The Music Box Supper Club hosted the 21st Anniversary Benefit Concert to support Malachi House on February 10, featuring the Dublin band “The Merry Ploughboys” for an unforgettable evening of traditional Irish music and fun. A sold out crowd of 250 attendees raised approximately $80,000.
Malachi House, nestled in Cleveland’s historic Ohio City neighborhood, was co-founded by Fr. Paul Hritz (1923-2013) and Catherine “Kaki” O’Neill, as a pioneering effort to preserve human dignity for terminally ill individuals who have no financial means or caregiving support. Caregivers, volunteers, staff, board members, along with the assistance of hospice teams, lovingly provide physical, emotional, and spiritual
care to those embarking on life’s last journey.
Inspiration for the House came from the ministry of Fr. Hritz and St. Malachi Catholic Church parishioners who often encountered unhoused individuals dying under bridges, in cars, deserted buildings and other unsuitable places within the city in 1986. He wished to create a “home for the dying poor” where compassionate people would provide care and attention to those who would otherwise spend their final days alone.
Serving more than 2,600 residents to date, Malachi House provides dignified care to its residents free of charge through the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations. It receives no government support, insurance fees or Medicaid reimbursement to provide the 24/7 individualized attention to residents.
Executive Director Judy Ghazoul Hilow, along with Board Chair John J. Schriner, presented the Community Service Award to Sean Lackey for his dedication and commitment to Malachi House. Lackey is co-owner of Gandalf’s Pub & Restaurant in Valley City with his wife Michelle. A graduate of the famed Second City improvisational theatre, Lackey has produced and acted in the audience-interactive comedy, “Flanagan’s Wake” at Playhouse Square since 2010, the longest running theatre show in Cleveland history. This hilarious interactive “Irish wake” runs through April 29 at Playhouse Square’s Kennedy Cabaret.
Guests enjoyed traditional Irish fare of corned beef, codfish, cabbage, potatoes, and beer, as they listened to the evening’s opening act, Cleveland Irish band “Half Craic’d,” followed by two sets of The Merry Ploughboys.
Tom Arbeznik, the event’s co-chair with wife Caroline, originally recruited the band to play for the fundraiser when he traveled to Dublin many years ago. The band has consistently returned to play this popular benefit, and even recorded a song in 2015 named “Achill to Cuyahoga.” The song, featured on the band’s “Irish National Volunteers” CD is an ode to the journey taken by so many from Achill Island in County Mayo, Ireland to Cleveland in Cuyahoga County, in search of a better life.
Event raffle winners won a one-week roundtrip package for two to Dublin (Grand prize), a bottle of Midleton Vintage Release Irish Whiskey (2nd prize) and an Irish gift basket (3rd prize). For more information, visit malachihouse.org. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER