Stephen Love dropped his plan to go to law school in the summer of 2009 when, through the Cleveland Foundation, he became an intern with the Buckeye Area Development Corp.
He knew he found his nonprofit calling when he started helping residents of Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood work together to improve their community, Mr. Love said. For instance, one community block club didn’t even have money to buy bushes and flowers for a streetscape project. So he gathered donations from area nurseries and recruited volunteers to spruce things up.
“This is something I really like to see — a community coming together to really improve their neighborhood,” he said.
Today, Mr. Love’s an information specialist with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, which finds new uses for run-down properties. He runs the database that the organization uses to manage its long list of properties, but he also is the land bank’s communications specialist and helps communities develop their own land re-use projects.
But by night the 2006 graduate of Charles F. Brush High School is an advocate for all things related to Lake Erie beaches, which he describes as “a passion gone wild.”
After he got a taste for community development, he and a few other Baldwin-Wallace College students started doing regular cleanups at Euclid Beach Park. Then two Collinwood nonprofits joined in, as did area residents.
The growing group won a grant to add recycling and trash bins at the park and signs stressing the importance of the environment. They also started holding events at the park.
Now they’re working on an even bigger plan: They’ve received an $18,000 Cleveland Foundation grant to start an Urban Beach Ambassadors program. This spring, volunteers will start visiting different beaches to talk to people about why it’s important to take care of the lake and its beaches.
“What started out as a rinky-dink cleanup, it’s really taken on some legs now,” Mr. Love said.
Nelson Beckford, program officer at the Cleveland Foundation, described Mr. Love as a “tireless, tireless, tireless” person who thinks about community development day and night.
“He’s not a talker. He’s a doer,” Mr. Beckford said.
Mr. Love — who studied political science, Spanish and international studies at B-W before earning a master’s in public administration from Cleveland State University in 2011 — does sometimes think about things other than community development, though.
For instance, he has a girlfriend, Allison Lukacsy, and plays trombone in an eight-piece Latin music fusion band.
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