Gail Atencio-Lynch, Rick Kemm, Karla and Sonita Garcia

One of the biggest trees in Ohio City once again served as a symbol of hope for the holiday season.
The May Dugan Center’s thirteenth annual tree lighting ceremony kicked off the holidays with an outdoor event that illuminated thousands of lights on the 45-foot evergreen tree in the center’s plaza.
The free event featured light refreshments of cookies, donuts and hot cocoa, along with music by the Urban Community School Choir and the May Dugan Center Seniors on the Move Music Group. Event sponsorship raised more than $17,000 to support May Dugan Center programs.
For more than 50 years, the May Dugan Center has provided services that include food, clothing, behavioral health counseling, adult

Gretchen Anderson, Erin Guido and Lyra Costello

education, job searches, victim services and trauma counseling. The May Dugan Center, like many human service nonprofit organizations, has experienced a massive demand for food aid and other essential programs in response to changing economic times. Angela Vannucci, May Dugan Center board president, noted that one in five residents of Cleveland lives at or below the poverty level. A week before Thanksgiving, the line for holiday food distribution was 1,000 cars long, according to Patty Kaplan, May Dugan Center development associate. “It’s a blessing to help those in need and that’s what May Dugan does so well,” she said.
A lifeline for 6,500 individuals and families, the programs and services at the May Dugan Center positively affect the lives of many Near West Side and Greater Cleveland residents. STORY BY CYNTHIA SCHUSTER-EAKIN/PHOTOS BY ERIC EAKIN.