West Park business owner attends Meta Boost Gather and discusses small business concerns: A Place in the Sun

CLEVELAND, Ohio – John Dudas, owner of Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland, was one of 500 business owners chosen to attend Meta Boost Gather May 16-18 in Washington, DC Au During the event, he connected with other small business owners and met with decision makers on Capitol Hill. Twelve Ohio businesses have been selected to meet with officials from the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to discuss small business concerns and post-pandemic strategies.

The event also involved workshops, conferences and networking with other members of the Meta’s Leaders Network, a group of small businesses chosen for their excellence on the platform. Representatives from nearly all 50 states were there courtesy of Meta to meet with their own local policy makers.

Dudas was a member of Facebook’s original Small Business Council in 2016. Seventeen members in attendance were recognized as founding members of the network.

The event was a representation of today’s face of small business owners in America and reflected the importance they have to the nation’s culture and diversity.

Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop, a family owned brick and mortar business located at 17462 Loraain Ave. in Kamm’s Plaza Mall, has been serving Greater Cleveland for over 31 years.

Dudas said comics have always been a part of his life. His great-grandfather, a Polish immigrant, spoke English but couldn’t read it, so he used comic books to learn. Dudas started working at a comic book store when he was 11, and the owners hired his mother, Carol Dudas, three years later. In 1990, the mother-son duo decided to open their own store – Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop. Dudas has run the shop since his mother retired.

During the pandemic shutdowns, Dudas started having sales on Facebook Live with great results. He said they made enough money to stay afloat and maintain full-time staff. After three weeks, they were selling at least 95% of the books available at the live sale.

Dudas said his team continues to livestream each week when new comics are released, and customers note their picks in the comments for pickup. He also uses the platform to showcase large collections of vintage comics, and the next day customers visit the store to shop.

“In 2020, we thought our business was over,” Dudas said. “In 2021, we had our best year ever, surpassing $1 million in sales for the first time, thanks in part to Facebook Live helping bring our products, people and customers together.”

Scholarship winners: The Friends of Euclid Creek awarded three scholarships for the first time in its 21-year history. Two of this year’s winners come from Fairview Park and Lakewood. Each year, a $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a deserving high school or college student considering a career in environmental science.

This year’s local winners are Jess Kowalksi from Fairview Park and Peyton Musgrave from Lakewood.

Jess researched and planned a pollinator garden for her high school, Saint Joseph Academy in West Park.

“I presented my final pollinator garden proposal to a committee of teachers, staff and my school principal, and my project was approved,” she said. Jess then gathered student volunteers to prepare the 383 square foot garden and plant 100 native plants. She now mentors lower class students and staff on how to run the garden after graduating.

“Learning to manage the garden will be a powerful experience for students as they will take full responsibility for the garden and gain real-world experience that they can apply to their own lives. The next generation of students will be ready to continue the work of biodiversity conservation,” she said.

Jess will go to the University of Iowa to study animal ecology.

Peyton will travel to Kent State to study environmental conservation. She has already completed the Plant Science and Landscape Technology program offered by Cuyahoga Community College.

“I am dedicated to using my education to benefit my community,” Peyton said.

She also volunteers for the National Association for Landscape Professionals and the Ohio Landscape Association.

“My passion for nature and conservation started about 10 years ago when the house I lived in had a forest as a backyard,” she said. “What I’ve started to notice over the years is the lack of maintenance and management of the forest. I also noticed the rising water from the river and how it was devouring an increasing amount of the riverbank,” she said, adding that it inspired her to want to help solve these problems, “at the instead of sitting around watching them perform.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley greets parishioners after Mass May 22 at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish. (Carol Kovach/special at cleveland.com)

Centenary celebration: Congratulations to St. Luke the Evangelist Parish of Lakewood as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Reverend Kevin Elbert is a pastor. The Centennial Committee Co-Chairs are Rachel Kratofil and Lou McMahon.

Alumni of St. Luke’s School (now part of Lakewood Catholic Academy) celebrated the centenary of the reunion of all schools on May 21. The following day, Boston Cardinal Archbishop Sean Patrick O’Malley, a Lakewood native and son of the parish, celebrated Mass as part of the centennial festivities. Cleveland Bishop Edward Malesic and several priests with ties to the parish concelebrated.

Cardinal O’Malley spent the weekend in town visiting family and friends. Malley’s Chocolates on Madison Avenue welcomed him home with a message on the large sign outside the store.

During his homily at Mass, the Cardinal recalled his childhood in Lakewood and St. Luke’s, where he was a mass server. He also recalled times in the 1950s and 1960s when Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a well-known Catholic broadcaster, came to the parish and visited his friend, Msgr. Charles McBride, the pastor.

The centennial committee produced a history and description of the church’s stained glass windows. The windows are being restored as part of a century-old project. Donations are welcome for the initiative, which has reached approximately 50% of its goal.

The parish was established on April 18, 1922. Until the construction of the first church, parishioners worshiped in a tent on the convent grounds of St. Augustine Academy (now Lakewood Catholic Academy) adjacent to Lakewood Park . The convent chapel was used for sacramental celebrations.

Construction of the first timber-frame church, which stood on Bunts Road and could seat 430 people, began in September 1922. The congregation moved into the basement for services from May 1923. Few of soon after, the church was finished. The school, which is on Clift Boulevard, was completed in September 1928.

The current church was built in 1951 and has been remodeled. A new organ was installed in 1974.

The centenary celebration will continue throughout the year.

Malley's sign

Malley’s Chocolates on Madison Avenue in Lakewood welcomed Boston Cardinal Archbishop Sean Patrick O’Malley to his hometown with a message on the store’s sign. (Carol Kovasch/special at cleveland.com)

It’s time to remember: Memorial Day will be observed Monday with many communities planning special celebrations to remember those who lost their lives in service to the United States.

Originally known as Decoration Day, the national celebration began in May 1868 to honor soldiers who died during the Civil War. It was modeled after a tradition in many southern states where soldiers’ graves were decorated – even before the end of the war.

In 1890, Decoration Day was adopted as a holiday in the northern states. It was celebrated on May 30 until Congress standardized the holiday in 1971, renaming it Memorial Day and declaring it a day to remember all those who died serving in the United States military. Congress has also set aside the last Monday in May for the holidays.

Take time on Memorial Day to thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

Reminder: Don’t forget that after a two-year absence, American Legion Post 738 will be at the Fairview Park Giant Eagle offering poppies for donation over Memorial Day weekend. Members will be at the Fairview Mall store from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 28 and 29. Proceeds will benefit local veterans in need.

Free concert : St. James Church will host the Sound of St. James Horn Trio Concert at 7 p.m. May 28 in the church, 17514 Detroit Ave., Lakewood. Free entry,

Music by Brahms, Dupre, Bach and Palado will be presented by Johnum Palado on violin; Sam Hao, violin; Kim Hickey, horn; Leo Choi, piano and Adam Chlebek, organ.

Attendees will be able to appreciate the detailed architecture and designs inside the historic church.

A voluntary offering will be accepted and the book containing the photos and the history of the church will be available after the concert.

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

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Michael J. Chiaramonte