Three people with one goal — improving the lives of children in Cleveland's Cudell neighborhood

CLEVELAND - News 5 is committed to championing the reform, rejuvenation and redevelopment of neighborhoods in need. This is a special story about people giving their time and talents in a hard hit Cleveland neighborhood.

We talked to three individuals in Cleveland's Cudell neighborhood who all have one goal.

"A lot of (tree lawns), there's just no trees anymore,” said Jonathan Steirer. He wants to grow the support network in the community. Plus, he wants to spur growth along the streets by working with Cleveland's Urban Forestry and planting trees in the empty tree lawns.

“I think a tree canopy is good for neighborhoods,” said Steirer. “It's good for the environment. It's good for public health."

In addition to trees growing, there have been seeds planted just down the street at the neighborhood school — both literal and figurative.

"I decided that we were going to make this work,” said Terry Pohorence, who volunteers with a sprout garden at the Cudell Fine Arts Center. It's helping city kids understand how food is grown and gets to their plates. It seems to be working.

"They got very protective of the area which was kind of good but we had to tell them that the homeless people were part of the community and this was a community garden," Pohorence told us.

She recognizes the need and wants to grow the current garden into two additional gardens for more than just food for the children.

"They don't have a lot of control in their life. But they can control putting a seed in the ground and nurturing it with a little bit of water,” Pohorence said. “And it will grow into something they can be proud of."

"81 percent of the kids in the Cudell neighborhood live below 200 percent of the poverty line,” said Emily Alberty. She is a teacher at the Marion C. Seltzer Elementary School. It’s a school that offers the Seltzer Store where kids can shop for free. Toiletries, soup, and personal care items are available.

"When they come to our school, they have to know they are loved and cared for and their basic needs are met before we can teach them and improve their test scores,” explained Alberty. The funding for the Seltzer Store comes from DonorsChoose.org.

They’re seeds being planted one at a time.

"It all sort of falls in line with various people trying to enact some sort of positive change," said Steirer.

The Marion C. Seltzer School is also partnering with the Cleveland Food Bank to offer a free food market. It will be held the first Friday of every month from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It kicks off in November.

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