Westlake businesses come together to help residents in need
The storms that rolled through Westlake on Thursday, July 26, were barely a footnote for guests and presenters at the “What’s Brewing in Westlake” business networking and fundraising event at Equity Trust Company. Proceeds from the evening benefitted the social services programs of the Westlake Senior and Community Services Department that provides assistance to hundreds of the nearly 1,300 Westlake residents who live in poverty.
The event began with a welcome by Mayor Dennis Clough. He recognized Equity Trust’s co-founder, Richard Desich Jr., the host of the event; Westlake City Council members Kenneth Brady of Ward 5 and Mark Getsay of Ward 6; Michelle Boczek, economic development manager for the city; and many guests from the business community who have contributed to the vibrancy of the city. Enthusiastic applause greeted his mention of the new Senior and Community Services Center that will be constructed soon.
Lydia Gadd, director of the Senior and Community Services Department, expressed gratitude to the city’s business community for their many years of support. She thanked Equity Trust for their assistance with the community garden, chili cook-off, a food drive and the sponsorship of “What’s Brewing.” The company’s Matt Collier and Anthony DeVito had suggested the fundraiser and led the planning with Michael Hammond of Sibling Revelry Brewing.
She appreciated the efforts of the others who served on the planning committee including her department’s advisory board members: Cristina Kennedy (Mrs. Westlake for 2018) and Suzanne Rusnak (also president of Westlake Kiwanis) and staff members Donna Feorene, Cindi Lindgren and Madeline Crandall.
Gadd acknowledged that the generous donations, sponsorships and volunteerism of Westlake’s companies and organizations allowed the department to meet needs in the community. In 2017, 215 individuals received assistance through the food pantry; an additional 210 food baskets were distributed for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas; 621 Meals on Wheels were subsidized for seniors who could not afford the daily cost; and 190 individuals received Christmas presents through the popular Adopt-a-Family program. The department also made prescription assistance, utility bill assistance and shelter available on a case by case basis.
Poverty in Westlake surprises, motivates
“People are often surprised when I discuss poverty in Westlake,” said Gadd prior to the event. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey, about 5 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty.
“In our city, those who qualify for services via the federal poverty guidelines range from families with young children to seniors who are on their own. We have already witnessed the need for some of our services increase as our elderly population continues to grow,” Gadd explained.
She is surprised how quickly people offer to help once they understand there is a real need. “Since our department is both a senior center and a social services center for Westlake, we can suggest a variety of ways for individuals, groups and companies to collectively work with us to promote a safe, healthy and happy community,” said Gadd.
Those interested in learning more about available programs and resources, whether they know of someone in need or want to help meet identified needs, can visit www.cityofwestlake.org/Social-Services or call 440-899-3544.