Q&A with Ambassadors & Resident Leaders

The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is powered by our residents – the men, women, and youth who help children succeed from birth through college and career. These neighbors volunteer their time to serve as Promise Leaders and Resident Ambassadors.

Are you a Resident Leader or Ambassador and want to share your story? Click here to complete the Q&A.

Here are just some of the Resident Leaders and Ambassadors:

Tamika Billips

Jeremy Burns

Lilli Hunter

LaQueta Worley-Bell

Delores Gray 

Nathalie Johnson 

Twila Norris

Christopher Thorpes

Terri D. Jones

Dava Cansler

Cordell Arellano

BILLIPS TTAMIKA BILLIPS

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a single mother of two daughters. I live and volunteer in the community. I enjoy swimming and working with the Girl Scouts.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I wear many hats, working with the Girl Scouts and Women of Central.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

Home, visit friends and family, The Word Church.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

More collaborations, jobs, richness, less violence

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: help them believe in themselves! Cultivate our future in any and all ways humanly possible.

 

Cleveland PhotographerJEREMY BURNS

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the third of four children in my family. I live with my sister and assist her with her seven children. I am a recent graduate of Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I started as a resident leader with Promise Neighborhood. I help with Promise Neighborhood events and I’m also a job readiness coach in the community.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I am involved because not only would I like to see change in the community, I love to be part of the change!

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

Visit Central’s two libraries to read a book or three with my nieces.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

More jobs and better education and a safe community.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: not stop until every child has an opportunity to attend college.

 

HUNTER LLILLI HUNTER

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in the community, graduating from East Tech High School. I am retired from Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Association (CMHA). I enjoy gardening, dancing and volunteering.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I am a Promise Ambassador and alumni office manager at East Tech.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

Because I believe in the organization on which it is modeled – the Harlem Children’s Zone.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

Church and East Tech High School

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

I want to see community schools, not charter schools, and more connections.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: continue being involved in the Central neighborhood.

 

WHORLEY-BELL L 2LaQUETA WORLEY-BELL

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am very close to my family. I am oldest of three brothers and four sisters. I lived in Central for 30+ years and recently moved to the Fairfax neighborhood. As a kid, I went to Sterling Branch Library. I like to write and keep a journal. I work as a home health aid. I really enjoy getting to know my clients and helping them do anything I can to improve their lives. I help with things around the house, with bathing, anything that can help ease their life a little bit. I’ve even taken my own vacuum from my home to a client’s house to help make their living arrangements nicer.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

For 30+ years, I’ve been an ambassador in the neighborhood and I was a crossing guard at Marion-Sterling for a while. I’m also active at my church, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church. I’ve been a missionary circle leader there since 2006 and I lead a group of ten people. I graduated from East Technical High School in 1991 and I serve as an East Technical High School Alumni Board member and the Board historian. As historian, I keep up with East Tech history and promote the history of the school. My mom loves to tell the story that she helped move the furniture into the current East Tech school building while she was pregnant with me, so we are an East Tech family.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I want and need to see a change for the better.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

Going to my church, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church. I met my husband there and we have been married for three years.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

Open up the old, juvenile hall for a community center. Have a laundromat, sit-down restaurant and bank and a new building for East Tech High School.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: continue my work at Tried Stone Church and promote the history of East Tech and hopefully help the school get a new building.

 

delores-grayDELORES GRAY

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have a son, Angelo. He has grown to be well educated in his life and he has his own life skills. He has 3 girls and they are my life spirit. I enjoy movies, concerts, bowling, and spending time with my family. My sister, brother’s niece and nephew, we get together and just enjoy our time. My mother is still living and it is great to be able just to be blessed. I work for Care Alliance Health Clinic and being connected with this organization has been a blessing for me, because I am able to go out and help so many people that need to know about their health.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I am involved in the Central Promise Neighborhood by living in the community and being a Promise Ambassador I am able to reach out and connect to our residents.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I care about people and how they live, I care because they need to know how to enrich their lives and to educate themselves to  live a better life.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

Community meetings because you can see everyone and listen to them to express there ideas and concerns.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

That our community has grown. For everyone that lives here to enjoy the re-growth of our community and have a career  or job.  Also for everyone to thrive more and to see our children appreciate what is important.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: stay in touch with our school system and be a part of their ideas and dreams, and to let the youth know that I am here to do my best in helping them with their education.

 

NATHALIE JOHNSON

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I like to read, write, research, explore new locations, hang out with my family and friends, try cooking healthy recipes and go on nature walks.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I have done community service tutoring children at the Friendly Inn Settlement.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I am involved in Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood because I feel the people in this neighborhood deserve better. I want to be a part of that change.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

I like going to the Promise Neighborhood meetings with with my mother. I meet wonderful people and get to discuss important topics.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

I would like to see better playgrounds, better stores or a shopping plaza, more black police officers patrolling this area and better education in schools.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: be a helping hand when needed, support the youth, spread my knowledge and make the community safe.

 

Cleveland PhotographerTWILA NORRIS

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been married for 29 years. I was born, raised and raised my nine kids on the same street in Central. I have served as a Precinct Leader, Vice President Democrat Ward 5 Club. I also have a Associate Degree in Liberal Arts, Certificate of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Analysis.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

By helping residents obtain resources and as a point of contact.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I want to see children reach their full potential by providing resources and services.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

I enjoy watching biblical history movies and anything that is historical. I also like to watch my grandchildren play sports at the recreation center.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

A place where I can enjoy family walks in the neighborhood and to see more family-centered activities in Central.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: work with them to strengthen family relationships.

 

christopher_promise2_pagrad2016CHRISTOPHER THORPES

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the father of three daughters and a step-father to four girls and two boys. I enjoy cooking and catering for people. Some people may know me as “The Governor.”

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I have worked on the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Green Team and community gardens.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I want to help try to improve my neighborhood. There is a need for change for a better community.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

I would like to see more places to go in the neighborhood.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

I would like to see a revitalization of the Lonnie Burton Recreation Center with more indoor and outdoor activities for the children in the community.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: assure every child is enrolled in excellent learning facilities and to show them there is a better way of life.

 

terrie_promise3_pagrad2016TERRI D. JONES

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I moved to the Central neighborhood when in 2009. I have been working on the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Local Advisory Council for six years. Currently, I am treasurer of the CMHA Local Advisory Council. I love to fish.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

As part of my work on the CMHA Local Advisory Council I help take children to Portage Lakes every summer and teach them how to fish.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

It’s a wonderful feeling to be involved in activities that help the community residents. I love to see children and adults smile!!

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

I like to participate in any Central activities that help children and adults.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

Broader activities and knowledgeable events for the Central children and adults. Especially events that highlight Central’s historical figures (actors, politicians, athletes).

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to: give it all I’ve got and to bring into focus how important the youth are for a wonderful and bright Central future.

 

Dava Cansler5DAVA CANSLER 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been married to my husband Roger Cansler for more than 35 years. I have two grown children, John and Lauren, and three grandchildren: Nala, Lucas and Trevor. I love to attend musical, dance and theater  performances, and in my spare time I love to garden and sew.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I am a Promise Ambassador and Stakeholder. I am also the founder and executive director of Foluke Cultural Arts Center located at East 46 and Cedar Avenue. We provide after-school and summer arts activities at Arbor Park, CMHA Outhwaite Homes, Lane Metropolitan CME Church, Friendly Inn Settlement and Foluke Cultural Arts Center. I am also a member of Lane Metropolitan CME Church, and a former resident of Longwood Estates.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

We bring arts education to the table. Arts education and participation in arts activities play an integral part in academic achievements and job successes. In the early 60’s, I was a student at Sutphen School of Music at the Phillis Wheatley Association, and at that time, Central was considered an arts and culture hub, providing instruction in dance, vocal and instrumental music. We need to get that back!

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

I enjoy having presentations, performances, recitals, exhibitions, and open houses so that parents and the community-at-large can witness the talent, and the potential that exists in this community.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

The ‘ARTS’ in Central!

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to:  PROVIDE A SAFE SPACE TO DREAM, EXPLORE, LEARN, AND CREATE!

 

Cordell Arellano  CORDELL ARELLANO

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

One of my hobbies is to write poetry. To me, words are very powerful and it is a way to express ones-self and go back and look for self-evaluation and reflection.

How are you involved in the Cleveland Central neighborhood?

I currently work as a health fellow at Neighborhood Connections which is located in the Central neighborhood. As a health fellow, I assist Neighborhood Connections staff with developing a sustainable resident-based structure for raising community awareness and providing education and training as it relates to infant morality and lead poisoning.

Why are you involved in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood?

I am involved with Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood because of my passion in the old saying “it takes a village…”. The model of Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is exactly that, corporations, institutions and residents coming together to build community.

What’s your favorite thing to do or place to go in the neighborhood?

My favorite thing to do in the neighborhood has to be watching the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Renegades Little League Football team at Dwayne Browder Field.

What one thing would you like to see happen in the neighborhood in the next five years?

I would like to see the schools in the neighborhood start more programming to expose children to the arts more.

To help the youth of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, I promise to:  teach them self-worth.