Putting The Piece Together

“Missing pieces do more than complete the puzzle, they fill an empty space.” – Luanne Rice

Imagine yourself, if you will, putting together a puzzle. Maybe it’s of a gorgeous sea scape, crashing waves and crying gulls. Maybe it’s baseball legend Babe Ruth hitting a home run. It could be anything, really. Now, what if all the pieces were the same size and shape – no differences? How would you fit together a bunch of circles or triangles? Even if they were squares and you could put them in order, they wouldn’t stay. With every piece the same there’d be nothing holding it all together. So, it is with people. We’re better prepared to create the whole picture when there are differences.

It’s with this in mind that North Coast Community Homes CEO, Suzanne Seifert, is excited for the new  8 new committee members joining the team.  All of them have different backgrounds. All of them bring something different, special to the table.

“I think it’s exciting. The fact that all of them are coming from different backgrounds, with different experiences” says Seifert, “I think that means we’re going to get a lot of new perspectives.”

Seifert is all about expanding the perspective of NCCH. She’s focused on how the organization can evolve and do more in the changing landscape of Ohio and for non-profits in general. She hopes that by building on the solid foundation of board members and donors that have been with NCCH for years, the addition of extra hands, different perspectives, and fresh eyes will help the organization innovate and grow.

“I don’t want us focused solely on what we used to do. Things are changing and we need to be prepared.” remarks Seifert “Having more committed people from different backgrounds, is going to help us succeed at becoming the organization we need to be. I’m not thinking about just the next 2 or 3 years, I’m thinking 5, 10.”

Certainly, the new committee members seem ready to be engaged.  And there’s a lot of work as the organization looks to realize the lofty goals set for now through 2019 and beyond. There’s new opportunities abounding and each team member, be they board, staff, or volunteer or other, has something unique and important to contribute.

Over the next few issues of NCCH Heartbeats we’ll be profiling the new committee members, sharing more about what they bring to the table and what aspirations they have for the organization. For today we begin with some simple introductions, below (in no particular order):

Rick DeChant is Executive Director of Veterans Services at Cuyahoga Community College.  He retired from the U.S. Coast Guard with the rank of Commander after 22 years of duty including many foreign deployments.  Rick is a former television news producer, and owned his own public relations and advertising company.  He has served with many not-for-profits, and currently raises funds and awareness for the Greater Cleveland Fisher House.


Since 2005, Cindy Norwood has served as Executive Director of The Arc of Greater Cleveland, and is one of Ohio’s leading experts and advocates for those who have disabilities.  As the parent of an adult daughter with intellectual disability, Cindy combines her personal experience with her professional expertise to provide powerful solutions for families needing advocacy and guidance.  She is the founder of many initiatives serving people who have disabilities.


Architect Cornelia “Cee Cee” Hodgson is one of the country’s foremost designers of living environments for older adults and how design impacts their well-being.  She is Principal of C.C. Hodgson Architectural Group and founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments, and is guided by the principle that environments affect people's behavior.  Cee Cee started her career working on HUD financed apartments for the elderly.

Dennis Burnside’s passion for serving those who have disabilities is extending beyond his recently completed 12 years as a Trustee of North Coast Community Homes.  He immediately volunteered his services as Chair of the For Profit Ventures Committee.  As President of Juniper CRE, Dennis recently joined his company’s services to Signet Enterprises.  He consults with corporate clients regarding real estate location decisions using predictive analytics.


Ron Gross has served the mission of NCCH since 2001.  Following his more than 13 years as a Trustee, Ron volunteered to join the organization’s For Profit Ventures Committee.  As President & CEO of MGO, one of the largest regional retirement planning firms, his financial expertise is extensive.  Ron is very active in the community and because of a family member with a developmental disability, had special insight into the mission of NCCH.

Dan Fashimpaur brings a wealth of financial experience to his position on the Finance Committee of North Coast Community Homes.  Currently Director of Treasury for Vitamix, Dan served as Director of Corporate Finance at Minute Men HR, and for 15 years as a financial manager at Eaton Corp.   He’s on the Board of Directors of the CSU Foundation and has been an adjunct faculty member at Kent State for 10 years.  Dan also chaired the Midtown Cleveland Community Development Corporation.

Brian Seidner has demonstrated his commitment to the service of those who have disabilities. Recently joining the NCCH Finance Committee, he also serves on the Board of Trustees for Welcome House.  Brian, Managing Director of the Siegfried Group, serves as a Leadership Advisor to financial executives in the Ohio and Western PA Markets, helping clients become successful leaders in their organizations.

Jim Papenfuss is the newest member of the North Coast Community Homes Mission Programs Committee, which oversees the core mission of the organization.  Jim retired in 2015 as Vice President of Global Services at Sherwin-Williams, but never interrupted his commitment to the Northeast Ohio disability community.  He’s been involved particularly in the autism community since 1998, the year his youngest son was diagnosed.   

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NCCH, Rubber Ducks Team Up for a Win!

Ask any one of the more than 200 people who were there, and they’ll tell you that the 4th Annual North Coast Community Homes “Night Out” with the Akron Rubber Ducks at Canal Park in downtown Akron was a Grand Slam from start to finish.

With former Cleveland Indians star Andre Thornton throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, and later mingling with NCCH residents in the Duck Club loge, the atmosphere was special from the very beginning. Residents from NCCH’s 21 Summit County homes were joined by mental health consumers from other local agencies, and along with many supportive members of the community teamed up for a very special night.

In addition to the best seats in the house for the Rubber Ducks game against the Reading Fightin’ Phils, the residents were treated to a full baseball buffet dinner, roundtrip transportation from their homes, and a chance to mingle with old friends and make new ones.

“This is the best night of my life,” one declared, and was joined by many other Summit County mental health consumers in thanking those who made the evening possible.

The Night Out was once again underwritten in large part by a generous grant from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. Thom Craig, Director of the Mental Health Program for the Foundation, enjoyed interacting with the many guests, and was joined by most of the MCMF executive team, including Foundation President Rick Kellar.

“This is exactly what we had in mind when we provided our support,” said Craig, noting the positive, supportive environment for those who at times may hesitate to attend large public events and would respond to opportunities for comfortable social interaction.

“I am very impressed with the mission of North Coast Community Homes,” said Thornton, who along with fellow Akron businessmen Fred Maynard and Mike Stone made financial contributions to back the special event. A substantial grant from the OMNOVA Solutions Foundation was also instrumental in providing the residents meals, tickets, and transportation.

The evening ended on the same high note with which it began. The Rubber Ducks won the game 4-3, and the fireworks show that followed was nothing short of spectacular. As he left to board his ride back home one NCCH resident summed it up well, saying, “This is all so wonderful. I don’t know what else to say. I was so welcome here!”

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On Monday, July 17, dozens of foursomes will gather at Sand Ridge for one of the finest outings in all of NE Ohio – all to support the mission of North Coast Community Homes.  There is still time to register and join the growing list of Corporate Sponsors who have our sincere thanks!

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