Notre Dame College Invites Caring Hearts to 2018 InnerCitySaints Event

Notre Dame College will shine a light on its 2018 InnerCitySaint, a servant leader and untiring volunteer for the homeless, poor and youth in Cleveland, on November 15.

This year, the College will host its third annual InnerCitySaints luncheon, honoring Edward Plaspohl, a relatively unheralded hero making a difference in the inner-urban areas of Northeast Ohio, noon Thursday, November 15, at the Tudor Arms Hotel Cleveland in University Circle. The event will feature a keynote address from Sr. Melannie Svoboda, SND, a Notre Dame alumna and nationally acclaimed author and spiritual director.

The InnerCitySaints Award luncheon celebrates the honoree for transformational service in the Cleveland metropolitan area and affords an opportunity for leaders from the nonprofit and corporate communities to salute the power of loving care and service to others in Northeast Ohio.

Tickets and sponsorships are available. Net proceeds from the event benefit the Notre Dame Caring Hearts Fund, which provides emergency support to students who are experiencing unexpected crises. Contact Ann Coakley at 216.373.6532 or

The Recipient

Plaspohl has served more than 800 straight Sundays since 2003 with the St. Ignatius High School Labre Ministry, which every week dispatches volunteers to Cleveland's inner city to search for the homeless, provide meals and offer other assistance. He helped launch the St. Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 12 years ago and serves the poor and marginalized every week in Akron. That group has ministered nearly 600 straight Mondays.

A retired global account executive with SAP America, Plaspohl, 62, of Strongsville, Ohio, serves as a volunteer with the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership at St. Ignatius and as a board member of the Ignatian Identity Committee at Walsh Jesuit. He is on the Board of Directors of Boys Hope Girls Hope Northeast Ohio.

The Speaker

Sr. Melannie Svoboda, SND, graduated from Notre Dame in 1967 and has served as a faculty member in English at the College. Svoboda is previous provincial superior in Chardon, past novice director in Detroit and a former high school and college educator, including at Notre Dame.

She is the author of 13 books and her articles have appeared in numerous publications including America, Catholic Digest, National Catholic Reporter and Country Woman. She recently served as a keynote speaker at the Sisters of Notre Dame National Education Summit at the College.

The Luncheon

The InnerCitySaints Ceremony this year also is expected to feature Fr. Donald P. Oleksiak, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Cleveland.  As Vicar General, Oleksiak assists Bishop Nelson J. Perez in the governance of the Diocese. As Moderator of the Curia, he is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the diocese including issues of policy and operations.

Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries is scheduled to provide the invocation.

Russ Mitchell, managing editor of evening news and lead anchor of evening newscasts at WKYC, the NBC affiliate in Cleveland, has been tapped to emcee the event again this year. Mitchell is former anchor of the CBS Evening News weekend editions and The Early Show on Saturday, and national correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, the CBS Evening News and The Early Show.

The Fund

The InnerCitySaints Award luncheon is the main fundraiser for the College’s Caring Hearts Fund that supports students who face unforeseen financial, physical or emotional crisis during the academic year. With this fund, Notre Dame is able to help students with such necessities as food, winter clothing, computers, books and emergency travel expenses to aid them in persisting and completing their College degrees.

The Award

Notre Dame established the InnerCitySaints Award in 2016 to recognize individuals who through their humble service have made a meaningful difference in Cleveland’s inner city urban communities.

The InnerCitySaints Award was presented in 2017 to Father Jim O’Donnell who helped establish the community of the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Eucharist, which has provided a ministry of presence in the Central neighborhood of Cleveland for more than 35 years.

The inaugural award was bestowed in 2016 to Sr. Rita Mary Harwood, SND, secretary for parish life and development with the Diocese of Cleveland, who established and has led the Diocesan Ministry to the Incarcerated since 1996.

September 2018


About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or

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