The last days of January 2019 were some of the coldest on record in Cleveland. Here in the Promise Neighborhood, our team jumped in with all hands on deck the day before the “polar vortex” descended to plan the best way to help Central residents get the supplies they may need to deal with the cold weather.
Several staff loaded up carts full of socks, gloves, hats and blankets, along with nonperishable food items, to distribute around the neighborhood.
Community engagement manager Joe Black coordinated with law enforcement to equip Cleveland police and CMHA officers with supplies to keep in their squad cars, and Joe and community engagement coordinator Dawn Glasco made themselves available by phone to any partners or Promise Ambassadors who needed assistance.
The team stocked the Central neighborhood Cleveland Public Library branches, Sterling and Woodland, with cold-weather gear and pantry items, and library partners shared that participation was outstanding. Other organizations began donating supplies to these sites as well. Promise staff made sure to provide supplies to be distributed at the Emergency Department at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.
Joe said that during the first frigid, on his way into Central, he saw a man leaving St. Vincent with a stack of papers, all of which blew across the lawn, and the man was rushing to collect them—without gloves. Joe pulled over and offered him a pair of gloves.
“When he put on the gloves, I saw instant relief,” Joe said. “He kept saying that he needed to visit his daughter, and I gave him a ride to the Health Line to catch the bus, along with some extra blankets and gloves to share with his daughter.”
Joe offered the man a handshake as he left.
“He looked at me and said, ‘no way, man—I’m going to hug you,’” Joe said. “He squeezed me so tight; I was happy we were able to put some brightness in his day.”
“The collaboration required to pull this off in under 24 hours was exemplary,” said Susanna Krey, president of Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, the lead partner of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “It is a wonderful representation of how we continue to carry forward the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in all of our work. Even in subzero temperatures, it is our courage and community that keeps us warm.”