He moved to Hamilton with an air mattress and a box of clothes. Here’s why he’s thanking the city.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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He also discussed plans for non-profit Kosher deli

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The city of Hamilton is getting a lot of love these days. On Wednesday, that included an unexpected verbal Valentine’s Day card from a resident who moved to the city exactly two years ago, on another Valentine’s Day.

Robert McClellan, who is working to create a non-profit Kosher deli in the city where even those cannot afford to pay can eat, stepped up to the microphone during Hamilton City Council’s public-comment period of its meeting.

“Tonight I guess is just a really important day in general,” he said. “It’s a significant day in my life. This is my two-year anniversary of being a citizen of Hamilton.”

4 years ago, this Hamilton officer was shot in the head by a rifle. Today, he’s still working in the city.

That’s when the former Centerville resident, 27, left the Dayton area “to start a new life, and I came down with an air mattress, a broken bike and a box of clothes, and I was just ready to see what I could do different,” he told the council.

He since has gotten a car and a dog and has joined Hamilton’s 17Strong Advisory Board, which works to strengthen the city’s 17 neighborhoods. He also is on the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Commission efforts and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership at Ohio Christian University.

The diversity commission in a survey found 70 percent of people responding said there were cultural, social or financial barriers that separated citizens, and they’d like to see those walls broken down, he said.

“This would be a perfect opportunity to get people to eat together, and break those down,” he said.

“I really love this city a lot. I was thinking about it. I don’t have a significant other, you know? It’s Valentine’s Day, and what do I really love? I really love Hamilton.”

He added: “I just wanted the city to know that I appreciate everything that you guys do.”

He also spoke about the Kosher deli he’s been working on called Kings Corner Deli.

This month he will submit paperwork to gain non-profit status, and he is working at the only full-service Orthodox Kosher kitchen “within 100 miles of here, where I’m learning to do all that,” he said. “Once we get up and running, we’re going to be the first 100-percent inclusive dining option in the United States,” in Hamilton.

“We’ll be able to start breaking down some barriers that separate our citizens,” including financial and religious, he said. People with difficulty paying can receive donated meals, or have the option of volunteering to pay for the food.

McClellan said he never could have afforded to move to Hamilton if the city hadn’t worked to help create the downtown ArtSpace lofts, created for artists and low-income people, where he lives.