Fedor Manor, 25 Years of Service
The 11 story apricot brick building on the corner of Ridgewood and Madison Avenues resulted from an idea generated during the committee work for SS. Cyril & Methodious's Diamond Jubilee in 1978. The Chairman of the celebration, George E. Fedor asked a group of the Committee Chairpersons to come to a meeting at the rectory in the spring of 1979 where he told of an idea of constructing an apartment building near the Church that would offer Federally-subsidized housing for those 62 and over. The apartment was to house over 100 Lakewood residents. The group consisted of the Pastor of SS. Cyril & Methodious, lawyers, bankers & business people. Original founding members included George E. Fedor, Former Mayor Frank Celeste, Peter Shimrak, John Olds, Rev. Richard J. Ondreyka, Ben Chisar and Mary-Louise Kirk. After hearing George's proposal, with various ideas and skills the group formed a non-profit corporation and agreed to proceed. And this is when the fun began.
An architect was also asked to come on board to provide insight for the ensuing project. The desired site had buildings that needed to be purchased before the plan could get under way. The Lakewood City Administration and Mayor Sinagra were very enthusiastic and the Mayor pushed to get Federal Block Grant money. In addition, a second Office on Aging Center was planned for the front first floor that was slated to contain offices for social workers, a coordinator that HUD required, and a large lunchroom where anyone over 62 or handicapped could purchase a noon meal. The Cleveland Diocese extended a $50,000 loan that was to be re-paid when the Federal loan was received. City Council was mostly approving yet still had some issues to sort through. Once these various issues were addressed, the vote to proceed was unanimous. Almost all of new City projects will cause neighborhood concerns, and the planning of the Manor needed to respond and act to find the answers. Worries about parking, traffic, water supply, sewer capacity, and safety were voiced and resolved before the project could begin progressing. After some agonizing moments, the day finally came when the wrecking ball knocked down the vacant buildings. Once the site was cleared and prepared, construction flowed at a steady pace.
Due to the way in which HUD works, by the time the Federal loan money went to and from various cities there was a short-fall of funds. The rules state that the building had to be completely ready for occupancy and functionality down to the last picture nailed to the wall in the public areas. As a result, a fundraising campaign began. A committee that was comprised of around 120 people joined in the effort to raise the much needed funds. One example was the formation of the Babushka Ball. For those that are unsure, "Babushka" is a term of endearment for a Grandmother in most Eastern European countries and most of the first residents of the City of Lakewood were of Eastern European descent. It was the Babushka Ball that helped to provide an even greater sense of unity.
During the fundraising effort, there was an unexpected event. The Chairwoman of the committee visited with Jack Wasmer with the intent of asking him to be the community representative. The Chairwoman thought that the City of Lakewood and its residents would respond to him as he was so well known. He explained that he had just stepped off of the Lakewood Hospital Board after years and asked if by chance a library was planned in the building. The Chairwoman replied that no library was in the original plans but that there was available space on the 11th floor that could be used for that purpose. He slid a check for $10,000 across the table and when she said that she really wanted him to become the Chairman, he replied by saying that "the first rule of fund-raising is to NEVER turn down a check" and that, "if the library would be dedicated to his parents, the check was theirs to keep." She said "yes" gratefully so a library was built and the Lakewood Public Library and the Plaque dedicating it to the Wasmer's watches over it.
A lot of twists and turns happened to get the project started, completed, and functional. The most important thing is that The George E. Fedor Manor has enjoyed 25 successful years of providing homes for seniors, providing them with a clean, safe living environment while meeting their independent day-to-day needs and also supporting activities and social functions. It is true of course that some things have changed over the years. One small example is that seniors are so much younger now than they were 25 years ago. As proof of this, this past year, the Fund provided a bike rack for the 8 seniors that ride bikes. It is likely that that bike rack will be joined by another. Another example of adapting to the changing times is the fact that today the parking lot is too small and 25 years ago, it was doubtful that one was even needed. About 18 months ago, over $1,000,000 was borrowed from HUD. To keep up the quality of the residence, all new windows, a FEMA ordered generator and solid state approved elevators were installed as well as other re-modeling, updating and upgrading so the residence is improvised and bettered. The Board of Trustees was quick to agree to needed improvements and remembers that George E. Fedor had a strong wish to provide housing for people. He cared about the senior residents of Lakewood and hoped that they would consider "his" house to be their home. And so, the tradition and caring continues with a 25th anniversary celebration. Some time this summer, the residents of the Manor will be treated to a picnic barbeque. The exact time is to be announced at a later date as the Manor has "Tea with Babushka" this week.
However, there are impending issues that will affect the Manor and its residents. The new Administration has slashed the allocated senior budget by approximately $800,000. Also, the Eastern Center of the Office on Aging has been impacted directly by being shut down. The employees will not remain there and sadly this includes the coordinator who is sorely needed by the Residents and others from the area. It is hoped, however, that the lunches and some other services will be continued and remain in tact. It seems to be a quiet ending to a long, fruitful relationship between The Manor and the City, and when one considers that some marriages don't last 25 years, perhaps, there will be a way to re-spark it.