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Hundreds of People Are Encouraged to Talk to Strangers in Cuyahoga County

photo of Euclid jail food

An estimated 1,500 people attended about 50 breakfasts and lunches in Cuyahoga County Sunday -- to talk about problems and solutions. The Cleveland Foundation is calling the event "Common Ground."

WKSU's Kabir Bhatia was among the roughly two-dozen people who went to the  Euclid City Jail  to discuss the challenges facing people getting out of jail.

The event brought visitors together with current and former inmates to discuss obstacles such as the needs for transportation, employment and resources to guide former inmates. Dave McKenzie is looking forward to being released from Euclid in November, and says he’s not all that concerned because of the classes he’s been taking at the jail.

"I think about all the people I can call upon -- the list is endless, here in this jail -- they're trying to get us back on our feet to keep us out of here."

McKenzie was one of a half-dozen inmates who prepared the food for the lunch, and he says he’s hoping to work in the culinary field after release.

Evan Cernjul was released from Euclid in 2015 and credits the jail’s re-entry classes with helping him to land a job. He says employment – plus a way to avoid the environment that got him into trouble – are key factors to success for all people re-entering society.

"Getting them somewhere to go upon release and maybe already having a job set up for them on the day of release so they can go and start making money and get their own place and get out of the situation they were in."

The event was one of several that took place yesterday in Cuyahoga County as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s “Common Ground” series. Other events included a diversity forum at Baldwin-Wallace University and a discussion on re-envisioning the Kinsman neighborhood.