On Saturday, Oct. 4, representatives from nearly 30 Bay Village civic groups and nonprofit organizations gathered for the Bay Cares Fall Fest to promote their activities and seek new volunteers. The annual event, presented by the Observer and the Bay Village Branch Library, drew a steady stream of residents of all ages interested in learning how they can give back to the community. A little bribe helped as well; a food truck churned out free doughnuts, courtesy of the Friends of the Bay Library.
The IRS sponsored AARP Tax Aide Program is looking for volunteers for the 2014 tax filing season. Training classes for new volunteers and prior years’ volunteers alike, will be held in Westlake this coming January.
Because of our federal and state tax code changes each year, all volunteers must attend and pass these IRS-designed classes to be able to move forward with the tax preparation program. The Tax Aide Program begins in February and ends April 15.
Fall is such a spectacularly beautiful season in leafy Bay Village, and we’re certainly enjoying the peak of it right now. But soon, those beautiful leaves will start piling up in yards around town. The Village Project is offering to rake those leaves, as well as provide assistance with weeding, mulching and other general yard work in exchange for donations to help them continue their mission.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, the Amazing Grace Foundation will be hosting its ninth annual Toy Drive in memory of Grace Enovitch. The Toy Drive will run from noon to 2 p.m. at Bay Middle School, 27725 Wolf Road. New toys, books, and art supplies are being collected to benefit pediatric cancer patients and their families. There will also be Amazing Grace T-shirts for sale.
The Westlake Kiwanis held their new officer installation on Sept. 30. Robert Clancy, past Kiwanis Division 14 Lt. Governor, performed the installation ceremonies for the new officers.
Russ Milan, the new President accepted the Presidential Gavel from Norm Resko, who will now be Immediate Past President. George Christ was installed as President Elect, Vic Rutkoski as Secretary and Ray Budoi as Treasurer for the Westlake Kiwanis.
On Thursday, Sept. 11, members of the Rotary Club of Westlake-Bay Village had the privilege of serving dinner at the Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake. Ames House, owned by Hospice of the Western Reserve, offers comfort care for seriously ill people and their loved ones in peaceful setting.
In fulfilling its mission of service, Rotary members served over 70 dinners to patients, their families and staff. In addition, piano students, ranging in age from 9 to 14, taught by Ashley Baker of Rhapsody Music Studio, played throughout the dinner.
Bay Villagers know that our city is a wonderful place to live, play and raise a family. There’s the beautiful lakeside setting, the friendly people and the small-town feel. Part of the community’s charm are the many residents who volunteer their time with civic groups, clubs and foundations dedicated to maintaining the Bay Village way of life.
If you’re looking to spend a little of your free time giving back to the community, Bay has a group to fit almost any interest. In fact, it can be daunting to research all of them and decide which one(s) to choose.
The Observer and the Bay Village Branch Library are partnering to bring civic organizations and interested volunteers together. On Saturday, Oct. 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the library, the Bay Cares Fall Fest will feature representatives from Bay-based groups with a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for all ages.
Whether everyday emergencies like injuries, fires and outages, or large scale disasters, community preparedness starts with you. If you were there, would you be part of the problem or solution?
The Westshore Regional Community Emergency Response Team (WSC) is offering free classes on topics such as disaster preparedness, emergency medical considerations, search and rescue procedures, fire suppression, disaster psychology, and more. The 20-hour FEMA course is conducted by local safety professionals. Westshore residents who are over 18 years of age, successfully complete training, and pass a background check are eligible for team membership. Visit www.westshorecert.org for more program and team information.
The Westlake Kiwanis presented a $500 check to the Westlake Community Center on July 21 to provide smoke detectors and/or carbon monoxide detectors for eligible senior citizens and low-income eligible individuals in the Westlake community.
This money was made available from a grant by the Ohio District Kiwanis Foundation to the Westlake Kiwanis. These detectors will be distributed by the Westlake Fire Department. Anyone needing smoke detector and or carbon monoxide detector must call the Westlake Community Center at 440-899-3544 to determine eligibility.
On Sept. 11, Fill This House will host a golf outing at Elyria Country Club, with all proceeds going to help kids in need. The outing kicks off with a box lunch and shotgun start at noon. Drinks will be available on the course and a barbeque dinner will be served. The cost is $600 per foursome. It promises to be a fun-filled day and we hope to see you there!
The Compeer Program at Far West Center, located in Westlake, is a nonprofit program that strives to end the loneliness and isolation too often experienced by adults managing a chronic mental illness. The symptoms of mental illness are treatable with medication and most symptoms subside with health management services.
Some adults in recovery from mental illness become isolated because they have lost connections with the peers in their age groups and also may have developed anxiety or depression. The volunteers in the Compeer Program work along with staff to encourage these isolated adults to come out and go to community places and engage in community activities. Compeer is helping adults connect with inviting places and engaging activities throughout Westlake.
We all enjoyed a wonderful fireworks display at Bay Days this year, and that is because of the contributions of hundreds of people who believe in our city and its traditions.
The Bay Days fireworks are privately funded now, so a group of concerned residents banded together earlier this year to try and raise the funds needed for the show.
A Bay Days without fireworks would be a dud, and many Bay Village civic and other organizations rely on the funds generated at the event for scholarships and other expenses.
The Bay Village League of Women Voters' 66th year has been our most active in decades. I want to share with you our annual report – and even more, to thank you, our community, for being the reason for it all.
In a local election year, voter service is Job One. Last year's mayoral primary forum had a standing-room-only crowd with TV coverage. When the Indians decided to make the playoffs, general election forum attendance plummeted, but online video saved the day with 270 views.
The Westlake | Bay Village Observer re-engineered our Voters' Guide. With answers to two questions in print and an additional four available online, it was our most-comprehensive-ever candidate comparison.
The Bay Men’s Club has awarded four $1,500 scholarships to four very deserving Bay High students: Victoria Hamilton, Pawel Kotowski, Shaley Stearns and Abriana Holzworth.
Scholarships are awarded based on need, character, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities. The four and their families were honored recently at the club’s annual pig roast at the Bay Lodge.
Hamilton, a two-year member of the National Honor Society and Key Club president, plans on studying art history at Case Western Reserve University.
Kotowski, who earned the Principal’s Best Award for academic excellence and who operates his own landscaping company, plans on studying accounting at Case Western Reserve University.
Bay Village’s Fly-A-Flag project is still underway! Three community groups – American Legion Post 385, Bay Kiwanis and Martha Devotion Huntington Chapter DAR – have joined together to supply FREE American flags to Bay residents with limited means or abilities who request them.
While the DAR does the "office work," American Legion and Kiwanis members install American flags, brackets and flag poles at ground-level locations chosen by the homeowner. The goal is to have 50 donated flags flying around town by Independence Day, July 4th, and Veterans' Day, Nov. 11.
Employees of Key Bank recently took time out from their busy schedules to help clean up and tend to the flowerbeds and landscaping around Rose Hill Museum and the Reuben Osborn Learning Center in Bay Village.
The employees helped out as part of the bank’s “Neighbors Make the Difference Day.” This year more than 8,000 Key Bank employees partnered with local non-profits to sweep sidewalks, plant gardens and generally lend a hand in the communities in which they work and live.
Norm Resko, president of the Westlake Kiwanis, introduced Bob Williams, trustee from the Ohio District Kiwanis Foundation, at the Westlake Kiwanis meeting on May 20. Bob spoke about the District Foundation and the grants that the Foundation has made to various Kiwanis Clubs around the state for projects within their communities.
Bob in turn introduced Tim Cornelius, an ad hoc member of the grant-reading committee. Tim presented the Westlake Kiwanis with a $500 check for the City of Westlake for a project with the Community Center and the Westlake Fire Department to provide carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in senior citizen homes.
The Westlake Garden Club (WGC) is sponsoring a bus tour to Schedel Arboretum & Gardens in Elmore, Ohio, on Wednesday, June 25. We will enjoy a docent‑led tour of the gardens, with more than 15,000 annuals, flowering trees, perennials, shrubs and many plant species normally not found in our region.
Following a catered lunch in the Welcome Center overlooking the lower level gardens, we will tour the Schedel Manor House, built in 1882 and furnished with a collection of antiques, custom furniture and rare artworks. On our return trip, we will stop at Bench's Greenhouse & Nursery to browse its selection of hanging baskets, annuals, perennials, over 2,000 roses and a Farm Market, with Bench’s produce from its 650-acre farm.
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned haircut, yet the one served up recently by one of our very own, Jim Sgro of Village Barber Shop, was one to remember. Tim Pell, a longtime Bay Village resident, friend and community volunteer, had recently undergone hip replacement surgery. Under strict doctor’s orders, Tim was limited in his mobility and ability to travel in the early stages of his recovery, and therefore unable to participate in the March fundraising event in support of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, held at the Lakewood Elks Lodge in Westlake.
However, Tim and his wife, Jean, strongly desired to support the St. Baldrick’s initiative, an effort to raise money to cure childhood cancer, and recognized there should be no obstacle to giving for this incredibly worthy cause. Enter Jim Sgro, armed with a desire to assist, coupled with a full arsenal of hair-cutting equipment and supplies.
Have you ever done community service to help those less fortunate than you? In honor of Father Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987, May is observed by many as a month of service.
Prior to his appointment as university president, Hesburgh became a priest, fulfilling a dream he had maintained his entire life. He studied in Rome, but was eventually forced to leave due to the outbreak of World War II. While in office at Notre Dame, Hesburgh vastly improved the university, raising budget, endowment, and research funds each by over $150 million. He served on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission from 1957 to 1972, and led many integration rallies over that time.
Fifth-grade Girl Scout Junior Troop 293 has done what they can to spread kindness and love to homeless children. They donated a total of 132 Easter baskets to several homeless shelters this past Easter.
The girls decided to engage the community and help those less fortunate in order to earn their Bronze award. Their initial goal was to collect enough donations and make 40 Easter baskets. But with the generosity of the community at Saint Bernadette's and Saint Richard's, the girls were able to stuff 132 Easter baskets with candy, toys and treats. The baskets were distributed to the children at Laura's Home, Genesis House, The Salvation Army Shelter and West Side Catholic Shelter.
The Blue Star Memorial Program honors service men and women. The Blue Star became an icon in World War II and was seen on flags and banners in homes for sons and daughters away at war, as well as in churches and businesses. This program has been active all through the years to the present.
In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs began a Blue Star Highway system, which covers thousands of miles across the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. Large metal Blue Star Memorial Highway Markers were placed at approximate locations along the way.
Instead of a regular monthly meeting, Westlake Kiwanis volunteered at a workshop at Westlake Porter Public Library on April 15. They partnered with Replay for Kids adapting new and gently used toys for children with disabilities who would not otherwise be able to use these toys because of various disabilities.
The workshop was conducted by Natalie Wardega, director of operations for Replay for Kids, an organization of volunteers who repair and adapt toys and assistive devices for children with disabilities in Northeast Ohio. Natalie gave a short overview of their program. She then gave lessons on how to adapt toys with various bypass switches and jack plugs which makes the toys operational in many different ways. Some toys can now be operated by blowing into them or by the touch of the side of the head or use of other body parts without having to maneuver intricate switches.
Sometimes lost among the flowers, plants and environmental concerns is the recognition there is also a business side to the Westlake Garden Club. Four awards were presented to our Club by the Garden Club of Ohio/The National Garden Club at the GCO’s Spring 2014 District Meeting.
Adhering to strict NGC/GCO rules for presentation, design, appearance and educational achievement, our newsletter, the "Garden Scoop," won first place in the Cleveland District; and our website, westlakegardenclub.org, won a statewide third-place award!
The Bay Village Historical Society has selected Bay High senior Pawel Kotowski to be the recipient of its 2014 scholarship award.
Kotowski, son of Jan and Iwona, was selected from a large pool of excellent applicants, Scholarship Committee Chairperson Eric Eakin said.
Kotowski, who holds a 4.00 GPA and is ranked 24th out of his class of 201, will be attending Case Western Reserve University where he will major in accounting.
The residents of the Knickerbocker Apartments got a very nice surprise Monday, April 14, when children and staff from Kiddie Kollege brought an early spring to the senior citiizens who live there. The little ones with help from their staff made pretty flower pots out of old soup cans.
Girl Scout Brownie Troop 70034 composed of third-grade girls from Westerly School in Bay Village arrived at the Knickerbocker Senior Apartments on April 11 to help clean up the debris on the lawn and flower beds which accumulated during this past winter.
This project is one of many projects throughout the year which help the girls earn their Community Service badge. Armed with their own rakes and garden gloves the girls, accompanied by their troop leader Amber Dent and several mothers, went right to work raking leaves, removing twigs and stones from around bushes and benches and even pulling some weeds.
The girls packed large bags to the brim and carried them to the dumpster. At times the bags were almost as tall as the girl who carried them. We were surprised to see three boys working alongside the girls. The boys each had a sister in the troop. The youngest boy, a kindergartener, took a bag back to the dumpster. He just wasn't quite tall enough to lift the bag to the top, so reporter and Knickerbocker resident Bruce Leigh hoisted the bag over the side and into the dumpster. Bruce, a former Boy Scout, reminds us that for scouts of any age it's all about teamwork.
A Westlake woman has stepped up to help make sure that fireworks are displayed at Bay Days in Bay Village this Fourth of July.
Amy Ross is helping to raise money for the annual fireworks display, which is now privately funded, by donating the proceeds from the sale of Avon products she represents. The fundraiser runs through the end of May, Ross said.
“Please help us raise money for this great cause,” she said.
While this winter was miserable for biking, it allowed Village Bicycle Cooperative time to improve our organization's volunteer framework. We are 100 percent volunteer run and are looking for more people to help provide our services to those in need.
All Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. are dedicated to training volunteers! The Wednesday, April 16, session will focus on bike and helmet fitting, lubing and VBC's procedures for sales.
April is National Volunteers Month. Organizations throughout the United States rely on volunteers in order to provide services and achieve missions. Without the dedication of volunteers many organizations that provide life-saving services would cease to exist. All of you can name some of these organizations and many of you have volunteered! For some organizations, volunteers serve as the “arms” that reach out into communities and bring help to people in need.
The Compeer Program at Far West Center has dedicated volunteers that change lives by reaching out to adults that have become isolated due to mental illness. People that manage the symptoms of mental illness become isolated from their peers. Some become anxious, depressed or discouraged and find it difficult to reconnect with the communities around them. Compeer volunteers offer the acceptance and encouragement these individuals need to take those first steps back into community life.
Internet superstore Amazon.com has launched a new corporate philanthropy program that will donate a percentage of shoppers’ purchases to the organization of their choice. The AmazonSmile Foundation, announced last October, will give 0.5 percent of customers’ purchase totals, which equates to 5 cents for every $10 spent. Eligible groups must be registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) and provide AmazonSmile with bank account information to receive donations.
Congratulations to the Village Bicycle Cooperative for receiving the Bay Village project of the year award! The VBC was launched in 2012 by a group of residents who wanted to make Bay a more bike-able community. Today the nonprofit cooperative has five board members and more than 35 volunteers. I have had the pleasure of working and learning from the talented board members of the co-op and I thought it would be interesting to share some information about each person. These people have volunteered time, money and effort to create a viable bike program for the city of Bay Village.
Jennifer Smillie, board president, is the visionary who created a mission for Village Bicycle Cooperative. Jennifer wants to provide a supportive climate to foster a bike friendly town and also use VBC as a springboard to educate and facilitate outreach programs. Jennifer “wants to maintain a cooperative environment where people can come to have fun and to learn.” Some of Jennifer’s goals for the future of VBC are to increase volunteers and their involvement. At the award presentation on Feb. 23, Jennifer summed up her feelings about Bay and the community's support for the co-op, saying, “We live in an awesome town!”
The committee of volunteers working to raise enough money to put on a fireworks display at Bay Days is making real progress, thanks to the efforts of a number of concerned citizens.
Susan Farnham of Manchester Drive recently held a fundraiser at her home, featuring the line of Pampered Chef products. All proceeds from the event were donated to the fireworks fund.
The fundraising group also has established a website, www.bayfireworks.org, to raise awareness for their efforts. To thank those who have donated, the names of donors will soon be posted on the website.
On Valentine’s Day this year, Compeer members and matches were invited to Far West Center for an afternoon party to share desserts, holiday treats and fun. More than 22 people filled the Valentine’s treat tables with a variety of delicious cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins and candies for all to enjoy. Guests also shared some laughs by playing Valentine’s Day trivia and shared the joy of special moments they have had with Compeer friends.
The Compeer Program at Far West Center offers support to adults that are working on their recovery from symptoms of mental illness. Compeer members are men and women able to manage their symptoms with behavioral wellness services. After symptoms are decreased, eliminated and managed, the next step is to build a supportive network of friends and reconnect to community activities.
For the past few weeks, staff at the Dwyer Senior Center have been observed humming and singing after reading entries to the recent Jingle Contest. Members of the community were asked to submit jingles about aging, the senior center or activities that they enjoy participating in.
Numerous entries were received and the staff narrowed it down to the top six and then the final three. Lou Popp won first place with her jingle called "Bay Senior Center." She said she woke up in the middle of the night with the words running through her head. She wrote them down and submitted it in the contest never dreaming she would win first place!
"Where should I go? What can I do? Bay Dwyer Senior Center is the place for you. Check out their activities, on paper and online. It is time to get out – and have a GREAT TIME!"
The Westlake Kiwanis family – Kiwanis, Key Club, Builders Club, Aktion Club and K-Kids – joined their hearts and hands together to make Valentine's Day special for families at the Ames Family Hospice House. They served a dinner at the Hospice of the Western Reserve facility, with the Aktion Club making valentines for the families, the K-Kids making a picture collage for the dining room, the Builders Club making centerpieces and placemats for the tables, and the Key Club helping the Kiwanis serving food. Three Westlake Kiwanians provided food from their restuarants for dinner. Kiwanis also provided drinks, desserts and music to make the evening complete.
The Peacemakers quilting group at Bethesda-On-The-Bay Lutheran Church in Bay Village has been making quilts for local cancer patients since 1998. Recently, the women celebrated an important milestone – the finishing of their 3,000th quilt.
Every Thursday morning, local women meet in a classroom at the church to make 40-by-60-inch quilts – each one with a unique pattern. The quilts are donated to cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center at Fairview Hospital.
Are these cold, wintry days causing MMBR (missing my bike ride)? Then I have the solution, visit us at Village Bicycle Cooperative where you can work on bikes, talk about bikes and, weather permitting, ride a bike.
Volunteering at VBC requires no previous skills, just a willingness to learn and to have fun. Many of our refurbished bikes will be donated and we can use your help. Village Bicycle Cooperative's mission includes accepting new and used donated bicycles during open shop hours, repairing them when necessary and then performing a safety check. Bikes that pass the safety check are offered for sale to the public. The majority of our bicycles are under $100, but occasionally we have something special to offer that breaks that rule.
Doris Gorgas has been named 2014 Bay Village citizen of the year, and the Village Bicycle Cooperative has been named 2014 project of the year by the Bay Village Community Council.
Gorgas, who is a retired University Hospitals operating room nurse (she still helps teach CPR there), was honored for her 40 years of service to a wide variety of Bay Village organizations, from Girl Scouts to the band boosters to the historical society to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
Since last June, Junior Girl Scout Troop 77125, meeting at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Westlake, has been delighting selected Westlake Meals on Wheels recipients with their efforts to brighten lives. They have delivered to seniors several gifts made by the scouts on a bi-weekly basis.
These efforts are aimed towards meeting the criteria to achieve the Bronze Award, the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can achieve. It is a step toward earning their Silver and Gold awards as they progress through the levels in Girl Scouts.