Myrick has made a great difference in East Cleveland simply by showing love to those who are often overlooked. Though she no longer serves in this capacity, Myrick still strives to make East Cleveland a better place through sharing her story with others. She proudly lives in the McGregor Independent Living Community located on Private Drive in East Cleveland.

As she reflects on her life, Myrick’s spirit of gratitude radiates. “I often look around and am grateful; when I count my blessings, there is never a shortage. This is the legacy I want to leave.”

9 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
“I laugh because I really do feel grateful. I think that’s the most important thing to leave as a legacy: To live with an attitude of gratitude.”

Culture & Lifestyle Resources in the City

“East Cleveland Wasn’t Built in a Day”

Living in East Cleveland can be a challenge for many residents. With limited access to fresh and healthy food, high unemployment and a lack of recreational facilities, it is not surprising that the health of some East Cleveland residents is far from ideal. According to recent data from Healthy Northeast Ohio, East Cleveland has a 50% higher rate of obesity, diabetes and heart disease than surrounding areas. The poverty rate in East Cleveland is also much higher. Data from shows that nearly 40% of residents live below the poverty line. These factors, combined with limited access to health care, make it difficult for some East Cleveland residents to maintain their health.

Fortunately, there are organizations and initiatives in East Cleveland that are working to improve the health of residents. For instance, Northeast Ohio Neighborhood’s (NEON) East Cleveland Health Center provides low-cost, comprehensive health care services to residents. The center’s website explains that the orga-

nization does not refuse to treat patients regardless of ability to pay for services. NEON caters to the needs of the community with services and programs such as Moms First, Ohio Moms and Babies First, Centering Pregnancy Initiative, Youth Adolescent Awareness Program (YAAP), Just Be Safe Sista Project, East Cleveland Teen Collaborative, Daddy Boot Camp and much more.

Another resource for residents is The Coit Road Farmer’s Market located on Woodworth Avenue. The farmer’s market is open every Saturday from 8a.m.1p.m. Additional hours are Wednesday’s 8a.m.-1p.m. from June to October.

Food Strong is an organization with the mission to “strengthen and empower communities through fresh, local foods.” They had a vendor’s table at an event held at the farmer’s market. Food Strong provided insight to some of its resources. Healthy cooking classes, visual arts and mural projects, youth entrepreneurship and school garden programs were resour-

ces available to residents.

Additionally, community members are working to increase access to a recreational facility and create jobs in the area. According to the East Cleveland Growth Association (ECGA) via their Facebook page, there is an E-sports complex being planned and a soon-to-be new market, “EC Fresh Community Grocery Store,” that will be located in Forest Hill Shopping Center. ECGA plans to create more than 20 new jobs.

It is clear that there is still much work to be done to improve resources for East Cleveland residents. However, I believe we are heading towards a brighter and better community while turning over a new leaf for economic growth. Development takes time and delicate care; I’m hopeful of the possibilities. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” East Cleveland won’t be either. With continuous grace, patience and love, this culturally valuable city will blossom.

10 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Sara Continenza, Food Strong; Shirley FitzPatrick, Community member

East Cleveland Firefighters Share Their Passion for Saving Lives

The East Cleveland Firefighters IAFF Local 500 are committed to protecting the lives and property of the city. Whether they are putting out fires, rescuing occupants from burning buildings or treating injured people in the streets, they dedicate their lives to the well-being of the community they serve.

David Worley is the Chief of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the City of East Cleveland. He has been with the fire department for more than 20 years. Chief Worley grew up in East Cleveland attending Rozelle Elementary School, Kirk Middle School and Shaw High School. During an interview, the chief attested to his love for the city and his inspirations for continuing the work he does.

“Knowing that the citizens [of East Cleveland] are a part of my family keeps me motivated. I love the job and the guys I work with,” he said. “We have a great camaraderie. We’ve truly become a family in the fire service.” The chief adds

that some of the most rewarding moments are being able to watch firefighters grow in service and remain with the profession. “I also like helping people,” Chief Worley noted. “Before I came into the office and I was out ‘in the streets’...I was able to be there for people in their darkest times.”

Lieutenant Jonathan Isaac began working with the East Cleveland Fire Department in 2019. He was recently promoted to his current position in March 2023. Isaac said he grew up with a family of firefighters; his father and two of his uncles all worked in fire service. “I’ve wanted to be a firefighter since I was a kid,” he said. “Later in my life, I felt a calling. Then, I fell in love with the job and couldn’t be happier with it.”

Isaac said he wanted to come to a [fire department] where he felt there was a purpose for his life. “East Cleveland gave me an opportunity to be here and it’s been a very rewarding career so far,” he said.

The newly-promoted lieutenant also mentioned his current role has shown him several learning experiences, both at the job and in life. He said one of the biggest

lessons that he has learned as a firefighter is how fragile life can be. “You have to make the most of each day,” he said. “One of the greatest feelings I’ve had in my life has been when making a real save. When you make a real save and your actions make a difference in someone’s outcome…It’s one of the best things you could possibly do.”

East Cleveland Community Members Combat Violence ONE GUN AT A TIME

As gun violence rises across the country, organizations are arranging more programming to help protect community members from gun deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data for gunrelated homicides in 2021. An estimated 20,966 homicides occurred in the U.S. in 2021; data tables display more than an 8% increase from 2020’s recordbreaking data. African American persons continued to experience the highest firearm homicide rates across every age group. The CDC also reported that

guns are the leading cause of death for U.S. children and teens, surpassing car accidents in 2020.

The East Cleveland Police Department (ECPD) and community partners aim to combat these and other gun-related statistics with the “One Gun at a Time” initiative. Empowerment Church partners with M-Pac of Cleveland, Strong Hands United and JJ’s Village to provide information on the Be Smart Program, End Family Fire and Safe Storage during the One Gun at a Time event at Forest Hill Park. The partners welcome

community members to turn in useless guns being stored in homes. Guns can be turned in at the Shaw Alumni picnic on Sunday, Sept. 3 from noon until 4 p.m.

Organizers would like readers to know that the event is not a buy back program with incentives, but a chance for participants to surrender unloaded guns; no questions will be asked. They are also asking community members to help prevent homicides, chances of children finding guns in homes, suicide attempts and gun-related domestic violence occurrences: ONE GUN AT A TIME.

Courtesy photos: ECFD Social Media FF Shawn Robinson; David Worley, Chief of Fire and EMS; Tyisha Blade ECM, Editor-in-Chief; Lt. Johnathan Isaac; FF Nick Klump (l. to r.) FF William Lee, FF Alexander Sherman, FF Shawn Robinson, FF Eric Proch, Lt. Johnathan Isaac, FF Evan Chrisman, Lt. Swansiger
11 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
B-Shift Extrication training


Every bikeable Thursday at 8 a.m., Mayor Brandon L. King meets representatives from every City of East Cleveland department at the police garage. They get ready to go on King’s weekly tour of East Cleveland, neighborhood by neighborhood, called “Thursday Bike Rides with Mayor King.”

Service Supervisor Antonio Marshall can be found just after dawn on Thursdays, checking that East Cleveland’s fleet of electric police bikes are charged up and ready for the King administration. “All the directors and some of the staff members go out weekly and ride e-bikes around the community just get a look at the community from a closeup,” Marshall said. “And sometimes we talk with the citizens about issues they’re having in the community so that we can actually see them, visually.”

King’s administration is convinced they can reach their hardest-to-reach residents by mounting e-bikes, themselves, and meeting East Clevelanders on their own streets. “It’s usually Building and Housing, Service, the Law Department, HR...pretty much the whole staff. We do it early in the morning...and who’s out early in the morning, mainly? Elders. The demographic of our city is made up of predominantly seniors. Mowing their grass or going to the store, supermarkets, or getting gas. That’s when you see them, and they see us out there. All the questions they want to ask, they can give it to you right then and there.”

Where did the idea come from?

“The Mayor,” said Marshall. “He always liked to reach out to the people; touch them. So, when he became mayor, he actually made it personal: every week we get on e-bikes and we go out and touch the community.”

We asked Mayor King how he got the idea to take his departments and staff on Thursday Bike Rides with the Mayor. “This got started as a result of COVID-19,” King said. “They closed the gyms down and, as a way to get some exercise, myself, I started

riding my bike around the city. I was riding around by myself on my own bike, and I got to see the city at a much slower pace. You don’t see all the stuff you see riding a bike in a car—no matter how slow you’re driving in cars, you’re looking at traffic, trying not to get in accidents, stuff like that—you never really get up close and personal with the residents.” King explained, “We had maybe one or two of these e-bikes here and one day, I came in and took former Executive Assistant Belinda Kyle and Chief of Staff Mike Smedley out in the community on e-bikes.”

The Thursday biking program evolved organically. “For the first couple rides, it was just us three,” said King. “I was trying to explain the benefit of doing it. As we rode, they could see it. And then we started bringing out service departments to address stuff on the spot...that is how it got started. Then, we brought in a couple more bikes. We’re up to seven bikes now, so that we can take out the full complement of staff to address issues whether it’s potholes, vacant and abandoned housing, people doing work with no permits, cars that are parked illegally or dumped.”

King has found the response to his Thursday Bike Ride rewarding. “When you pull up on residents and you’re there, you’re taking notes, and then you say, ‘Hey, we’re going to get back to you,’ and you address the problem—that’s how this got started. Now, residents call and they’re asking, ‘Hey, when is the mayor coming on our street?’”

July had multi-day stretches of heat advisories, storms, and poor air quality alerts, leaving few safe Thursdays to Bike Ride with the Mayor. Actually, on the Thursday in late July when The East Clevelander Magazine tagged along, record heat was forecast that afternoon, but King was determined to keep his resident outreach program going by sneaking in a Thursday Bike Ride because they are always during the cooler, early morning hours.

A Special Report By: The East Clevelander Magazine
12 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

“In the last couple weeks, we’ve had severe weather alerts and air quality issues,” King said. “You don’t want to be pulling people out and breathing unhealthy air, and if there’s a threat of a thunderstorm, you can’t go.” However, unless East Cleveland’s streets are covered with snow, Mayor King can be found on Thursday mornings e-biking a different neighborhood of East Cleveland, every week. “But we’ve been out all summer—all the good weather season,” King said.

Mayor King’s comfort level with motorized bikes is apparent, which he said is no coincidence. “I started on bikes—you know how when you’re a little kid, you get the Huffies [Huffy Bicycles]. Then, my first motorized bike was a dirt bike. Eventually, I had a Yamaha B, Honda Express, all those. I had the MB5, remember the MB5s? It was one of the first bikes with gears, but it only went maybe 30-35 miles. It wasn’t a fast bike, but it had the gears. And it was street legal, unlike the dirt bikes.” King was visibly taking a ride down memory lane when he added, “The MB5 was a good time.”

On this Thursday, the King administration was biking the Southwest corner of East Cleveland, where the Mickey’s building renovation is kicking off the Mayor’s revisioning plan for East Cleveland. King greeted residents on their porches and checked in on residential construction projects as he and his staff weaved their way through Woodlawn Avenue, Penrose Avenue, and Brightwood Street, but King put on the brakes about half-way

through the bank of backstreets to discuss the changes he’s seen.

“This is Wadena,” King said. “Wadena was once a wild and ruckus street. What we’ve done is give the residents some relief. We took down a bunch of houses...we actually had to evict people from houses that were owned by the county with people squatting in them.” Wadena residents had resorted to staying indoors because the level of noise and disrespect for neighbors had taken the fun out of enjoying their own street. King asked, “And you see how quiet it is now, right? The residents now feel a lot more comfortable, and now you’ve got people out on their porches,” he beamed.

The Mayor stopped elsewhere to point out a gas station they’d noticed on a previous Thursday Bike Ride that had neglected to pull a city permit prior to starting roof work. Although he’s always careful to complement good craftsmanship, King also regularly points out to crew heads the speed, convenience, inexpensiveness, and mandatory nature of East Cleveland city permits prior to halting their work temporarily until a city permit is pulled (which he explains can be issued on that same day).

When the Thursday Bike Ride had reached the corner of Euclid

and Woodlawn Avenues, King halted the e-bike caravan again: “We are now at the Mickey’s building, which we have deemed the start of the new neighborhood. We’re going to have some retail, some community space, some office space. Renovation has already begun—over $3.5 million dollars in renovation— the inside is coming along great. We’ve already had a number of community meetings, engaging the residents to show them the transformation of the place. The last one was a three-hour event and had a nice steady flow of over 30 residents at a time. In and out. In and out. Doing the

and grown deep East Cleveland roots in a short period of time.

Mayor King sees an urgent need for projects like Continenza’s. “East Cleveland has been a food desert for years. Right?” King asked Continenza. “And this helps.”

Continenza agreed and added, “It needs to be something that draws the community in. That’s why we do door knocking. That’s why I always invite people to come in and taste the food, talk to us because it’s all about relationships.”

questionnaires, looking at the diagrams, talking of what they want to see, what they’ve envisioned so far, and then the finishing touches are always important: ‘Where would you like to see a bench to sit down and talk?’ ‘What kind of shrubbery do you envision?’ ‘Do you like the red

“That’s right,” King said. Continenza explained, “If you’ve only had access to the corner stores and fast food for a while, the chemical agents in there are actually addictive. We have to teach people how to change their taste buds and adjust those addictions. We all get addicted to sugar, fat, salt and chemicals. It’s like we’re all addicted to something. You’ve got to change people’s mindset about it so that when they get that grocery store, they’re going to be like, ‘Yeah, “I’m going to get that fresh stuff.’”

brick for that old look or would you like a new look?’”

Our tag-along on the Thursday Bike Ride with Mayor King ended across the street from Coit Farmers Market (15000 Woodworth Ave.) and next door to the East Cleveland Community Garden, the home of the Coit Road Urban Farm. Mayor King wanted to check up on the once overgrown corner of Coit Road and Woodworth Avenue, where Sara Continenza and her Food Strong initiative has cleaned up, dug in

If it’s a Thursday morning, take an extra look around—you might just see a Thursday Bike Ride with Mayor King rolling through your neighborhood of East Cleveland.

13 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

East Cleveland City School District 2023 Employee Recognition

10 Years: Rosie Carpenter, Brenda Starks, Audriunna Toliver**

15 Years: Joseph Motley**, Earline Proctor**, Chitra Singh, Jennifer Van Stratton

20 Years: Elsa Blake, Theresa Boyd, Natasha Costa, Bienvenu Guedou, Delesia Lockett, Sonaray Miller

25 Years: Harold Anderson, Ayesha Barber, Charles Bradley**, Stacy Brooks, Antoinette Brown, Nim Bryant, Priscilla Douglas**, Paula Elder, Tracie Osborne**, Angela Sneed**, Clifton Spencer**, Faith Wentz

30 Years: Irene Spraggins, Lillian Tolbert**

35 Years: Alonzo Callahan, Katie Gibson, Anthony Lockhart**

We would also like to thank the following retirees for their service to the District:

Elsa Blake | 20 years | Caledonia Elementary School

Bertha Brady | 23 years | Caledonia Elementary School

Fred Carano | 28 years | Kirk Middle School

The East Cleveland City School District is proud to announce Mrs. Michelle Reese, third grade English Language Arts (ELA) and social studies teacher at Superior School for the Performing Arts, as this year’s Teacher of the Year.

From her nomination letter:

Mrs. Reese goes over and beyond for her students and families. She arrives early to provide tutoring, has a lunch bunch with students, and often spends time in the evenings and on weekends with both students and parents to provide support and even just a listening ear.

We once encountered a situation where a student was an award recipient and we were unsure if the student had a family member to escort him to the event. Mrs. Reese volunteered to purchase a ticket to the event to attend with the students. These kinds of selfless acts take place in our building daily with Mrs. Reese.

The District is also proud to announce Mr. Robert Starks, custodian at Mayfair Elementary School, as this year’s Employee of the Year.

From his nomination letter:

Mr. Starks is a true asset to Mayfair. He is officially a member of the custodial staff, however he wears many hats. First, he has been serving as our head custodian for over three months as Mr. Fisher has been out.

Mr. Starks filled the role with pride and dedication. He greets our students each day with a smile, steps in to help in the morning

Robert Starks, Employee of the Year with security as needed and even mediates conflicts among students. Our students and staff respect Mr. Starks, he always has a positive word for them.

He is committed to the success of our students and encourages them to make good choices everyday.

Congratulations to you both!

As part of the East Cleveland City School District 2023 Employee Recognition Celebration, we are proud to celebrate the following employees who achieved the following service award milestones:

5 Years: Alisha Beeman, Shayla Coleman, Kim Gilmore, Lakeisha Greer. Kathy Guess-Baker, Shauna Hamilton, Valeria James-Colvin, Leslie Kennebrew, Mark Rauchfleisch, Laquisha Sledge**, and Eric Waag

Crystal Cash | 21 years | Kirk Middle School

Sharon Hummer | 15 years | Kirk Middle School

Belinda Martin** | 33 years | Caledonia Elmentary School

Marie Matthews-Kellon | 23 years | Shaw High

Sharon Scott | 40 years | Caledonia Elementary School

Sharon Moore | 25 years | SSPA; Eileen Stevens | 33 years | Shaw High School

**--denotes the person is also Shaw High School alumni

14 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Michelle Reese, Teacher of the Year

Congratulations Shaw High School Class of 2023

On May 25, 2023, Shaw High School celebrated its 143rd commencement exercises with the Class of 2023.

The ceremony, held at Shaw Stadium, marks the close of the academic year. We are all so proud of these graduating seniors, as these are the students whose high school experiences were marked by the countless challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To the class of 2023, we say, “Congratulations!” and we wish you well in all of your future endeavors-from college to career and beyond.

Health and happiness be with all of you. Remember that you will always be part of the Cardinal Nation and that you are East Cleveland--you are the definition of success!

Courtesy Photos: East Cleveland City School District, 2023 Commencement Ceremony at Shaw Stadium
15 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

Shaw High School Valedictorian Shares Her Discipline and Plans for the Future

she said. “I have also had the exposure and experiences to see life from other perspectives.”

During her studies at Shaw, Smiley participated in several extracurriculars while being a member of the National Honors Society. Smiley began attending Shaw as a freshman where she achieved a 4.0 GPA after her first semester. At the time, she recalls Freshman Academy, a program intended to help eighth graders transition to high school…and being student of the month. The scholar briefly transferred to Glenville High School due to family matters and returned to Shaw during her junior year. As a senior at Shaw, Smiley began College Credit Plus (CCP) coursework at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).

She completed honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes to better her chances at being accepted to a collegiate program of her choice. She said that when she studied for exams, she deleted apps from her phone to keep from being distracted. She disciplined herself and created a work mode on her phone to avoid receiving notifications that may disturb her studies. She also participated as student coordinator for fashions shows, fundraisers, picnics and other student-led events.

Every year, Shaw High School promotes a new graduating class celebrating accomplishments that propel students to achieve goals beyond their high school coursework. On May 25, 2023, 112 students received their diplomas during commencement at Shaw Stadium. Faculty, staff, friends, family and distinguished guests all gathered to witness their graduates advance.

Jordan Smiley is the Valedictorian for the 2023 graduating class. Smiley shared with The East Clevelander Magazine that she grew up in foster care starting in 2011 and that she moved around Ohio.

Smiley relocated to East Cleveland to live with her aunt in 2016 after leaving Hudson. Smiley attended Superior Elementary School during her 5th grade year of school, and later transferred to Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).

In 2019, Smiley’s aunt adopted her on Valentine’s Day. Later that year, she returned to the East Cleveland City School District (ECCSD). She mentioned that foster care helped shape her into the person that she is now. “I feel that I’m more adaptable than I would’ve been if [I hadn’t been] in foster care,”

Smiley shared with The East Clevelander Magazine some of her hardships while attending high school. “One of my biggest triumphs was math,” she said. She enrolled in Tri-C math classes to supplement her coursework at Shaw.

She said, while preparing for the American College Testing (ACT) exams and her college math placement test, she met with tutors at Tri-C while balancing her studies at Shaw. Her most rewarding experience was becoming Valedictorian for the 2023 graduating class.

She recalled beginning her senior year as salutatorian and later decided to make a transition. “When I realized how close I was to [becoming] Valedictorian, I was like ‘I might as well give it a shot,’” she said.

16 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
“A bad attitude is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you won’t go anywhere.”

“I worked really, really hard to raise my GPA.”

Her goals included graduating with an Academic Honors Diploma which, she said, required an extra amount of work. High school students gain state recognition for exceeding Ohio’s graduation requirements to receive the Academic Honors Diploma.

According to, students must complete units, or credits, in specific subjects. They can use AP, International Baccalaureate, College Credit Plus and Credit Flexibility coursework to meet the unit requirements.

“My friends and I decided randomly, one night while on the phone, that we wanted [to achieve the honor’s diploma], so we were like ‘let’s just do it,’” she said. “We sat down with our guidance counselor and set up the year surrounding that goal.” Smiley admitted to feeling overwhelmed, at times, with the extra workload. In those moments, she said she’d turn off her phone, shut off her computer and rest. “I prioritized certain things so that I could keep my mental health stable and keep my grades,” she added. She ended her 2023 school year with a 4.1 GPA.

Smiley became a Louis Stokes Scholar and completed an eight-week internship for a law firm from June 2023 to July 2023. She plans on attending Ohio State University beginning in August 2023 majoring in pre-public health. She received a full-ride scholarship to the University to pursue coursework under the pre-dental track.

Smiley ultimately wants to become an oral maxillofacial surgeon (the surgical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck).

She chose Public Health as a major after interning with University Circle’s Future Connections Program where she worked with the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition. The paid internship provided an eight-week college and career readiness experience for rising high school juniors and seniors. “The internship was really good because it helped me connect with dentists and other health care professionals,” she added.

Advice she’d like to give the next graduating class is to keep mental health a main priority during studies and

coursework. “My mental health took a toll somewhere down the line and I started procrastinating, especially toward the end,” Smiley expressed.

“My original drive and motivation began to fall. College applications [took] up a lot of [my] time. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is difficult to complete, especially in a situation like mine. It’s so easy not to include that [time] into your schedule. When your schedule becomes too full, you may end up missing deadlines or scholarship opportunities.”

Smiley said she liked her community, teachers and staff at Shaw. “They were my ‘rock’ and they supported me through all of my decisions even when I began slacking at the end,” she said. “They would push me.”

She also expressed her excitement in becoming a Shaw alumni and looks forward to participating in reunion events. “What you don’t find anywhere else are the Shaw reunions,” she proudly mentioned. “It’s something that everyone knows about and I’d really like to be a part of that. I hope that tradition never dies.”

“It’s what I live by,” Smiley said. “I heard it once in sixth grade and, for some reason, that quote always stuck with me.”

Smiley wanted to end her interview with The East Clevelander Magazine by sharing a quote from Joyce Meyer with our readers: A bad attitude is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you won’t go anywhere.
17 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

Shaw Alumni Weekend and the Efforts of the Shaw High School Alumni Association

“We got together and made something happen!”
18 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Written By: Tyisha Blade

An epic annual celebration occurs when the Shaw High School Alumni Association (SHSAA) presents a fourday event that cherishes, honors and welcomes its alumni to socialize during Labor Day Weekend. In its 17th year of recognition, the Shaw Alumni Weekend brings heritage, value and patronage to the City of East Cleveland. Members of the Alumni Association shared with The East Clevelander Magazine their history, passion and dedication to the organization as well as their motivation for continuing to host the yearly Shaw Alumni Weekend events.

The current SHSAA was created in 2003 with the mission to “contributing to the further development of the academic, cultural, physical, social and athletic attributes of past and future alumni of Shaw High School.” Kathy Grant, class of 1977 and president of the Alumni Association, said the origin of the organization started with a conversation among friends and classmates.

The original five members (Kathy Grant, Grennetta “GT” Taylor, Renee Kendall, Gabrielle Ross, and Belinda Kyle) met at the McDonald’s in East Cleveland located on Eddy Road. with a goal of forming a union to serve the students at Shaw High School. “We met monthly and talked about mentoring,” Grant said during an interview at Starbucks outside on the patio located on Lee Roadd. “We wanted to give back with our time and our talent.” The original members later teamed up with another group led by Robert Seats and Bruce Coffey, both graduating class of 1973. They were a group of men interested in organizing former athletes with similar goals and interests to support Shaw.

“We got together and made something

happen!” Taylor exclaimed.

The initial members developed their Alumni Weekend idea from a 2004 event hosted by Danny Barnes, class of 1981.

The 2004 reunion commemorated the demolition of the former Shaw High School building. Taylor, treasurer of the Alumni Association, mentioned his contributions. Barnes hosted a Thursday night basketball game, a Friday night reunion at the Cleveland Browns Stadium, a Saturday night dinner dance, and a Sunday event at Euclid Creek Reservation.

Hundreds of Shaw Alumni gathered for events and were able to return to Shaw to collect a brick from Shaw’s building during its demolition. “I remember [that weekend] was such a success in many ways,” Taylor said. “I tried to get to that game and there was nowhere to park. It was packed all up and down Euclid Avenue.”

Taylor said Barnes’ initiatives were an inspiration. “We were like ‘Wow, Shaw’s people really came out. We were seeing

people that we hadn’t seen in a long time. Alumni traveled in from out of town and that’s when we knew that we needed to turn this into something,” she said. “The sense of community was still there and many alumni still keep in touch.”

Before the big parties, the group established its bylaws and business organization. Once legal, they began meetings at Heritage Middle School (now renamed Kirk Middle School) where they invited more alumni to help grow the association. Over the years, thousands have participated and supported alumni activities.

The massive Shaw Alumni Weekend events were created so that East Clevelanders could rally to embrace the past and cultivate the future alumni. Grant reminisced on the first Alumni Weekend events in 2005 at Tucker’s Casino located on Euclid Avenue.

“We had the event and realized that Tucker’s wasn’t big enough,” she said. “The party overflowed into the parking lot. People were paying at the door and

19 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Original Shaw High School Building

going right back out the door. They were paying just to be on the property with us. It was nice that Truman (Tucker) gave us the place… and we credit him for [the Alumni Association’s] first [party] because he let us have it there. The Tucker Brothers supported us all the time.” Taylor also mentioned several other contributions from Truman. “He did a lot for the community, he gave us a place to meet and it was always good company,” Taylor said. “He treated everyone really well. He was always welcoming to all classes. Truman allowed us to make and raise money for our events.”

After a successful initial weekend, Grant said the Alumni Association asked other alumni for help finding larger venues for the second Shaw Alumni Weekend events. Angela “Bambi” Cash, class of 1984, became an organizer for the association to continue celebratory efforts in 2006 at the now-closed Mirage on the Water formerly located in the Flats in Downtown Cleveland. “When you ask which event was epic, the Mirage was it! We got up to about 1500 people that night,” Grant said. “There were people everywhere!”

Greg Bell, class of 1983 and athletic chair of the Alumni Association, was the parks and recreation director for East Cleveland at the time of the first alumni weekend events. After the first park celebration at Euclid Creek Reservation, organizers reconsidered the event’s location. Later consideration involved a conversation with former Police Chief Ralph Spotts. Bell mentioned starting park events at Forest Hill Park. “[Spotts] called [former] Mayor Brewer and that’s how it started,” Bell said. “Mayor Brewer, Mayor Norton and Mayor King have all been supportive from the beginning to where we are today. Everyone has been cooperative.” The Alumni Association also mentioned the continued support

from the East Cleveland Police Department. “A lot of the officers that come to the park are volunteers,” Taylor added. “They would volunteer their time to patrol in cars and on bikes.”

Jequetta “Tootie” Steele, class of 1977 and financial secretary for the organization, said Alumni Weekend was the only large community festival held in East Cleveland. “Other cities host community events and festivals for residents,” she mentioned. “East Cleveland does not. Alumni Weekend is the only huge event that we have, and that’s why it is so important.”

Mike Tucker, class of 1984 and member of the Alumni Association’s Athletic Committee, recalls his earliest memories of alumni events. During the first weekend’s basketball event, Legends of the Hardwood, [Mike] Tucker said Bill Aden, class of 1985, made an announcement for everyone at the game to meet him at the nowclosed establishment, The Room Bar & Lounge, formerly located on Superior Avenue. “They came after the basketball game Thursday...then they came back [to The Room] on Sunday,” he said. “My Uncle Columbus [Tucker] said he didn’t have staff for all the people who came. We eventually ran out of everything!” Organizers at The Room continued to invite community members for annual alumni events. “We continued to plan for the weekend, and it got bigger and better each year until [The Room] burned down in 2016.”

The SHSAA also continues to

support the East Cleveland City with other resources as well. During several Thanksgiving Day celebrations, the organization collaborated with Shaw faculty member Denise Yates-West, class of 1980, and her students to fill baskets with hams and other items to assist Shaw students in need.

Yates-West also began partnering with the Alumni Asssociation on other activities with Shaw students that included sponsoring group movie viewings i.e “The Hate U Give” and “Black Panther,” supporting the student fashion show and “Soaring for Success,” a Zoom workshop series. Topics covered in the series included Dress for Success, Cyber Safety/Online Presence, Professional Image, Team Building Skills, Navigating the Workplace, Diversity & Inclusion Code Switching and Financial Literacy.

Bell gave notable mention to the association’s community partnership with the Drug Free Coalition. “It’s The East Cleveland Bridges of Hope Drug Free Coalition and we’ve been in existence for 10 years,” Bell said. Efforts of the Alumni Association include providing lunch or dinner for the coalition’s events and providing gift cards for raffles. “It is well worth it and there are so many different ways that we support the community,” he said. The association donates to Shaw’s athletic teams as well. “We started off donating to the basketball team, then the football team,” Bell added. They have also supported the baseball and track teams.

Truman Tucker, Tucker’s Casino
20 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Shaw High School Alumni

The organization provided a donation to the Shaw High School Mighty Marching Cardinal Band, under former director Donshon Wilson, for its 2008 trip to China. Grant thanked the marching band for its continued support and contributions to Alumni Weekend. The band performs at the picnic every year.

“Donshon Wilson started bringing the band in 2005,” Grant said. “Now current director, Mr. Randolph Woods continues to bring the band to Forest Hill Park to perform.” The band’s exciting, high-energy performance is a crowd favorite and a highlight of the Sunday park event.

Currently, the Alumni Association embraces their sole fundraising annual event, the Party With a Purpose, which raises scholarship money for

Shaw High School students and alumni students in college.

This year’s Party is on Sept 1. “We also started to notice that there were students who would get accepted to college, but couldn’t get back for their second year because they didn’t have any money to pay [tuition, expenses],” Grant said. Taylor added that the organization has raised approximately $180,000 in scholarships for students since it began fundraising.

“I also think one of the things that we are growing as a community is understanding the importance of philanthropy,” Taylor said. “People have to understand how important it is to give back. That’s really how we make these things happen. It’s about us investing and ‘tooting our own horns’ more.” Taylor wants readers to know what their donated dollar amounts are spent on and how it betters the community.

In addition to the philanthropic benefit, the weekend activities have economic impact. “Shaw High School Alumni Weekend is an economic engine for the city,” Grant said. “The bars and grocery stores all try to monetize the weekend. People have to get their meat, barbecue

and drinks. It supports businesses for the surrounding communities as well. Labor Day Weekend is Shaw’s weekend.” Bell added, “If you make money during the Alumni Weekend, give back. Create a scholarship in your class or business name; donate to us so that we can continue to give

Greg Bell, SHSAA Athletic Chair Denise Yates-West, Teacher Alumni event Alumni at Forest Hill Park
21 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

back to the kids.”

It’s also important to acknowledge that Shaw Alumni are represented all over the world and in a diversity of disciplines and professions.

As the SHSAA moves forward, they look to continue to illuminate these accomplishments in hopes that they serve as motivation and inspiration to current and future Shaw students.

President Grant wants students to take more advantage of those scholarship opportunities. “We put the scholarship applications in the school in December every year,” Grant said. “But we are finding it harder and harder for students to apply.” The scholarship application can be accessed by contacting high school counselors or via the SHSAA’s website,

The multi-faceted Shaw Alumni Weekend includes several partners and takes several months to plan.

“We actually never really stop planning,” Grant said. “We have to have certain things in place. Right after the weekend is over, we are already planning for next year. We are always making sure that we have our venues together.”

During the month of August, the organization meets to sell tickets and t-shirts for the upcoming event. “We meet twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Starbucks on Lee Road,” Steele noted. “Fridays, we are at Columbo Room on Noble Road.”

This year, Alumni Weekend’s meet and greet is at Jackie’s Party Center on Thursday, Aug. 31. On Friday, Sept. 1, the organization hosts the fundraising event,

Party With a Purpose, at Villa Crotia Party Center in Eastlake. All proceeds from the fundraiser go to Shaw High School scholarships. Saturday, Sept. 2 is open to individual class reunions.

Lastly, the family picnic is Sunday, Sept. 3 at Forest Hill Park. The four-day alumni weekend event transforms East Cleveland into one giant block party that provides the city a chance to celebrate generations of community and family. It also invites and reunites classmates while raising money for a great cause.

SHSAA consecutively arrange resources that benefit East Cleveland. Shaw Alumni Weekend is one of many initiatives that have contributed to the growth of the neighborhood.

The association meets at noon every second Saturday of the month at Heights Library on Lee Road.

For more information about the Shaw High School Alumni Association, you can visit their website,

Shaw High School Alumni Association


Kathy Grant President

Christine Mays Vice

Michelle Brown Lewis Secretary

Grennetta Taylor Treasurer

Jequetta Steele Financial Secretary

Bernadette Pace Parliamentarian

Quintero Mack

Sgt. At Arms

Shaw High School Alumni
22 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

Mike Kap Talks About the Legacy of Bill Kap Piano Co.

mission forward. “My father knew how to recruit talent,” he said. “He would recruit guys who were very talented with their hands. They also had very brilliant minds and there was always big, creative energy.” He acknowledged his current employees and continues to find ways to show his gratitude. He said he always takes time, during the summer months, for an occasional barbeque for his employees. “I like to take out the grill and throw on some hamburgers and hotdogs,” Kap said. “I like to show them that I appreciate them.”

One of the oldest running East Cleveland establishments sits on Euclid Avenue across from The Louis Stokes Station at Windermere. The Bill Kap Piano Co. is a staple in the community with over 60 years of service in and around the city. The store’s entrance is aligned with aesthetically pleasing glass windows, allowing patrons a glimpse into the museum of pianos manufactured by Chickering, Steinway, Yamaha, Baldwin, Brodmann and more. Upon arrival, visitors notice an array of antique items including the establishment’s famous stuffed bear and hand-crafted treasures. They might also even meet the beloved dog, Francis.

Seymour “Bill Kap” Kaplowitz founded the company in the 1950s. He was born in 1931 in Flint, MI. He and his family later relocated to Kirtland, OH before settling in East Cleveland on Hayden Avenue. Bill Kap was a resident of East

for factories and other establishments. The founder later joined the Army, and once he’d returned from his station in Fort Gordon, GA he began pursuing an additional business venture: transporting and rehabilitating pianos. Kap mentioned that his father funded his own education at a technician school in Oberlin by selling his Cadillac. “He got an education working on pianos, then started buying and selling them,” Kap said. “[The business]

Kap’s fondest memories at the establishment include interactions with staff members. He recalled a mover, Al Hampton, as they relocated a piano for former Cleveland Browns cornerback, Hanford Dixon. “The movers are a lot of fun,” he added. “They are jolly giant guys with great senses of humor.” Kap reminisced about a salesman, Lou Ortez who worked at the organization selling pianos for nearly 40 years. “Lou took me under his wing when I was younger,” Kap said. “He took me to trade shows and showed me how to buy pianos from our reps. I learned valuable information from a lot of these guys. It’s always been an enjoyable place to work,” he said. “We’re

Cleveland for 20 years.

Mike Kap, the son of the company’s founder, became the owner of the piano store in 2018 (after his father’s death) and said that he feels privileged to continue to operate the business and progress his family’s legacy. “We are very proud to be in East Cleveland after all these years,” [Mike] Kap said. “Our roots are here. We really enjoy what we do adding to the world of music.” The piano store is approximately 25,000 square feet and takes up nearly two thirds of the city block between Knowles Avenue and Windermere Street.

Kap said his father, prior to starting the piano business, was a successful vending machine business owner where he supplied vending machines

blossomed and snowballed for him and here we are today.”

Kap attributes much of his fathers love for pianos to his fondness of collecting arcade machines, music boxes and mechanical musical items. “That’s what my dad thrived on,” Kap said. “He was mechanical. [When] he was out there buying pianos from private individuals, he’d ask if there were any other mechanical items for sale. Over the years, he developed a massive collection of mechanical musical items.” His father’s collection encompasses antique items such as Nickelodeon pianos from the 1920s and music boxes from the 1800s.

According to the organization’s website, Bill Kap Piano Co. is Ohio’s largest piano showcase with more than 200 new and pre-owned pianos on display. The piano store offers services that include sales, service, storage, moving, providing piano parts and refinishing. Kap said that in his current daily operations at the piano store, he has many roles including communication, building maintenance, and piano repair. “I’ve learned every aspect of this business because I have been here since I was a child,” he added.

Kap also mentioned his father’s knack for recruiting essential employees and carried that

more like family than anything.”

He said his clientele are also members of his family and he hosts Christmas parties and events for them. “Once you purchase a piano from us, you become a member of our tribe,” Kap noted. “They come back and visit, too. They become our friends, they are not just clients.”

Kap also stated that people always ask him ‘why he is still in East Cleveland.’ “Once in a while, I get a client who will call and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to come visit your store, but is it safe?” In his response, he embraced the city and its surrounding environment. “After many years here, I’ve never had a problem. We are very close to the cultural University Circle. You’ve got CIM (Cleveland Institute of Music), the Cleveland Music Settlement, the Universities, the hospitals, as well as Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. We are centralized here,” he said. “And when people are looking for a piano. They will come seek us out.”

He proudly states that the East Cleveland neighborhood looks out for his establishment and takes pleasure in providing services to the community and surrounding partners. “I love the city. I grew up here and this will always be a part of my home.”

If you are interested in piano purchasing or the plethora of other services that Bill Kap Piano Co. provides, you can visit

23 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023


Courtney Bean Jones is a 22-yearveteran of the East Cleveland City School District (ECCSD) and serves as director of pupil personnel services. According to the district’s website, the Pupil Personnel Services Department “creates opportunities and provides assistance for students learning through in-district counselors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, school psychologists and intervention specialists.”

Jones oversees all student programming in the department and aids teachers in responding to the academic, social and emotional needs of students. She also advocates for students in the district through the use of external community resources. As Jones consistantly contributes to the success and advancement of East Cleveland students, she finds passion, dedication and purpose.

During her undergraduate studies at Central State University, Jones initially wanted to major in education. Instead, she decided to pursue coursework in accounting. She confided in her mother who suggested against majoring in education. Jones’ mother, an educator and attorney, told her the education field didn’t accompany financial stability. So, Jones obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and graduated from Central State in 1991.

She began working as a long-term substitute teacher in 2000 at Shaw Academy located on Euclid Avenue inside of First Presbyterian Church. Prior to her transition to ECCSD, she was employed with KeyBank as a financial analyst.

Jones decided to reconsider her career

after hearing a message during a church sermon at Antioch Baptist Church. Jones said guest preacher, Rodney Thomas, visited the church for its event, Young Adult Sunday, a yearly service of the Young Adult Ministry. Jones said Pastor Thomas spoke about his former employment with Playboy Magazine. Thomas mentioned the good income with the magazine, but questioned, ‘the outcome.’

“I remember [Pastor Thomas’ words] and really inclined my ear,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘that’s it…an outcome, not just an income.’ He was talking directly to me!” After receiving the message, Jones began to think about her outcome. She said she prayed about the message that same night, then, a moment of clarity. “I didn’t feel like I had a purpose,” Jones said. “I was behind a desk punching numbers…and helping [KeyBank] make money, but I didn’t feel like I was pouring into anybody. God was tapping me on my shoulder.”

Jones said, the next day, she submitted her two-week notice and visited Cleveland State University in hopes of returning to collegiate coursework and shifting career goals. She wanted to explore opportunities to help students with special needs. Advisors at Cleveland State, created her class sequence and scheduled Jones for her coursework. She began pursuing a Master of Education Degree in Fall 2000. Determined to walk her purpose, Jones later visited the East Cleveland Board of Education. She met with (former) Director of Human Resources Rick Jenkins to inquire about employment as a substitute teacher for the district. She submitted her resume.

Jenkins noticed Jones’ career background in banking and shared news of the vacancy for a math teacher. “This is how you

know this was nothing but God,” Jones said. Jenkins went into another room and returned with a math test that she completed the same day. “He graded the test and asked me when I could start.” The month was August and classes were soon to start in East Cleveland. Jones accepted employment for the upcoming semester.

Simultaneously, the educator began coursework at Cleveland State

“I always say education is the gift that keeps on giving.”
Jones with parents Central State graduation
24 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

and employment in East Cleveland. The ECCSD hired Jones as a longterm substitute (instead of a teacher) because she hadn’t yet obtained a teacher’s license. “I worked during the day and attended class during the evening,” Jones mentioned. “I taught algebra, geometry and algebra II. [Husband] Herb was so supportive. I came home to talk to him and he said ‘Just do it. We will be alright.’” Jones said her salary was decreased by $10,000.

During her praxis tests at Cleveland State, she interviewed with East Cleveland’s district administrators and continued to inquire about further employment. She graduated from Cleveland State with her first master’s degree in May 2004.

Jones said the school district planned to promote her from her role as long-term substitute teacher at Shaw Academy to fifth-grade intervention specialist at Mayfair Elementary School. “I thought ‘Oh my goodness, high school is my jam. I don’t know what I’m going to do with fifth graders,’” she said. Jones accepted the promotion, quickly working her way toward the position that further fulfilled her purpose.

In 2009, she accepted a role as administrator of special education prior to director of special education. “My first administrative position was curriculum specialist (in 2008),” she said. “But my focus was always [on becoming] an administrator in special education.” Another vacancy within the district presented itself and before the position was filled, Jones began to assume responsibilities for the open role without any extra pay.

“I knew all the work and what needed to be done,” she said. “I just did it because that’s how much I care about the district. East Cleveland is my home; why would I just sit back and let work fall by the wayside knowing everything that was supposed to be done?”

Jones was later promoted to director of pupil personnel services in August 2021: the role in which she is currently employed. She mentioned her current feelings of fulfillment and purpose, and that her salary is more than it would’ve been had she continued her career at Keybank in corporate America. “I had to go through some things to get where I am today,” she said.

Jones’ favorite moments with ECCSD include time spent with the Shaw High School Mighty Marching Cardinal Band in her role as auxiliary director.

“Mr. [Donshon] Wilson is phenomenal

and the things that he did with the [band] program were nothing short of amazing,” she said. Wilson encouraged Jones to become auxiliary director; she said loved being a part of the organization.

“Wilson’s vision was so much bigger than the band. It allowed me witness greatness in [students],” she added.

“I saw [students] begin at auditions and watched [them] finish a full band year. [Students] grew, not just as performers, but as people. I learned a lot from my students. Together, we were able to accomplish so much.”

She also mentioned keeping connections with students intact after they graduate.

“When you’re a teacher, you’re everybody’s teacher, not just the kids who are in your class,” she said.

“I like to see my [alumni] students and how well they are doing. I have only given birth to two [children], but I have so many sons and daughters that won’t go away! I don’t want them to go away either. I always say ‘education is the gift that keeps on giving.’”

25 Issue #02 | August 2023 The East Clevelander Magazine
Jones with Donshon Wilson at alumni event

East Clevelander Becomes Vice President of Print for Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists

the post-meeting networking sessions. For the 2019 GCLEABJ elections, Paige said he wasn’t interested in running for any board position. After a suggestion from current NABJ Parliamentarian and former Region II Director, Sia Nyorkor, he considered running for secretary. “Sia reached out to me and asked me to run,” he said. “I didn’t want to disappoint her.” Paige was elected for two terms, holding the secretarial position for four years before he was elected VP of Print. Paige said he hesitated to run for his current position; GCLEABJ’s Immediate Past President Kevin “Chill” Heard approached him and said ‘If you don’t run, I am going to nominate you from the floor during elections.’ “Instead of worrying about that happening, I decided to run [for secretary].”

On June 6, 2023 The Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists (GCLEABJ) hosted the induction ceremony of their newest Executive Board members at Cleveland City Hall, Rotunda on Lakeside Ave. in Downtown Cleveland. Former board members, current association members, friends, family and distinguished guests gathered to witness the event.

After President Rhonda Crowder was sworn in, each newly-elected board member was sworn in by Judge Michael L. Nelson, Sr., who officiated the ceremony. After the ceremony, GCLEABJ members recovened to celebrate at Winking Lizard Tavern located on E. 9th St.

GCLEABJ is a local organization of print, radio, TV and digital journalists as well as public relations and communications professionals from across Northeast Ohio. GCLEABJ is the Cleveland affiliate of the National

Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The national organization includes more than 4,000 members of emerging journalists, professional journalists, student journalists, journalism educators and media professionals. The local affiliate expands on the mission of the national chapter as it “serves and strengthens the community by honestly reflecting the past, accurately reporting the present with perspective, and providing support, inspiration, fellowship and opportunities for journalists of color.”

Nate Paige is an East Clevelander and current GCLEABJ Vice President (VP) of Print. He began attending Chapter meetings in 2014, which were held at The Call and Post Newspaper’s location in Cleveland near Shaker Square. Paige began assisting the Chapter by proofreading documents and helping member/Elections Committee chair Felicia Haney with providing food for

Paige’s earliest memories of his love for words were spelling bees and an enthusiasm for reading at Superior Elementary School. “My grandmother would always subscribe me to anything reading,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of toys, but I could get as many books as I wanted!”

He also recalls participating in a writing contest for Ball Park Franks when he was eight years old. He and a neighborhood friend both submitted content. About two months later, Paige’s grandmother told him that he’d received mail. He’d won a prize in the writing contest and happily accepted the Timex watch he was sent as an award. “I was so excited,” he said. “I said to my grandmother ‘so I can get free stuff if I just write about it?’ She laughed and said, ‘Yes, sometimes.’ After that, whenever I found out about contests, I would enter.”

He reminisced about growing up in East Cleveland on Auburndale Avenue. Paige enjoyed attending the East Cleveland Public Library’s reading programs, going bowling at Shaw Lanes and swimming at Korb Pool as well as the pool at the East Cleveland branch of the YMCA. He mentioned the Continental Movie Theater, which was located approximately on the stretch of land where the now-closed Wendy’s

“We’re in a unique position because not every city gets a national convention.”
26 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

sits. There was also a Ford car dealership where the now-closed Adult Education Center sits, next to Popeye’s at Euclid and Rosalind Avenues, and upscale hotels all along Euclid Avenue. “You didn’t have to go anywhere else,” he said. “We had it all.” Paige also recalls the Hough Bakeries factory which stretched between Lakeview Road. and Auburndale Avenue. “In the summertime, you could just sit on your porch and smell bread and cakes baking all evening,” he said. Paige currently resides in the home on Auburndale Avenue.

The avid writer studied accounting at Shaw High School while writing for the school newspaper during his junior and senior years. In his freshman year, he was elected president of the school’s R.I.F. (Reading is Fundamental) Chapter. As president, it was his job to encourage more students to read. R.I.F. sent boxes of free books to the school to be distributed at the school library during lunch periods. “At the time, I didn’t know what the greater passion [between accounting and writing] was,” Paige said. “Although many of my friends told me that I was going to be a writer, I just didn’t see it. I loved working with numbers, and accounting satisfied that love.”

Paige enrolled at Cleveland State University (CSU), basing his coursework in accounting. “For the first year of college, my only writing was for class assignments,” he added. During his second year at the University, ‘the numbers stopped clicking.’ He couldn’t figure out why there was such a disconnect between him and his studies. He later reached out to another Shaw graduate, Dwayne Bray, to express his interest in writing. Bray covered sports for The Cauldron, one of CSU’s student newspapers, “I figured that maybe I missed writing since I hadn’t done any journalistic writing since high school,” he said. Bray introduced Paige to The Cauldron editor, who gave him a movie pass to review the film, “FX”which served as his interview. He became a regular contributor to the newspaper, and changed his major from accounting to english during his sophomore year. “Writing that review was the turning point,” Paige said. “It was like the clouds parted and the sun came out. That energy I felt when writing creatively returned. That’s when I knew this was what I should be doing.”

Paige approached The Call and Post Newspaper for a summer internship in 1986. Instead of interning, he was offered a full-time job at the end of summer, just before registration opened for fall courses at CSU. “My grandfather was

dead-set against it,” he exclaimed. “He said school was more important.” After further evaluation, Paige’s grandfather reconsidered the job offer at The Call and Post Newspaper and agreed that he should accept employment -- it would allow him to have experience under his belt before finishing college.

He began work that fall as a general assignment reporter, and soon became the principal entertainment writer for the publication’s arts and entertainment section, Showtime, where he spent five years. During the last two years of his employment with the newspaper, Paige worked part-time at the Cleveland Museum of Art as a security guard for supplemental income. He later began fulltime employment at the museum, where he would remain until the mid ’90s. He moved on to take a job as a full-time children’s book clerk at Borders Books at LaPlace in Beachwood, where he worked for 18 months. While there, he reunited with a former museum employee, Kelly Brouse, who was’s first copy editor. Knowing of Paige’s career background in writing, Brouse referred him to replace her at, as she would be leaving for another job. “I met with the managing editor, Eliza Wing, and had a 15-minute interview,” Paige recalled. “She asked about my days off at Borders.” It just so happened he was off the following day. “I started the next day, working one day a week at Cleveland. com, and the remaining days of the week - except Sundays - at Borders.”

Paige’s lengthy career in media includes 21 years at, as well as freelance reporting for The

Real Deal Press, The Land, Freshwater Cleveland, High Art Fridays, and several other now-defunct local publications (The Cleveland Free Times, City Reports, JazzFlyte and Party! Party! Party!). In his current role as communications and marketing specialist for The City of Shaker Heights, Paige is also a contributing writer for Shaker Life Magazine. He began working part-time for the City of Shaker Heights in August 2019, converting to full-time employment in 2021.

Paige also shared with The East Clevelander Magazine his pride in growing up in the city and helping to restore the sense of community. He said major efforts in repairing the city involve events that occur at Shaw High School’s Alumni Weekend. “Friends from other schools even come and attend our events,” he said. “They said ‘it's just such a good time.’” Fond memories include rekindling friendships with alumni and the camaraderie of the city during Labor Day Weekend. “That is a weekend where East Cleveland makes money,” Paige said. “Many alumni return and patronize East Cleveland businesses. It's just a good thing.”

Upcoming accomplishments of GCLEABJ include hosting the 2025 NABJ Convention. During NABJ’s tours for a host city, they visited Cleveland in 2019. Destination Cleveland (the non-profit destination marketing and management organization for Cuyahoga County) welcomed NABJ officials to the Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar, Karamu House and several other Cleveland establishments showcasing what the city offers. “We’re in a unique position because not every city gets a convention,” he added. “As 2025 draws closer, more local reporters are reaching out to become involved with the Chapter.”

For more information about the Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists, you can visit,

Elected officials of The Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists:

President: Rhonda Crowder (former President: Kevin “Chill” Heard); Vice President (VP) of Print: Nate Paige (former VP of Print: Rhonda Crowder); VP of Digital: Audrey Wiggins; VP of Broadcast: Helen Maynard (former VP of Broadcast: Russ Mitchell); Treasurer: Rachel Hill (former Treasurer: Sandra Bishop); Parliamentarian: Delvis Valentine (former Parliamentarian Greg Lockhart); and Secretary: Briana Oldham (former Secretary: Nate Paige).

27 Issue #02 | August 2023 The East Clevelander Magazine
Ceremony at Cleveland City Hall

My Experience Undergoing a Myomectomy at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center

After months of testing, I’d finally felt the time had come. I had multiple vent sessions with my family and tried to keep my nerves down about what I didn’t want to hear. I sought out advice and multiple professional opinions concerning the procedure that imperatively needed completion. A myomectomy: surgery that I’d heard of, but was not familiar with. I was terrified, but I’d grown weary of constant pain and worry. After a few referrals, I met with Rebecca Flyckt, MD at University Hospitals (UH) Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood. During my first visit with Dr. Flyckt, we discussed the procedure, family planning, pre-procedure testing and what to expect during the six-week recovery period. She expounded on the need for the surgery as well as any health risks. Flyckt made certain that none of my questions were unanswered. She and other providers at Ahuja did their due diligence in providing care both pre and post surgery.

A myomectomy (my-o-MEK-tuh-me) is a major surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids (benign-not cancerous-growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus). states that the procedure involves making an incision through the skin on the lower abdomen and removing fibroids from the wall of the uterus. The uterine muscle

is then sewn back together using layers of stitches. According to, a myomectomy is the best treatment option for women who want to preserve the uterus to have children in the future.

Friday, June 16, 2023 was my day. My grandmother and I had spent the night before at my mother’s home in Euclid. Mom and Grandma accompanied me the morning of surgery, as we made the drive to Ahuja for my 6 a.m. appointment. My orders were nothing to eat or drink, I think I got grouchy. We arrived at Ahuja relatively early. Mom dropped me and Grandma off at the main entrance, then drove off to park her truck. She returned and met us in the lobby and hospital staff politely advised us. We took the elevator to the second floor where other patients and family members gathered and waited. Not before long, my name was called. At that moment, I was no longer nervous or scared; I was ready. Mom and Grandma remained in the waiting area until they were notified to join me.

Nursing staff patiently guided me to preop and helped with getting my surgical attire, gathering my vital signs (blood pressure, temperature etc.) and making sure that I was comfortable before I spoke with other members of the health care team. Mom and

Grandma were notified and able to sit with me briefly before surgery.

Flyckt and Evelina Manvelyan, MD visited. They reiterated procedural events and provided words of encouragement. Interactions with Flyckt were always knowledgeable, yet enjoyable. Confidential, yet sociable.

“I was terrified, but I was tired of the constant pain and worry. It had to be done.”
By: Tyisha Blade Rebecca Flyckt, MD Ahuja Medical Center 7th floor nursing staff
28 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Arriving to room 7706

After some light laughs about coupling my procedure with a tummy-tuck (FYI: no, they didn’t provide that service to me) the physicians headed off to the operating room. I spoke with a few more members of the health care team before we began the four-hour procedure. Mom and Grandma were prompted to wait for further instruction in the waiting area. Then, the surgery was performed. Flyckt removed over 20 fibroids. Fortunately, I do not remember the surgery, at all! That’s thanks to Christopher Lagnese, MD and his team. Lagnese was the anesthesiologist for my procedure. He visited my pre-op area and thoroughly explained his role and medications that he would administer while I was in his care. I had questions for Lagnese that he was more than helpful with answering. I had a fear of waking up during surgery. He insisted that was not a likely occurrence. Lagnese was reassuring. I don’t remember leaving pre-op. I only remember waking up on the 7th floor medical/surgical unit of Ahuja Medical Center.

My first memory of arriving on the 7th floor happened as I got to my room, 7706. I saw Mom and Grandma as the patient transporter wheeled me in. My family arrived at my room shortly before I did. I was in and out of it, still trying to gather my bearings. Next, as I lay on the transport bed, a voice whispered, ‘Do you remember me?’ I looked up and it was Stephanie Moss, RN.

Moss, the admissions nurse on the 7th floor, greeted me. I was immediately relieved after seeing a familiar face as I’d worked on the 7th floor years prior. “Admitting Tyisha was a pleasant experience,” Moss said. “I recognized her name upon receiving her as a patient and was glad that I would have an opportunity to connect with a prior co-

worker.” The 12-year-Ahuja veteran worked diligently to assess my needs and get me acclimated to my room. Mom and Grandma waited as I was moved from the transport bed to the bed in my room. I remember the pain as I further awakened from my anesthetic slumber.

“When Tyisha was admitted, the biggest challenge I faced was that she was in a lot of pain. Being a surgical floor, this is not an uncommon occurrence,” Moss said. “Luckily, the surgeons placed orders on hold in the EMR (Electronic Medical Record). I was able to quickly release the orders for pain medication and make her more comfortable.”

I just wanted to eat food and go back to sleep. “She was kind, but tired from anesthesia, so I addressed her pain and let her rest,” Moss added. Once I was calmed and situated, she helped me with ordering dinner. I tried to order almost everything on the menu. Mom and Grandma disagreed with my colossal food selection.

Honestly, my first day was rough. Initially, the myomectomy was to be performed and I would leave the same day. However, I felt more comfortable with staying overnight until Saturday morning. Careproviders thought it better that I remain the entire weekend.

Deauna St. Clair, RN was one of my nurses and a former co-worker as well. She has been a nurse for 13 years; she is also a Shaw High School Alum and a triplet. She and her sisters Dierra Todd, RN and Davetta Todd, RN are all nurses at UH. St. Clair provided much of my daytime nursing care over the next couple days.

During the surgery, I lost 700 cubic centimeters (cc’s) of blood. With a low blood count of six, I was in need of a blood transfusion. St. Clair thoroughly explained the procedure. She said that a blood transfusion is “determined by the patient’s hemoglobin (protein in red blood cells) and hematocrit (percentage by volume of red cells in blood) being below seven.” Patients also might “have hypotension (low blood pressure), shortness of breath, and tachycardia (increased heart rate).” Flyckt and I had also previously discussed that a blood transfusion could become a possibility.

St. Clair picked up pints of blood from the in-house blood bank; she verified the unit of blood and blood type. Once she returned to my room, she and another nurse verified my name, medical record number (MRN), blood type, unit number and date of birth. St. Clair obtained my vital signs and began administering blood intravenously. After more blood testing, I received three additional transfusions. All I could remember thinking was ‘somebody else’s blood is going into

my body! OMG.’ Eventually, the painless procedure returned my blood count to normal levels. St. Clair talked me through every medical procedure she and I completed as we reminisced and caught up with eachother’s lives.

“I enjoy connecting with patients beyond the nurse/patient relationship,” St. Clair said. “We have so many patients who come back for repeat surgeries. They always remember us and the care they [received]. Patients show or tell us how they appreciated our care.” St. Clair also mentioned some hardships she sometimes faces when working. “My challenges are having to deal with people who are not appreciative of the staff, whether it be patients, visitors, and/or medical staff.”

Another familiar face was Angel Woofter, RN. I saw her Monday morning. I continued my stay at Ahuja to monitor my health after the multiple blood transfusions. Woofter’s been a nurse for 14 years and I enjoyed working with her as well. She was always pleasant and professional. She said that she became a nurse because she wanted to help people. “Also, I was always interested in science and the medical field since I was a child,” Woofter added. Her presence in my room was angelic to say the least. She was dedicated to ensuring that I was comfortable managing myself and prepared to discharge from the hospital. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take proper care of myself or that I might somehow fall when I was home. Woofter talked to me about these insecurities as we discussed health and life.

“Communication and interacting is very important because in most cases it may be the unknown or a new diagnosis a patient is struggling with,” Woofter said. “The more the patient feels informed, the less anxious

29 Issue #02 | August 2023 The East Clevelander Magazine
Stephanie Moss, RN Deauna St. Clair, RN

and scared they will be. I strive to be as informative and up front as I can.”

She said that she also appreciates coworkers as they depend on each other daily. “Being a nurse is hard mentally and physically,” she mentioned. “Having great coworkers that you can count on makes all the difference on those rough days.”

She said her biggest challenge is staffing. “It is a problem all over the country, now more than ever,” Woofter said. “The RN to patient ratios are higher than I would like them to be. This limits the amount of time you have to provide care and connect with your patients.”

Each interaction with Woofter was graceful, and I was able to comfortably share my thoughts about discharging from the hospital. I was transparent and admitted to wanting to remain at the hospital another night. Flyckt visited my room that day as well and I was able to also share with her that I would rather stay another day. So, I did.

My last day at the hospital was Tuesday, June 20. That morning, I was reacquainted with 7th floor Nurse Manager, Kate Keppler, RN. I was happy that she, too, was aiding in my care. Keppler said that she usually arrives to the unit around 6 a.m. to check in with the night shift staff. Afterward, she takes a look at assignments for the day and starts huddling at 7 a.m. “Our daily safety huddle is between day shift and night shift,” Keppler said. “We talk about any updates, review new education topics, discuss the plan for the day and also recognize any staff who have gone above and beyond!” After this huddle, she attends more meetings and addresses concerns presented from several committees that she is a member.

During that day’s rounding, Keppler introduced me to Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Lindsey Colangelo MSN, RN. The

CNO entered my room wanting to know more.

She pulled up a chair and we talked. We laughed. We discussed my care and what I thought could be done better. At the time, I couldn’t think of anything. Although now, I am starting to think about the food! Nonetheless, I felt it very thoughtful and compassionate for Colangelo to take time and sit with me. Thank you.

Keppler also enjoys her work and the staff that she works with. “I have an amazing team on the 7th floor and always feel proud when patients acknowledge their hard work. I enjoy hearing stories from the patients who return to Ahuja for care because of their first experiences with us.”

She agrees that nurse staffing is an issue.

FECPL is committed to assisting the Library to increase awareness in the community of the many varied programs that the library provides. We provide financial assistance to support the activities that are not a part of the Library’s operating budget.

For more information, visit

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“Med-surg bedside nursing continues to be less attractive than some specialty areas,” Keppler noted. “I would like to encourage new nurses to consider bedside nursing to gain the experience that only this area can provide.”

Another challenge Keppler expressed was the mental health of the profession. “We all went through a lot during the pandemic and the last three years,” Keppler said. “Many nurses today are trying to get back to normalcy and the true art and profession of nursing which originally led us to the field.”

During my stay at Ahuja, I was visited by many team members who helped create a positive experience for me. Along with doctors and nurses, there were dieticians, occupational therapists, patient liaisons, phlebotomists, environmental services workers and more who stopped by 7706.

That afternoon, I was discharged by David Nnueman, RN. I was well prepared and ready to sleep in my own bed.

The Shoe Clinic

You can get your shoes maintained at the Shoe Clinic located at Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Tower. The Shoe Clinic has been in business for 20 years and is known for its quality work. The owner, Umar Al-Hakeem, is a skilled shoe repairman who is known as “the shoe doctor.” The Shoe Clinic reopens Sept. 5, and you can call 216956-1243 for more information.

30 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Angel Woofter, RN Kate Keppler, RN

Samantha Walker Practices Patience While Pursuing her Career Goals

young,” she said. “You just had to keep it moving and keep pushing.” Walker noted that she realized the need to identify what was ailing her so that she could better manage her mental health. She said, now, she talks about her struggles with anxiety and depression, but will not let her diagnoses hinder the positive growth she’s had personally and professionally. “It’s what I go through sometimes, but it is not all that I am,” Walker expressed.

Her current motivations include keeping her happiness and doing what she loves. “The more I do things that I enjoy, the happier I am,” she said. “I just want to spread that around. Whenever you see me at an event, I’m always smiling and having a good time. I want to continue to spread positivity in the work that I do while showing people that you can be fun and professional. This is a real career path for me. I’m keeping my dream alive, Honey.”

Samantha Walker answers to many roles including model, host and auntie. Her schedule becomes increasingly more jam-packed with events and opportunities that showcase her many talents. In 2023 alone, she’s involved herself with many events including, but not limited to Pink Carpet hosting at The Pink & Black Honors, hosting Games of the Runway: an all-male fashion show for Waki Wear Productions, podcast interviewing, modeling in New York for the Crusade of Curves, and a nomination for Model of the Year at the Stiletto Boss Awards. She mentioned that she is currently booked through December. “The exposure has led me to so many different opportunities, and even with the free events, I know that there is going to be someone in that room who is a big deal,” she said. “It’s starting to pay off.”

The career-driven host said, as a child, she was involved in many activities that have contributed to the multifaceted lifestyle she lives today. She was a member of a dance troupe, sang in the choir, participated in drama club and wrote short stories for a group called Power of the Pen. She also participated in Shaw High School’s Mighty Marching Car-

dinal Band (under direction of Donshon Wilson) and completed modeling classes at St. Martin de Porres on Superior Avenue. Walker said being from East Cleveland allowed her creativity to flourish. “No matter what I do, I am innovative because, in our city, we had limited resources,” Walker noted. “Figuring out ways to make things happen, [such as] making costumes and putting on plays without production [teams]. These experiences help me as an adult…I can figure things out on my own without having to outsource.”

Walker also shared with The East Clevelander Magazine her struggles with depression and anxiety. She knew that she was ‘unique’ at a very young age, though she wasn’t diagnosed with depression until 2016. “I liked to be alone a lot,” she said. “I had friends, but I liked to isolate and be by myself.” She said she realized that she was easily overstimulated in crowds of people. She valued the interaction, but said the process was draining. “I could only be social for so long,” she added. “I found myself having to recharge a lot as a kid.” She said she held her feelings in and was expected to move on. “It wasn’t something that was talked about when we were

While accomplishing her goals, Walker said that she doesn’t allow herself to become stressed about the future by putting timelines on her success. Instead, she is intentional about ‘living in the present’ and appreciating life. “Through my therapy, I have learned to take each day as it comes. ‘Do I have things that I want to do?’ Of course, but I’m not putting a time stamp on them. If this is the way that I am going, I just let it flow. I’m in love with the direction that I’m going right now.”

Advice that she would like to share with youth is not to leave East Cleveland without coming back. “This is your home. Always come back and give back,” said. “We really do need all hands on deck. We need our whole community.” She also wants youth to shine a positive light so that society is aware that our community members can do amazing work.

Samantha Walker, Photo Credit: Marcia Craggett Samantha Walker, Pink Carpet Host at The Pink & Black Honors
31 Issue #02 | August 2023 The East Clevelander Magazine
“I’m in love with the direction that I’m going right now.”

Juneteenth Celebrations in East Cleveland

ECPL Pre-Juneteenth Extravaganza

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. It was first celebrated in Texas in 1865, when enslaved people there learned that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation

two years earlier. Juneteenth is now celebrated across the country with parades, festivals and other events. In East Cleveland, several celebrations took place across the city. The East Cleveland Public Library (ECPL) hosted two performances on June

10. “Road to Freedom: An Interactive Juneteenth Celebration” and “Lynch: The Trial of Willie Lynch,” were held at the Greg L. Reese Performing Arts Center. Friends of ECPL also hosted a Pop-Up Shop in the parking lot behind the building.

McDonald’s Juneteenth Customer Appreciation Event

Early in the afternoon on a perfect, 80-degree June 19, East Clevelanders had already begun gathering at a series of bright red tents just north of Euclid Avenue on Eddy Road—some lined up on the roadside in cars, some lined up on the sidewalk on foot—and by the 1:00 p.m. opening of McDonald’s East Cleveland Juneteenth Customer Appreciation and Resources Fair, both lines stretched down Eddy Road. as far as the eye could see.

Thanks, in part, to the support of the

Juneteenth Council Elders and the City of East Cleveland, McDonald’s East Cleveland hosted a wildly popular customer appreciation fair during which the fast-food restaurant gave away over $80,000 in household supplies, hygiene products and personal protective equipment (PPE). Our East Cleveland McDonald’s management and team also put on a clinic on how to churn through a long line of East Clevelander cars and pedestrians with a quickness.

Franchise owner Jeffrey Ledwidge and store manager Billy Sharp rolled up their sleeves and jumped in to help direct traffic, load up cars or hand baskets and manage the McDonald’s supply line of blankets, masks, sanitizer and other resources into the hands of as many East Cleveland residents as they could supply. Ledwidge, owner of five McDonald’s restaurants (including McDonald’s East Cleveland), commented, “This is obviously a very special day and we

Photo Story By: Tyisha Blade/Some photos courtesy of ECPL
32 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023
Written By: Rich Weiss

wanted to make sure that we give back to the community. That’s what it’s really all about.”

Ledwidge gestured to the turnout for the Juneteenth McDonald’s East Cleveland fair and said, “They support us, we want to give back. And so we’ve done a number of these, not just here, but in other restaurants as well, my five restaurants. So it’s just a nice thing to

do. It’s just very heartfelt. And the people are so great. People are loving it here. It’s funny, my customers, they make sure everything goes well. I don’t do a lot.”

He helped manager Sharp and a McDonald’s East Cleveland employee carefully stuff a blanket into a jam-packed car of an appreciative regular customer, and added, “I’ve got the greatest employees.”

About 10 driveways down the regularly progressing sidewalk line was an older East Cleveland resident, Deb Brown. “I think it’s nice what they’re doing, trying to help the people out,” she said. “I’m just an old lady, and hopefully I can get up there soon. It’s a pretty long line and I’m kind of in the middle.” She reset her lawn chair and looked to the front of the line.

“I guess, they’re starting to give the stuff out.” Brown summed up, “They look like they’re trying to do some things here.”

Further down the line was a young East Cleveland family who brought their

baby, Trammer, to the Juneteenth event at McDonald’s. “We’re here with Trammer trying to get something free!” Trammer’s mother added, “It’s Juneteenth, might as well celebrate.” And how did they find out about the McDonald’s East Cleveland Juneteenth Customer Appreciation and Resources Fair? Trammer’s mother chimed in, “My nephew works at McDonald’s!”

Franchise owner Ledwidge sees family connections, himself, in his McDonald’s East Cleveland restaurant—before we left, he made sure to note: “And my wife does all the planting. She plants all the flowers.” Ledwidge pointed out the beautifully manicured landscaping on his corner of Euclid Avenue and Eddy Road. “Peaches and I—her name is Peaches. She does all the flowers and makes sure it’s beautiful. Because we want it to be beautiful for the neighborhood.”

Juneteenth Celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center

The Juneteenth Council of Elders and The City of East Cleveland held their first annual Juneteenth festival on June 17 at the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Civic Center in the heart of East Cleveland. Located on Shaw Avenue, the civic center is a place where most people in the city can recall fond memories of basketball games, neighborhood meetings, boys & girls clubs and more. This is also the location where elderly community members currently meet for yoga led by Judge William L. Dawson of the East Cleveland Municipal Court.

The Juneteenth festival was not inside the center, however, organizers committed to full utilization of the playground and additional parking space in the rear of the center. On this day, the playground area was transformed into a gathering place equipped with vendors, bounce houses, a stage for performances and football games as community members enjoyed the company of their neighbors relaxed in lawn chairs.

I began my interviewing with a word from Judge Dawson. He showed support and love

to the community as it celebrated Juneteenth and what it means to this community. “It’s an example of how far we’ve come, and at the same time, how far we can go and what we can achieve if we work together, if we stay positive, if we work as a community there is nothing that we can’t achieve and I am here to be an example of that,” he said.

I also interviewed with a Black-owned family business from East Cleveland. ABC READ, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission includes “giving new and gently used books that represent Black people, culture, history and experiences as well as healthy snacks to community members that need it the most.” ABC Read also hosted a summer reading camp from June 25-July 30 at the East Cleveland Public Library. During the Juneteenth event, I also met Ms. Malia, an instructor with Rated G Early Childcare Enrichment Academy. Located on the corner of Belvoir Boulevard., the academy “aims to deliver the highest quality childcare by focusing on the child’s overall development.”

If you are truly from East Cleveland, you

know that there is rarely an event where the Shaw High School Might Marching Cardinal Band doesn’t show up and show out. An example of the dedication, determination and drive is seeing the youth happily represent their city with pride. The band performed at the MLK Juneteenth event. This was their third show of the day. They arrived at the civic center and they still gave us a stellar performance. The current band director, Randolph Woods Jr. shared that students could sign up to be a part of the marching band as early as sixth grade and that registration was, then, open to all children who were interested.

The Juneteenth event provided a plethora of entertainment including, but not limited to a yoga demonstration from Judge Dawson and line dancing instruction from a host DJ. Volunteers catered lunch and assisted with putting together an amazing event. City officials mingled and answered residents’ questions. It was a pleasure to see community members interact and exchange resources as they celebrated together.

33 Issue #02 | August 2023 The East Clevelander Magazine


My Birthday Wish for East Cleveland

Opinions expressed in The Esat Clevelander Magazine are the opinions of our community, submitted by community members, themselves. The views published are not neccesarily the views of this publication or its editorial staff.

When I saw that the deadline for submission to the New East Clevelander Magazine was June 30th, that made me think about my milestone birthday of yes, 70 years of life on June 29th! So, I pondered ‘If I could have one birthday wish that would be granted for the City of East Cleveland, what would it be?’

I was blessed in the late 1970’s to be a part of the original East Cleveland Redevelopment Program. It was a stellar program because they took the homes vacated by white flight, rehabbed them, and then sold the beautifully, completely remodeled homes at fair market price to up and coming career-minded persons like myself. I was a single, Black, firstyear school teacher. It was practically unheard of that I would be given one of the homes but the Lord in His Mercy saw to it that I was able to secure my home on Mayfair Avenue!

I have been a homeowner in East Cleveland for 45 years! I moved to Cleveland during my marriage, and for the first 10 years or so, I left the politics and civic activities to my very capable parents Bernard & Laura Marie Cobb and Leondas & Alice Nash.

What I heard then was pretty much the same as what we are experiencing now: in-fighting, petty jealousies, disrespect for the authority of others, unwillingness to work together with the common goal of moving the city forward in the 21st century! Granted, there are a wide range of advocacy approaches to choose from, e.g. a public vs. a private approach, engagement vs. confrontation, and working alone or in coalition with others.

We must choose the approach that is the most effective for East Cleveland.

When I moved back to East Cleveland in 2010, my parents were elderly. So, I decided to get information first hand instead of getting it second hand from them, through gossip, rumors, poor media coverage, etc. Which is exactly what I have done! Having become acquainted with several grassroots organizations in East Cleveland as well as Council, the Administration, our School & Library Boards, most of the mission statements of these entities speak to a “coming together”, “rebuilding together” theme for our fair City…” together we can,” “unite our voices,” etc.

Remember the old crabs in a barrel analogy we were all taught as kids concerning Black people? Put a bunch of crabs in a barrel. When one person (or group) tries to climb up, the other crabs pull them back down! Back down to the in-fighting, name calling, petty jealousies, crawling over and pinching each other by disrespecting and unwillingness to just listen to each other while we all claw at the bottom for the little scraps of power we think we have!

If everyone’s mission is coming together, why not be an example to the residents of East Cleveland, (the State of Ohio, and the rest of the country!), by showing us that you, the various groups, can work together? No, unfortunately I see each faction and even individuals within the factions trying to hold on to whatever power and influence they have instead of combining it all to turn East Cleveland into the Black Cultural Mecca we all envision! Inclusion is the action or state of including or being included within a “structure.” Inclusion also means diverse groups of people viewpoints and experiences are “heard” and counted. There is a belief that inclusion leads to better policy solutions and practices.

I challenge each group, faction and resident of East Cleveland to lay down your sword & shield and work together! We’re all advocates and advocacy is a deliberate (thorough, rational plan) or process, involving intentional actions. Granted, there are a wide range of advocacy approaches to choose from, e.g. a public vs. a private approach, engagement vs. confrontation, and working alone or in coalition with others.

Whatever approach we choose, transparency, if you are doing right is not an issue; if you are doing wrong…STOP IT! You are further damaging our City! Take minutes of every meeting. What is so hard about writing down and sharing information? Let’s provide a forum where we can share what’s being done in each meeting with each other. Otherwise we are each spinning our wheels, doing the same in each of our cages WITH NO FORWARD MOMENTUM WHATSOEVER!

On a personal note, I’m tired of trying to be everywhere, at all these group meetings (sometimes at the same times!), only to hear and find out something new, different or entirely OPPOSITE as I heard at the last meeting! Worse, I see the same wonderfully civic minded persons like myself trying to keep up with it all! And we’re senior citizens!

We can do better; with better communication and a healthy respect for each other as fellow human beings and respect for the leadership abilities that God has placed in each of us! We all have something to bring to the table and we MUST respect and listen to everyone.

Surely, East Cleveland has a table that’s big enough for all of us to sit, share and work together to move East Cleveland FORWARD! Will you help me find it? And… I will see you at the table!

34 The East Clevelander Magazine Issue #02 | August 2023

Your Vote is Your Superpower

Mobilize the Vote Helps Community With Voting Process

you’ve moved or changed your name, you need to update your voter registration. You can do it online at boe. or we can do it for you with a paper change.

Next Election is Nov. 7, 2023.

One person, one vote. That’s our system of government and the majority rules. Mobilize the Vote is a grassroots organization that connects with voters – especially people who don’t always vote. We want to make it easier to get your voice heard so that the government works for you and all of us!

We help find different ways to make votes count such as checking registration and voting by mail. First step: register to vote. You can register to vote at vote411. org/ohio if you have an Ohio driver’s license.

Mobilize the Vote also loves to join events in the East Cleveland community. Let us do the paperwork for you. Look for our neon orange shirts at East Cleveland Public Library, Forest Hill Terrace, Owls Nest and other apartment buildings. Invite us to your church or block party and we’ll be there to help everyone register to vote and provide voting resources - including ways to get missing identificataion (ID) for free! If you’re already registered, double check before EVERY Election. If

You must have the correct identification. Strict voter ID laws can make it harder for you to vote. Under the new rules, all voters will need one of the following unexpired photo IDs: Ohio driver’s license, Ohio state ID, interim ID form issued by Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), Military ID (U.S. Military, U.S. Veterans Affairs or Ohio National Guard), or a U.S. passport or passport card. The BMVwill issue a free state ID card - but only once.

If you move frequently, you must change your voter registration everytime you relocate homes. People with suspended licenses due to lack of insurance or unpaid fines; senior citizens who no longer drive; young people and college students who don’t drive; people who use public transportation and people who get married or divorced all need to atleast have a state ID card in order to vote.

If you don’t have one of these IDs, Vote Riders can get you a free ride to the BMV to get the ID you need to vote. Call or Text 866-ID-2-VOTE and they will help you. You can also vote by mail; you only need the last 4 digits of your social security number.

Join us. Good government can benefit all of us! There are lots of ways you can join us: help us find events in the community, knock on doors to register voters, or make phone calls.

If you’re interested, send an email to or learn more on our website at

Voter Deadlines:

Oct. 10

Register to vote or change address.

Oct. 11 (8 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

Begin early voting at Cuyahoga County Board of elections.

Oct. 11

Absentee ballots mailed if requested.

Oct. 31

Deadline to request an absentee ballot.

Nov. 7 (6:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.) Election Day.

Nov. 7 (7:30 p.m.)

Deadline to drop off absentee ballot at the Board of Elections.

Sue Dean and community members during Juneteenth event at ECPL.
35 Issue #02 | August 2023 The East Clevelander Magazine
Alumni Weekend, East Clevelanders!
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