Know Your Neighbors Series Continued…

Pam and John Addison and their Children

addison-familyWith a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology from Iowa State University in Ames, Des Moines native Pam (not yet Addison) moved to Cleveland to do graduate work at Cleveland State University. She had seen John Addison at educational events in Cleveland, but did not know him until he consulted the City of Cleveland Central Tax Collection Agency, where Pam helped him straighten out his taxes. From this unusual introductory encounter they got to know each other very well. On August 3rd they celebrated their twenty-ninth wedding anniversary.

John, who grew up in the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland, began his career in education teaching English at the Patrick Henry Junior High School in Cleveland and later Social Studies at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Junior High School. He was chosen to be the Director of “The Street Academy” for the Greater Cleveland Urban League. The Street Academy program helped school dropouts complete High School and prepare for college. This program was later taken over by the Cleveland Public School system.

John came to Shaker Heights to lead “Push Excel” at Shaker Heights High. This program, operated by the national Push Excel and the Shaker Heights School system, involved parents and the community in encouraging African-American students’ academic aspirations and achievement. When Dr. Peter Horoschak became SH School Superintendent, he made John his Administrative Assistant. During a career of more than thirty years in Shaker John also served as Assistant Principal at Woodbury, at the High School, Principal at the Lomond School twice, Interim Principal at the Boulevard School and at the Malvern School in its last year of operation.

addison-family2After retiring, John, whose volunteer activities had led him deep into Cleveland life and especially into meeting the needs of his church community, became an ordained Deacon of the Antioch Baptist Church this past July. John belongs to the “Bolton Buddies,” a group helping grandparents who foster their grandchildren. It tutors children and lends assistance in various ways to these families. Antioch is helping the Fairfax CDC develop and sustain a library and garden at the Langston Hughes’ home on 86th St. between Quincy and Cedar. Skilled in doing plaster work, dry wall repair and painting, John lent his talents to the restoration of “Mary’s House” on E 79th St., a place where women facing challenges can receive advice and resources. Eventually Antioch plans to renovate houses in Fairfax and undoubtedly John will take part in this project. As a Deacon, John keeps in communication with people who need spiritual counseling. He shepherds the elderly and shut-ins and he teaches Sunday school to six lively children from six to eight years of age.

John is involved with the NAACP’s ACTSO program, which encourages talented African-American students with a broad range of talents to develop and utilize their gifts. As a member of the Lomond Association, he has served as Vice President for Community Affairs and has been involved in exploring possible programs which might help Shaker youth in need of out-of-school programming. He is presently serving in an advisory capacity for the “Youth Center” and is on the Board of “Impact,” the after-school program for Middle School children at the First Unitarian Church. John is especially happy about his role as Treasurer for the “Ebony Bobcats”, the alumni group of his alma mater, Ohio University. In three years it has raised $38,000 toward a goal of $300,000 for the President Rod McDavis Urban Scholars Endowment Fund. This scholarship will support an African-American student for four years of college. The University has recently joined this group in raising money to endow this scholarship.

John’s concern for others and his dedication to community service and to social justice are shared by his family. Pam, a Deaconess at Antioch, where she sings in the Gospel Choir and belongs to the “Antioch Ringers”, the bell choir, has served on the “Friends of the Shaker Library Board” and has co-chaired book sales. She also was active in the PTA. As a stay-at-home Mom, her friends would complain that they could not reach her by telephone because she was rarely at home. While in college their daughter, Bishara, volunteered for “Towards Employment”, a non-profit in Washington, D.C., which helps the unemployed and former felons obtain jobs. She is Project Manager for “Strategy Implementations at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.” Her younger brother, Asim, who, not surprisingly, also is interested in people, is pursuing his undergraduate studies in psychology at Cuyahoga Community College. Together and individually the Addisons are engaged in making this a fairer and better world in which to live.