Category Archives: Charity

Why? IPM General Assembly!

International Partners in Mission is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and as part of the celebration will be hosting an inaugural General Assembly from October 13-17, with the theme “Connecting Cleveland to the World.”


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IPM started in St. Louis, but moved its headquarters to Cleveland in 2001. IPM’s mission is to work “across borders of faith, culture, and economic circumstance with children, women, and youth to create partnerships that build justice, peace, and hope.” The primary way to accomplish this is through IPM’s Immersion Experience Program.

IPM’s General Assembly will host participants from Cleveland and around the world, from academic, government, inter-faith, non-profit, and philanthropic realms. Each day of the General Assembly will also include at least two public presentations. The wide range of interesting speakers include:

  • Meran Chang Rogers, GALA
  • Rodrigo de Castro Amédée Péret, OFM, Pastoral Land Commission, Uberlandia, Brazil
  • Anthony Dowell, World Food Programme, Rome, Italy
  • Jay Friedlander, College of the Atlantic, ME
  • Hillary Kazoora, Watoto Wa Lwanga, Nairobi, Kenya
  • James P. Keane Ph.D, Catholic Memorial School, MA
  • J. Clinton McCann, Eden Theological Seminary, MO
  • Jay McNally, founder of Ibis Consulting—a Pittney Bowes Company
  • Randell McShepard, RPM Inc.
  • Paul Nuendorfer, The Refugee Response
  • Dorothy Nyong’o, African Cancer Foundation & Mother of Oscar Winning Actress Lupita Nyong’o
  • Judith Ranger Smith, The Singing for Change Foundation, SC
  • Joy Roller, Global Cleveland
  • Stavros Spryopolous, Eaton Corporation, East Africa
  • Rick Steves, Public Broadcasting Personality and author of Travel as a Political Act

Of particular note on the speakers list are Rick Steves and Dorothy Nyong’o. Rick Steves will be discussing “Travel as a Political Act” and his views of becoming a “temporary local” and getting off the beaten path while traveling. His presentation will be on October 17 at 6:30pm at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts at St. Ignatius High School. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students. Click here to purchase tickets.

Dorothy Nyong’o will be part of a panel discussion on October 14 at 6:30pm at Notre Dame College. Her background includes research on strategies for increasing the visibility of NGO’s in Kenya. Plus, her daughter is an Academy Award winner! Ticket information will be available soon from IPM.

The IPM General Assembly is a wonderful opportunity not only to expose international writers, thinkers, and leaders to Cleveland, but also vice versa through the public events surrounding the General Assembly. Keep an eye on IPM’s Facebook page for all the latest details on the General Assembly and speaker events.


Why? Chefs Unbridled!

One of my absolute favorite culinary events in a town packed with some incredible ones is Chefs Unbridled, happening Saturday, September 13 at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Field.

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This annual fundraiser brings together eight of Cleveland’s best chefs for a delicious tasting dinner. This year’s chefs are Scott Kuhn and Chris Hodgson of Driftwood Restaurant Group, Tim Bando of Grove Hill, Brad Cecchi of Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse, Andy Dombrowski of Cowell & Hubbard, Jeff Jarrett of AMP 150, Matt Mytro of Flour Restaurant, and Ian Thompson of Radius Restaurant at South Franklin Circle.

In addition to the tasting dinner, guests can enjoy food trucks such as Hodge Podge, a microbrew truck, and a cupcake truck. There will be entertainment provided by the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, horse-drawn carriage rides, and live and silent auctions.

Chefs Unbridled benefits Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which provides equine programs for people with disabilities. Fieldstone Farm participants range in age from 2 years old to seniors, with a wide range of cognitive impairments and physical disabilities. Through the Fieldstone Farm programs, participants gain coordination, balance, strength, self-esteem and confidence.

Ticket prices start at $125 per person, a portion of which is tax deductible. Reservations are due by Friday, August 29. Click here for an RSVP form. Chefs Unbridled is always a fun and delicious evening. I hope to see you there!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the event. Image courtesy of Fieldstone Farm. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala!

Saturday night was a truly extraordinary Cleveland night, filled with great chefs, wonderful food, and a beautiful setting. Matthew and I attended the Autism Speaks Cleveland 2014 Chef Gala, thanks to Cleveland Chick.


Held in the stunning Cleveland Museum of Art atrium, this event brought together 20 Cleveland chefs for a tasting event prior to a celebrity cooking and dinner presentation by hometown favorite Chef Michael Symon and his friend and “The Chew” co-star Chef Mario Batali.


But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before Chefs Symon and Batali took to the stage, we had the opportunity to sample stand-out dishes from 20 of Cleveland’s best chefs. And in a nice surprise: the program included recipes for each of the dishes we tasted.

The chefs brought their A games for this event! Some favorites of the many delicious dishes we sampled:

Hamachi crudo with white soy ponzu, pine nuts, radish and cilantro from Fahrenheit

IMG_8113Bison tartare with duck egg gribiche, shiso puree, and spiced salt from AMP 150

IMG_8115Goat cheese and leek tarts with duck confit and fig from Driftwood Restaurants and Catering


Ricotta panna cotta with tomato mousse from Coquette Patisserie

IMG_8120Heirloom tomato and watermelon consomme from SowFood


Strangolapreti alla Trentina from Trentina

IMG_0099and Goat Cheese Sunday from The Cheese Shop.


After absolutely stuffing ourselves, it was time for Chefs Symon and Batali to take to the stage to prepare a four-course dinner: heirloom tomato salad with feta, cucumbers, mint and dill; agnolotti with basil pesto and pomodoro sauce; braised shortribs with soft polenta and pickled chile salad; and the Lola S’more.


Chefs Symon and Batali have great chemistry and humor. Watching and listening to them prepare the meal was a treat in itself!


While higher-level donors got a full, plated dinner and some lucky bidders got to sit on stage with the chefs, all attendees were able to try tasting-sized portions of all the celebrity chef dinner courses. This was a really nice touch that allowed all donor levels to feel connected to the event.


Aside from the ridiculous amount of amazing food, there was also a silent auction that raised $26,000 for Autism Speaks! Matthew and I walked away as silent auction winners with a Step 2 wagon, a family membership to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, tickets to the Zoo’s Circle of Wildlife Carousel, and tickets to the Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Animal Attractions event!


It was a truly elegant and delicious evening for a wonderful cause! And it was another reminder of how Cleveland’s chef community, even those who are well-known on a national stage, come together with their time and talents to help others. We are truly lucky to not only have an extraordinary food scene, but also such caring people in it!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Cleveland Chick to attend the Autism Speaks Cleveland 2014 Chef Gala in her place, in exchange for blogging about the event. I received 2 complimentary tasting tickets to the Chef Gala. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Dan and timzaun! You have both won 2 general admission tickets and a parking pass to the WGAR 2014 Dollar Bank Country Jam. Please check your emails for further details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.

Also, you still have through today to enter to win tickets to Night Before 9: Out in Art. Check it out!***

Friday night brought one of my favorite summer events: Twilight at the Zoo, put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society.


Where else can you hear 18 different bands, spanning genres from rock to swing to country to blues, plus get to see elephants, lions, birds, and other zoo critters at the same time?!

We started our evening in the VIP area. Twilight is an event where purchasing VIP tickets is definitely worth the extra investment. You get into the zoo an hour earlier than everyone else, plus you have closer parking and more extensive food and drink options.

We enjoyed ceviche, oysters, and carrot cake from Mitchell’s Fish Market, grilled filet and au gratin potatoes from Fleming’s Steakhouse, pasta and chicken marsala from Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and arugula, peach, and goat cheese salad and short rib sliders from AMP 150.


We met up with Amanda and Scott and enjoyed our small bites and Sam Adams beers. While it seemed a bit early for Octoberfest beer, I really enjoyed that one (and with as early as the summer beers come out, I guess it’s inevitable to drink Octoberfest in August).

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While it did start to rain a bit early in the evening, all the bands were under tents this year and were able to keep playing despite the weather. Our favorites from the night were Wanted: The Bon Jovi Tribute Band, Joe Bell & the Swing Lizards, Craic Punks, and Shady Drive.


We also peeked through the glass at the new Circle of Wildlife carousel, which is beautifully crafted and a very nice addition to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.


Good friends, good music, good food, and a good cause made for another great Twilight at the Zoo! This is a don’t-miss event, so mark your calendars for next August!


***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Jingle in July!

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Christmas in July and, for me, the same was true for Jingle in July! Jingle in July was the kickoff for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, happening December 14 at Legacy Village.

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Jingle in July was held at Lilly Pulitzer. Guests enjoyed small bites and sipped on “Beach House” cosmos, while listening to a presentation on the latest fall trends and shopping Lilly’s colorful and comfortable chic resort wear.

PicMonkey CollageSo what is trending for Lilly in the fall? Bohemian styles, fringes and tassels, and tortoise shell, just to name a few! Lilly is also focusing on pieces that easily transition from season to season, allowing you to bring a bit of summer into your fall wardrobe.

Ten percent of all sales during the event were donated to the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio Chapter, the organization that sponsors and benefits from the Jingle Bell Run. It was a fun and fashionable evening!

As I mentioned, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk takes place on December 14. This is a festive event, with a costume contest for runners and the addition of a Family Fun Run this year. Registration is $25 and can be completed online. Through September 1, you can save 25% off your registration fee by using code LILLY when you register, so sign up soon and take advantage of the savings!

I hope to see you rockin’ the latest fall trends next season, as well as rockin’ some jingle bells on your running shoes in December!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Jingle in July event, which was a free event, open to the public. I did not receive any compensation for attending and my choice to blog about the event was my own. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Jill (Lady Lazarus) (comment #6), randomly-selected winner of two tickets the Locavore fundraiser to benefit the MS Society’s Ohio Buckeye Chapter. Please check your email for further details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Saturday night, we went on a world tour of cuisine without leaving Cleveland at the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration.


Each participating restaurant created a tasty treat representing a different country or region. Our favorite bites took us all over the globe: Mexico with carne asada from Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse;


India with crab pakora from University Hospitals and Sodexo; Asia with pork belly from Hodge’s served with edamame, five spice, and Asian pear;


the Southern United States with chicken cracklins from Peachtree Southern Kitchen; our own backyard with Lake Erie perch with corn pudding from Bacchanalia Cleveland (I can’t wait for them to open!);


and France with crepes with berries, whipped cream, and candied kumquat from Tri-C Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts.


Wines from all over the world were available to compliment the dishes. Matthew and I really enjoyed the Vina Bujanda from Spain: a spicy, bold red.


Craft beer was on tap from Rockmill Brewery and Townhall, too. There were also two different bands providing live entertainment while we ate and drank the night away.

PicMonkey Collage

The evening benefited the Veggie U Classroom Gardens program, a five-week program available to elementary school and special needs classrooms. The program helps children learn about healthy eating and where their food comes from through a science-based curriculum, including growing their own veggies!


I loved the focus on local restaurants and the downtown Cleveland location of this year’s revamped Food and Wine Celebration. A delicious trip around the world to help kids close to home? What a perfect evening!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Veggie U to help promote the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Locavore Giveaway!

Are you a locavore? I know I am! What is a locavore you ask? A locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles from home.

Locavore is also a fundraising event to benefit the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society. The event celebrates locavores with food, wine, and chocolates from Northeast Ohio.



Held at Windows on the River on Thursday, August 21 and sponsored by Ulmer & Berne, this is an event that any locavore won’t want to miss. You’ll sample foods from great local restaurants, including Momocho, Lago, and Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse.

There will be wines from Ferrante Winery, Valley Vineyards, and M Cellars. Lilly Handmade Chocolates will provide sweet treats. And you can try your luck at raffles and blind wine pulls, which also benefit the MS Society, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for those living with MS.

Event tickets are $60, which includes unlimited food and wine. Patron tickets are $80 and include an exclusive wine tasting, in addition to the unlimited food and wine. Tickets can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two Event tickets right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me what you do to be a locavore (e.g., shopping at local farmers’ markets).

2. Leave a comment if you like the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to celebrate being a #Locavore thanks to @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE:

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 20 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter to help promote Locavore. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary Event tickets for myself and two Event tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to David Fearn (Comment #93), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the sold-out Date Night at the ZOOvies put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society. Please check your email for further details. Thanks to all who entered!***

It was a lovely summer weekend in Cleveland! Friday kicked off the weekend right, with everyone in a great mood celebrating LeBron James’ return to the Cavs. Seriously, the excitement and general good vibes that came out of that announcement will keep Clevelanders smiling for awhile!

My Friday afternoon was spent with Mom and Jeffrey at Crocker Park. I started with a pedicure at Charles Scott Salon, while Mom strolled around with the kiddo. What a nice way to relax!


After that, it was time for lunch at 87 West. I had the Devils on Horseback (chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon with sticky soy glaze), the vegetarian tacos, and the deconstructed s’more dessert.

PicMonkey Collage

While I’m not a vegetarian (see, chorizo and bacon), the tacos were a really great choice, packed with flavorful fajita veggies, slaw, corn salsa, and edamame. They were surprisingly filling, too.

That evening, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I met up with Matthew’s dad for the St. John Vianney church festival.


From games to funnel cakes to the Euclid Beach rocket car to live entertainment, the festival was the perfect family evening out.

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a date night planned so that we could enjoy the Luau on the Lake, to benefit Shoes and Clothes for Kids.


Luau on the Lake is held at Wendy Park at Whiskey Island. Saturday was the perfect night to be there, with nice breezes off the lake and a beautiful sunny sky. We met up with some friends, including Kimberly and my giveaway winner Rachel, who was also enjoying a nice child-free date night.

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We sipped on island cocktails like pina coladas and margaritas (Matthew enjoyed the Kona Brewing Big Wave beer from Hawaii) and noshed on a tasty Caribbean-themed dinner courtesy of Aramark, with chicken, pulled pork, and rice. There was a cornhole tournament, sand volleyball, and a limbo contest. And I happened to recognize one of the limbo participants


It was a fun night for a great cause! For every dollar donated to Shoes and Clothes for Kids, the organization can purchase $20 worth of new clothes and shoes for low-income children in Northeast Ohio. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

As we were leaving and taking in the skyline view, I thought that not only does Cleveland have it pretty good right now, but so do I!



How was your weekend? Did you celebrate LeBron’s return?

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Shoes and Clothes for Kids’ Luau on the Lake. In exchange, I received two complimentary Big Kahuna VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Date Night at the ZOOvies Giveaway!

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is not just for kids and there are a host of events that prove just that! On Friday, August 22, Date Night at the ZOOvies is an adults-only evening of food, drinks, zoo critters, and an outdoor movie, which also raises money for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

From 7-8:30pm, you can enjoy the Australian Adventure and African Safari areas of the Zoo, along with beer, wine, and light appetizers.


Then, at 8:30pm, head over to the Zoo Amphitheater to watch “Ghostbusters” under the stars and munch on movie snacks like hot pretzels and popcorn.


Date Night at the ZOOvies is a very popular night out and is sold out for this year! But, no fear if you missed out because you can enter to win 2 tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite line or scene from “Ghostbusters.”

2. Leave a comment if you are fan of both the Cleveland Zoological Society and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you are.

3. Follow both @CleveZooSociety and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

Who you gonna call? I want to win tickets to see Ghostbusters at @CleveZooSociety’s #DateNightattheZoovies from @WhyCLE:

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, July 13 and the winner will be announced the following day. The winner and guest must be 21 or over to attend. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Date Night at the Zoovies. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. All images courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Grapes and Ale!

On Friday night, Matthew and I attended a great summer event: Our Lady of the Wayside‘s Grapes and Ale fundraiser.

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Held at Progressive Field, Grapes and Ale combines food, music, silent auction items, and, of course, wine and beer tastings into a fun strolling picnic. And what’s a picnic without friends to enjoy it with?!

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There were saucy BBQ offerings from restaurants such as Famous Dave’s, Hot Sauce Williams, Battery Park Wine Bar, and 100th Bomb Group. I enjoyed the Famous Dave’s plate of sausage, a chicken wing, and cornbread. But my favorite nibble of the night was Battery Park’s BBQ beef brisket with ancho chile slaw. The sauce had a delicious sweet tang and the slaw added just the right amount of heat.

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100th Bomb Group’s peach BBQ sauce and mango slaw were both tasty, but the ribs were way too difficult to eat while trying to hold a wine glass and maneuver through the crowds.

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Speaking of holding a wine glass, there were over 50 different wineries represented in this year’s tasting, including the new Cupcake Vineyards wine truck, which was a very popular spot!

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I stuck with “known quantities” for my wine choices (wines I know I love), such as Petite Petit, Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel, and Predator Zinfandel.

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Matthew enjoyed some new finds in the craft beer area, including a surprisingly good Russian Imperial Stout from Leinenkugel’s.

The whole time, we were enjoying great music from Colin Dussault’s Acoustic Side Project, as well as taking in great views of Progressive Field.

photo7 (1)It was a fun night for a great cause, supporting Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of “providing residential, respite, transportation, and day programming service for 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities.” Our Lady of the Wayside’s next fundraising event is the Amateur Golf Championship on Monday, August 11. Click here to register for the event!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes & Ale. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***