People have repeatedly repeated the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” since its inception. In my case it was true. The city of Lorain literally raised me. If you are a woman from Lorain over the age of 50, chances are I slept in your house for at least a week. Because of the care of family, friends, ministers, teachers, social workers, donators and volunteers I was able to survive my childhood with a fighting chance to survive adulthood.
Since I became an established adult I always had the urge and the sense of responsibility to give back to the community. That was the price tag for the community that helped me. Lorain invested in me and I wanted to provide a return on those investments. There were immediate options asking for donations for worthy causes mostly in the form of money. Those charities that didn’t want money asked for services or products. After so many tragedies where donated funds were misplaced and looking around and wondering why after so many donations things seemed the same I had become jaded by the process. I wanted to do something that had a direct impact on the community. I wanted to bypass the red tape encasing the typical charities. It turns out I wasn’t the only one.
Citizens for a Better Lorain was founded by music mogul and entrepreneur and businessman Daniel Rucker along with Rokeidra Curry, who drives 2 hours from Columbus, Ohio to meet with the group and assist managing live events.
“This group literally started randomly. Daniel and I threw an event a few years ago that we planned in 24 hours where we just allowed the people of the community to come and speak and cry and just be heard. Then we kind of slacked then we decided to follow through.”
After joining the group through the Facebook group I instantly could feel the passion and the dedication of those involved.
“Well for me personally, I come from a family that was always in the community and helping those in need, and I was blessed enough to have a wonderful support system, so it was something that was always in my blood and I wanted to be a support team for those who felt alone. I always wanted to continue the legacy that was left for me to always work in the community and always make sure that when people hear and speak your name they are only able to speak of the good things you’ve done,” Rokeidra said.
The first event that I had the pleasure of playing a part in was a festival that was held at a local church near the Westview Terrace housing projects on the west side of Lorain. 200 school children were given a bag of school supplies. There was also food, live music face painting, and dancing. The turnout was great and the community showed their appreciation. The next event was an all day skating party at a local skating center where children and their parents could skate all day free of charge. During the holiday season families in need were encouraged to write letters to the group explaining their hardship. The group raised money, selected a winner and surprised them at their door with Christmas gifts for the children. Last year’s group was grateful the group saved their Christmas.
Through the first official year the group was a success. The goal of making a direct impact on the community with minimal interference by a bureaucratic system was being realized. With all new groups there are always issues and challenges.
“I’d like to see more active members. There are about 7-10 that are active. We can do me with more participants. I’m not big on the work of a few being claimed by the many,” St’v Bush, one of Daniel Rucker’s recording artists stated.
“Communication, and I think most don’t realize we are more than just a Facebook group, we are really doing what we talk about,” Rokeidra said when asked about challenges.
Despite the minor obstacles, the group has been a success. The community has benefited and the children are better off. The group members have been moved by the fond memories created.
“For me meeting all of the people and seeing that people really do care and are willing to volunteer their time. It truly touches my heart,” Rokeidra said.
Recently, Citizens for a Better Lorain held the second annual event for children returning to school this time under the name of the “Love, Peace and Soul Festival.” As successful as last year was, this year’s event was on a much larger scale. To accommodate the expected larger crowd, the event was moved to the center of Lakeview Terrace near the basketball courts. This year still included food, school supplies, games, and face painting. A large bounce house, contests, dancing, a DJ and community leaders spreading positive messages were also included this year.
As the group continues to grow and get to know one another, the impact will increase. They key to the group is the members and their selflessness and willingness to work together for a common good. The group members genuinely like each other and look forward to continuing the work.
“We are making steps to become a community outreach source to the city of Lorain, slowly but surely… This next year will be Amazing, I promise,” Rokeidra said.
As much as the community loves having Citizens of a Better Lorain working for it, Citizens for a Better Lorain loves working for the community even more.
Robert J. Moore robert@MooreWriting.com