Profiles

Profiles

Give – These Are The Faces of Champions.

They won’t be cheered by thousands or earn millions. They give, not take. Their work is behind the scenes. They cut hair. They mend band uniforms. They encourage young children to read and frail adults to walk.

Meet a few people over 50 who are changing our area.

CLEVELAND AMBASSADOR Leroy Wilson Jr.

Leroy is a super volunteer — and he has an award to prove it. The 2016 recipient of the David F. Leahy Award for Volunteer Excellence by Greater Cleveland Volunteers, he is an ambassador at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport where he directs visitors and offers information to them, and he delivers meals to homebound people through the Southeast Clergy Meals on Wheels. He also serves on their board of directors.

Leroy says he found out about volunteer opportunities through GCV and that his life has been enriched because he can help others in need.

A ROCKER FINDS A HOME

Elaine Minch

Elaine is a long-time rock ’n’ roll fan. After retiring as a pharmacy technician, she began volunteering for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

“My family owned and operated the Rollerdrome, a roller skating rink in Euclid, and during those days, rising musicians would be booked with Bill Randle and his Cavalcade of Stars. They would perform live, sign autographs and mingle with the crowds at the rink,” she says.

Elaine also volunteers at the Rock Hall Library and Archives at Cuyahoga Community College, where she catalogs donated vinyl record collections for the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts at Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus.

A TUTOR WITH A PURPOSE

Elva Fosh

Elva helps students read and achieve as a literacy tutor/team leader and literacy booster for Greater Cleveland Volunteers in the AARP Foundation Experience Corps program. She’s backed implementation of projects across grade levels with slight modifications that challenge higher-performing students.

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Maggie’s Mission – Every Animal Needs a Hero

Sarah Aitken has been rescuing animals for more than 30 years. Today she works with Maggie’s Mission (maggiesmissionrescue. org), a Medina County-based organization that relies entirely on volunteers and foster homes to care for dogs, cats and horses.

Many of the dogs and cats are saved from urgent situations throughout Northeast Ohio, as well as from overflowing shelters. Horses and donkeys, such as the ones shown, often come from auctions where they were to be sold for meat.

Sarah says animal lovers can easily find a place to volunteer that suits their interests and time.

“Many groups, including Maggie’s Mission, have many options for volunteers. Maggie’s Mission shows pets at PetSmart in Montrose, Pet People in Strongsville and various other locations throughout the year. We always need volunteers to sit with a pet at these events, and they are only a couple of hours each. We also have the need for computer-savvy volunteers to help with inputting information and transporters to transport pets from shelters or to and from vet appointments.”

Her own interest started as a teenager. Birds, turtles, rabbits — if an animal needed help, she was there.

“When it’s in your blood, you can’t really walk away from it. You can take a break, but it draws you back in when you see a face that’s in need of help, and you know you can be the one to make a difference,” she says.

“We need more compassion in our world. We have domesticated these animals and it is our responsibility to take care of them properly.”

 

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Helping Students Inside the Classroom – and Beyond

Jimmy Malone is a name dropper for all the right reasons.

He remembers the names of the nearly 200 students he’s helped put through college, along with the mentors and professionals he’s introduced to many of them.

Malone makes a good living talking on the radio, but it’s the conversations he has outside the station that are life-changing. Just ask Destiny Kaznoch, Briana Miller and James Maher. All three will be graduating next spring from college, a path made available largely through Malone’s scholarships and his enthusiastic encouragement.

For these students, the money is important, but they’ll tell you Malone is the key to their success. He’s a welcome and vital part of the package.

RADIO PERSONALITY, MENTOR

Jimmy Malone is part of the top-rated Cleveland morning radio team Nolan, Malone and Kullik at Majic 105.7. From 5:30 to 10 each morning, Malone has free-ranging exchanges with co-hosts Mark Nolan and Chip Kullik, and show producer Tracey Carroll about local and national events, goofy people (his Knuckleheads in the News is a listener favorite), politics and favorite diners, to name a few.

For someone who values education, Malone’s own was completed in fits and starts. Raised in the Glenville area of Cleveland, he attended Cleveland State University, Morehouse College and eventually Ohio University, where he graduated with a degree in interpersonal communications. He wanted to be a lawyer but quickly found other interests that didn’t involve law school.

Malone, 62, put those communication skills to use in clubs throughout the region as a standup comic. He caught the attention of popular Cleveland radio personality John Lanigan, who in 1985 asked him to do the Knuckleheads in the News skit for his WMJI show. Listeners loved it. He joined the station full time six years later.

Co-hosting a top radio show put Malone in contact with many of Northeast Ohio’s civic, sports and business leaders.

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Food for Change – Green City Growers and the Women Who Helps Bring Hope to Struggling Neighborhoods

Know this about India Pierce Lee — she’s a hugger. Her generous embrace comes with a quick warning. Then, suddenly, you’re in a hug – and in a part of her world.

For Lee, 60, her world is one with big ideas in a relatively confined area — several struggling inner-city Cleveland neighborhoods. She works with a team of corporate heavyweights, public sector groups, community organizations, foodies, bankers and almost anyone else who can inject a positive influence in places that are distressed and careworn.

She presents an interesting dichotomy — a dynamo who juggles dozens of projects and ideas at a time while being entirely present when talking one-on-one. It’s a quality that comes in handy with her work at The Cleveland Foundation and its many interests aimed at bolstering neighborhoods with high unemployment, dilapidated housing and — until recently — waning hope.

PRACTICAL PROJECTS FOR  MAXIMUM IMPACT

Like many large cities, Cleveland’s most impoverished neighborhoods are located around some of its most prominent institutions. The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University have well-deserved reputations as first-rate institutions. Yet, until just over a decade ago, their influence was underutilized in the areas closest to them.

A challenge for Lee and others she has worked with was to figure out the best way to buoy these neighborhoods and their residents. Central to this is The Cleveland Foundation, a nonprofit group that links donors with worthy projects throughout the city. The foundation uses its substantial endowment and connections to support a myriad of programs. Lee is the foundation’s Program Director for Neighborhoods, Housing, and Community Development.

“We used maps to show vacant properties and poor building conditions in the neighborhoods, and the Clinic, Case and UH were all within a 1.5 mile radius,” Lee says. “These neighborhoods basically were declining.

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Keep Moving with Jack from the Cleveland Marathon

Nothing can slow down Jack Staph, who recently turned 70. Staph, executive director of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and a business/corporate lawyer with a private practice in Pepper Pike, hasn’t run in two years.

Although he endures issues with both knees (including missing cartilage), it doesn’t mean he won’t one day navigate a hiking trail to a mountain peak or enter a marathon walking category.

“It’s hard to say I’m only going for a walk,” Jack says. He still sneaks in a run at times for a few seconds. “When I see an incline, I push it as much as I can, and I may run to a telephone pole.”

Jack relishes any opportunity to be outside in the sun and even when it rains while he walks with his umbrella. He also enjoys all the responsibilities that come with overseeing the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

TAKING ON THE RACE

He bought the rights to the event in 2002, turning it into a year-round family business. His son Ralph helps run operations. The marathon and related events attract 40,000 runners, volunteers and fans. He’s always busy with race details and looking after elite athletes.

Staph, in fact, ran the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon only one time in 1978 – when the event began as the Revco Cleveland Marathon. He was general counsel for Revco, which asked him to take the helm the next year.

Over the years, however, Staph managed to run seven other marathons in West Palm Beach, Buffalo and Erie. He credits world-famous long distance runner Frank Shorter for inspiring him in the 70s when the running movement took off.

“Anyone who does something positive for others motivates me,” he says. “It’s not so much what they did but how they went about doing it.”

For now, Jack plans to continue leading the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and to see how he can challenge his body and his mind.

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A Fresh Start With An Old Product – Tom Lix, owner of Cleveland Whiskey, takes a shot at the bourbon business and discovers how a detour can lead to a new venture

You could say Tom Lix reinvented the whiskey business — and himself — thanks in part to a stint in the Navy and a 70s sitcom.

Fueled by endless cups of black coffee, Lix, 64, is an energetic booster for his growing Cleveland Whiskey company. He’s understandably enthusiastic about his distillery, housed in the MAGNET business on East 25th St., creating a label that’s available from New England to Georgia, to Europe and now into Japan.

With his growing business, Lix seems to be headed in one direction — forward. He’s embracing the adventure, in fact, seems to revel in it. Lix may have landed in Cleveland through an unexpected yet all-too-familiar family situation, but his business success has been deliberate and thoughtful. He saw an opportunity, created a solution and dove in.

EARLY ADVENTURES, LATER SUCCESS

Before Lix’s latest incarnation, he spent time fighting forest fires in Alaska as a teenager and went to Penn State. As a student activist he protested for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. He bounced around and kept his eyes open.

Whiskey entered his life when he joined the Navy, where he served for six years. He learned distilling basics from a chief petty officer who fashioned a still in the galley of the Navy ship Lix was assigned. He tucked the knowledge in the back of his mind.

Lix ended back in college, picking up degrees in biology and chemistry before heading to Boston University where he earned a doctorate in marketing. A born entrepreneur, Lix owned or operated software, technology and other companies, creating a host of successful enterprises that had nothing to do with bourbon making but everything to do with business acumen.

Then a family crisis intervened. His mother, MaryAnn, was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s and needed care.

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