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Online MOVIE Premier: Drops of Kindness, Ripples of Change

This past Saturday, February 23rd, a dedicated group of volunteers put on the Tributary Bash to celebrate and benefit H2O, Help To Others.  Help to Others is a service-learning program for middle and high school students in Lakewood. H2O engages youth in volunteer work, empowering them with the values of belonging and contributing to their community.

HERE’S THE DEAL:  I created a mini-documentary for the Tributary Bash.  The response from attendees was overwhelming.  A mixture of laughter, applause and tears made the debut a success.  The outpouring of positives from people at the party humbled me.  

An ONLINE premier of the mini-doc will be Friday, March 1st @ 7:30.  Click this Link to watch.  

The mini-doc is only the beginning.  My goal is to make a short feature documentary about H2O that chronicles Lakewood’s struggle to find a way to sustain a cornerstone of the community.  The larger feature, Ripples of Change, is due out in 2014.  It is currently in production through August of 2013.  


Transmedia Documentary?

          It’s a new kind of filmmaking that engages the audience in the story. 

            In my quest to tell H2O’s story I’m striving to ensure its existence for future generations.  The hook, I don’t know how this movie will end.  It’s like a “choose-your-own-adventure” story.  You, the audience, will influence the ending. 

            I do know that one day I will wrap it up and prepare it for its debut at the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2014. 

            It is up to you!  If you have a story about H2O then I need to hear from you.  Reach out through:

Facebook: Help to Others Alumni page

Follow the Blog: Ripples of Change

Tweet: @CJ’s_Stories


            You can help this story have a happy ending.  You can tell your story.  I will fold the stories into the final movie and subsequent vignettes that will stand as proof that H2O is “essential” to our city.

            There is no way our community will let H2O fall to budget cuts in the future if we share with each other just how important this program is to the very fabric of our community. 

            For more information about transmedia watch this: Transmedia Explained Graphically or learn more about the Storyworld Conference which is devoted to this new media.  


This past week was about giving thanks.  Among the packed houses and rich dishes I thought of my own Ripples of Change, how I’ve evolved over the years.   I thought of the people and events that shaped who I am today.

On Friday, I met a group of 17 H2O alumni ranging from recent high school graduates to a founding member of H2O.   In talking about my film and their experiences I unearthed another layer to this project.    

One alum said, “It really has formed me into the person I am today!”  She told me about volunteering at a Relay for Life event when she was a sophomore in high school.  From that point on, her dream was to work for the American Cancer Society.  Just last spring, her dream was realized.   The American Cancer Society now employs her.  That is a ripple! 

Another alum spoke to me about how H2O is still apart of her life 10 years after she participated.  The H2O spirit lives in her.  In her work and social life she talked about how she feels more connected to people and the community she lives in, because of H2O.  She inspired me as she spoke of responsibility, “H2O teaches kids to be better people!”

As a parent of a sophomore and a 7th Grader, I am thankful. 

I am thankful I live in town that cares for one another. 

I am thankful for the 20 years that my city continues to fund a program that teaches young people how to be decent human beings.

I am thankful for the people whose vocation drives H2O. 

Celia Dorsch, retired director of H2O, I thank you for what you’ve worked so hard to create.  Nora Steele, retired assistant director of H2O, I thank you for working countless hours along with Celia. 

Emmie Hutchinson, current Director of H2O, I thank you for taking the torch from Celia.  I know you’ll do great things. 

Vanessa Lange, current assistant director, I thank you for your effort. 

I hope those involved, or those that want to be involved, figure out a way to sustain the program for another 20 years. 

For those of you following the film’s progress:  The 1st Trailer will be available December 16th! 

At the Epicenter of a Ripple of Change

Busy!  Me too.  This weekend my overscheduled life collided with a reality perception many of us lose sight of from time to time:  Hunger!

I mean the not-having-enough-deciding-between-heat-and-food hunger! 

I documented the community effort known as the LCAC Thanksgiving Food Drive.  Before this weekend, I’d heard about it.  I knew my kids donated food at their respective schools in the past.  In my mind, it was another group in Lakewood that is made up of “L”s and “C”s always looking for volunteers. 

Whap!  Reality hit me in the face!  Perception changed!

Officially they are:  LCAC: Lakewood Community Charitable Assistance, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of under-privileged Lakewood, Ohio residents. 

In my words, they are Lakewoodites that make Lakewood one of the best places in America to raise children.  The dedicated leaders organized thousands of donations, and hundreds of people.  The effort took months to prepare, but only hours to complete. 

On Friday, donations were gathered from schools and other sites.  It was sorted, counted and bagged.  On Saturday, LCAC purchased perishable foods and brought them to the Masonic Temple for distribution.  A sea of people, ranging in ages from 5 to 95, flowed in and out of the Temple creating 300 deliverable meals for the Turkey holiday. 




An orchestrated army of vehicles packed with meals delivered them to Lakewood families in need.  I was privileged to take part in delivering a few meals with three H2O, Help To Others,  volunteers and LCAC member Jeff Worron. 


We arrived at a house that did not look as I expected.  Strange, I thought, as we parked.  As it turned out, the single-mother-in-need works three jobs.  She couldn’t take off work to receive the donation. So, a neighboring family of the street’s Block Watch group stepped up and told LCAC to deliver it to them and they would make sure the mom received her meal.

That is Lakewood!  That is why I live here!  

Note the levels of awesomeness! 

  1. LCAC exists.
  2. Thousands of people donate.
  3. Hundreds help get it together and get it out.
  4. H2O a city/school-sponsored group (one of many awesome groups in Lakewood) teaches kids to see the value of service.
  5. The Block Watch program ties a street together.
  6. An ex-teacher now turned filmmaker re-opens his eyes, perceptions changed!
  7. A hard-working single mom will enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

It’s a beautiful day for Lakewood! 

This blog post is one of a series in the creation of a transmedia documentary about H2O entitled Ripples of Change.  Please reach out to me (facebook or twitter or if you’d like to help tell the story of Help To Others!  The quest is to make H2O sustainable for another 20 years! 

For more information about LCAC please visit their website.  Learn how you can be a part of their Christmas Food Drive on December 14th and 15th



Ripples of Change - Status Update

Five weeks to go before the trailer is up for public review.  

I’ve had to buy two new hard drives to manage the amount of footage gathered to date.  This is a great problem.  I’ve interviewed 10 adults over the past few weeks, and a few kids.  

Let me put it this way!  

If I can craft the story out of the pieces that moved me to tears and rattled my concerned heart then this piece will meet it’s goal, which is: to gain exposure and guarantee sustainability for H2O.  

I’ve been talking to folks about how to ensure we get funding to keep the program around for another 20 years.  I’ve used phrases like chopping block, budget cuts and non-essential to describe its status in the budget world of the city. 


This is offensive to people who are fond of the program.  “Non-essential?” One person said, “I can’t think of anything more essential!”  “Money is less important than teaching our youth what it means to be a citizen!” 


Ripples of Change, a transmedia documentary, is impacting me the filmmaker!   I came to this appreciating H2O, with both of my boys participating over the years.  However, I never realized the scope of what H2O accomplishes.  I never knew the number of people’s lives it has touched. 


Budget?  Sustainability? 


Think about this:  It costs $250 a day to incarcerate an adolescent.  On the flip side, it costs $150 a year to pay for one kid to serve the community through H2O.  Look at it in common denominator terms:


Incarcerate for a day:  $250 

H2O for a day: $0.41


My hope, once Ripples of Change reaches the theater, we are no longer talking about sustainability for the next 20 years because the monies have been raised.  I want to see the leaders of H2O figuring out how to broaden their reach while guaranteeing the current level of awesomeness.  I want to see H2O being contacted by other cities as model program for youth.  Most of all, I want to see the hundreds of kids who join H2O efforts continuing to do their amazing service without their parents worrying if the budget will be cut! 


Enough for now!  Back to my hard drives. 


Ripple on! 

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