When the Center for Community Partnerships invited Case Western Reserve University departments and groups seeking charitable funding to apply for its new Community Outreach Program grants, they received dozens of applications. Ten campus affiliates were selected to receive $1,000 each for the 2008-2009 academic year to continue their outreach work in the areas of PreK-12, senior citizens, health, social service, community and economic development, and lifelong learning.
Each of the winning groups will be featured in an ongoing series. Learn more about the Case Cares About Cleveland project:
Some people might view the old buildings with peeling paint in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn neighborhood as eyesores. Maria Dimengo, a web content developer for the Division of Student Affairs, sees them as untapped gems that could help revitalize a community.
"I lived in the suburbs for decades. I was never someone who was very civic minded. Something changed in me when I got my job here and moved to the City of Cleveland. When I bought a house, I felt there was a lot more I could do," Dimengo said.
"Many members of the Case community live on the west side of Cleveland and participate in volunteer initiatives right in their own backyard," Dimengo said. Expanding on the university's volunteer work that already takes place in University Circle, Dimengo is using her Community Outreach Program Grant to purchase signage, poster art and painting supplies to assist Old Brooklyn business owners who cannot afford to clean up or beautify their establishments.
"By tapping into our alumni, staff and volunteer resources, my goal is to start a volunteer coalition that could spread into other areas of the city. Having Case behind me can really help this program grow," she said.
Since September, Dimengo has been working with Cleveland artists and elementary school students to develop a variety of art for local businesses. "I am working with artists to display their work in vacant storefronts, plus I have been getting all sorts of help from Case Western Reserve students and the Cleveland public schools. Students are creating art from recycled cardboard, old hubcaps and other materials."
"Since obtaining the grant, the project has really gained momentum," she said. "Over the winter months, I worked with kids over at Michael R. White Elementary School, thanks to Case Western Reserve students and their Cleveland Public Schools Connection project."
In addition, Dimengo worked with a group of Greek Life students during a service day at The Spot last month. The group created dozens of pieces of art that will be displayed in storefronts on Saturday, March 28, during the Civic Engagement "Spring Saturday of Service."
She has the ongoing support of local residents, businesses, and neighborhood nonprofit organizations. "People encouraged me and told me they thought it could work, plus I’m talking to a lot of artists who want to participate. It's amazing how many people are helping me move this project forward."
For more information, go to Dimengo's blog.
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