Seven Outstanding Volunteers to be Honored at Fundraiser on February 25
Team LakewoodAlive is inviting you on a Space Mission of major importance. LakewoodAlive will host Loving Lakewood: Out Of This World on Saturday, February 25, 2023, from 7:30 to 11 p.m. at the Lakewood Masonic Temple. As always, this event, eclipsing all others, will have you over the moon, enjoying force field foods, Big Bang beverages and more meteoric fun than you can fit into an entire solar system. For more information and to buy tickets visit, LakewoodAlive.org/LovingLakewood.
LakewoodAlive proudly announces Jarrell McAlister as the 2023 Founders Award recipient and fellow community members Amy Chodzin, Rob Holland, Emmie Hutchison, Carlos Ramos, Amanda Santa and Danielle Zann as the 2023 Community Leaders award honorees to be recognized during Loving Lakewood: Out Of This World. Each individual will be honored as part of the evening’s festivities in recognition of their exemplary service to LakewoodAlive and the Lakewood community.
Each member of this honoree group has made a long-lasting impact on LakewoodAlive and our community. The Founders Award, recognizing one honoree annually, celebrates individuals who exemplify the vision of LakewoodAlive’s founding members to foster and sustain vibrant and welcoming neighborhoods. Community Leader Award recipients represent LakewoodAlive’s most dedicated volunteers and partners who have supported the organization’s work in the community.
Jarrell McAlister – Founders Award
Jarrell and his wife Andi have been Lakewood residents for 20 years. Jarrell is an innovation consultant and facilitator at Progressive Insurance and enjoys working with non-profits like LakewoodAlive. Prior to Progressive, Jarrell worked as a TV Producer in Chicago and his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Jarrell and Andi have two children, Ellie and Jonah, and love exploring Lakewood and traveling the world.
As LakewoodAlive’s past board president from July 2020 through July 2022, Jarrell led the organization forward through challenges and change. He showed incredible leadership throughout the pandemic and led the organization through multiple strategic plans. Jarrell is supportive in every sense of the word, including volunteering for all of LakewoodAlive’s events and board projects.
“I grew up in a small-business family, so I love that Lakewood is mostly locally owned businesses. It’s a unique community with interesting discoveries around every corner – from quirky stuff in people’s yards to wall murals and cool little shops. We feel lucky to have excellent schools nearby. We have kids at both Lakewood City Schools and Lakewood Catholic Academy and see the great education they are receiving. We also love the community events that bring people together,” reflected McAlister.
Community Leader Award Honorees:
Amy Chodzin – Community Leader Award
Amy is the Assistant Coordinator for H2O – Help to Others, Lakewood’s service-learning program for high school and middle school youth. Amy is an impactful leader who collaborates with LakewoodAlive, to bring amazing youth volunteers to housing outreach projects throughout the summer. She is always looking for creative ways to collaborate and is dedicated to the people and beautification of the community. In addition to the volunteer work she manages with H2O, she also volunteers her time for many LakewoodAlive events throughout the year.
“I love the Lakewood community for its people. There is a bottomless pool of compassion that exists in the hearts of Lakewoodites to ensure their neighbors are safe, the children can thrive and everyone has a voice,” reflected Chodzin.
Rob Holland – Community Leader Award
Rob is an amazing volunteer though LakewoodAlive’s Snow Shoveling Program. He has helped since the reboot of this snow program in the winter of 2020. He is always willing to lend a helping hand. During snowstorms, he assists elderly and disabled residents by clearing their driveways with his snow blower.
“LakewoodAlive is love; understanding, caring, helping, growing. But let’s be real too. I got roped into this business because my kid needed ‘service’ hours on his transcripts,” Holland quipped.
Emmie Hutchison – Community Leader Award
Emmie is the Coordinator for H2O – Help to Others, Lakewood’s service-learning program for high school and middle school youth. Emmie works with LakewoodAlive to find annual projects that bring together homeowners and residents in need with Lakewood youth. We are grateful to have a partnership with H2O that is truly impactful.
“Lakewood is a community that supports each other. When my kids started in Lakewood City Schools, I still didn’t know many people. Our family was thoroughly welcomed and drawn into participating in school and civic life and we’ve never looked back. Each member of my family has had wonderful opportunities to learn and grow through the schools, programs in the City of Lakewood like the Family Room and H2O, and LakewoodAlive events,” Hutchison reflected.
Carlos Ramos – Community Leader Award
Carlos is the owner of The Tea Lab (14534 Detroit Avenue). The Tea Lab opened in Downtown Cleveland in 2013 and then expanded to Downtown Lakewood in 2014. Owner, Lakewood resident and tea aficionado, Carlos Ramos took over the business in 2016. He is a longtime Downtown Lakewood Business Alliance Member and brings creativity to the group while also serving as a mentor to other small business owners in Lakewood.
“I’ve lived in Lakewood for nearly three decades. Lakewood is a classic blend of unique & varied demographics, beautiful homes, great businesses, and restaurants and conveniently located. It’s a cool place to live; It’s home,” reflected Ramos.
Amanda Santa – Community Leader Award
Amanda joined LakewoodAlive’s board in 2020 and has served as treasurer since July 2022. Currently an accounting manager with 23andMe, Amanda truly goes above and beyond to support our work in the community. Whether she is orchestrating Light Up Lakewood’s Holiday Parade, serving on the Development Committee or sharing her skills as a CPA, Amanda demonstrates tremendous leadership and vision.
“There is no shortage of things to enjoy in Lakewood. The city is a diverse collection of many things – residents, architecture, and small businesses just to name a few. There is something unique in Lakewood for everyone and every interest,” Santa said.
Danielle Zann – Community Leader Award
Danielle is the owner of CouCou Sentiment (17409 Detroit Avenue), Her boutique is Lakewood’s eclectic one-stop shop for cards and gifts. Her shop has become a go-to gift destination for life’s milestones, as well as a place to simply acknowledge someone and let them know you are thinking of them. CouCou Sentiment opened in the West End Lakewood Business District in June 2021. Danielle played a major role in the development of the 2022 Holiday Hopper Card which drove customers to small businesses across town. She brings enthusiasm and creativity to the West End Lakewood and LakewoodAlive’s small business meetings while working collaboratively with her neighbors to help strengthen the district.
“Lakewood is truly unique. It allows you to be you. Everyone is welcome. It offers a balance of city and suburban feel with diverse restaurants, retail and people and it continues to improve year after year,” reflected Zann.
About Loving Lakewood
Community vibrancy is an integral part of our story which LakewoodAlive strives for as part of our mission each and every day. It is our zenith. The 5.5 square miles comprising Lakewood may be just a blip in this galaxy, but LakewoodAlive serves a vital role in the lives of our community through our Housing Outreach and Small Business Support Programs making our organization truly out of this world.
For more information and to buy tickets visit, LakewoodAlive.org/LovingLakewood. For an experience fit for a captain, guests can set their phasers to stun and submit their request to beam up for a VIP experience. A general admission ticket permits guests to cruise this intergalactic experience for the evening. Be sure to act quickly, tickets are expected to sell out at warp speed.
LakewoodAlive is community development organization with a mission to foster and sustain vibrant and welcoming neighborhoods. Our organization takes a comprehensive approach of working with both residents and small business owners to ensure a strong and resilient community. We work daily to ensure healthy and safe housing for all residents as well as a kind word and a helping hand to our small businesses working with them to create strong foundations making Lakewood a great place to live, work and play.
Loving Lakewood is generously supported by the following sponsors:
Big Bang Sponsor
Shooting Star Sponsor
Councilperson Tom Bullock
Lakewood Municipal Court Judge Tess Neff