Hough's Fatima Family Center Wins FBI Award

LaJean Ray (left) watches during a drum lesson at Fatima Family Center. (Tony Ganzer / ideastream)
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Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood has long been battling a reputation that many residents say is undeserved. These residents have been working to further a new narrative about the neighborhood not rooted in the riots, or rebellion of 1966.

In 2016, I spoke with some staff members at the Fatima Family Center at East 66th and Lexington Ave.

Jacqueline Rogers Overby: “People think of Hough as ‘the Hough riots’ and from the outside looking in they only know about what folks tell them about the riot, but there’s more in Hough than riots.”

Ben Hughes: “The riots definitely don’t define Hough. It’s a community that’s been on the rise for, I’ve been down here about 20 years, and it’s been on the rise ever since.”

Stephanie Manney: “Everything’s not negative.  Some people leave and don’t come back, because they say ‘oh, that’s what it used to be.’ But you need to come revisit to know what has changed.”

The center is supported by Catholic Charities, and is one of many hubs of activity and community in Hough, and it’s now been awarded the FBI Directors Community Leadership Award.

The Fatima center’s director LaJean Ray left for Washington, D.C. Thursday morning to accept the award Friday.

“We were nominated by another agency because they feel we exemplify leadership around safety and safety issues.  We’ve done quite a bit of work with the police department for years,” Ray said by phone. “We were thrilled to find out we were nominated, and then actually given the award, and then to find out it’s a national award.”

Ray said there would be a nine-person contingent to receive the award.

She said every community has its challenges, but this recognition is another example of people really understanding who the residents of Hough are, and how they work.

“I think that we all—the police, the schools, the churches, the museums, the non-profit organizations, the community agencies—all have a stake in advocating for and lifting up this wonderful, and vibrant, and historical community, and every opportunity I get I’m going to do that,” she said.

Ray said the FBI award was not the only award Fatima will be given this year, but didn’t give details.

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