Help to Others (H2O): Drops of Kindness Create Ripples of Change

This is the second story in a three-part series featuring special people and organizations that have a unique relationship with Help to Others (H2O), a Lakewood institution that is celebrating its 20th year of teaching and inspiring middle- and high-school students to volunteer and do what they can to make the world a better place. 

Thousands of people have been touched by H2O’s service learning program during the past two decades. Here is just one of those stories.

Up the elevators and down the maze of hallways, a small army of H20 students descend upon the three towers of the Westerly every month, pulling wagons and making door-to-door deliveries of food bags containing emergency nourishment for close to 200 apartment-bound seniors.

H2O’s well-organized mission is a critical piece of Lakewood Community Service Center’s (LCSC) food delivery program to four senior-living complexes in Lakewood funded through a grant from the United Way of Greater Cleveland, says Trish Rooney, LCSC’s executive director.

In fact, Rooney says the first call she made upon learning the news of the grant in 2011 was to H2O’s then director, Celia Dorsch.

“We hoped that they would be able to make the deliveries for us. She didn’t hesitate for one second when I made the call. She said yes immediately,” says Rooney, whose organization currently provides emergency food to 18 percent of the city of Lakewood. “This is the real definition of a partnership. We count on them every single month to make this happen so it’s hugely significant. There is absolutely no way we’d be able to do this service without them.”

When the RTA circulator stopped operating in Lakewood, LCSC saw a significant drop off in the number of seniors able to come to its center to pick up food. The delivery service has been a lifeline for them.

“The residents love it and especially seeing the kids. A lot of them are really isolated so for them to get a delivery like that is fantastic,” says Rooney, whose son was in H2O when he was in middle school and at Lakewood High School. “One of the residents just loves these kids so much that she knits hats for them.”

H2O has been involved with LCSC since the organization was founded in 1993. Back then H2O members would collect and donate non-perishables for LCSC's emergency food distributions. They also helped them transport and store canned donations collected by postal workers. Most recently LCSC has been one of the beneficiaries of H2O’s Pumpkin Palooza, an annual Halloween event for the community held at Lakewood High School.

“H2O’s involvement (in our mission) has just gotten deeper and deeper over the years,” Rooney says. “They turn out month after month after month with the same high level of enthusiasm and the same work ethic. They are simply wonderful and they are making a huge difference for our seniors.”

Join the celebration as H20 kicks off its 20 years of service to the Northeast Ohio community with a night of fun, festivities, and philanthropy at the H2O Tributary Bash, Saturday, February 23, 2013, from 7 to 11 p.m., at the Lake Erie Screw Factory, 13000 Athens Avenue in Lakewood. A special VIP event will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in a smaller, more intimate setting of the Screw Factory.

Tickets for the main event are $50. A very limited number of $100 VIP tickets are available. Sponsorship opportunities, starting at the $100 level, are also available. For more information, to purchase tickets, or to sponsor the event, visit www.thelakewoodfoundation.org/H2O/ or call 216.529.6870.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:58 PM, 02.05.2013