Social Innovation

May Dugan spreads joy and gifts during the holidays

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FRESH WATER CLEVELAND | KARIN CONNELLY RICE | WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2016

Inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the May Dugan Center year round ensures residents of Cleveland’s near west side get the food, clothing and services they need.  But as the holiday season quickly approaches and the weather turns frigid, May Dugan has for months now prepared to make the season a bit more cheery for its clients who need a little extra help. Whether it’s help putting a holiday meal on the table or making sure there are gifts under the tree, May Dugan is prepared to lend a hand. The season kicks off today with May Dugan’s annual turkey distribution. In addition to its monthly food and clothing distribution, today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, May Dugan will also hand out turkeys to 350 families.

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Cleveland insider: meet three stalwart volunteers

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FRESH WATER CLEVELAND | BRANDON BAKER | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2016

There’s no single reason why some people repeatedly volunteer their time and talents to agencies and programs. Some were simply raised that way, while others cite faith and a higher power demanding that they give back. It takes a special kind of empathy, patience and desire for change in order to volunteer just once, let alone for multiple years. Fresh Water contributor Brandon Baker has sat down with three locals who have done just that, lending wisdom, insight, manpower and more to Cleveland agencies that aim to impact lives. These are the people who make good happen – again and again and again.

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Q & A: Rick Kemm

Executive Director Rick Kemm of The May Dugan Center in Ohio City - Photo © Bob Perkoski, www.Perkoski.com

FRESH WATER CLEVELAND | BRANDON BAKER | THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2016

Rick Kemm is the kind of guy you might spend an hour chatting and laughing with before you realize where the time went. But amid anecdotes and smiles, the executive director of the May Dugan Center is sure to convey the community’s needs and why he’s the one capable of catalyzing change. Decades ago when he became a manager at the American Red Cross in Cleveland, an area resident confronted Kemm, angry that he had been chosen for the job as opposed to a Puerto Rican. Kemm didn’t back down.

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The basics: May Dugan serves families in need with food, clothing and medical help

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FRESH WATER CLEVELAND | KARIN CONNELLY RICE | MONDAY, AUGUST 08, 2016

Sue Nerlinger likes to keep active. “Sitting around drives me cuckoo,” she says. “I can’t stand sitting around.” So, when a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2000 threatened to slow her down, she kept working as an optician for W.A. Jones Optical with University Hospitals until the company closed in 2010.  Nerlinger’s twins were just 10 years old at the time, and with the job behind her, she needed to get food on the table and was having a hard time making ends meet. She turned to the May Dugan Center’s Basic Needs Program, which provides food, fresh produce and clothing to Cleveland’s west side residents in need.

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Turning back from the edge

- Photo © Bob Perkoski, www.Perkoski.com

FRESH WATER CLEVELAND | BRANDON BAKER | THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016

In Peter Katsilis’ profession, true success is marked by client relationships coming to an end.  The licensed bilingual social worker at the May Dugan Center sees about six clients per day, including many who are experiencing homelessness in the greater Cleveland area. Others might be looking for a job or escaping a tragic situation. Katsilis has helped many achieve their goal for a better life since he started working for the Ohio City non-profit three years ago, but like many area health and human service workers, he can’t settle on any one choice as the best success story.

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The very Irish history of Cleveland’s west side philanthropy

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FRESH WATER CLEVELAND | BRANDON BAKER | THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2016

Charleen Reynolds-Cuffari can make anybody understand the kind of woman her grandmother was before uttering a word. Asked to describe the late May Dugan’s personality, the Kamm’s Corners resident narrows her eyes and raises a tightly clenched fist, forcing you to catch her drift. “I had the tough grandmother,” Reynolds-Cuffari says. “She ruled with an iron fist.” May’s parents, James and Annie, instilled that toughness in their children after emigrating from Ireland in 1883 and settling in Cleveland after stops in Quebec and Detroit. May had three brothers, and at least two other siblings who died during infancy.

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