Tri-C Student from Lakewood named to All-USA Academic Team: A Place in the Sun –

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Geri Bakushi of Lakewood, a student at Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus in Parma, is among 20 students named to the All-USA Academic Team for achievement in the classroom and leadership on campus.

Bakushi expects to graduate from Tri-C this summer with an associate of science degree. An international student from Albania, he has maintained a 4.0 GPA while taking a course load focused on technology, engineering and math.

More than 2,000 students across the country were nominated for the award, which is regarded as one of the top honors available for community college scholars.

He has a leadership role in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter at the Western Campus. Bakushi also served as a Tri-C student ambassador and assisted fellow students as a math and information technology tutor.

He plans to transfer to a four-year school this fall to study computer science and pursue a career as a software engineer and entrepreneur.

All-USA Academic Team honorees receive a $5,000 scholarship and commemorative medallion. Bakushi and other team members will be recognized during the May virtual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges.

The All-USA Academic Team is sponsored by Cengage, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa and the AACC. Cengage is an education technology company that provides course materials to millions of college students each year.

Helping hands: Friends Helping Friends, a charity based in Fairview Park, helps area residents struggling with difficult times to get the support they need. All donations to the group go directly to provide assistance.

In some cases, the goal is to give immediate help with a car repair, mortgage payment, or even gift cards to a grocery store. At times, the gifts are anonymous with a member finding someone who needs a lift and then sponsoring them to receive financial help.

For almost an entire yea, FHF has provided emergency three-month grants to nearly three dozen families impacted by the pandemic and facing unemployment.

After four decades of showing financial support to local friends, neighbors and families, FHF created this new short-term emergency support to help during these challenging times. After nearly a year, they continue raising money and awareness that the need in the local community remains high. Members can request a three-month grant of $75 pr month for a friend, neighbor or family member.

They encourage local engagement by supporting fundraising efforts for those in immediate need, and also promote one-time donations.

FHF is always in need of new members who each make an annual contribution of at least $150. They can recommend financial assistance for a friend who is facing unexpected hardships. All donations are used to help those in need.

The organization is completely local. Any operating costs are covered by fundraising events.

To apply, download a short application at and submit it by email. For more information, contact Rachel Pelaia at or visit

snow pile

There hasn’t been any measurable new snowfall in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean the remnants of winter have disappeared completely – yet. (Carol Kovach/special to

Snow more: Temperatures may be fliting with springlike levels this week, but there still are some big piles of snow left over from previous storms.

The snow pile shown above was spotted last weekend in the parking lot at Westgate in Fairview Park. Similar remnants of winter still exist at Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted. Angels reimagine plant sale: The nonprofit organization Angels on the Avenue, in cooperation with Uncle John’s Plant Farm in Olmsted Falls, is offering pre-season certificates at discounted pricing for all flats — including vegetables — hanging baskets and geraniums for Mother’s Day or for a special gardener. It’s a new twist on the nonprofit’s traditional plant sales.

Contact a member of the group to purchase the desired number of certificates. The certificates include total cost of the item and tax. After receiving the certificates, recipients take them to Uncle John’s Plant Farm and to pick out their choice of items. There is no limit on the number of certificates that can be purchased.

Certificates for flats, which include 36 plants, are $15; cost for a 10-inch hanging basket certificate is $18 and four-packs of geraniums are $15.

Proceeds benefit the annual resident camping trip at St. Augustine Health Ministries on Cleveland’s West Side.

For more information, visit or call Joe Dailey, 216-701-3143, or John Whitely, 216-701-3146.

Payment for certificates can be made by Venmo @John-Whitely-1 cash*, check* accepted. Mail to John Whitely 36220 South Park Drive Avon, Ohio 44011

Connecting for Kids: Registration is required for Connecting for Kids’ March virtual programs. Register online at, by email at or call/text 440-570-5908. Spanish-speakers can call 440-907-9130.

Those who register will receive emailed information about how to join the program using the free Zoom app or by calling in using a toll-free number.

The Behavior Series includes “Tantrum Tamer Toolbox” 7-8 p.m. March 16 to help parents stop a meltdown before it starts. The March tool is a virtual behavior reward chart.

This program is geared at children ages 18 months to 6 years old to help them learn to control behavior and manage emotions. It is designed for children with or without identified development concerns.

To receive a Tantrum Tamer Toolkit prior to the program, request a kit at Westlake Porter Public Library’s drive-through window or by visiting the Youth Services Desk. The library is at 27333 Center Ridge Road, Westlake. There is a limit of one toolkit per household.

The next virtual Coffee and Chat program, “Music for Mental Health,” will be 7-8 p.m. March 18 and will focus on coping skills for caregivers.

It is open to any caregiver who needs support during the pandemic. The music therapist uses music and art to focus on emotions in music, focusing on music listening and discussing how colors can be associated with music and how those colors can be associated with different emotions.

In the session, the music therapist will lead participants through a creative music listening experience so they will need coloring materials and a blank sheet of paper. This program is for adults only and will not be recorded.

Celebration of Care: The Carolyn L. Farrell Foundation for Brain Health will have a Steppin’ Into St Patrick’s Day event billed as a celebration of care on March 13. The event will include an Irish dinner, music and an art auction.

Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased online at, by calling 440-414-0434 or email for more information.

Guests can choose corned beef and cabbage, fish cakes with colcannon or vegetarian shepherd’s pie for their entrée and Irish apple cake or a Guinness chocolate cupcake for dessert. Food can be picked up at the Center for Adult Living, 26633 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, at a prearranged time between 3-5 p.m.

After returning home, guests can eat dinner and enjoy the virtual event 5-8 p.m.

The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and 50% of the ticket price is tax deductible.

The foundation was established by the Farrell family in 2011 after they saw a need in the community. The family cared for Carolyn Farrell, the foundation’s namesake, and found there were few activity-based programs for people living at home with dementia/Alzheimer’s. Their plan was to bring programming to the community to help support people’s treatment plans and management of their illness. Programs are largely arts based and focus on multi-sensory elements. Learn more at

Information, please: Readers are invited to share information about themselves, their families and friends, organizations, church events, etc. in Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted and West Park for the A Place in the Sun column, which I write on a freelance basis. Awards, honors, milestone birthdays or anniversaries and other items are welcome. Submit information at least 10 days before the requested publication date to

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