Ulysses Davis is Ready for a Bright Future

This was the summer Ulysses Davis (25) of East Cleveland was ready to get a better job. He just wasn’t sure exactly where to start, so he went to the Cleveland Public Library branch at East 30th and Central Avenue for some inspiration. He talked with the librarians about job training and one recommended coming to The Centers.

It was here that Ulysses met Nathan Aviles, our Midtown location Site Supervisor (above, right). “Ulysses is a really nice person. He’s quiet, polite and ready to work. Definitely one of the most determined clients we have. I had the pleasure of helping him to get ready for his first job interview.”

This will be the fifth week of Ulysses’ journey to a new career path in pharmacy. He’s hoping to get hired soon as a Pharmacy Technician Trainee and plans to become a nationally certified pharmacist one day.

Ulysses, you can do it and we are rooting for you all the way!

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.

Friday Feature Photo: Punching in Early!

#FridayFeature This week we spotted the awesome April punching in early for her Pharmacy Technician class. She’s ready to welcome her second child and taking care of herself first with help from The Centers. She’s ready to live a better life, and we are cheering her on.

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. Thank you!


A First: Teaching Workforce Development Classes Via Distance Learning

This afternoon, The Centers’ El Barrio Career Coach Sely Mojica taught workforce development students at Adelante in Toledo via distance learning about the finer points of writing a cover letter that will get a candidate noticed. Sely encouraged students to take thoughtful time to consider what makes them a great fit for the position they are applying for. She also strongly recommended having a couple of people review cover letters to be sure to catch any potential typos or grammatical errors.

This distance learning track focuses on a career in pharmacy and is made possible by our partner CVS.

Adelante, The Latino Resource Center, is a Latino non-profit organization whose mission is to empower Latinos and the community at-large through supportive services, education and advocacy for children and families.

This is an exciting partnership on many levels and we look forward to growing our ability to deliver educational opportunities via distance learning!

To enroll in a class, or to learn more about El Barrio Workforce Development, please call (216) 325-WORK.


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.

Meet Todd and Mordechai: Sometimes All You Need is Someone Saying “You Can Do It”

Life hasn’t been easy for Todd, but giving up was never an option. In 2011, Todd moved from Toledo to Cleveland because he wanted to pursue something on his own and removed himself from relying on the family company. “Everything was new… I didn’t know how things would work out,” Todd said.

Life was off to a solid start. Todd was an electrician by trade and business was good, he even had a large amount of money in the bank. But, things took a turn and Todd became lonely and depressed after ending a relationship with someone he once cared about. Todd tried crack and slowly and progressively, he had a severe drug problem. “I went through all of my money in my bank account, I would assume about $140,000,” he said.

Desperate and down and out, Todd needed work and accepted a trombone as payment. He sold it to a music store  in Lyndhurst and got a decent amount of money for it but, the man who gave it to him was dishonest and filed a theft report. Little did he know, there was now an arrest warrant out for him.

He was taken into custody while trying to handle a traffic ticket downtown, and had to leave his car where he parked it. It was impounded. “I didn’t have any phone numbers or money with me. I was also frustrated because all of my tools were in the back of that car,” Todd said.

Two months after being released from jail, Todd tried to get his car back, but was told the car was going to be sold in an auction.

“After about 45 days of being in the impound lot the car automatically goes up for auction. At that point, I said to myself, ‘I think I’m done this time. I am ready to give up.”

Todd lost his home while in jail and was forced to move to a local shelter. While at The City Mission, Todd learned about The Centers for Families and Children and met with Centers’ Case Manager Mordechai Berkowitz. “Everything changed when I met Mordechai,” he said.

“When he came here he was really depressed, so I saw him as the perfect candidate to receive our help and before too long, Todd was ready to get up and try again,” Mordechai said.

Mordechai and Todd found out the car went up for auction but was not purchased and was still sitting in the lot, incurring fees. It took two weeks, but Todd gathered the money needed to get it out.

“The vehicle is one thing, but the tools took a couple years to acquire. You can’t just go out and buy them. You have to work to buy them and you buy them to work, so it goes back and forth.”

Almost miraculously, the collection of tools needed to continue his work as an electrician were still inside.

Todd’s favorite tool is a needle nose plier.

“I’m drained. It took everything I got, but I have my vehicle and tools. If I didn’t have that I would be worse off,” Todd said. “I don’t want to say it’s a complete success story, but it’s a step in the right direction and hopefully I can help people who face similar hardships to keep going.”

Mordechai is Todd’s support system as he stays clean and continues going to 12-Step meetings about three times a week.

Sometimes all you need is someone who cares telling you, “you can do it.”

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. Thank you!

The Centers and Circle Health Services Join Forces to Best Serve Northeast Ohio

Circle Health Services (formerly The Free Clinic) and The Centers for Families and Children target increased access to integrated health care for people in poverty

The Board of Trustees for Circle Health Services and the Board of Directors for The Centers for Families and Children today announced their plan to help more people living in poverty access integrated health care, addiction services, early learning programs and workforce training. The organizations’ shared goal is to provide a holistic and comprehensive approach to addressing the complex barriers individuals and families often face.

Both boards voted unanimously to enter into a strategic affiliation, and operate as one, cohesive organization under a shared leadership structure. Elizabeth Newman, who has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Centers for Families and Children since 2015 will continue in that role and also lead Circle Health Services as President and CEO. Circle Health Services has been under interim leadership since the departure of long-time CEO Danny Williams in November 2016.

“Working together, our organizations will be able to strengthen and enhance existing services while adding new capacity and expanding access to care,” said Newman. “Our focus is the people we serve. Both organizations have a long history of engaging vulnerable populations in a meaningful way. Together we can continue to innovate and develop solutions that change lives rather than just treat symptoms of larger problems.”

Circle Health, which cares for more than 7,000 individuals annually, will maintain operations at its present location at 12201 Euclid Avenue, and The Centers for Families and Children, which cares for more than 23,000 people each year, will continue operations at all of its 17 locations across northeast Ohio. The affiliation will enable the organizations to add additional services, enhancements and capacity to each location in its combined footprint over time. For clients and patients, the affiliation means greater access to a wider range of integrated health and human services delivered in a coordinated and user-friendly manner.

The shared leadership structure will help the organizations integrate operational infrastructure and administrative support. With a combined team of over 650 professionals, the affiliation will also create more opportunities to invest in the development and training of staff and provide more opportunities for career advancement.

Circle Health and The Centers decision to affiliate is part of a national trend to coordinate primary care with behavioral health and addiction services. Research indicates a coordinated, comprehensive approach can be particularly effective for individuals living with a chronic physical condition or severe and persistent mental illness. These populations often struggle to access health care in settings where preventative care and effective intervention is possible. An integrated approach can not only positively impact health outcomes but also help to control health care costs, especially those related to repeat emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

“People come to us for quality health care but over the years we’ve continued to add to our services as the needs of our patients grow and change,” said Seth Wolf, President of the Board of Trustees at Circle Health Services. “We’ve invested in addiction services, HIV/AIDs prevention and support, and most recently, added trauma recovery services. Job training, preschool, wellness – these are services our patients want and need and our affiliation with The Centers will make that possible.”

Circle Health Services, known as The Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland until November 2016, has been in operation since 1970. It grew from a telephone hotline for young drug users seeking help to a comprehensive health care provider offering primary care, dental care, behavioral health care, HIV services, substance abuse treatment and more regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. It received its status as a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in 2012, enabling it to generate revenue through health insurance payors in addition to funding through charitable donations and competitive grants.

“Many of the people we help on a daily basis are not coming to us with one isolated issue,” said David E. Weiss, Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Centers for Families and Children. “There are no quick fixes here. It takes a holistic approach to address these complex needs, and that’s exactly what this affiliation will help us achieve for the people we serve.”

The Centers for Families and Children, known for behavioral health care integrated with primary care, early learning programs and specialized job training and workplace development programs, began as The Center for Human Services in 1970. The organization was formed as the result of five agencies (Family Service Association, the Day Nursery Association, Traveler’s Aid Society, Cleveland Homemaker Service Association and Youth Service) coming together to integrate their services. In 1993, it changed its name to The Center for Families and Children to better reflect its core work and integrated service model. In 2011, West Side Ecumenical Ministries (WSEM) and El Barrio merged with the organization, now known as The Centers for Families and Children.

Both organizations have a history of evolving to meet the needs of the community as well as deal with the challenges brought about by uncertainty in the health care and human services industries. This uncertainty is particularly problematic in cities, like Cleveland, that struggle with deep, generational poverty. The most recent American Community Survey indicates that 35% of people living in Cleveland are living in poverty.

“Access to quality health care remains a barrier for more than half of the people we serve each year – over 10,000 adults, children and seniors. By joining forces, we will help more people connect with valuable services and ultimately build a stronger community,” said Newman.

The mission of Circle Health Services (formerly The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland) is to address vital community health needs by providing high quality health care and related services to individuals and families, regardless of their ability to pay, and by advocating for policy changes that promote greater access for the underserved and improved community-wide health and wellness outcomes. Circle Health Services has more than 50 employees and 600 active volunteers. The facility, located in University Circle, is equipped with 18 exam rooms, 5 dental chairs, 3 group therapy rooms, a modern laboratory, and medication services.

The Centers for Families & Children is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit human service organizations in Northeast Ohio. Through innovation and leadership, we strengthen the community by providing individuals and families with life-changing solutions to lead healthier and more successful lives. We employ an integrated strategy to improve the lives of those we serve through integrated behavioral health, primary care, early learning, and workforce services. Last year, The Centers served more than 23,000 people throughout Cuyahoga County. For more information, visit thecentersohio.org.

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. Thank you!

The Centers Launches Innovative Workforce Partnership in Detroit Shoreway Community


The Hire Local partnership, developed by The Centers’ El Barrio Workforce program  encourages cohesive local workforce development by facilitating a connection between local merchants and job candidates who live in the surrounding community.

“When our Gordon Square Arts District businesses have job openings, Hire Local gives them access to a pool of prepared and trained candidates that live right here in the neighborhood,” said Jenny Spencer, managing director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. “Local residents also have proximity to the workplace, reducing a potential transportation burden.”

The Centers operates an integrated, full-service facility in the heart of Gordon Square at 5209 Detroit Avenue offering early learning, health and wellness, and workforce development. El Barrio placed more than 500 residents in jobs in the Greater Cleveland community in 2016. The El Barrio program goes beyond job placement to help put people on a path within an industry, where they can advance, grow their skills and truly pursue a career.

“We recognize that if an individual is going to thrive, a number of needs must be addressed simultaneously including early learning for children, primary care, health and wellness, not to mention job readiness training…it’s all connected,” said Elizabeth Newman, president and CEO of The Centers. “A life-changing solution happens when an individual is able to excel at a job because he or she has the integrated support that’s needed.”

A key component of The Centers’ El Barrio Workforce program is follow-up and continued reinforcement after a client is placed into a job. Retention services increase the chances of a successful outcome for both the newly employed individual and the employer.

As a part of the announcement, Gordon Square merchants including Astoria, Sweet Moses, Local West, Grace Brothers, Stockyard Meats, Toast and Luxe will sign the pledge. Hire Local has the potential to be rolled out across Northeast Ohio. Midtown Development Corporation and Ohio City Incorporated have already expressed interest in implementing the program.

According to a 2015 report by the Brookings Institution, “proximity to jobs can affect the employment outcomes of residents. People who live closer to jobs are more likely to work. They also face shorter job searches and spells of joblessness…In order to grow economies in ways that promote opportunity and upward mobility for all residents, findings point to the need for more integrated and collaborative regional strategies around economic development, housing, transportation, and workforce decisions that take job proximity into account.”

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. Thank you!