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Baby Munch launches in Hildebrandt building with 'Gimme a Beet,' 'Peas and Love,' others

Le’Anna Miller’s daughter, London, wasn’t supposed to arrive until January 2015. But her baby surprised her and came a month early on December 1, 2014.

“Any time you have a premature baby, you have a heightened sense of protection. Because she was born a month early her health was the most important thing," says Miller. "We had to feed her with a syringe at first.”
 
Today, London is a happy, healthy two-year-old. But the experience of having a preemie awakened Miller’s entrepreneurial spirit and her views on nutrition.
 
On Saturday, January 14, Miller officially launched production of Baby Munch Organics in the Hildebrandt Provisions Company’s 2,000-square-foot Community Kitchen, 3619 Walton Ave., sharing the space with other tenants such as Rising Star Coffee Roasters Storehouse Tea and Annie’s Sweet Shop in the transformed creative hub.   
 
The inspiration for Baby Munch came in June 2015 when London started eating solid food and Miller wasn’t satisfied with the selection she found on store shelves. “I didn’t like that the expiration dates were 365 days later, and I didn’t see any options,” she recalls. “So I got in the kitchen and started playing around with different recipes.”
 
Miller perfected her recipes, which are all certified organic and handmade in small batches using locally grown and sourced fruits and vegetables. “Even if it’s not grown here, the owner of the company has to be local,” explains Miller. “We want to keep the roots here.”
 
The small batches of baby food are immediately frozen, to lock in the key nutrients, Miller says.
 
London, now two, is Miller’s taste tester and kitchen assistant. “She spends a lot of time sitting in the kitchen with her bowl and her spoon,” Miller says, adding that London has a lot of experience with fresh produce. “I would take London to the Farmers Market every Saturday, and then on Sunday we’d make food.”
 
Now Miller herself is a vendor at the Shaker Square North Union Farmers Market. She opened her stand there for the first time two weeks ago, the same day she began production at the Hildebrandt.
 
Miller offers seven seven varieties of Munch. Her Stage 1 line, aimed at babies six months and older, has apples, carrots, sweet potatoes and pears. The four flavors in her Stage 2 line, for kids nine months and older, mixes things up a little.
 
“We’re starting to add different combinations of fruits vegetables and spices to continue palate training and keep babies curious about trying new foods,” she explains of Stage 2. “Like Appleini – apples, zucchini and cinnamon – Gimme a Beet – beets, mango and cinnamon – Itzy Bitzy – apples, bananas and blueberries – and Peas and Love – pears, peas and mint.”
 
Some of Miller’s recipes are seasonal, such as Pumpkin Patch – pumpkin puree with spices and a graham cracker crust. All of her recipes are designed to develop the palate and offer bold flavors with hints of fresh herbs and spices.
 
This spring Miller plans to introduce a line of toddler snacks.
 
“Our goal is to ignite food curiosity through the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Miller says of her recipes. “It’s made at the peak of freshness and our colors are fun. Baby food can be fun and it doesn’t have to be bland.”
 
The food comes in pouches that stay fresh in the fridge for two days or frozen for four weeks. One pouch costs $3.25, four-packs are $12. Miller offers a monthly subscription service for $35 and can ship out of state.
 
Miller, who graduated from Baldwin Wallace University with a degree in finance, has some experience as an entrepreneur. In college, she participated in the 2011 Entrepreneur Immersion Week and Competition, where her team won first place for their custom nail polish business. Today she works full time as an auditing associate at a Big Four accounting firm downtown,
 
But Miller knew that she needed some training if she was going to create a business beyond her own kitchen. So she went through the Bad Girl Ventures eight-week entrepreneurial training program in 2015 and was one of the 10 finalists.
 
“It was great experience,” Miller says. “It provided support, networking and the business aspects.”
 
Then she participated in Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen’s food business incubator to learn about food safety, marketing and product labeling.
 
Although Miller is still perfecting her website, customers who are interested in ordering can email or call (216) 925-0818 for more information. When the Baby Munch website is complete, Miller will accept online orders for both delivery and pick up at the Farmers Market. For a limited time, she is offering free delivery within Northeast Ohio.

Perkoski's 'These Walks of Life' is a study in frozen motion

Those who walk religiously know the activity can be highly personal. A walking person may be in a rush. They may be deeply engaged in thought or a complex audio experience. They may be giggling over a podcast. Perhaps they are misting up over a lover's last whisper. Maybe they're tired. Maybe their feet hurt. Maybe those feet are the only mode of transportation they have.
 
In a new solo show, "These Walks of Life," Fresh Water's managing photographer Bob Perkoski has captured the essence of walking and its nuances with a collection of more than 40 images on display at Negative Space Gallery, 3820 Superior Avenue. "Walks" will run through mid-February.
 
The practice started out casually, with Perkoski taking clandestine photos capturing images of people while he drove around town – to and from shoots, grocery runs, wherever. Eventually, it became an intentional cataloging.
 
"I consciously started doing it in 2012," says Perkoski. "I put my camera on a high shutter speed so I'd catch it fast without getting a blur." The entire collection numbers in the hundreds and also includes people waiting for the bus or just standing along the street. Yet another category includes photos of bicyclists.
 
"I have people sitting on the corner, laying in the street," says Perkoski of some of his other images that are outside the scope of "Walks."
 
As for those included in the show, he took them at points all across town, including Playhouse Square, Ohio City, Clark Fulton, Little Italy, Woodland Avenue and Slavic Village among others. There are also two shots from out of town, one taken in London and another in Chicago.
 
All of the images are evocative and ironic in the sense that they are frozen images depicting motion. To be sure, the static background in each photo lends scale and contrast to the moving subject. One of the most jarring aspects of the show is also one of the most subtle: the voyeuristic feel of the images cannot be ignored – the majority of the walkers had no idea they were being photographed.
 
"I try to catch people that aren't looking at me. I just want them to be natural," says Perkoski of his subjects.
 
"You're wondering what they're doing and where they're going and what they're thinking."
 
"These Walks of Life" is on view on the second floor of Asian Town Center, which is a fascinating mall worthy of a visit on its own. The gallery housing Perkoski's work is in an annex to Negative Space and open for visitors whenever the mall is open, which is seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contact Negative Space for extended evening hours.

Bottlehouse, Rising Star team up to offer day-and-night libations

It’s been nearly a year since Bottlehouse Brewery and Meadery's Brian Benchek opened his Lakewood location in the old Sullivan’s Pub at 13368 Madison Ave. as the hub for the company's sour beer production.
 
Now Benchek is partnering with Rising Star Coffee Roasters to open a pop-up pour over and aeropress bar, as well as sell beans, merchandise and pastries from Fire Food and Drink, in Bottlehouse during the daytime hours, beginning on Monday, Dec. 19. As it is, the bar sits empty during the day until Bottlehouse opens at 4 p.m.

The partnership came about after Benchek bought the 5,000-square-foot space he is currently renting, along with a 2,000-square-foot storefront next door.
 
“Bottlehouse has been in this location for a little while and [Benchek] had the opportunity to purchase the property,” explains Rising Star general manager Robert Stockham. “It’s a typical Lakewood storefront and it was really crying out for a business. They were looking for a business that would be complementary to them.”
 
After Stockham and Benchek got together, they found that Bottlehouse and Rising Star were a perfect match. In fact, Bottlehouse brews its flagship coffee stout using Rising Star coffee beans.
 
Rising Star will take over the new space in March or April 2017. In the meantime, the company will operate out of Bottlehouse.
 
“We came out to talk to them and we realized we really have the same philosophy toward business,” says Stockham. “They specialize in hand-crafted brews and meads, we specialize in hand-crafted coffees. We realized this was a good pairing and renting the space next door made sense.”
 
The pop-up store will help Rising Start get a head start on establishing themselves in the neighborhood. “We can start building a presence now,” Stockham says, adding that the company has a number of wholesalers on the west side of Lakewood but no retail locations in the city.
 
Rising Star currently has three retail locations – in Hingetown, the Arcade and Little Italy – in addition to its roastery at 3617 Walton Ave.
 
“We will come in during the day and get people excited about the space,” says Stockham of the pop up shop. “Then they can come back at night to get beer and mead.”
 
Rising Star’s opening in its permanent Lakewood location will depend on how long it takes for Benchek to close on the two properties and how much work has to be done on the adjacent storefront. “The space is in good shape so it won’t take a lot of work,” assures Stockham.
 
In addition to the Lakewood location, Stockham says they hope to open a retail outlet in their roastery next year to cater to Cleveland’s tourism industry.
 
Bottlehouse’s Lakewood location hours are 4 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays; and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays. The original Bottlehouse is located on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. The Rising Star pop up will be open from 6 a.m. to either 4 p.m. or 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, opening at 8 a.m. on Sundays.

Construction underway at new Ohio City music and early childhood education facility

Without fanfare, construction quietly began on the newest Music Settlement location in Ohio City in October, marking a huge step for the 104-year-old music education, music therapy and early childhood education institution.
 
“We’ve already started the initial groundbreaking,” says Patricia Camacho Hughes, the Music Settlement’s interim president. We’re moving forward and on schedule to open in August or September 2018.”
 
Settlement officials announced late last year that they had committed to 19,000 square feet on the first floor of the Snavely Group’s mixed use project on the corner of W. 25th Street and Detroit Avenue.
 
“It’s been really exciting to be doing it from scratch after 104 years of music,” says Lynn Johnson, the Settlement’s director of marketing and communications. “We’ve learned a lot.”
 
The Music Settlement was founded in 1912 and the institution has spent most of its time in an historic mansion in University Circle.
 
Hughes says they looked at multiple options for a second location and adds they are pleased to be constructing a building from the ground up.
 
“Starting from scratch, knowing what the square footage is and working with early childhood [education] requirements, we were able to work with the architects [VOCON],” she says, adding that factors like adequate soundproofing and layout were important.
 
The new location will house approximately 125 early childhood students and about 75 music and music therapy students. The settlement will employ a staff of about 50 at the W.25th campus.
 
The campus will include two music therapy suites with observation rooms and six ensemble rooms and a computer lab. The early childhood center will have six classrooms, a multipurpose room, dance studio, science lab, library, a secure playground, and a large-muscle room so children can move indoors during inclement weather.
 
The playground on site will help the Settlement fit right in with the neighborhood’s usual activity. “You’ll always hear the laughter of kids,” Hughes says. “But we’re used to hearing all those noises. People will understand what to anticipate – street noise, sirens, the sounds of music and kids laughing.”
 
Hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the classrooms used as practice areas once classes are over, in addition to the separate practice and music studios and therapy rooms. Instruction will run six days a week.
 
With the Music Settlement’s Bop Stop just steps away on Detroit, Johnson says the Ohio City community has already embraced the Settlement's growing presence in the neighborhood. “Ohio City and Hingetown have been so warm and welcoming,” she says. “They understand the value of keeping music and enrichment here.”
 
Hughes adds that the established artistic community in the neighborhood contributes to the excitement. “I love being on this corridor off of Detroit and the building is really a connector,” she says. “We’re actively working with other artists and nonprofits because we’re not in competition with each other.”
 
The Ohio City location is also a welcome addition for west side residents, who right now must make a rather long commute to University Circle. Hughes points out that some students come from as far away as Bay Village.  
 
“There’s a distinction between the west and east sides for those who use our services,” says Hughes. “Part of why we’re feeling so welcome is they’re aware of us, but they don’t have to travel across the river.”
 
Total enrollment at the Music Settlement is between 800 and 900, says Johnson, in addition to people who are served through the organization’s outreach programs at area high schools and community centers.
 
With the west side location, Hughes says she hopes community services will expand – especially with Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority’s  (CMHA) Lakeview Community Center just two blocks away.
 
“It’s also our mission to engage those residents to take part in our activities,” says Hughes. “We have fundraisers to expand endowment money to serve the underserved.”
 
The Music Settlement announced in early November that Geralyn Presti has been named the new president and CEO, coming from Forest City Realty Trust, where she served as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary. Presti has an extensive history with the Music Settlement, and her real estate law experience will prove helpful in the development of the new campus when she takes over in early 2017.

Construction of Harness Cycle's new downtown location underway in historic Garfield Building

When Anne Hartnett opened Harness Cycle in 2013, her motivation was fueled by her love for spinning and interest in fitness. The cycling studio immediately took off in the Hingetown location, becoming Ohio City’s most popular place for an indoor cycling workout.
 
Now, Hartnett is in the midst of opening her second Harness Cycling studio – downtown in the historic Garfield Building on E. 6th Street and Euclid Avenue, 1965 E. 6th St. In addition to the studio, the new facility will also house a retail shop offering clothing and fitness gear from local makers.
 
“We’re really excited to go into the downtown market and build brand awareness among people who live and work [there],” Harnett says.
 
Hartnett asserts the Harness workout is perfect for people looking to get some exercise on their lunch hours. The 45-minute session incorporates hand weights into a spinning workout, which occurs in a darkened room with music and without computer metrics.
 
“We call it active meditation,” Hartnett explains. “It’s based on heart rate and beat. You’re really getting a full cardio workout. Lunch hour is a great time to unplug, ride for 45 minutes and get an awesome workout – a little reboot.”
 
While looking for a downtown location Hartnett originally eyed at a space in the basement of the Garfield Building before viewing the 5,000-square-foot space on the first floor. “It’s more than double the size of our Hingetown space,” she says, adding that she will have 35 bicycles at first but the space has the capacity for as many as 55.
 
Hartnett fell in love with the historic building and its marble pillars and large windows. While the Hingetown location has a more rustic feel, the new space will be designed more for the downtown clientele. To that end, she's working with John Williams of Process Creative to create a modern studio that embraces the building’s historic architecture.
 
“He has a great way of merging young and old in his architecture,” says Hartnett of Williams, who designed the downtown Heinen’s rotunda. “We’re keeping the integrity of the space and creating a modern studio.”
 
The new, larger location also allows Hartnett to offer men’s and women’s locker rooms with a total of five showers to accommodate clients coming in on their lunch hours. She also plans to use the lobby for collaborations with food entrepreneurs, many of which will stem from the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen.
 
“We want to streamline and create a more full-service experience,” Hartnett says. “Come in on your lunch hour and then grab-and-go lunch.”
 
While Hartnett signed the lease a year ago, construction just began with demolition of walls to make way for restrooms and to create the studio space. While she does not yet have an exact opening date, Hartnett anticipates they will open sometime in March. She plans to employ 15 additional people at the new location.
 
In the meantime, Harness Cycle has been holding CycleLab Tours – pop-up cycling classes at unique venues downtown. Hartnett has already hosted CycleLabs at the Rock Hall and House of Blues. Today, Wednesday, Nov. 30, Harness Cycle will bring out more than 40 bikes at the Cavs’ practice courts inside Quicken Loans Arena from 5 to 7 p.m. Pop-up workouts at CycleLabs last about 45 minutes.
 
While today’s event is sold out with a waiting list, the next one is planned for Friday, Dec. 16 at Whiskey Grade’s Moto showroom in Ohio City, followed by a whiskey tasting by Tom’s Foolery. Future tours are planned in the new year.
 
Hartnett says the CycleLab Tours are at once an introduction for prospective customers to Harness Cycle and a way to do some market research on the downtown clientele. The tours don’t make any money, she says, and each event requires loading, hauling and unloading more than 35 bicycles.
 
“It’s a lot of work, but way worth it,” she notes. “Even if we don’t make money off the event, we spend more for people to learn who we are.”
 
While Hartnett’s original vision with Harness Cycle was to convert the energy used in pedaling into electricity, that dream has been put on hold until the technology is perfected and she has enough studios to make an effective impact on Cleveland’s power grid.
 
“It wouldn’t be cost effective now,” Hartnett explains, “but the goal still is to harness the energy of individuals to keep the sense of community.”

May Dugan spreads joy and gifts during the holidays

Inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the May Dugan Center year round ensures residents of Cleveland’s near west side get the food, clothing and services they need.  
 
But as the holiday season quickly approaches and the weather turns frigid, May Dugan has for months now prepared to make the season a bit more cheery for its clients who need a little extra help. Whether it’s help putting a holiday meal on the table or making sure there are gifts under the tree, May Dugan is prepared to lend a hand.
 
The season kicks off today with May Dugan's annual turkey distribution. In addition to its monthly food and clothing distribution, today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, May Dugan will also hand out turkeys to 350 families.
 
“It’s out biggest distribution of the year,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. GIE Media sponsors the distribution, while Platform Beer Co. stores the birds until distribution day.
 
Then on Thursday, Dec. 1, the holiday season really gears up as May Dugan adorns the 35-foot-high tree on the corner of Randall Road and Bridge Avenue – one of the tallest trees in Ohio City – with thousands of lights.
 
More than 400 people are expected to gather around the tree for the seventh annual lighting ceremony and May Dugan open house from 5 to 7 p.m. The joy of the season will be spread by the Urban Community School Choir and Mae Dugan’s Rhythm and Roots Senior Choir, formed out of a partnership with the Music Settlement’s music therapy program..
 
“The seniors here really enjoy performing,” says Trares of the choir. “The songs are important but their attention to the details is also important. They really like to go all-out and they take great pride in it.” For instance, last year the group dressed in all black and wore Santa hats.
 
There will also be kids’ crafts, a raffle and refreshments. “It’s a nice event that culminates in front of the building with the lighting of the tree,” says Trares. “It has become a tradition now.”
 
After the tree lighting Jukebox, 1404 W. 29th St., will host an after-party from 7 to 9 p.m. A portion of the total bar tab will go back to May Dugan. “Grab a little bit of food, a couple of drinks and support May Dugan,” encourages Trares. Both the tree lighting ceremony and after-after party are free and open to the public.
 
May Dugan's annual Adopt-A-Family program helps make the holidays a little brighter for select clients who have made progress in the center’s various programs. Thanks to sponsors who adopt a family and receive demographic information and a list of gift ideas, each selected family gets a few gifts to put under the tree.
 
“It gives a motivating factor to keep going,” says Trares of the program, adding that the requests are usually for practical items. Last year 160 people were served, thanks to 11 different sponsor groups. Trares says May Dugan now adds children’s books with all gifts donated. Interested sponsors can contact Trares to sign up.
 
“Holidays when folks are in need can be really tough,” says Trares, “Parents work around the clock and hear all the talk about Christmas gifts, and the kids see the commercials. I’m glad we’re able to fill that gap at this time of year and make it a little more special.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.

Stalwart local advocate champions Cleveland Refugee Bike Project

More than 1,000 refugees are resettled in the Cleveland area each year, and many of them struggle with transportation as they adjust to their new homes and secure jobs. Many people in the refugee population don’t have cars, and public transportation routes often don’t travel to all the places they need to go.
 
After hearing stories about the demand for bicycles among the refugee population, Tim Kovach started to see a possible solution. “They’re looking to get their hands on bikes,” says the avid cyclist who bikes to his job as an air quality planner at Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency nine months out of the year.

The refugee situation moved the Ohio City resident to initiate a campaign to get more bikes to that vulnerable population with an ioby crowdfunding campaign: the Cleveland Refugee Bike Project.
 
The Bike Project aims to raise $7,863 to provide refugees with 50 to 100 bikes and training to give them better access to work, education and social opportunities. The Cleveland Climate Action Fund will match dollars raised, up to $5,000.
 
The idea first came about after Kovach’s wife, who works at Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, began telling him stories of Cleveland refugees needing bikes to get around.
 
Kovach heard of one Congolese boy who was excited to bike to his new school and was told “don’t bother, we don’t even have a bike rack.” Another man in his 50s had trouble walking but could ride a bicycle. The man just couldn’t find an affordable one.
 
“It really clicked on me,” Kovach recalls of hearing these stories. “The number of refugees settled in Cleveland has basically doubled in the last few years. I started to think about a way I could help.”
 
While organizations like Cleveland Catholic Charities help refugees settling in Cleveland by providing assistance, including RTA passes, it’s still often tough for them to get to jobs that can be in remote locations, Kovach explains.
 
“It can be very difficult, especially with the jobs they are trying to get,” Kovach says. “The jobs are in places that are not well connected to [bus lines], and there’s a language barrier and a skills [gap].”
 
Last January, Kovach began talking to Bike Cleveland and Ohio City Bicycle Co-op (OCBC) about ways he could secure bikes and provide culturally appropriate training for Cleveland’s refugee community.
 
The conversations were put on the back burner, but then in August, Matt Gray, the director of the Cleveland Mayor’s  Office of Sustainability, told Kovach about the Cleveland Climate Action Fund’s newest round of grants.
 
“I wrote up a proposal and sent it to them,” Kovach recalls, adding that he requested the full $5,000. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from the bike community as well.”
 
To date, Kovach has raised nearly $4,000 towards his goal. If he meets it and gets the matching funds, he will start a pilot program in 2017. The bikes will be sourced from OCBC, which will also provide in-kind support through bike accessories.
 
Kovach will organize bicycle training and skills classes at the OCBC or Catholic Charities with the help of refugee interpreters with the former. He says the classes will be based on majority language groups – Somali, Arabic, Swahili, Bhutanese and French – depending on the interest.

“We’re creating jobs and opportunities for refugees,” says Kovach of his program and the use of the interpreters. He is also hoping to have enough funding to install bike racks at Catholic Charities.
 
There are 10 days to go until the Friday, Nov. 18 ioby campaign deadline.
 
Additionally, Platform Beer Co., 4125 Lorain Ave., will host a fundraiser for Kovach’s cause this Thursday, Nov.  10 from 4 to 8 p.m. Platform will donate $1 for each house beer sold. Organizers will raffle off gift baskets from Platform, OCBC, and Bike Cleveland. All proceeds will go toward the project.

Tim Kovach's advocacy goes beyond his work with Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and this project. He contributed this informative article on the impact of freeways on our neighborhoods to Fresh Water earlier this year. The story garnered thousands of hits.

West 25th Street Lofts merge historic architecture with contemporary design

A group of buildings built in the late 1800s on Church Avenue between W. 25th and W. 28th Streets in Ohio City were once the hallmark of a manufacturing town – housing everything from the original Baehr Brewing Company and Odd Fellows Masonic Hall to a machine shop and a tin and sheet metal shop, among other business and residential dwellings. 

Exhibit Builders last owned and operated the buildings fronting W. 25th Street. More recently, the heavy industrial buildings housed the Phoenix Ice Machine Company, Lester Engineering Company, then a charter school and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.
 
Today development partners Rick Foran of Foran Group and Chris Smythe of Smythe Property Advisors are converting the structures into contemporary apartment lofts with a nod to their unique history. “You know you’re in historic buildings, but with modern amenities,” says Smythe.
 
The project has been nine years in the making. Smythe and Foran bought their first property in the group from CMHA back in 2008 with a bank loan. Then the real estate market tanked.

The deck area with view of the city
 
“For several years afterwards, it was virtually impossible to get any financing to move the project forward,” recalls Foran. “Eventually, we turned to Love Funding to put together a HUD 221(d) (4) FHA loan guarantee designed for market-rate based apartments.”
 
Smythe and Foran also received $8 million in historic state and federal tax credits for the $24 million project, $18 million of which comprises hard construction costs being done by Project and Construction Services and its subcontractors.
 
The pair have almost completed 83 market rate loft apartments in what is now West 25th Street Lofts. The structure features one-, two-, and three-bedroom lofts, as well as 18 townhouse-style units and a couple of studio apartments.
 
The lofts are 72 percent leased – the first 22 tenants came in September, a second group of 25 will move in sometime in November and another group in mid-December. There are 9,600 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, for which Foran and Smythe have verbal agreements with a restaurant and an office tenant.
 
Smythe says each loft’s floor plan is different, ranging from 618 square feet for a studio, about 800 square feet for a one-bedroom to more than 2,000 square feet for a two-story townhouse loft.
 
Foran and Smythe hired City Architecture to create the look. The units have bamboo hardwood floors, energy efficient stainless steel appliances, including washers and dryers in each unit, granite counter tops, high ceilings and oversized windows. Foran boasts that the original large windows have been replicated with energy-efficient versions.

Retail space at the West 25th Street Lofts
 
Twelve of the units have the remaining overhead crane track, which was used by Lester Engineering. “Lester Engineering made huge stamping machines that were used around the world by manufacturers such as the auto industry,” explains Foran. “The overhead cranes would move massive heavy material back and forth through the assembly plant.”
 
The brick stable that used to house the horses that pulled the Baehr Brewery wagons to deliver beer to area taverns at the turn of the 20th Century now makes up the West 25th Street Lofts’ entry lobby and fitness room.
 
Foran and Smythe transformed a 45-foot tall heavy industrial space into a large atrium with wall-to-wall skylights and catwalks leading to apartment entries.  Smythe explains that the open atrium allows natural light to pour into the apartment units.

“They have a post-industrial look,” says Smythe. “Yet they also have a contemporary feel with an historic lineage.”
 
One of the most unique apartments centers around the brewery’s old powerhouse. The 1,800 square-foot, two-story, three-bedroom, three-bath apartment encompasses part of the 140-foot smokestack that soars three stories.
The 1,800 square-foot, two-story, three-bedroom, three-bath apartment encompasses part of the 140-foot smokestack that soars three stories
 
In the building that was once the home of the Jacob and Magdalena Baehr and their eight children, layers of 140-year-old wallpaper line the walls as Foran and Smythe complete renovations. Pocket doors separate rooms, two of which have coal-burning fireplaces. The home will soon be two separate town homes.
 
"Some of this stuff was built 140 years ago," says Foran. "With such attention to detail, quality and use of materials, it wouldn’t be fair to not treat them with quality labor. Hopefully we can become stewards of the building as we pass through time.”
 
Common space includes a rooftop lounge, paved with recycled tires and offering spectacular views of downtown. Six loft units have direct access to the deck area, while there is also an entrance accessible to all tenants.
 
The west end of the building abuts the planned Irishtown Bend redevelopment, leading to easy access to Wendy Park and the Towpath Trail. Foran and Smythe have been working with Ohio City’s sewer district on a storm water retention plan for greenspace, growing areas and plantings.
 
The building’s perimeter will be converted to six-foot sidewalks next to eight-foot tree lawns.
 
Foran saw the history and features of these buildings as a development opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
 
“I personally always was drawn to historic properties, especially those with great bones like the gothic windows and heavily detailed façade,” explains Foran of the endeavor. “Additionally, new attractions such as the Bier Markt and Market Garden Brewery were leading the turnaround of the W. 25th Street corridor.”
 
Foran’s observations prompted him to develop an area of Ohio City that has been deemed economically distressed, but Foran sees it as full of potential. “Having watched how redevelopment tends to spread, I had confidence that such stabilization would expand on the main arteries,” he explains. “There was such a huge need for housing in the area for those young people who wanted to make their urban districts bustle like other great cities, so the demand was strong.” 
 
Now Foran and Smythe are confident their vision will be well received. "It brings it back toward the neighborhood feel,” Smythe says “Stand on the roof and look around, and it’s a neighborhood. Foran adds, “In 2005 there was a renewal where people wanted to move back. That gives us confidence that it’s going to be a success.”

Inter|Urban launches website, announces phase two of the "Art & Culture Connector" along Rapid line

Nearly a year after receiving a $150,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation to create public art along the RTA red line between downtown and Public Square, LAND studio last week announced the launch of the INTER|URBAN website.
 
The site highlights each of the 18 INTER|URBAN art installations and profiles the local, national and international mural artists and photographers who created them. The site also explores the Anisfield-Wolf Award winning literature that inspired each artist. The 81-year-old award, administered by the Cleveland Foundation, recognizes books that tackle issues of racism, diversity, equity and social justice.
 
The project, a partnership between LAND studio, the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, RTA, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and the Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards, originally came about in 2014 as a way to beautify the Rapid route for guests traveling from the airport to downtown for the Republican National Convention.
 
It quickly grew into something much more evocative. Sponsors asked the selected artists to add a relative cultural dimension to the works by responding to themes in the award-winning books they were given.

Pat Perry
 
“We wanted to create a project that was not just murals, because a lot of cities are doing that,” explains Joe Lanzilotta, project manager for LAND studio. “The artists are directly responding to the literature, and it’s a perfect time right now for something like this.”
 
Lanzilotta says riding the RTA route, which is usually a passive experience, seemed to be the perfect forum to introduce issues about race and diversity. “It’s unconventional, but the perfect place to start a conversation about diversity,” he says. “Riders are introduced to these discussions in a place where they normally would not be.”
 
More than 300 artists submitted portfolios to LAND studios for the project.
 
Anisfield-Wolf scholars from CWRU helped choose the artists and pair each one with a book. “It was an interesting, very fun process to work with these scholars and it kind of worked out perfectly,” Lanzilotta says. “We knew right away when we sat down with them, we had something very unique.”
 
Eight of the 18 artists are from Northeast Ohio, while the rest hail from across the country and the globe, including Detroit, Austin, Texas, San Francisco and even South Africa. Cleveland native Fred Bidwell and mural expert Jasper Wong from Honolulu were hired to curate the project.
 
“We didn’t want the artist to take the book literally," says Lanzilotta, "we wanted them to interpret [their assigned works] – and take from their own experiences. We left if really open for them.”
 
This past June, all 18 artists descended upon the Rapid stops for one week, simultaneously creating their installments in time to welcome RNC visitors. The result is a series of distinctive works that add beauty to the Cleveland landscape and hopefully spark discussion.
 
“It celebrates our unique landscape and our unique approach to public art,” says Lanzilotta, noting how special the opportunity is. “We get a chance to start a discussion about social justice and equality. Each of us face these issues every day, whether it’s how we are viewed or how we view the world.”
 
The project was so successful, the organizations have already started to implement phase two – the expansion of INTER|URBAN along the eastern portion of the RTA red line, from downtown to University Circle. Phase two is scheduled to begin next summer.
 
LAND studio also produced a video, chronicling the first phase of INTER|URBAN.
 

INTER|URBAN from LAND studio on Vimeo.

However, the vision goes beyond a second phase. In the video, Lillian Kuri, program director for the Cleveland Foundation states that she would like this project expand to as many of 70 projects along the RTA system.

“You could ride any line and understand how powerful this is and how the creative community has risen to say we’re a community that cares about race, equity, inclusion,” she says. “And then over time as we evolve as a community we continue to tell that story so that in a few years the entire RTA system will actually be the world’s largest art gallery that is talking about how we have come together to deal with these issues.”
 
Lanzilotta adds that he would like to include more interactive facets in phase two such as performance artists and literature. “We really hope to engage riders,” he says, noting that this initial foray is a sort of trial or proof, with significant opportunity in the future. “This could be a project that occurs every year to highlight the rich, cultural diversity of the region,” he says.

“We want another layer of Cleveland’s arts and culture scene. We want people to travel here from all over to see this.”


LAND studio is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Some saucy brew - and pizza - coming to Hingetown

After a myriad of minor delays, construction on Saucy Brew Works is scheduled to begin tomorrow in the old Steelman Building at 2885 Detroit Ave. in Hingetown.

Owner Brent Zimmerman returns today from Obing, Germany, where he spent last week touring brewing equipment manufacturer BrauKon and inspecting his new brewing system.

“It’s very efficient, very technologically savvy,” says Zimmerman of his new system. “It’s the cutting edge of savviness. It’s a Ferrari, it’s very well-crafted.” He adds that the system is energy-efficient and saves water.
 
Zimmerman bought the Steelman Building earlier this year with the plan of renovating it and developing 11,000 square feet on the ground floor and a 1,200-square-foot mezzanine into Saucy Brew Works – a brewery and a pizza kitchen. One other tenant occupies 2,200 square feet of the 14,000-square-foot building.
 
Zimmerman and director of brewing operations Eric Anderson plan to keep the industrial feel of the former warehouse and factory for water treatment facility parts while giving the space an updated look. In fact, Zimmerman says they will incorporate many of the cranes that remain in the space into the design.
 
“Our taps will come out of one of the cranes and cranes will hold up the televisions,” he explains. “We’re keeping the building true to itself, but we’re cleaning it up and making it usable.”

Saucy Brew Works rendering
 
Cleveland architectural firm Vocon created the design, while Sandusky-based Zimmerman Remodeling and Construction will manage the build. Hans Noble Design will create a custom interior using steel fabrication and reclaimed materials.
 
“Han Noble will create all that stuff from scratch right here in our own hometown,” says Zimmerman.
 
On the exterior, all the currently blacked out, frosted glass windows on the building will be replaced with clear glass, then painted to mimic the old look, creating an all-glass front to the building. “It will look and feel similar, except with nice windows,” Zimmerman explains. “And there will be an open air patio on the corner.”
 
While the BrauKon system can brew up to 30,000 barrels in a year, Zimmerman says the plan is to brew about 3,000 barrels in the 15 tanks for his first year. While he won’t reveal the exact names or types of beer Saucy will offer, he'll have up to 14 beers on tap.
 
“Eric has made more than 60 types of beers and that doesn’t even come close to what we plan to do,” he says. “Obviously, we’ll have an IPA and a Kolsh. Ten to 12 taps will always be ours, and we will probably have six [varieties] always on tap. Then we will have two to four guest taps.”
 
The pizza kitchen will serve up New Haven style pizza – a popular saucy, thin crust style of pizza hailing from Connecticut. “There’s lots of sauce up to the very edge of the crust,” explains Zimmerman, noting the eatery’s saucy name. “You pick your toppings, which will be as fresh as you can get for the season.”
 
Customers will build and order their pizzas at the counter, and will be notified when their orders are ready. There will also  be an exterior walk-up pizza window for pedestrians to order a slice to go.
 
While the ordering is self-serve, Zimmerman says he plans on offering a unique and lucrative employment package to his staff. Employees will receive above-average wages as well as stock options, education reimbursement and health benefits.
 
“We’re trying to create a certain culture with less turnover,” he says. “We want to create some stability through six or seven things you don’t see in this business.”

Saucy Brew Works will also team with Breakthrough Schools to raise money for quality education for all children in Cleveland. Zimmerman plans to hold a naming contest with the Breakthrough staff for one of his brews. The winning named beer will always be on tap and $1 from each sale will go to Breakthrough.
 
“Education is very fundamental to the success of Cleveland,” says Zimmerman. “We want to educate people who otherwise [might not] have that opportunity – educate people and get them to return to Cleveland.”
 
Additionally, Zimmerman plans to partner with a yet-to-be-determined non-profit water and sewer treatment company to promote Lake Erie’s resource and water conservation.
 
“The Great Lakes and water are very important to us,” he says. “We are heavily focused on the environment because brewing takes a lot of energy and water is so important to beer. The water in Cleveland is fantastic and we’re very lucky to have that sort of resource. We want to be good neighbors.”
 
Saucy Brew Works is scheduled to open in early 2017.

New business set to bloom in Ohio City

Sisters Brianna Jones and Brooke Witt believe in signs. So when they realized three months ago that each one had been thinking about starting a business, they took it as a sign they should open a flower shop in Ohio City.

“We each kind of had a very similar idea very separate from each other, unknowingly at the time,” recalls Jones. “All the signs pointed to ‘yes.’ We both believe in signs and everything fell into place.”
 
Floral design just made sense. Witt is an avid gardener, and graphic designer who owns the Etsy shop Near and Dear Designs. Jones, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, attended art school and the Floral Design Institute.
 
“Since we both love to design, love pretty things, and love bringing joy to people, flowers seemed like the obvious choice,” says Jones.
 
So Jones and Witt started Lush & Lovely Floristry, a company specializing in hand-tied flower arrangements. The plan was to do it all from their homes – Jones’ in Cleveland Heights and Witt’s in Broadview Heights – when another sign appeared.
 
The two discovered a former gym for rent at 3408 Bridge Ave. in Ohio City. “When we started out, we weren’t planning on having a storefront,” Jones says. “But we were both looking on Craigslist and found it. We peeked in the windows and we were like, ‘oh my goodness.’ We came to look at it and it was amazing.”
 
Lush & Lovely will open Saturday, Oct. 1, in its new home. The duo is funding the business with their own savings. Witt says the airy 850-square-foot space allows for a “working studio” where they can make their arrangements. The floristry will also conduct flower arranging classes, floral design workshops and private events for things such as bridal showers, singles parties and mother-daughter outings.
 
“There will be flowers everywhere,” says Witt. “We want to make flower arranging trendy, fun and exciting.”
 
All of Lush & Lovely’s blooms will be seasonal American grown flowers. Witt and Jones will also use Ohio flower farms whenever possible. “There has been a 70 percent decrease in American flower farms,” explains Witt. “Eighty percent of flowers are shipped in from South America today.”
 
The sisters plan to buy from farms in Medina and Chardon when stock is available. “Everything is grown and cut from the field within a day or two,” says Jones.
 
Customers can buy arrangements and bouquets at the store, or Witt and Jones plan on having daily delivery to the greater Cleveland area, weekly delivery throughout Cuyahoga County and overnight shipping anywhere in the United States.
 
Jones and Witt have already formed partnerships with their Ohio City neighbors and plan on co-hosting events with other neighborhood businesses. “They’re very excited to include us,” Jones says of their neighboring retailers. “It’s very community oriented here.”
 
Lush & Lovely will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 4 to 9 p.m.to introduce themselves to the community.

A Place 4 Me launches 100 Day Challenge to end youth homelessness

Natasha spent her childhood in the Cleveland foster care system before living with relatives as a teenager. But when she turned 18, her family informed her that she was on her own and had to leave. With $5 and a pack of gum in her pocket, Natasha found herself homeless.

“I was very confused,” Natasha recalls. “It didn’t really hit me that I really had to leave until after I packed my bags. I thought no one really wants me. I felt alone in the world and I felt abandoned.”
 
Natasha turned to Cleveland homeless shelters before ending up in a traditional housing facility on W. 25th Street while she finished high school and got a job at Taco Bell, where the manager took a chance on her with no job experience and made her a team leader.
 
“It was difficult at first, but I managed to do it,” she recalls. “I was eventually able to move out on my own.”
 
Natasha’s story is just one story among many that prompted the creation of  A Place 4 Me in 2014 – an collaborative housed within the YWCA of Greater Cleveland that  harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to help youth age 15 to 24 who are at high risk of homelessness, particularly those who age out of foster care.

Earlier this month, A Place 4 Me launched the 100 Day Challenge to house 100 at-risk youth in 100 days. Cleveland is one of only three cities to be chosen by A Way Home America to participate in the challenge and receive coaching and support toward ending youth homelessness from the Rapid Results Institute.
 
The Cleveland challenge team is made up of A Place 4 Me and 12 other organizations focused on youth homelessness. “This is a collaborative in the community concerned with homelessness and youth aging out of foster care,” says Kate Lodge, A Place 4 Me project director. “There are 500 people a year age 18 to 24 in Cleveland in a shelter – 100 people on any given night – and this doesn’t even count the people not showing up.”
 
Approximately 150 people age out of foster care each year in Cleveland, Lodge adds, and 40 percent are likely to experience some kind of housing instability by age 24. The 100 Day Challenge aims to not only house 100 youth in 100 days, but also reinforce the support systems to prevent youth homelessness. The challenge ends on November 14.
 
Cleveland was chosen after a competitive application process. Lodge says 20 cities applied. In addition to Cleveland, Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles were also chosen. Team representatives went to Austin earlier this month for a convening of the three challenge cities.
 
Cleveland's harsh winters, says Lodge, was one of the reasons it was chosen. “In warmer climates there are hordes of youth homeless [on the streets],” she says. “We don’t have that here. We pitched our goal, and planned out strategies. We’re really focused on helping the youth who are in the shelter get out of the shelter," she says. "It’s going to be intense.”
 
The goals include identifying at-risk youth; care coordination; establishing links to available resources; providing a list of types of housing available; and homelessness prevention through planning.
 
“This is building upon something we’ve been working on for two years,” Lodge explains. “This is going to help us get there faster.”
 
As for Natasha, she is currently living at Independence Place, the YWCA of Cleveland’s permanent supportive youth housing facility.
 
Now 24, Natasha has earned her associate’s degree in business from Cleveland State University and will earn her bachelor’s in international business in December. She says the wants to start her own business and employ young people who need a chance at gaining job experience.
 
“I want to open a business that never goes out of style, like childcare, hair care or auto parts,” she says. “Even if cars start flying, they will still need repairs. A lot of job applications say you need two to three years of experience. When you’re 18, 19, you’re not going to have that. I want to hire younger people and give them that experience.”
 
Natasha’s advice to other young people facing homelessness: “It may seem dark right now, but there is going to be light at the end if you keep pushing toward greatness,” she declares. “This challenge is really close to me. I’m really excited for the 100 Day Challenge because I feel like it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Big dreams start to become reality for three miles of elevated urban trail

Plans for the Red Line Greenway (RLG), a three-mile elevated linear park spanning Cleveland’s west side and downtown, originated as a pie-in-the-sky dream more than 40 years ago by Rotary Club of Cleveland member Stan Adams and two other founders. Adams pursed the vision until his 92nd birthday in 2012.
 
Now thanks to the tireless efforts of a hard-working team led by Lennie Stover, founder and project coordinator of the Red Line Greenway project and Rotary member, the project is gaining momentum and is shaping up to rival, or better, the likes of  New York City’s High Line, Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail and other regional rail-trail projects.
 
"Nationwide, we’re in middle of a trail building boom and we're behind most major U.S. cities in trail development,” says Stover, “but we’re quickly gaining."
 
When the project takes off in earnest in 2019, the Red Line Greenway will be a multi-purpose path along the RTA red line, stretching from Zone Recreation Center at W. 55rd Street and Lorain Avenue, across the Cuyahoga River Viaduct in the Flats into downtown at the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse at Superior Avenue and Huron Road.

"I feel like I have a masters’ degree in trails," says Stover. "Trails are now seen as the arts and cultural architectural infrastructure for getting places.”
 
The trail covers 60 acres and 95 feet of the Cuyahoga River while connecting eight Cleveland neighborhoods to within two blocks of Public Square.

“Trails don’t discriminate, they don’t care if you wear shoes or not,” says Stover, pointing out that the RLG will serve some 57,000 locals, 20,000 of whom are under age 19. “People think trails and they think walking, running and biking, but there’s also meandering, wandering and just seeing who’s out.”
 
With the July 26 announcement of the Cleveland Metroparks’ $7.95 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for creating and improving bike and pedestrian trails along Cleveland’s waterfront, the Metroparks has committed $4 million to the RLG and the project took a few more steps toward its $6.1 million goal.
 
Other collaborative partners in the project include RTA, LAND studio, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the Cleveland Leadership Center, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and countless volunteers.
 
It’s a good problem to have – too many volunteers,” quips Stover. “We had 500 volunteers last year, 400 were first-time visitors. This year we’ve have 700, with 500 being first-timers.”
 
The RLG has hosted more than a dozen corporate and community groups, and volunteers over the past year for Beautification Days.
 
Those volunteers have cleaned up trash and debris along the property, including 100 tons of steel – collected mostly by hand, Stover says – that netted the group $55,000 in scrap sales.
 
Those volunteers have ensured the RLG’s progress. “What we have right now is very close to a world-class trail, but we have higher expectations,” says Stover. “We’re on the cutting edge.”
 
Other organizations have helped out with goods and services. Petitti Garden Center donated 1,100 hydrangeas that were planted along the RLG. Forest City Tree Protection has consistently provided pruning and tree protection services, while MTD Products donated a riding mower.
 
But the RLG still needs more help. “I need [more] loyal people, marketing people, fundraising people,” says Stover, adding that finding people who know how to operate equipment is yet another challenge.
 
Nonetheless, the team never stops looking toward the future. Phases one and two should be done in a year to 18 months after construction starts, says Stover, while phase three will depend on an engineering study and additional funding.
 
In the meantime, the team has been busy building a new sandstone entrance to the RLG and clearing a view at the top of Franklin Avenue between Ohio City and Duck Island, where organizers plan to hold a fundraiser next May 20.

“We have a great location and we’re persistent as hell,” says Stover.
 

ciCLEvia to roll along West 25th this Saturday

This Saturday, Aug. 13, from 3 to 7 p.m., the new summer program, ciCLEvia, will roll out along West 25th Street. This will be the first of three such events and will feature music, games, food trucks, and free demonstrations of activities including yoga, Zumba, and boxing. While residents are encouraged to glide in on bikes, skates, foot or their wheelchairs, one mode of transportation won't be welcome.
 
Cars.
 
That's right. City officials will close West 25th Street to vehicular traffic from Wade Avenue to MetroHealth Drive – which is nearly a mile – for this family-friendly, age-friendly, and health-focused event. This first ciCLEvia will also coincide with this Saturday's La Placita, an open-air Hispanic market and celebration at the intersection of W. 25th Street and Clark Avenue.
 
Inspired by open street events in Latin America, known as ciclovías, ciCLEvia is a neighborhood-based program that is accessible to residents of all ages and abilities. Organizers hope to attract residents from the adjacent Clark-Fulton, Ohio City, and Tremont neighborhoods, as well as those who just want to spend an afternoon in the city without the usual traffic noise and exhaust.
 
“Open street events like ciCLEvia give people an opportunity to move, play, socialize, and celebrate their communities, while encouraging them to experience streets as a shared public space that serves diverse users,” said event organizer Calley Mersmann in a statement.
 
ciCLEvia will return on Sept. 10 and Oct. 8. The September date will also coincide with La Placita. Street closure and event times will remain the same for the subsequent events.

The series is a signature event of Cleveland’s Year of Sustainable Transportation.
 
ciCLEvia was planned by partners Bike Cleveland, the MetroHealth System, the Cleveland Department of Public Health, the Healthy Cleveland Initiative, Age-Friendly Cleveland, Sustainable Cleveland 2019, and Ward 14. Other partners include the YMCA, Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, the Saint Luke's Foundation, Spindrift and Neighborhood Family Practice. For more information contact Calley Mersmann at 216-512-0253 or email info@ciclevia.com.
 

The basics: May Dugan serves families in need with food, clothing and medical help

Sue Nerlinger likes to keep active. “Sitting around drives me cuckoo,” she says. “I can’t stand sitting around.”

So, when a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2000 threatened to slow her down, she kept working as an optician for W.A. Jones Optical with University Hospitals until the company closed in 2010.
 
Nerlinger's twins were just 10 years old at the time, and with the job behind her, she needed to get food on the table and was having a hard time making ends meet. She turned to the May Dugan Center’s Basic Needs Program, which provides food, fresh produce and clothing to Cleveland’s west side residents in need.

“That was one of the hardest things for me, to ask for help,” Nerlinger recalls.
 
Since 1969, the program has offered fresh produce at the Ohio City institution from March through October on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, with the addition of non-perishable food and clothing on the fourth Wednesdays.
 
The produce and food comes through a partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Charitable organizations, such as the Hunger Network, St. Mark’s Church and Westlake PTA, also provide assistance and May Dugan accepts donations of household goods and clothing from the public Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
“Our primary goal is getting food in the hands of people who need it,” says May Dugan deputy director Andy Trares. “We have a racially diverse client base and there are folks here from all walks of life. We have younger folks in their 20s and 30s to seniors in their 70s and 80s.”
 
In total, May Dugan serves thousands of families in its 20 distributions in eight months out of the year. For instance, 322 families totaling 909 people were served in July, which is almost 75 more than the center saw in July 2015, says Trares.
 
Even during the parade to celebrate the Cavs wining the NBA championship on June 22, May Dugan was passing out food to 188 families representing 531 people. “While all of Cleveland was loving that we finally won the national championship, we were celebrating too,” says Trares. “But 531 people knew they could come here and get food.”
 
Nerlinger was so grateful for the help she recieved from the center that she became a May Dugan volunteer. “People were so kind to me I decided it was time to give back to the community, to the people who need it,” she says.
 
On distribution days Nerlinger lines everyone up, making sure they each have a ticket for food bags, and chats up the people waiting for services. “I make sure I take the time to listen,” she says. “It doesn’t help to sit and mope about anything, but I can help someone.”
 
Nerlinger has also taken advantage of May Dugan’s health and wellness program, which the center started offering in January 2012 during monthly distributions. Medical personnel from St. Vincent Charity Medical Center offer screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, type II diabetes, HIV and podiatry checks along with educational health seminars and workshops. ExactCare Pharmacy is often on hand to answer any questions about prescription medications.
 
More than 1,800 screenings were performed at May Dugan last year. “There are so many people who need to have their blood pressure checked and don’t because they can’t get to the doctor,” says Nerlinger.
 
In addition to the screenings, volunteers also help clients with health insurance questions about accessing insurance through the healthcare marketplace and enrolling in and navigating Medicaid.
 
A little more than a year ago, May Dugan implemented a senior programming component to its Basic Needs Program by offering craft classes through Benjamin Rose Institute, financial advice from the Ohio Savings Bank branch on Bridge Avenue and W. 25th Street and music therapy programming.
 
The program provides community members with the basic things they need to survive without humiliation and embarrassment. And sometimes May Dugan simply serves as a place where residents can find compassion and friendship.
 
“I go there and I volunteer and I leave there more of the time thinking, ‘I have hardships but I realized how lucky I am,’” says Nerlinger. “I have no reason to complain. My heart goes out to so many of the people there.”

This story is one of a Fresh Water series supported in part by the May Dugan Center.
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