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Catholic Charities Corporation Administrative Offices:

7911 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102

(216) 334-2900

Black History Month Spotlight: Terrel Valentine

Posted February 21, 2024

Meet Terrel Valentine, the Program Coordinator at the Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center, or the Cosgrove Center, as it is known by most in the city!

Growing up, Terrel was raised by extended family who migrated from Alabama to the Glenville neighborhood in Cleveland.

“My grandmother and grandfather – they bought a house in Glenville neighborhood…” Terrel said.

Her grandparents were hard workers that Terrel believes touched the lives of those they met and interacted with.

“Because they were such hard workers, I think that was just something that passed through everyone that they touched,” Terrel said, “Their house became kind of like a safe home for everybody.”

As a child, Terrel’s grandparents had an open-door policy. If someone needed food, shelter, a safe space, etc., her grandparents would welcome them with open arms, which shaped her into the person she is today.

“Our house was the place where anybody could come and eat, if you needed a place to stay, you’d have a pallet on the floor, and that kind of trickled down to me,” Terrel said.

She saw the impact her grandparents had on people’s lives and continued to do what they did with her children and their friends.

Terrel’s mindset of helping those in need doesn’t ever stop. Working at the Cosgrove Center allows her to continue to support and show love to people who may need it.

“Just loving on them [clients] where they are,” Terrel said, “Whether it’s showing them love by food or with clothing or just with a conversation…”

Black history to Terrel means one thing, she’s black and proud.

“Until the day I die, I’m going to be black and so those experiences are not even something that you could really convey in words… Good, bad, and indifferent but I love being black, despite the challenges,” Terrel said.

Her grandparents and great-grandparents lived in the South during the '60s and have shown Terrel how much things have changed since then.

Even though we have come a long way since [the civil rights movement], there is still so much that needs to change according to Terrel.

Working at the Cosgrove Center, Terrel has seen similarities between herself and those she serves.

“At the end of the day, with the same experiences, we are all human. It’s just how people view us,” Terrel said, “I’m just hoping in time those things will change.”

Terrel explains how she is fully present with the people she encounters, and she encourages everyone to do the same.

“Be present with each person that you come into contact with, especially those people of color. Be open to share those moments…,” Terrel said. “I really believe experiencing other people just by conversation… that’s going to be education in itself,”

Serving those who are experiencing homelessness or hardships can be exhausting work, but Terrel is forever advocating and standing up for those who don’t have a voice.

“I advocate for the people because I am the people, and this is heart work; it’s not hard work,” Terrel said.

Are you or someone you know in need of a hot meal, shower services, or financial assistance? Click the button below or call (216) 781-8262.

Bishop Cosgrove Center

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Part of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

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