Why I Love My Work – Rozlyn Grant, Director of Curriculum for Early Learning

Each year The Centers works closely with thousands of Northeast Ohio children and families through our innovative early learning and family engagement programs. The first 2,000 Days of a child’s life are the most important years  – when a brain grows and develops.

This month, our Director of Curriculum for Early Learning, Rozlyn Grant is featured in the Spring 2018 issue of High Scope Magazine for her work in family literacy. Rozlyn and her team know that one of THE most important things you can do with a child, is read! You can read the story  Why Read-Alouds Matter here.  Learn more about Rozlyn and why she loves her work making life better for so many in our Northeast Ohio community.


What is the best thing about your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is supporting our teachers’ professional and personal goals. Together we can reach more children and more families and create lasting positive change.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Here at The Centers we strive to serve others to the best of our ability every day. I find pleasure in serving staff through professional development/growth opportunities so that our children can realize their highest level of development, and their families can reach heights they’ve only dreamed of. We serve the whole family through our innovative, integrated approach.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work? An example?
One of the most challenging aspects of my job is finding time to do everything that needs to be done. There are so many new things happening that are exciting and I want to help with everything. Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day…thank God there’s always tomorrow.

Who is/are your greatest inspirations in life?
My greatest inspiration is my mother. She’s one of the strongest women I know. She’s kind, loving, giving and intelligent. My mom believed in having a balance between working hard and having fun and she raised my older sister and I to never make excuses, to always work hard (mediocre work ethic was never good enough if she knew you could do better) and to treat others with respect.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?
If I could meet anyone in history I’d love to meet President Obama. He is the epitome of wisdom, confidence, strength and love!

Give us your thoughts, complete this sentence:  If we are going to solve the poverty issue in our community, we need to… approach it as a community issue. Our impact must reach the entire family (generations).

What is a favorite movie? Why?
My favorite is “The Color Purple.” This movie displays such intense emotions. It’s a great mix of reality and history and is a warm and fuzzy family piece.

Thank you, Rozlyn and kudos! We are so happy to have you on our team.

Join us!  We’re people who care about people. And that’s who we want to hire. Visit NowHiringHeart.org for available healthcare and education positions. #togetherforall



The Centers + Circle Health to Host 24 FREE Fresh Produce Markets

Together for the first time this summer, The Centers and Circle Health will host 24 FREE fresh produce markets – The Centered Market – in neighborhoods throughout Northeast Ohio. The market season will kick-off on Tuesday, June 5th at 1 p.m. at the Centers’ Gordon Square campus located at 5209 Detroit Avenue.

Set up like traditional farmer’s markets, the fresh produce giveaways will feature white and sweet potatoes, onions, apples, carrots and more. Each bag of fresh food will include easy summer recipes for meals to prepare for families. All that is requested, is to bring a form of identification: for example a state-issued driver’s license or identification card.

In partnership with the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, The Centered Market is volunteer-driven with generous support from organizations and corporations including PNC, KeyBank, HumanArc and Principal. If your company would like to be involved, please contact Julia DiBaggio, Development Associate at (216) 302-3341.

The full market schedule is listed below. Please note: the food distributions are rain or shine, but may be subject to change, please check thecentersohio.org for updates.

Circle Health Services
12201 Euclid Avenue Cleveland 44104
Tuesday, June 19th 3PM
Tuesday, July 24th 1PM
Tuesday, August 21st 1PM

McMillan Early Learning Center
1941 S. Taylor Road, Cleveland Hts., OH 44118
Tuesday, June 12th 1PM
Tuesday, July 17th 3PM
Tuesday, August 14th 1PM

Bingham Early Learning Center
2421 Central Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
Thursday, June 21st 12PM
Thursday, July 26th 12PM
Thursday, August 23rd 12PM

Clifton Early Learning Center
13889 Clifton Blvd., Lakewood, OH 44107
Thursday, June 14th 1PM
Thursday, July 19th 1PM
Thursday, August 16th 1PM

East Health and Wellness Center
4400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103
Tuesday, June 26th 3PM
Tuesday, July 31st 1PM
Tuesday, August 28th 1PM

West Health and Wellness Center
3929 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, OH 44111
Thursday, June 7th 1PM
Thursday, July 12th 1PM
Thursday, August 9th 1PM

Gordon Square Early Learning Center
5209 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102
Tuesday, June 5th 1PM
Tuesday, July 10th 1PM
Tuesday, August 7th 1PM
Thursday, August 30th 1PM

Debra Ann November Early Learning Center
5225 Library Lane, Maple Heights, OH 44103
Thursday, June 28th 1PM
Thursday, August 2nd 1PM

Our Gordon Square Building has a Brand New Look

Today we unveiled a colorful three-story mural at our Gordon Square campus located at 5209 Detroit Avenue. The vibrant mural, on the Centers’ Reinberger Auditorium, will welcome people to the neighborhood as they approach from downtown and the east.

Our mural is one of eight  recently installed as part of the Gordon Square Arts District’s work to infuse the neighborhood with art that is free and accessible to everyone. The murals appear along Detroit Avenue between W. 52nd Street and W. 74th Street.

“We’re thrilled to have the Centers for Families and Children as our largest mural location in the Gordon Square Arts District,” said Carrie Carpenter, President & Executive Director of the Gordon Square Arts District.


 Members of the Centers team put the finishing touches on the first half of the mural. Left to right are:  Kristie Persson, Carmen Gomez, Carly Crislip and Ken Eckstein.


Artists Katey and Jessie get ready for their first ribbon-cutting ceremony with Greg Peckham of LANDStudio.


Snip, SNIP! Katey, Jessie, Greg Peckham, Councilman Matt Zone, Elizabeth Newman, Carrie Carpenter and Matt Sattler make the gateway mural official.


“Elizabeth Newman has led the Centers for Families and Children to be an outstanding organization in our neighborhood. They not only serve over 2,000 children, adults, and families each year, but this mural demonstrates their wonderful commitment to the arts and the revitalization of the neighborhood,” added Carpenter.

The Gordon Square Arts District partnered with LAND Studio and Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization to coordinate the mural project. Funding from The Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland Casino Revenue Fund, Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone, Hilton, The David and Inez Myers Foundation, American Greetings and Sherwin-Williams supports the project.

The mural was painted by artist duo Jessie and Katey.

“We want The Centers to be an anchor within the neighborhood and we are grateful to be a part of this extraordinary public-private partnership to bring this dynamic art installation to the Gordon Square Arts District,” said Elizabeth Newman, president and CEO of The Centers and Circle Health Services. “Our work to strengthen the community by providing life-changing solutions rooted in the health and success for every individual and family is reflected not only in the vibrant mural that will welcome people to the neighborhood, but in each of the remarkable images that will be located throughout the district.”

The other seven murals feature local Cleveland artists.

LAND studio worked with the artists and managed the mural installations. LAND studio has worked on public art projects throughout the neighborhood and is a partner in its arts-based revitalization.

“The neighborhood itself is becoming a canvas for the best and brightest of local and national artistic talent.  This summer’s mural art initiative takes Gordon Square’s creative energy beyond the walls of the neighborhood’s theaters and galleries.  This is just the start of creating a free, open air gallery across Gordon Square for everyone to enjoy,” said Greg Peckham, Executive Director of LAND studio.

Come by and see it for yourself and tag your pictures @thecentersohio with the hashtag #togetherforall.

Why I Love My Work – Natalie Jernigan, LPCC-S, ATR

Today, Natalie Jernigan, Counseling Director for The Centers for Families and Children and Circle Health Services received the Helping Hands award from the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County at their 2018 Annual Meeting. Natalie was recognized for her exemplary work with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with thousands of people across our Northeast Ohio community. DBT helps people learn and use new skills to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness. Take a moment to get to know Natalie, here!

How would you describe what you do to improve the lives of the people The Centers and Circle Health serves?

I like to remain “present with the mission” by maintaining a manageable amount of work with a few individual clients and a therapy group. I also work to enhance the therapeutic development of counselors and counselors in training. This “train the teacher” model allows us to serve more clients with high-quality care.

How many lives have you impacted? (A rough estimate is great.)

I’ve worked for the Centers (and the West Side Ecumenical Ministry before the merger) for 18 years, and shelter care for six years. I would estimate that through individual counseling services, early learning classroom observations, having a transitory group of clients in and out of shelter care and groups of various sizes – I have directly served thousands of people. If I factor in indirect influence and count each staff I have supervised and their clinical caseloads, the number will be much larger.

 What is the best thing about your job? What is an example?

In my position as Director of Counseling Services, I have the pleasure of getting to know the supervisors and the counseling teams at other health and wellness locations throughout The Centers and Circle Health Services. I have the privilege of meeting really talented clinicians and am gaining a greater perspective of growth opportunities. It has been enlightening as I witness innovation daily in our work.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work? An example?

I have a finite amount of energy to dedicate to client care and other responsibilities. I have a desire to be on 100 percent of my waking hours and often spend time outside of work solving problems in my mind. When working with people with severe behavior reactivity that could be life threatening, the balance of “just being” verses “doing” is an ever-present work in process. Though I possess effective boundaries, I also want to be available to meet the needs of clients and staff whenever a mental health crisis arises.

Who is/are your greatest inspirations in life?

I admire the wisdom that Buddhist principles teach and reference the Dali Lama as a means to get grounded and find balance in my life.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet Mahatma Ghandi. He influenced the direction of my spiritual development by demonstrating that compassion and peace can be a means of getting things accomplished.

Fill in the blank: “If we are going to solve the poverty issue in our community, we need to…

… find tolerance for the socioeconomic differences among people and understand the causes. Training and educational opportunities to build a life worth living, to me, include enhancing work skills that fit a person’s innate talents and interest. We can provide childcare, transportation, an incentives such as enhanced medical access when a person contributes in a work setting as opposed to the current system of a person losing benefits should they reach a certain income bracket.

What is a favorite book? Why? 

My coffee table currently has Dialectics in Action written by my DBT skills trainer Charlie Swenson and Turtles all the way Down by John Green. I enjoy reading clinical text books to remain up-to-date on evidence based treatment practices specifically those related to DBT. I also find humor and irreverence in the writing of John Green who has a brilliant writing style that captures the adolescent mind in ways that highlight real world situations such as bereavement and social anxiety. He does it in a way that is non-threatening and interwoven with humorous statements even with events that may otherwise cause emotions of sadness.

Natalie’s educational background

Natalie attended Auburn University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Art. She received her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from Ursuline College and completed requirements to gain a counseling license. Natalie holds the LPCC-S (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervisor designation) and ATR (Registered Art Therapist). Natalie was intensively trained in DBT and has had advanced DBT training with an emphasis in eating disorders. Natalie was intensively trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for psychosis.

Natalie is an amazing champion for our friends, family, and neighbors living with a mental health challenge in our Northeast Ohio community. We are so proud to have her on our team! 


Centered on Nutrition at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Our team has been working hard to continue to bring access and education around healthy food to the Northeast Ohio community – and beyond.

Congratulations to Diana Rosa, Chief Operating Officer and Kerry Riter, Director of Food Services, along with our partners from Pennsylvania State University Better Kid Care Program and the Vitamix Foundation.

Last week the team presented our groundbreaking Healthy Teachers Initiative at the National Farm to Cafeteria annual conference. The National Farm to School Network nourishes kids and communities by restoring the connection between children, food, community and land.

The Healthy Teachers Initiative is a pilot effort to increase nutrition knowledge and awareness among our early learning educators to enable them to model healthy behavior for the children and families we serve. We are in the pilot phase of this initiative but hope this effort will become the basis for national replication.

The Healthy Teachers Initiative is another component of our strategic plan to promote the integration of nutrition education and access to healthy food within our services. In addition to Diana and Kerry in this photo, you will also see Carolyn Hightower, former Centers Board member and now Director of the Vitamix Foundation and Jill Cox from Better Kid Care at Penn State.

Kerry and the team also presented at the National Child Nutrition Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Also last week, Centers and Circle Health Services Board Member John Corlett, President and Executive Director of the Center for Community Solutions, issued a new report “Hungry for Policy: Searching for solutions to food insecurity in Ohio Medicaid” that suggests connecting healthy food access to healthcare will increase successful outcomes for patients and the industry, including a decrease in overall healthcare spending. We are grateful to John for raising awareness on our new initiative and how it fits within the overall landscape of efforts to improve access to healthy food across the community. WEWS Channel 5 ran a story during the 5:30 PM newscast about the report’s findings and highlights our food pharmacy and partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Watch the segment here: Food as Medicine: prescriptions for hope to fuel the Cleveland community.

The Judy Peters Basic Needs Resource Center continues to take shape. Aysha Wilburn, Director of Service Integration continues to lead the rollout of our nutrition strategy across the organization with a focus on the BNRC and Food Pharmacy. Manoj Joseph, Organizational Inventory Manager and his team have been working hard to handle the logistics behind this exciting operation. The BNRC and Food Pharmacy are available to our clients now through a pilot period, but will open officially this summer.

Your donation today helps provide life-changing care and support for residents of our Northeast Ohio community trying to live a better life. You can make a positive difference in the quality of life for an individual, a family and our entire community by donating now. Let’s make Northeast Ohio a better place to live, one person at a time.

T.J. Grimm is Named Vice President of the Ohio Pharmacists Association

The Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) announced that The Centers and Circle Health Director of Pharmacy Operations Tod (T.J.) Grimm, RPh., MBA, of Cleveland was installed as Vice President at its 140th Annual Conference held April 20-22 in Columbus.

“We are pleased to have Tod Grimm on our Association’s Board of Trustees. He has been a valued member of the organization and the pharmacy community for many years, and we look forward to working with him in his new leadership position,” said Ernest Boyd, OPA Executive Director.

OPA, established in 1879, represents more than 4,000 pharmacists, pharmacy educators, and pharmacy students throughout the state. It is OPA’s mission to unite the profession of pharmacy and encourage interprofessional relations, while promoting public health through education, discussion, and legislation.

Grimm is the Director of Pharmacy Operations at The Centers for Families and Children and Circle Health Services.  Grimm started the organization’s pharmacy program that has expanded to four six locations, and serves as the program director of one of the largest national community residencies. In addition, Grimm launched an outreach vaccine/wellness program and is actively involved on OPA’s Legal & Regulatory, Pharmacy Economics, Public & Professional Relations committees, and Independent Special Interest Group. Grimm is a 1994 graduate of Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy. He continued his education at Cleveland State University, where he received his Master’s in Business Administration in 1997.

The Centers Opens Ohio’s First Early Learning Program in a Library

This week we celebrated the grand opening of our new Debra Ann November high-quality early learning center in the Maple Heights Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library. This is the FIRST early learning center in Ohio to be located in a library.

We hosted  a ribbon-cutting and program led by our President and CEO Elizabeth Newman. She was joined by our Board Chair, Shaker Heights Mayor David E. Weiss;  Sari Feldman, Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Public Library; Mayor Annette Blackwell, The City of Maple Heights and Iris November, Philanthropist.

The center is named after Iris’ late husband Mort’s daughter, Debra Ann November. Debra was a special young woman and loved to be with children: teaching them and playing with them. Her father could think of no better way to honor her memory than to name a preschool after her.

The Debra Ann November early learning campus will welcome children and their families on the first day of preschool this Monday, April 16.  Two classrooms will be open in April , with a third to open by the end of the year. Once a parent or guardian enrolls, the family will receive a library membership and a tour of the campus. Special story time, art experiences and more will bring literacy and learning to life on a daily basis for our families.

The media continues to be interested in this innovative partnership. Here is an announcement that ran in the Cleveland Jewish News.  Cleveland.com posted an announcement here.

We were featured on the front page of The Plain Dealer today and on Cleveland.com in Centers for Families and Children opens early learning center in Maple Heights.

WVIZ-TV Ideastream’s news program Ideas included a feature about the first early learning center in Ohio.

Elizabeth and Sari talked with Mike McIntyre on 90.3 FM WCPN’s Sound of Ideas about how this innovative partnership can serve as a model across the state.

Your donation today helps provide life-changing care and support for residents of our Northeast Ohio community trying to live a better life. You can make a positive difference in the quality of life for an individual, a family and our entire community by donating now. Let’s make Northeast Ohio a better place to live, one person at a time.

2018 Transformation Challenge: Lighter, More Clear-headed and Ready to Serve

What is a great way to motivate a team, get to know each other better and improve your overall health and wellness all while having fun? That’s the question our Chief Operating Officer Diana Rosa posed to an interdepartmental team here at The Centers and Circle Health Services. Their collective answer – the Transformation Challenge – accomplished all of these goals and so much more.

For eight weeks, 12 teams made up of 124 employees made a commitment to eat healthy, exercise and weigh in at the end of each week. The focus was all about learning together by sharing interesting online health and wellness articles, taking quizzes and supporting one another in our fitness and weight loss goals.

At the end of the two-month period, we were more successful than we could have imagined. We lost a total of more than 600 pounds, had more energy and created a renewed sense of teamwork that will serve to jumpstart our busy summer season. Plus, we developed a number of healthy habits that will help us to make better food and meal-related choices .

We are looking forward to summer 2018!

We are hiring! Join the team. Click here to see a list of the latest positions available for some of the most meaningful work you can do in our Northeast Ohio community. Life-changing, innovative solutions happen here.

Kevin Love Gives Us Another Reason to Cheer

On March 6, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Forward Kevin Love published a think-piece in The Player’s Tribune called “Everybody’s Going Through Something” about his mental health journey. As a public figure and professional athlete, Love’s willingness to speak openly about his own struggles with mental health helps to fight the stigma that prevents so many from seeking support and care. While other athletes have added their voices to the conversation about mental health, it’s always great to see one of Cleveland’s own Cavs raising awareness on this important issue.

Elizabeth wrote a Letter to the Editor that ran in The Plain Dealer commending Kevin on sharing his story.  You can find our letter here: Kevin Love gave us another reason to cheer

You can read Love’s essay here: Everyone One is Going Through Something.

The Centers and Circle Health Services work with thousands of people right here in our Northeast Ohio community who live with mental health issues. To learn more and to donate, click here. We can reach more people and create a thriving community for all with your help.

Meet Alan Jones: People Here Remind Me to Believe in Myself

Alan Jones has that special something and is likable from the moment you meet him.

He grew up the oldest of three children in Cleveland’s King Kennedy Projects at East 55th and Woodland Avenue. His father left the family when Alan was 14 and 30 years later this still affects him deeply. “My Mom remarried and mystepfather Anthony became a good role model for me. He loved us,” Alan said.

And he set a good example for Alan to follow with his own children. Being a father is his pride and joy. “My kids taught me how to be a better parent. I learned how important it is just to talk about life together and to just listen,” he said. His oldest, Brittney, is 26 and is receiving her master’s degree from Cleveland State University this year. “She’s going to be her own boss and make her own way in the world,“ Alan said.

Alan was referred to The Centers’ El Barrio workforce program which helped him discover through classroom training, resume writing and mock interviews that he absolutely has what it takes to get a good paying job and begin to earn a living. One day, before a job interview, he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t get in to see his doctor so his case manager made sure he could be seen by oneof The Centers’ physicians.

“People here care and remind me to believe in myself,” he said.

Thanks to Alan’s hard work and a few pep talks from The Centers’ staff he got a job working in production about a year ago at the Mace International Company headquartered in Cleveland.

“I really like my job and I’ve been doing a good job at it. I sure hope they notice,” Alan said.

Alan would like to have his own barbershop someday. He can imagine what it would look like and where it would be located. “I like to cut hair. It’s a hobby of mine. I have several different kinds of clippers and scissors. I cut my family’s hair and I cut friends’ hair. I just cut my fiancee’s hair.”

I asked him if she will let him cut it again. He laughs and says, “yes, she will.”

For the time being, he’s happy to have a job to go to each day and to be receive the confidence and reassurance that he’s doing a great job. And he’ll always look forward to going home and picking up a pair of clippers.