At the beginning of summer, The Center for Community Solutions’ Board of Directors voted to establish a new endowment fund at the Cleveland Foundation, with an initial investment of $100,000, in honor of Joe Ahern, Rosie Black, and Roslyn Bucy Kaleal who have each individually spent more than 40 years at what was once known as the Federation for Community Planning and is now known as Community Solutions. Interest earned by the fund, known as the ABK fund, will be used at their request to support future student interns at Community Solutions.
Over the past 40 years, the organization has changed names, priorities and even offices more than once. But Joe, Rosie and Roz have remained constants.
Over the past 40 years, the organization has changed names, priorities and even offices more than once. But Joe, Rosie and Roz have remained constants. Anyone coming into contact with The Center for Community Solutions has most likely encountered them either personally or through the research, advocacy, writing and events they have created or supported.
Joe Ahern started at CCS in the summer of 1979, working under researcher Gloria Sterin on a project to collect and analyze data on divorce settlements in Cuyahoga County for a women’s rights organization. The data collection part of the project involved reviewing divorce case records at the county courthouse and filling out coding sheets for computerizing the data. He assisted Gloria in analyzing the data using the programming language SPSS and acted as a sounding board for her when she was writing the report. “The project gave me a chance to use my analytic skills as a student of mathematics and computer science and learn how to apply these skills in real-world situations,” he remembers.
Rosie Black came to Community Solutions towards the end of 1978 as a temporary employee after her father had passed away. She worked as a receptionist on the 10th floor and in just a few short months was offered a full-time position. Over the years she has moved up, taking classes to hone her fiscal and accounting skills, and now serves as Staff Accountant. Today’s CCS is a much smaller organization than when she arrived, but she notes that, unlike at the beginning of her service, she has much more contact with board members through staffing the board’s Finance, Administration and Audit Committee.
Roslyn Kaleal also started in 1978 as a temporary employee filling in for a secretary going on maternity leave. When she was offered the job on a permanent basis, she says “I thought I’d stay for a couple years to gain experience. That was almost 43 years ago.” Her roles have morphed over time. In the beginning, she provided staff support to our work in the areas of children and families, community relations and volunteerism. She then spent 30 years in the communications/marketing area, serving as director of communications for several of those years. An internal restructuring in 2012 led to her move to the administration area. And today she holds the position of director of administration and special projects (and CCS historian).
Anyone who comes and stays at Community Solutions does so because they want to make a difference—they want to influence the community so that living conditions get better.
When asked why they stayed 40+ years, they each have a similar answer. Kaleal said, “Anyone who comes and stays at Community Solutions does so because they want to make a difference—they want to influence the community so that living conditions get better.” Ahern says, “My work gave me a chance to work in many different aspects of human services with the satisfaction that what I was doing was helping the community.” Rosie Black adds that the organization was like “a family.”
Why did Rosie, Joe and Roz choose supporting interns as the purpose of the ABK Fund? Ahern says, “I started as a summer intern and eventually grew to be full-fledged staff member, and I would like to share that experience with others to open to them the world of human services and the opportunities it presents for their careers.” Kaleal adds, “An endowed internship program will enable the organization to expose more professionals to research, policy and communications work while continuing to develop new talent who can go on to benefit the community.” Black says she “always enjoyed meeting the interns when they arrived,” and appreciates that internships give them “an opportunity to enhance their work experience, their skills and their ability to work in teams.”
An endowed internship program will enable the organization to expose more professionals to research, policy and communications work while continuing to develop new talent who can go on to benefit the community.
Former Executive Director John Begala comments, “During the early- and mid-20th century, it was common practice for employers to reciprocate the loyalty of employees with job security. Sadly, tragically, that sort of mutual loyalty became either unsustainable for, or fell out of favor with, many employers. Today, it is a rarity. But it is still alive and well at The Center for Community Solutions as the long, caring, and enormously productive careers of Roz Kaleal, Rosie Black and Joe Ahern testify. There could not be a more fitting tribute to these three professionals, and the colleagues from earlier generations who were their exemplars, than creating an endowment fund supporting internships that will launch new careers in health and social policy. Kudos to them — and to the executive and board leaders who are making this possible.”
You can help us honor Joe, Rosie and Roz by making a contribution to the ABK Fund via the Cleveland Foundation which manages our endowment funds.