Mariely Luengo Receives Irene Zehman Award
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Mazel tov to Mariely Luengo, the 2020 recipient of the Irene Zehman Volunteer Award!
Each year, the Federation recognizes an unsung Jewish woman or group of women who demonstrate the highest ideals and practices of volunteer service on behalf of the Jewish and/or general community. Luengo, who established the West Side Community Food Co-op to address food insecurity on Cleveland’s west side, was honored at the Federation’s virtual Women IN Philanthropy MaIN Event on October 28.
“With COVID-19, Mariely recognized how many Jews didn’t have food, specifically on the west side,” said Michelle Hirsch, Women IN Philanthropy Chair. “She mobilized and did whatever she could to get the right food to the right place in the right time to the right people.”
“This kind of work in the Jewish community has been done for me and my family for generations,” Luengo said. “It’s just what we do – this community was not going to let each other go hungry. It’s extraordinarily humbling to receive this award knowing the legacy and who has received it before me.”
The West Side Food Co-op began in Luengo’s garage during Passover 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luengo is the co-founder of The West Tribe, a nonprofit that serves and assists the Jewish community on the west side of Cleveland. She is also the board chair of Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center, and a volunteer at the Cleveland Clinic, specializing in NICU babies and doula care.
The Irene Zehman Award was established in 1980 by Roslyn Z. Wolf and Judith Z. Sherman, both of blessed memory, in honor of their mother, Irene Zehman, who devoted much of her life to giving back to the community through volunteering. Recent recipients of the award include Judith Wolkoff, an active volunteer with The Transplant House of Cleveland, Judi Kovach, Co-Founder and Chair of the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank, and Gayle Horwitz, an active volunteer with US Together.