Hank Smith has been retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2008, but he keeps busy by working as a community activist in his East Cleveland community. Hank spent the summer crossing the county as a member of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture’s Street Team.
“I’m involved in community activities on a regular basis, and this was the first time someone asked me to do something fun,” he joked.
Hank says he got involved in the community listening process because during his time in the armed forces he saw many different cultures and developed an appreciation in art. He wanted to find out what his fellow residents valued in arts and culture opportunities in the county. “Being at Night Market Cleveland was a fun experience. There were all different types of people from the east side, the west side, from all over the county to get there,” he said. “What I enjoyed most about it was being around like-minded people who had the same interests.”
Hank said many residents told him community events were important to their community’s identities, but many people don’t know about them. “I talked to so many people and they were telling me the same thing: that they don’t get the attention they wish they had. That really stuck with me. I lost count of how many people would tell me the same thing.”
Being a resident of East Cleveland, it’s important to Hank that people know of the great things happening there, such as the Collard Green Festival, the East Cleveland Theater, and the Snickerfritz complex. “I would love to see more attention paid to these establishments,” he said. “Some of us can’t afford events in Playhouse Square, but we love theater, so if we have a theater doing well in the community, we can enjoy it.”