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Babies need boxes? Local nonprofit delivers

Cleveland has averaged about 13 infant deaths per 1,000 live births over the past five years, which is more than twice the national average. Curtailing that deadly trend is the goal of a recently founded local chapter of a national infant safety program.
 
Babies Need Boxes Ohio launched two months ago to provide Finnish baby boxes, supplies and educational resources to Cleveland moms with babies up to six months of age. Baby boxes, first made available by Finnish officials to combat the country's infant mortality rate among low-income mothers in the 1930's, provide a safe, economical sleeping environment for babies living in impoverished conditions. The program became so popular it was quickly expanded. Now for more than seven decades, a baby box has been offered to all expectant Finnish moms.
 
Locally, the nonprofit's Cleveland chapter has partnered with University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic and Neighborhood Family Practice to donate 200 boxes at the beginning of the new year. Elizabeth Dreyfuss, executive director of Babies Need Boxes Ohio, says the cardboard sleep spaces are perfectly sized for newborns.
 
"Transient families can bring the boxes with them and know their child will be safe as opposed to using a couch, or an abundance of blankets and pillows," says Dreyfuss.
 
The baby box giveaway is one facet of a larger mission to provide pre- and post-natal education to a disadvantaged populace. African-American babies in Ohio, for example, are three times as likely to die before the age one than white babies, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
 
Babies Need Boxes was founded in the U.S. last year by Danielle Selassie of Fridley, Minnesota, and now counts Head Start and United Way among its organizational partners. Cleveland's chapter was started by five Shaker Heights moms including Dreyfuss, who saw the city's high infant mortality rate and wanted to do something about it.
 
"We wanted to support mothering, which needs more care than what we're able to offer alone,"  says Dreyfuss. "We're now looking for women in poverty, or on Medicaid. We also want to help immigrant and refugee families."
 
The group hopes to give out 600 boxes total by the end of 2017, while growing a volunteer base eager to aid new mothers. Ultimately, organization founders want to stop a dreadful epidemic that's taking newborns away all too soon.
 
"The goal is to get a box to every mom in Ohio," Dreyfuss says. "We're offering education and the ability for babies to have a safe sleep spot." 

Local entrepreneur captures family memories between the covers of a book

Sarah Kappus Peck is her family's personal historian, fulfilling a need to record her older loved one's stories before they're lost forever. She's transformed her love for protecting memories into a business, one designed to preserve the histories of families for generations to come.
 
Called Yourstory Catcher, Peck's boutique personal history publishing service captures the lifelong journeys of its clients the old fashioned way - in a book. She offers them in a variety of styles and sizes, with pages full of photographs and other significant memorabilia.
 
"I'll go through family photos, artwork and recipes, then scan those in and write a caption," says Peck, a University Heights resident and mother of three. "I tell people you can own a book like anything you'd see in a book store or library."
 
Yourstory Catcher's offerings are priced out to reflect, among other factors, time spent interviewing subjects and their family members. For example, high-end book packages cost $20,000 and include 25 hours of interviews and preparation of up to 100 photos.
 
Peck, a former social worker with experience in geriatric care management, says it usually takes a few sessions to find a storytelling rhythm with her mostly elderly "narrators."
 
"I build up a rapport and trust each time out to elicit the  memories and stories most important to them," Peck says. "As we get comfortable, the stories just sort of unfold."
 
Not every tale is pleasant, as interviewees share regrets or past decisions they wished they had handled differently. However, most stories Peck documents are uplifting. Her favorite is about man who came to America at age 14 from the former Czechoslovakia. He used a dictionary to teach himself English, put himself through pharmaceutical school, and eventually started his own business.
 
"It was the perfect American dream story," says Peck.
 
A first-time entrepreneur, Peck researches, transcribes and edits each interview. The books are created by a professional designer, or by Peck herself using an online publication platform.
 
Peck launched Yourstory Catcher in 2011, spurred by reminiscences she heard during her social work daysOver the last five years, she has printed about a dozen volumes, finishing smaller books in two or three months, and working upwards of a year on more detailed projects.
 
Though the cost may not fit everyone budget, Peck believes encapsulating a well-lived life between two covers can be a cherished keepsake for all involved.
 
"People are surprised when the journey is therapeutic," says Peck. "This (book) can be an important thing for people to do for themselves." 

Student-run nonprofit supports charities through competitive sporting events

A new nonprofit founded and run by area high-school students allows participants to break a sweat and flex their competitive muscles while raising much-needed dollars for their favorite charity.
 
Launched in January by Shaker Heights High School senior Andrew Roth, Champions for Charity has thus far raised $21,000 through soccer tournaments and other sporting events. Athletes compete directly for their personally selected cause, forging a rare and precious link to those in need.
 
"Representing the charity of their choice allows teams to feel a personal connection," says Roth, 18. "Our focus is to empower kids to make a difference."
 
Squads pay an entrance fee for the March Madness-like competitions, collecting money from losing teams as they move ahead in the bracket. In August, Champions for Charity raised $18,000 through a three-on-three soccer event created in honor of Kevin Ekeberg, a Shaker Heights alumnus who died of stomach cancer in 2015. All donations went to the No Stomach for Cancer charity.
 
Meanwhile, 30 two-person teams gathered this summer for spikeball, a combination of four square and volleyball using a hula-hoop sized net placed at ankle level. The tournament raised $700, with the winners donating prize money to the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group dedicated to protection of the world's beaches.
 
"We've had success because students realize now it's not difficult to donate to a charity," says Roth. "We're making it fun and accessible to people who normally don't do this in their spare time."
 
Roth heads Champions for Charity with help from two friends, Wyatt Eisen and Liam Prendergast, and five other SHHS students. The organization founder is also working with an economics teacher and a community member with a nonprofit background.
 
Roth's sports-centric nonprofit was spawned from an unrelated charity soccer event he organized. The experience inspired him to incorporate future athletic happenings under an umbrella of competition, but with an expanded fundraising focus.
 
"It's cool to represent something you're passionate about," Roth says. "I'm motivated to motivate other people."
 
The young spearhead of the inventive nonprofit graduates next year, but that won't stop Champions for Charity from continuing its mission, thanks to three juniors and two sophomores Roth recently brought on to continue the operation.
 
"My generation of teenagers can make changes to the world," says Roth. "If we're not developing that drive to change now, then we may never do it." 

"Dealership Debut" set for this Thursday in Shaker

The Shaker Heights Development Corporation (SHDC) and the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI) have partnered to create The Dealership, a co-working, event and office hub that will be unveiled to the community this Thursday, Dec. 1, from 4 to 7 p.m. during the “Dealership Debut" at its location, 3558 Lee Road. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged.
 
The innovative new space will offer its members short- or long-term office space rental amid 16 offices and a co-working area for up to 50 members. They will also have access to lighting-speed fiber optic Internet and will be able to host meetings in three conference/training rooms. The facility will be available to them around the clock.
 
As for the ECDI partnership, SHDC sought out to find an organization with a proven track record to operate the co-work space and conduct programming.
 
"We talked with a handful of qualified potential partners and ECDI rose to the top of the list," says SHDC Executive Director Nick Fedor, adding that they maintain a consistent presence at The Dealership, with ECDI's marketing and communications coordinator Alexis Coffey staffing the space five days a week. The organization's relationship managers and trainers also work out of the iconic Lee Road building on a regular basis. 

Known as the largest non-profit economic development organization in the state, ECDI will provide The Dealership's members with services addressing all stages of business development. That includes training, one-on-one technical assistance, advice regarding networking events and access to capital services.
 
"To my knowledge," says Fedor, "there isn't another co-working space in the region that is operated by a small business lending and technical assistance provider such as ECDI."
 
And ECDI's track record spells success. It has provided more than $35 million in startup or expansion capital to small businesses in Ohio since its 2004 inception. With the organization’s help, more than 1,680 loans have been disbursed to innovative entrepreneurs over that time, creating or retaining 6,100 jobs in Ohio.
 
Fedor believes ECDI’s partnership will benefit future tenants and Shaker’s business community at large. He adds that the early response to the venture has been strong, with more than half of the office tenants remaining when the property transitioned earlier this year from LaunchHouse to The Dealership.
 
"Since then, two new office tenants have leased space and three new co-work members have joined," says Fedor. "There is a robust pipeline of potential office tenants and co-work members."
 
Of the transition, he adds that continuing to provide a flexible office solution and co-work space for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Shaker was important. The move has also included some freshening up in the funky space, with updates such as new furniture, interior paint colors, a new coffee bar and an entrepreneurship resource library provided by the Shaker Library.
 
The SHDC-ECDI partnership’s dedication to the area’s business community will be on full display at the Dealership Debut event. Shaker Heights businesses that met a Nov. 15 deadline will compete in a pitch contest, presented by Huntington Bank. The most convincing entrepreneur will receive a $2,500 first-place prize. Second place will receive $500.
 
The Dealership’s name plays on the building’s history as the former site of the old Zalud Oldsmobile dealership.
 
"The name came from a brainstorming session," says Fedor. "We hired the branding and design firm Little Jacket to develop the branding and they did a great job. We are very happy with their work."
 
The venture is part of the effort to revitalize Shaker’s Moreland District as an emerging neighborhood in the city and region.
 
"A vibrant co-working hub is important to SHDC's broader vision for the Chagrin-Lee commercial district," says Fedor. "The Dealership provides a jumping off point for small businesses and entrepreneurs to start – and hopefully grow – their businesses into other buildings on Lee Road and in Shaker."
 
The City of Shaker Heights and ECDI  are both members of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 
Erin O'Brien contributed to this article.

Next stop for entrepreneurs in search of unique housing is Shaker Heights

Shaker Heights is bringing in creative folks via refurbished homes designed with the entrepreneur in mind.
 
Nine rental units are available at two homes on Chelton Road in the city's Moreland district. As spearheaded by the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHS), these private units are short-term living options for people willing to share common space with their fellow entrepreneurs.
 
Renters sign month-to-month leases for $394.50, which includes a private bedroom and access to common kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining room areas. All utilities are included, as are entrepreneur-friendly perks like high-speed internet from the OneCommunity fiber network. Living rooms and attic space, meanwhile, come with built-in "whiteboard" walls for sharing innovative ideas.
 
"Entrepreneurs are only responsible for their own lease and can stay for a particular time frame," says Marge Misak, land trust program director at NHS. "It's an easy in for business people."
 
The idea is to provide single start-up owners with an inexpensive option to help jumpstart their businesses. Since the program launched three years ago, tenants have been mostly app creators and other tech-related innovators. Some worked nearby at The Dealership (formerly Shaker LaunchHouse).
 
More recently, the homes - one a single-family, the other a double - have been occupied by students from the Tech Elevator coding boot camp. Program supporters including NHS expect more business owner occupants once The Dealership settles into the community.
 
Ultimately, coordinators want the homes to be part of a larger innovation hub - a plan on the books since the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program provided grants for renovation work in 2013.  After the suburb restored the structures, ownership was turned over to NHS, which sees the Moreland district as an "innovation zone" with the potential to become a focal point of Shaker Heights - an assertion Fresh Water has previously explored.
 
"There's an excitement in the neighborhood as a place for artists and the creative class," says Misak. "When you do that, you get everyone thinking about the talents they can bring to the table."
 
Talent retention is another program facet, Misak notes. High demand for creatively reused rental units could be a springboard that attracts an economy-driving start-up demographic searching out more permanent lodging.
 
"This is very aspirational," says Misak. "We want to make connections between entrepreneurial residents and the neighborhood." 

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Fresh and fun: recessCLE

This series of stories, "Grassroots Success: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods," explores how meaningful impact on our communities grows from the ground up. Support for "Grassroots Success" is provided by Neighborhood Connections.
 
Alex Robertson is smart, ambitious, and successful. And after leaving Glenville to attend Ivy League Columbia University in New York City, he returned home to share what he has gleaned and improve his neighborhood by making it more fun.
 
Robertson threw a birthday party for his entire community when he first formed the pop-up game and event organization Recess Cleveland (recessCLE). Its first event was held on his 31st birthday, August 9, 2015.
 
“Birthdays are always a good time to get people out to an event,” says Robertson. “I told my friend, for my birthday I want to throw dodge balls at you.”
 
Approximately 50 people showed up. They divided the group into age 21 and under and age 22 and older.

”The highlight of the day was a 65-year-old grandma pitching to five-year-old kids,” Robertson says. “When she was kicking, she kicked a line-drive to the outfield. So all the kids were like, ‘Granny’s got legs!’ We did get her a designated runner, though.”
 
The organization throws pop-up recess events at community functions, block parties, etc. It also hosts a monthly Glenville Community Freecess and potluck where everyone donates food or a toy or game.
 
“We bring the meat, volunteers bring sides, and residents bring chips and sodas,” Robertson says. “We go all out; it’s a lot of fun. I tell people, ‘Send us your kids. They’ll leave tired and full.’”
 
RecessCLE began by throwing last minute events with no more than a 48-hour notice, although Robertson is trying to give people more time now. The events are a free-for-all for the first hour as people show up, then they decide which sports or games to play. It may include dodge ball, kickball, and soccer with tug-o-war, hula-hooping, and jumping rope contests between. The whole event lasts more than four hours.

”It ends when the lights go out, or when the mosquitoes get to us,” he says, adding that people typically bring their entire families, with ages ranging from five to 60.
 
“I pull the double-dutch jump ropes out, and the parents’ faces light up. The kids may get two jumps in before the ropes hit the ground, and the parents have to show them how it’s done. I try to get everyone involved by taking old school games and bringing them to new school teenagers.”
 
The inspiration to form the community organization, which includes Robertson and three volunteers, was rooted deep in his childhood. He attended Glenville's St. Aloysius School through fifth grade, then University School in Shaker Heights before moving to New York and earning his degree from Columbia University. The full-time web designer and digital marketing consultant moved back to Glenville and began working with non-profits.
 
He remembered the contrast between finding things to do in the parking lot during recess at the inner-city St. Aloysius and the structured recess games organized for large groups at the suburban University School.
 
“I met kids who had never played dodge ball,” he says. “I wanted to give them something that I felt was important to me when I was a kid.”
 
Neighborhood Connections awarded Robertson a $3,000 grant in February, which he used to replace old equipment and items that were stolen. He also purchased 12 body zorb balls, which he says are the most popular item with children.
 
”The kids just have a blast with those.”
 
In addition, he's launched a crowd-funding campaign to cover the costs of food and moving and replacing equipment. Currently, the organization supplies food for 40 to 50 people at their Freecess events, but 50 to 70 people typically show up.

Robertson branched out further by offering his recessCLE to schools. For $350, he brings his equipment and hosts who ensure all kids are included. They typically offer a free-style environment on one side of the gym and an organized activity on the other. The move was sparked after he volunteered at Patrick Henry School, where he discovered kids sitting on the bleachers doing nothing during what should have been recess due to a lack of adults to monitor them outside.

Robertson is also in the planning stages of launching Recess for a Cause. He hopes to partner with local non-profits to help them raise money and attention for their causes through his recess events.

In the meantime, the group has grown their contact base and is also attempting to branch out into more areas. They held their first Detroit Shoreway area event recently.
 
“We’re trying to bridge communities together,” Robertson says. “When we throw an event, we don’t want just members of their community to attend. Our goal is changing strangers into friends.”

 

Area students connect with seniors via Aeronauts project

The U.S. has 78 million baby boomers either entering or approaching retirement, a trend presenting an enormous challenge for the nation's healthcare system. Area young people are learning about this demographic shift through a program that, if successful, will teach them to develop high-tech tools enabling seniors to age in place.
 
Students from Shaker Heights High School, North Olmsted High School, Cuyahoga Community College and the University of California, Irvine, are part of the Aeronauts 2000 Intergenerational Project, which engages science-based learning to understand the aging process and identify technological solutions that foster independent living.
 
Led by the Center for Intellectual Property, Technology and Telecommunications, Inc. (CIPTT), the program draws a correlation between aging and the physiological effects of outer space travel. Student-led field work resulted in a board game where players young and old acquire the resources needed to survive on Mars through questions on aging and the effects of space exploration.
 
This summer, young contributors also began drafting a multi-purpose vehicle, deep space habitat and diagnostic tools for a video game on long-term spaceflight's relation to the aging process. Student-produced 3D design images will be presented this fall at senior community events as well as a Tri-C conference, notes program director Andrea Johnson.

Johnson, director at CIPTT, says research has made her students sensitive to challenges faced by older generations. As space flight can accelerate health and cognitive issues for astronauts, seniors as they age experience sensory impairment, diminished mental performance and brittle bones. Project participants witnessed these impacts first-hand via bonding exercises with seniors at Eliza Bryant Village, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and the Tri-C-sponsored Encore Program.
 
"Many seniors feel invisible, disrespected or like they don't have a role in society," says Johnson. "We asked ourselves how kids would respond to a group they would usually dismiss."
 
Ultimately, the project is preparing "Aernoauts" for technology and healthcare employment, Johnson says. With increased nationwide interest in gerontechnology -  the interdisciplinary academic and professional field combing gerontology and technology - students are ready to create innovations that increase quality of life for an aging demographic. Program members are currently designing a cane with a built-in heart rate monitor, representing only one way tomorrow's technology leaders can improve the lives of older adults today.
 
"Students have creativity that can be harnessed to come up with solutions," says Johnson. "It's a matter of engaging them to get them to focus on an aging population. That kind of innovation is going to position them for future jobs."  

MOOS teens to shake up IngenuityFest

Ten-foot-tall swings, climbing walls and a sculpture bristling with lights. This is not a description for some fantastical playground, but a project a group of Cleveland-area youth are bringing to this year's IngenuityFest.
 
Eleven students from Shaker Heights' Moreland district, all members of the Making Our Own Space (MOOS) placemaking initiative, are currently conceptualizing plans for the popular arts and technology festival, which is now in its 12th year. MOOS co-founder David Jurca expects his young participants' creative skills to successfully transfer from neighborhood public spaces to the festival's larger stage.
 
"The project's driving goal is to build confidence in this generation regarding their ability to transform their environment," says Jurca of an effort led by Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). "At Ingenuity, students are going to step up as workshop leaders because they're more knowledgeable about using tools to build and give direction to others."
 
MOOS's workshops create physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Parks and vacant spaces in Moreland as well as Britt Oval in Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood have been host to swings, snow forts, benches, observation towers and other high-visibility projects. Hildana Park in Shaker Heights has a student-built performance stage along with "trash hoops," where garbage cans are fitted with mini-basketball rims in the name of fun litter control.
 
Seventh through 11th graders involved with Ingenuity are designing mobile playscape elements like a light sculpture and a combined giant swing/climbing wall, which will be built at The Dealership business accelerator space, then transported to the event site. The creative method includes brainstorming a concept like swinging, then building out from that idea.
 
"The climbing wall suggestion came from a community member," Jurca says. "We went to the library to get images, and looked at playscape equipment from all over the world."
 
The 2016 IngenuityFest takes place in the former Osborne Industrial Complex, 5401 Hamilton Ave., Sept. 23-25. MOOS's efforts during the weekend will include on-site build opportunities for attendees.
 
"Students are going to take on the role of design leaders," says Jurca. "People coming for the event will be learning from our students."
 
Helping guide the process will be Alex Gilliam, Philadelphia-based founder of Public Workshop, a national program for placemaking projects aimed at youth. Gilliam will be in town the week ahead of Ingenuity to gently push ideas to fruition while identifying group members eager to grab leadership roles.
 
"These are people who want to do more and do better - and want to be connected with others with similar aspirations," says Gilliam.
 
Ingenuity itself can be a beacon for empowerment due to the crowds it attracts, adds the project supporter.
 
"Give a 15-year-old girl a circular saw and the chance to build something wonderful that meets a community need, and do it in a public way," Gilliam poses. "The effect can be dramatic. Young people will realize their self-efficacy in a manner that would typically take years in a school setting."
 
Ingenuity's highly visible backdrop is also valuable for a society that doesn't always recognize the contributions of teenagers and their place in the community at large.
 
"There's an important opening here for Cleveland," says Gilliam. "Having this (initiative) go on outside of a community building aspect is creating more space for this work in schools and other places." 
 
MOOS co-founder Jurca adds that the Ingenuity experience will not only prepare African-American and Latino youth for a range of hands-on design careers, it will also teach them how to define improvements in ongoing projects, where "failure" is deemed a lesson rather than a stopping point.
 
"It's about celebrating success and jumping into things we can do to make a project better," says Jurca. "That kind of confidence can be carried into the classroom." 

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Shaker to celebrate Historic Preservation Month with photo contest

Known for its tree-lined streets, opulent houses and sense of community, Shaker Heights officials are asking people to share their views of the city in a photo.
 
In honor of National Preservation Month in May, the Shaker Heights Landmark Commission is having its fourth annual Preservation Month Photo Contest.
 
“We look at it as a fun way to celebrate the community,” says Ann Klavora, principal planner in Shaker’s planning department. “We’re asking for both residents and non-residents – anyone who likes Shaker – to show what makes Shaker a special place to them.”


 
Photos will be accepted in three categories: architecture/building; landscape/nature; and community. Last year, a “unique perspective” category was created for Shaker resident Peter Miller’s submission of four photos of Horseshoe Lake taken with a drone.
 
You need not be a pro to submit a photo, Klavora says, or have a drone. “Whatever strikes someone’s fancy,” she says. “We get submissions from folks who are clearly professional photographers and folks who are clearly not professionals. We’ve gotten all sorts of pictures.”
 
Klavora says communities all around the country hold similar events and projects to celebrate National Preservation Month. “We thought this was a fun way of celebrating,” she says. “You don’t have to go to a meeting, you just have to take the picture.”
 
The photo contest in free to enter. Submissions will be accepted until midnight on March 31. The winners will be chosen by a panel of judges from the Landmark Commission and will be announced on May 1. The winners will receive name credit for their photos, which will appear on Shaker's Facebook page, and the city will use the photos for social media.

Cleveland Coffee and Dellavedova create a buzz with a new blend

Just in time for Australia Day today, Tuesday, Jan. 26, Cleveland Coffee Company yesterday introduced a new coffee blend in honor of Australian native and Cavs point guard Matthew “Delly” Dellavedova, called G’Day Mate.

Created by Delly himself, the blend is of Sumatra and Peruvian coffees – Sumatra, which borders Australia, and Peruvian, which is known for its velvety texture, create a rich aroma and bold flavor.
 
After going through the chain of command, Cleveland Coffee owner Brendan Walton first invited Delly to come to his roaster back in December, after taking note of the basketball player’s love for coffee during the NBA Playoffs.
 
“It seemed to be his beverage of preference before, and sometimes during, the game,” says Walton. “So I invited him to our warehouse to do coffee roasting 101, which was cool because he’d never seen it done before. He was very interested and asked a lot of questions, so we had him do one of the roasts.”
 
Walton says Delly, who drinks his coffee black, prefers a dark roast with bold flavor. So after tasting a few blends, Walton and Delly developed a suitable flavor profile in G’Day Mate.
 
Walton delivered the new blend to 40 area retailers yesterday. The G’Day Mate blend will be available through the end of June in stores, online and at Walton’s cafe in A.J. Rocco’s, 816 Huron Road.
 
Furthermore, Walton announced that Cleveland Coffee Company will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from G'Day Mate sales to All Faiths Pantry, a non-profit organization in Old Brooklyn that works with the Cleveland Food Bank to deliver groceries to seniors and other people with limited mobility.
 
“I think it will go over well, and Delly was very receptive to that,” says Walton. “[Executive director] John [Visnauskas], he’s a good soul working to help people out. I’m sure it will sell.”
 
The Cavs played their first "Australia Day" game last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves and wore their gold uniforms to honor Australia’s colors, gold and green. The Cavs won, 114-107.

Rudy’s Pub to fill former Cedar Lee Pub space on Lee Road

When the owners of Rudy’s Pub on Van Aken Boulevard in Shaker Heights learned they had to close their doors last summer, the group of regulars who had been going to the bar for the past nine years were frantic.

“We had grown men crying at the bar,” recalls co-owner Amanda Elfers, who owns Rudy’s with her fiancé Quintin Jones. The doors closed for good on October 3. Then, some friends and regulars told Elfers about the vacancy left on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights when the Cedar Lee Pub and Grill closed for good in mid-October.
 
Elfers drove by the place, and on November 13 she and Jones took ownership. Rudy’s Pub will open once again at 2191 Lee Road on Friday, Dec. 11.

In addition to their loyal clientele from their previous location, Elfers and Jones look forward to meeting new customers on the popular Cleveland Heights bar and restaurant strip.
 
“I think we will fit in really good,” says Jones, adding that Rudy’s will be a “grown and sexy spot. Everyone has their specialty around here.” Other owners on Lee reportedly are eager for Rudy’s to open.
 
In fact, in addition to Rudy’s regular 50-cent wing nights, Friday all-you-can eat fish fries and ladies’ nights, Jones says he wants to work with other area bar owners on a “round-robin” type night, in which everyone will profit.
 
The pub has an extensive menu, including Jones’ famous fried chicken wings, pasta dishes and seafood. Jones has an extensive culinary background, having cooked professionally for more than 30 years worked with many of Cleveland’s better-known chefs and at restaurants such as Lopez y Gonzalez and Noggins. He was the first African-American chef to cook on the hot line at Oakwood Country Club in the 80s.
 
Elfers grew up playing piano in restaurants, and bartended while in college. After living in Russia, starting the hard rock band Seven 13 and touring South Africa, Elfers bought the former Noggins in 2006. The bar is named after her great uncle, Rudolph Vogler, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.
 
Rudy’s will have a full bar, including Elfers’ wicked Long Island iced tea. “Drink two and you’re good,” jokes Jones. “People know not to play.”
 
Elfers met Jones in 2009 when he walked into the pub and offered to help her out in the kitchen. She took him up on the offer and the two are now engaged to be married.
 
Rudy’s will cater mostly to the over 40 crowd, but everyone is welcome. Jones likens the atmosphere to the fictional bar on the television show “Cheers,” saying that patrons just chat, and watch sports.  
 
The bar will broadcast sports games on 10 televisions, one of which is a projection television. They will have live music, mostly jazz, about once a month, karaoke nights and will have Rudy’s famous tropical parties. When the weather allows, the entertainment will take place on the back patio.
 
With only three weeks to open Rudy’s, Jones and Elfers have been working with a crew of close friends and acquaintances to ready the pub for opening day – painting, hanging vintage photos, refinishing the floors and other tasks.
 
Rudy's employs an average of 10 to 15 people and is currently hiring at least seven people in all aspects of the restaurant industry. The pub will be open seven days a week, from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.  Rudy's also can be rented for private parties. 

Mod Meals offers fresh, locally-sourced meals delivered right to your door

Eating delicious, healthy food on a busy schedule is about to get a lot easier. Beginning next week, some of Cleveland’s most prized chefs will cook locally-sourced, health-conscious meals that will be delivered directly to customers' doors through a company called Mod Meals.

With a few clicks, customers can choose from a daily rotating menu of entrees, side dishes and kids' meals on both the Mod Meals website and app. “We take the headache out of making dinner,” says Mod Meals marketing director Scott Churchill. “It’s tough to keep business going, it’s tough to go out. We bring it right to your door.”

Started by entrepreneur and CEO Bruce Teicher, Mod Meals' participating chefs include Ben Bebenroth, chef owner of Spice Kitchen and Bar; Karen Small, owner of The Flying Fig; Eric Williams, chef owner of Momocho and El Carnicero; and Brian Okin, chef owner of Cork and Cleaver Social Kitchen and Graffiti. Additional chefs are expected to be announced soon.
 
Mod Meals will feature four to five entrée choices each day, four to five side dishes and a selection of kid-friendly fare. “We’re really focusing on kids’ meals,” says Churchill, who cites Bebenroth’s meatloaf – jam-packed with vegetables and shows smiley faces and frown faces when the loaf is cut – as one fun option for kids.

Some of the planned menu items include wood-grilled chicken,; arugula pesto and potatoes; chili garlic salmon with steamed broccoli; smoked brisket with Memphis barbeque sauce and crunchy slaw; seasonal crudite with hummus and dukkah; Asian noodle salad with cashew dressing, carrot and bok choy; kale, dried cherries, mustard caper vinaigrette, egg; and a squash and coconut bisque.

Meals will cost between $10 and $14, with a $2.95 delivery fee. “Our overhead is lower because we don’t have a restaurant,” Churchill explains. “But we’re piggy backing off the growing foodie scene here.” Menus will be posted a couple of days in advance so users can make their selections and choose their delivery times. Deliveries will be between 4 pm and 10 pm.
 
Additionally, with every order placed Mod Meals will make an equivalent monetary donation to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.  
 
Mod Meals plans to start delivery on Monday, November 9 to downtown and the east side suburbs. The company plans to expand delivery to the west side within the month. Go to the Mod Meals website to get the app or place orders.

Who's Hiring in CLE: RageOn, LaunchHouse, the Cleveland Foundation and more

Welcome to the latest installment of Fresh Water’s “who’s hiring” series, where we feature growing companies with open positions, what they’re looking for and how to apply.
 
RageOn
Want a t-shirt covered with images of pizza? Or how about a tote bag with images of your own artwork? Since April 2014, RageOn has steadily grown as the one of the largest all-over print online stores. The e-commerce site specializes in custom print designs as well as apparel featuring the unique work of artists and designers.
 
Now RageOn is moving quickly into a new realm. “We’ve invented the world’s fastest and simplest custom printing with the simplest technology,” says founder Mike Krilivsky. “We’re expanding our technology base. It’s something we think will change of lot of aspects of the world as we know it right now.”
 
The new technology will allow RageOn to create custom products at an affordable price. “We can do custom creations without spending a lot of money,” he explains. “Anyone with access to a phone or a computer can create something and monetize it in seconds.”
 
Krilivsky continuously accepts resumes for any position, to keep a lookout for the best talent. “We always want to keep the door open to awesome talent,” he says. “The best way to do that is always make sure the new technology means he has some specific needs. “A lot of our positions require several different hats. That’s life at a startup.”
 
RageOn is currently hiring for 12 different positions. But with the new technology, Krilivsky has some specific needs – primarily a director of engineering, a senior designer and a director of marketing. “We’re making awesome products that people love and want to use,” he says. “Now we need some great people to do it.”
 
But Krilivsky warns that applicants have to have an entrepreneurial spirit to work at RageOn. “We don’t want to hire people who want a job – we want to hire people who want to change the world,” he says. Apply through RageOn’s website. For a complete list of open jobs and requirements, click here.
 
LaunchHouose
LaunchHouse, the entrepreneurial community in Shaker Heights, is looking for a front desk manager to work directly with the executive team on a variety of tasks. This is an opportunity for those who think outside the box and want to be part of a growing company that could lead to extended opportunities. Responsibilities include customer service, answering phones, event setup, writing a blog and other support tasks.  
 
Send resume and cover letter to the LaunchHouse team.
 
The Cleveland Foundation
The Cleveland Foundation needs a donor relations officer to cultivate relationships within an assigned portfolio of donors to inspire and engage their philanthropic interests and goals. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree and five to seven years of experience in a service environment where responsibilities included providing professional advice and personal service to a diverse group of high-profile donors/clients.
 
To apply, send cover letter, resume and salary requirements to the hiring manager by Friday, August 28. Candidates selected for an interview will be contacted the week of August 31.
 
BioEnterprise
BioEnterprise, an organization that creates and grows companies in bioscience and healthcare, needs a director of health IT talent development, a new position at BioEnterprise. Apply through JumpStart.
 
Ohio CAT
Ohio CAT, the exclusive authorized dealer of Caterpillar equipment and engines in Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeast Indiana, has five openings in its Broadview Heights facility. The jobs include equipment field service technician; project manager in the power systems division; emergency vehicle technician, oil and gas service and sales rep; compact power sales rep.  For complete job descriptions and to apply, visit the Ohio CAT careers page.
 
Empower Gas & Electric
Empower Gas & Electric, which has partnered with the City of Cleveland to deliver low cost, high impact energy efficiency services for enrolled aggregation customers through the Cleveland Energy$aver program, needs a Northeast Ohio community solutions director to implement on-the-ground energy efficiency programming. To apply, send resume and cover letter to the hiring manager.
 
The Vue
The Vue, Beachwood’s newest modern metropolitan apartments, is looking for an ambassador. The job is for six month and offers free rent at the Vue in exchange for Tweeting, Instagramming, blogging and serving as The Vue ambassador. Deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 25. To apply, submit resume and a 150-word essay explaining why you are the perfect ambassador. Also express your interest on your social media channels, tagging #HireMeVue in your posts.
 
Technical Assurance
Technical Assurance, a national building envelope consulting group that manages building enclosure consulting and design for assignments of any size or scope, is expanding its CAD production capabilities, including an AutoCAD operator in its Willoughby headquarters. The goal is to add depth to the department with a variety of experience levels.  Ideal candidates have experience with managing multiple projects, ability to operate in a fast-paced production environment, have a keen attention to details, and most importantly be a team player. To learn more about other open positions or to apply directly, please contact the hiring manager.
 
Software Answers
Software Answers needs a senior application developer with a solid understanding of web-based development on Microsoft technologies who also has a passion for developing quality software applications to work on its ProgressBook suite – applications to promote academic achievement in grades K-12. Apply through JumpStart.

LaunchHouse hosts community open house to show off its new focus

LaunchHouse announced in April that they were moving away from their accelerator programs and returning to their roots in entrepreneurial education, investment and community involvement. On Tuesday, June 30, the Shaker Heights organization will show off its planned new office space with a community open house.

Community members, entrepreneurs and small business owners are invited to learn more about this vibrant entrepreneurial community and how LaunchHouse can help grow their business. The event is also meant to show how LaunchHouse is trying to attract more startups and small businesses to Shaker Heights.
 
“It will show people this is really what happens at LaunchHouse,” says CEO Todd Goldstein. “We’re going back to our foundation of what works best.”
 
Between tenants and companies in the new coworking space, LaunchHouse is home to almost 100 entrepreneurs, with room for more. Two 1,000 square foot modified shipping containers, which will be located in the garage behind the main LaunchHouse facility, will offer additional office space for growing companies. Goldstain says additional containers can be added. Plans for the  containers are in the process of being completed.

Membership at Launchhouse ranges from $125 a month for flex space to $500 for a dedicated office. Student memberships are also available.
 
Goldstein’s vision is to create a thriving entrepreneurial community along Lee Road, rich with startups, restaurants and other businesses. “Those businesses are more likely to grow and have a larger impact; it’s not unreasonable for people to look at Lee Road as a place to grow a business community like Tremont,” he says.
 
Economic development organizations and the city of Shaker Heights are behind Goldstein’s vision. “The Shaker Heights Development Corporation (SHDC) is committed to enhancing the commercial districts in the community,” says Nick Fedor, SHDC executive director. “The Chagrin-Lee commercial corridor, where Shaker LaunchHouse is located, is a strategic area for our revitalization efforts.  Building on assets such as the Shaker LaunchHouse, and the companies that are located there, is critically important to enhancing the commercial activity in the corridor and in Shaker. The SHDC is proud to partner with the City of Shaker Heights and businesses like LaunchHouse to turn this vision into a reality.”

Part of the new look includes a strong educational component, says Goldstein. The organization hosts regular Meetups on topics ranging from hackerspace and bookkeeping help to coding for game developers. Lunch and Learn is a free quarterly event with speakers from various Cleveland companies.
 
“It’s for small to mid-sized companies that are growing,” says Goldstein. “You’re going to see a lot more educational programs.”
 
Tuesday’s event will include a pitch event, sponsored by the Small Business Development Center at Cleveland Heights Library, and Cleveland State University will host a crowdfunding pitch competition. Four winners will receive all-inclusive assistance to help create their crowdfunding campaign.
 
Special guest Gina Prodan Kelly, founder and brand storyteller at Unmiserable, will talk about successfully launching and running a crowdfunding campaign. Registration for the pitch competition is over, but last minute entries can be obtained by calling LaunchHouse at 216/255-3070.
 
The open house runs from 3pm to 7pm tomorrow. Registration for the open house is not required, but encouraged.

We Can Code IT launches coding boot camp for minorities and women

Mel McGee has been a computer programmer and teacher for the past 20 years. Now, as CEO of We Can Code IT, McGee and community outreach director Shana Mysko are holding coding boot camps that are targeted at getting women and minorities careers in IT fields. The boot camps are held in their new offices at LaunchHouse.

“There will be one million unfilled jobs in IT by 2020,” explains McGee. “It’s a very in-demand industry and it continue to grow. Our whole economy is becoming IT based. There’s such a lack of diversity in IT. Employers would like to have more diversity.”
 
We Can Code IT held its first boot camp in March, and has partnered with several area employers, such as Hyland Software and OEConnection, to place its graduates in jobs. The next part-time coding boot camp starts this Saturday, June 20. The class meets Saturdays and Sundays from 8am-4pm for five months.
 
The cost of the program is $10,000, but women and minorities are eligible for a $1,000 grant. Starting with the upcoming session, We Can Code IT is testing a program where students don’t pay the tuition until they get a job.
 
“We’re trying to make it very appealing,” says McGee. “We have bent over backwards to make this doable for our students, who are coming from jobs where they are underemployed and unemployed. So we are offering an option where we don’t get paid until they get a job. We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”
 
We Can Code IT is also offering a free one-hour program, Programming Experience, on Thursday, June 18 at 7pm at LaunchHouse to learn about an IT career. Register through Meetup.
 
Registration for the part-time boot camp ends Thursday, June 18. Click here to apply for the program. The next full-time boot camp starts September 8.
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