Q: Cari, can you tell us a little something about yourself and your family, including the 4-legged members? Places you grew up and lived in?
I became a Clevelander in primary school when my family moved here from Chicago via New York. After college, my husband and I have also lived in Chicago, Pennsylvania and South Africa. But once we had kids, we settled back in Cleveland and have enjoyed every minute of these 20 years! We currently have two kids in college and two golden retrievers. One is a puppy we just got a few days ago!
Q: How long have you worked for EA, what drew you to our company, in what capacity and don’t be shy, what has been your shining achievement?
About 8 years ago I became a Guide with EA after having been asked to be a lunch guest a few times. Shortly after that I took on the role of Project Manager. I love getting to know our candidates and lining up great connections with people in Northeast Ohio who have similar interests. A couple of years ago I also took on the role of IT Manager. My background in computers allowed us to convert our business to the online world, both for our candidates and general business practice. And, talk about perfect timing for working on our green footprint, over the past two years I’ve helped us change into a company that is almost completely paperless! No more paper maps, customized 100+ page paper binders or bags of CLE literature. Candidates now have full access to EA’s custom NE Ohio book through our online portal. With the pandemic, these changes have allowed us to work remotely, seamlessly!
Q: Speaking of seams, would you tell us a bit about your latest project?
As schools closed down in March, we picked up our son from college in Chicago, two days after St. Patrick’s Day and self-quarantined for 14 days to be sure we didn’t pick up the virus in the beautiful yet densely populated city. With the cold wet spring we experienced, I found myself doing my needlepoint hobby every night. But as time progressed, I needed a little more purpose. Anticipating the need for masks I decided to break out the old sewing machine and whipped up a few for the family. They turned out so nice that I decided to make them for front line workers, first responders, and those in need. With so many people making masks for these groups, I decided “selling” my masks could have a lot more impact in raising money for charity.
Q: Can you share about your chosen charity, The Greater Cleveland Food Bank and what you have raised thus far?
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank does so much good for so many people. During this economically challenging time, I thought donations would help our community. It’s been a big success! While I still give away plenty of masks to front line workers, the sales of the masks have produced nearly $1000 so far. I use unique fabrics to make wearing a mask a little more fun. They are reversible, adjustable and washable. And, I’ve expanded the types of masks to include a size large for those who want a bigger or looser fit and extra small for children, as they get ready to go back to school.
Q: What unexpected gifts or little miracles have you received from moving through all the challenges and cancellations of special events and trips? What’s tops on the list to reschedule after this is all over?
This year is truly like no other, but it is my goal to find the silver lining in it every day. Having our family all home together is a blessing! Since our family trip to Alaska was postponed, we decided to get a puppy…what a joy! And my garden is producing flowers earlier than in years past. My morning activity is taking my coffee outside with a pair of scissors to see what blossomed overnight. We look forward to next year…to hopefully having large gatherings with lots of hugs, socializing and celebrating our daughter’s ’20 graduation, the missed birthdays and everyday life.
Q: What bit of advice would you offer our new families who have just landed in The Land and are looking to get to know their neighborhoods and city during the pandemic?
For those new to CLE during this time, I strongly recommend exploring our Cleveland Metroparks system, bring a take-out picnic from our wonderful local restaurants like: Chimi, Marotta’s and Vero. For a little social activity be sure to find your neighborhood pubs that have great food like The Tavern Company. They opened their outdoor back patio. We go there weekly and feel so safe! Widely spaced tables and a nice low-key buzz of activity allows you to chat from a distance while watching the Cleveland Indians, back in action!