The Cleveland Commandery was established in 2004. Its members reflect a Christian commitment to helping others, have a personal philanthropic history, and are dedicated to the Northeast Ohio community in which they live.
Annually, our membership identifies charitable organizations with need and those organizations are then invited to apply for funding. Our Philanthropy Committee reviews the applications and provides a recommendation to the membership. Once a project is selected, the Commandery works in conjunction with the executive director and staff of the designated agency to plan, fund, and implement the project.
Funding for philanthropic projects comes from membership dues, although there are times when individual members choose to make or secure additional donations.
The following projects are our “bricks and mortar” projects.
- Vocational Guidance Services (VGS) Senior Community Center – When an obsolete and deteriorated VGS kitchen could no longer service its 65,000 annual meals, SOSJ Cleveland funded the kitchen’s renovation. The total cost of the project was approximately $60,000, including approximately $20,000 of donated materials and services.
- East End Neighborhood House (“EENH”) – In anticipation of its 100th anniversary, EENH sought our assistance to replace the roof, windows, and parking lot and to paint the building’s exterior. In addition to member contributions of time and talent in the form of architectural, engineering, and negotiating service and oversight, SOSJ Cleveland funded $60,000 of the approximately $150,000 project cost.
- Cogswell Hall provides safe, affordable housing and a “quality of life” experience for adults struggling to maintain stable, affordable housing while confronting issues such as mental illness, developmental disability, or recovery from substance abuse. SOSJ Cleveland provided $60,000 for restoration of the roof of their historic building, which was the initial stage of a renovation project which ultimately generated 23 new and 18 renovated housing units.
- Joslin Diabetes Center – With diabetes as one of our community’s most pressing health problems, SOSJ Cleveland funded $19,000 for the purchase of equipment for more effective and comprehensive diabetes services.
- University Settlement – SOSJ Cleveland provided $25,000 plus the architectural services of one of its members to renovate the Panik Bulding for use in housing and programming services in the Broadway/Slavic Village community.
- Marion Sterling Elementary School – The library, in a state of disrepair, could not meet the learning needs of the students. During the renovation project, SOSJ Cleveland provided $10,000 for the purchase of furniture that was designed to fit all students. The Cleveland Commandery’s donation of an additional $15,000 purchased books (including digital books) to fill the library shelves. To honor the donation made by our Commandery, the library was named the “Sovereign Order of St. John Library.”
PROJECTS OF DONATED TIME AND TALENT
Members of SOSJ Cleveland have welcomed the opportunity to serve the sick and the poor with their personal time and talent – as a follow-up to our “bricks and mortar” projects or independent of them. In every event, however, the personal interaction fostered understanding, personal growth, and community.
- The Cleveland Commandery celebrated the renovation of the Marion Sterling School Library and has continued its support of the school in various ways. At the opening of the new library, members of our Commandery staffed the library and provided books and backpacks for the children. Thereafter, with the knowledge that few families have books at home, every student (nearly 500) was given a Halloween “trick or treat” bag of books. The tears of the parents reflected their gratitude for such a meaningful and useful gift. In both 2015 and 2016, the Commandery provided a Thanksgiving dinner to the Marion Sterling students and their families – along with an after-school craft. Additionally, through our Boots for Kids project, SOSJ Cleveland filled a dire need by providing each student at Marion Sterling with a Christmas gift card for a pair of boots.
- The Valentine’s Day lunch at Vocational Guidance Services Senior Community Center provided an opportunity to interact with low income and elderly residents and enjoy a meal cooked in the new kitchen funded by SOSJ Cleveland.
- Upon completion of the East End Neighborhood House renovation, SOSJ Cleveland sponsored an open house, toured the facility, and had dinner with board members, staff, children, and parents.
- The Halloween Party at Cogswell Hall enabled residents and donors alike to celebrate the restoration and get to know one other.
- SOSJ Cleveland also provided a holiday dinner to the poor and homeless through Augustine’s community meal program.
- To become better acquainted with the work of University Settlement, a group of Cleveland Commandery members and their spouses toured the facility, worked in the kitchen, and served dinner to approximately 60 neighborhood adults and children.
The Cleveland Commandery sought an impact philanthropy project and in 2014 began communications with Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital regarding a project to combat childhood obesity, a community health epidemic. With research identifying exercise as a key factor, physicians probed various ways to increase a child’s activity and ultimately recommended a project using Fitbits. The intrigue of Fitbits lay not only with the children’s interest in wearing them, but also in the fact that they allow for remote monitoring and more frequent feedback from the physician to the family. SOSJ Cleveland funded $160,000 for the purchase of Fitbits to be used in a two-year study. The study has prompted physicians to provide services of a more personalized nature in connection with their Healthy Kids Healthy Weight program. As part of this program, SOSJ Cleveland also hosted a half-day “Fun Fit Fest” at which families received information about healthy food options, learned about healthy activities, and had fun while doing so.
ADDITIONAL FUNDED PROJECTS
Additional projects for which SOSJ Cleveland has provided partial funding include:
- Climb for the Kids at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
- The Helen Moss Chair in Oncology at Case Western Reserve University
DUTIES OF MEMBERS
Duties of members in SOSJ Cleveland include (a) an initial membership fee and an annual financial donation thereafter; (b) attendance at Commandery meetings; (c) participation in at least one Committee (and eventually holding a leadership role); (d) identification of potential members for the Commandery; (e) assistance during Investitures; and (f) participation in the philanthropic works of the Commandery.
Dame Claire Rosacco is Commander of the Cleveland Commandery and may be contacted at Claire.Rosacco@tri-c.edu.