Walk of Love: St. Clair-Superior residents show pride through donations, neighborhood cleanup

This past Saturday, April 17, residents in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood came out to show their support for the community they live in by doing a Walk of Love.

With the support of St. Casimir Church, Famicos Foundation, Willson School, Northeast Ohio Public Involvement Public Education (NEO-PIPE), University Circle Inc., Bike Cleveland, and Say Yes Cleveland, the love was spread throughout the neighborhood.  

On Saturday April 17, the Willson School Walk of Love was held in the neighborhood around the school and St. Casimir Church. Participants collected donations of personal care items to be distributed to area residents at the Wall of Love at the schooAbout 25 volunteers walked the neighborhood and collected donations of toiletries and personal care items. St. Casimir presented a $100 check to the school for the purchase additional items and NEO-PIPE donated 100 tree seedlings to be distributed and planted in the neighborhood.

The items collected will be placed in bags on the school’s “Wall of Love”—where anyone can take or leave items for someone who might need them. John Dorotics, a physical education teacher at Willson School and community engagement leader, says the wall was created during the COVID-19 pandemic, in part to replace the Care Closet he had maintained in the school pre-pandemic.

Dorotics says Saturday’s walk was a success. “We had a lot of people walking,” he says. “And we have enough items for probably 400 to 500 bags.”

Dorotics says the community walks are also a usual thing at Willson, and often paired this time of year with a spring cleanup of the neighborhood. “The concept is to give the community all the love we have,” he explains. “We’re showing the love by cleaning up the neighborhood, and we’re getting back love. It’s a way to get out and visit with the community and hand out resources that a lot of families don’t have.”

Dorotics explains that pre-COVID, many St. Clair-Superior families were limited in information and resources because of lack of internet connections or devices. But he says the connectivity has gotten better with more families getting connected through the schools.

Dorotics uses the community walks as a chance to inform residents of Willson programs like the Willson Meditation Center YouTube channel. Last weekend Dorotics also promoted the upcoming launch of a neighborhood reading project, in which volunteers read books and then interpret the stories into American Sign Language (Willson specializes in services for the deaf and hearing impaired, and all students are exposed to ASL).

“It’s always nice to get out in the community so people know who we are,” says Dorotics. “And we try to get them information on programs they may or may not know of.”

The first stop on the Walk of Love was St. Casimir Church, where the St. Casimir Alumni Association, parishioners, and Father Eric offered donations for the effort. The volunteers then received a tour of St. Casimir Church.

The NEOPIPE Organization also donated 100 tree seedlings that are to be distributed to area residents and students to plant in the neighborhood.The group then headed to Willson, where they also collected donations. “Willson is grateful for the support of our community,” said Willson principal Dawn Hayden in a statement. “We strive to support them as much as we can in return.”                                                                                                                                                                The volunteers then walked along Ansel, Bellevue, Pulaski, Korman, and Simon Roads—where volunteers picked up more 20 bags of trash as they went.

On Monday, Dorotics taught his students how to plant and care for a tree, and then gave each student a sapling to take home and plant.

“This all came from the walk,” he says of the donations, tress, and community spirit. “We need to do more stuff like that in our communities.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.