Since 1987, the women of the Western Reserve Chapter of The Links Incorporated have joined together as friends working to make a difference in our community. As one of three Northeast Ohio chapters of The Links, we have provided a broad array of services, all aimed at enriching the lives of residents and enhancing the quality of life of Greater Cleveland. The Links is a national organization with 12,000 members spanning 276 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We annually contribute more than 500,000 documented hours of community service, which serves to strengthen our communities and enhance our nation.
Annually, each of the 46 members of the Western Reserve Chapter commit a minimum 48 hours to develop and execute community service programs. Our goal is to create sustainable programs with outcomes that are measureable and impact the lives of those we touch. Our service areas spans across Cuyahoga County with a specific focus on the cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland, exposing residents to educational and enrichment activities that support them in reaching their potential as scholars and as citizens.
As an example of our work in the community, over a six year period we partnered with the faculty and parents of the Warner Girls Leadership Academy, one of the Cleveland Municipal School District’s single gender schools.
- Over that period we tutored young girls, assisting the school in improving its standing on the Ohio Achievement tests.
- We led forums engaging parents and grandparents in dialogue about the unique challenges of raising girls in an urban environment.
- We established pen pal relationships between the Warner Wildflowers and students at St. Jude’s Academy in Uganda, as a means of connecting our Wildflowers and the Ugandan students to the global village and enhancing their understanding of the world beyond their neighborhoods and villages.
- We created a Teacher’s Resource Library, making available books and resource tools that supported teachers in having state-of-the-art materials to support instruction.
- We commissioned renowned Cleveland artist Anna Arnold to create an iconic mural at the school’s entrance. This mural, greeting the girls each morning, shows a beautiful field of multi-colored flowers depicting the multi-talented and multi-faceted young girls of Warner.
- To support literacy development we purchased for the Wildflowers 60 Kindle PaperWhite eReaders, each loaded with four books.
Over the past year, we have engaged with the students at Mound Elementary STEM School, another Cleveland Municipal School and helped to lead an after school garden club. Through this effort, in collaboration with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, we created a mini-farm-to-table movement, helping students to understand the sources of food and the benefits of maintaining nutritious and healthy diets.
In the next two years, we look to enlarge our educational support in two critical areas.
- Job Readiness for Adults ranging in age from 17 to 25. This will include a curriculum focused on preparing them for success in the work place, including technical knowledge and the soft and interpersonal skills that must necessarily accompany technical skills for success. This extends our current work with Dress For Success, providing seminars to support women as they prepare to move into the workforce
- Health and Human Services emphasis on mental health, HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis C. This focus is consistent with the efforts of our national organization. This continues our rich tradition of programming in Health and Human Services which in the past has included:
- Survivor’s Teas, giving support to both breast cancer survivors and their caregivers.
- Linkages to Life, a focus on organ, tissue and bone marrow donation within the African American community.
- Diabetes awareness working through area churches and in conjunction with the Cleveland Chapter of The Links Incorporated
Be it education, health, or the arts the Western Reserve Chapter is dedicated to improving the condition of our community. Our successes are based in our friendships, our dedication to community, and the support of the community through our many sponsors and partners.