Put-In-Bay and the Cleveland International Hall of Fame

Yesterday, we traveled to Put-In-Bay to attend the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting after Margaret W. Wong and Associates had been told that immigrants were often hired to assist local businesses in the summer–the island’s busiest time. Before the meeting we stopped in at a couple of businesses who told us that the foreign born workers were mostly students from Europe here on the F1 Visa Program.
At the meeting we got to meet the Chamber President Ty Winchester, the Vice President Anita McCann, and the Executive Director Maggie Beckford who let us speak about our immigration services for several minutes and pass out our cards to the attendees. As things turned out, it was an unusually well-attended meeting with nearly 40 people there because the busy season of summer is about to begin.

Many of the attendees were not members of the Chamber, however many were members of the Inter-Lake Yachting Association that puts on several regattas a year, which means a lot of business for Put-In-Bay. Several members stood up to express their support for Put In Bay and its local businesses and both the Inter-Lake Yachting Association and the Put-In-Bay Chamber of Commerce agreed that they liked working with each other and want to work together even more in the future and it made us feel very good to witness this spirit of cooperation.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we were invited to come back for the swearing in ceremony of new United States citizens which takes place every other year on the 4th of July. Unfortunately for us, the last ceremony was conducted in 2013 so we will have to wait until the next ceremony in 2015. Still, Put-In-Bay was such a neat place to visit and all of the people seemed so friendly that we plan to pencil this ceremony in as soon as a 2015 calendar can be obtained.

We left Put-In-Bay via the ferry and hurried back to Cleveland through off-and-on rainstorms in order to attend the 5th Annual Cleveland International Hall of Fame banquet in which 8 people were inducted into the Hall of Fame because of their “valuable and lasting contribution to our multicultural city and region” and inspiration to a new generation of leaders.

The Cleveland International Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 by Clevelandpeople.com and one of the people honored that year was Margaret W. Wong. Before dinner, we visited with Sister Anastasia from the Serbian Ohio Monastery who really appreciated our work on behalf of Serbians and 2013 Inductee Nacy Panzica who extended his best wishes.

This year the honorees for 2014 were Monte Ahuja (immigrant entrepreneur), Eugene Bak (founder of the Polish American Cultural Center), Margaret Callander (very active in Highland Dancing, Scottish Games, and Scottish Arts and Culture), Jim Foster (former Executive Director of the City Club of Greater Cleveland), Donna Hom (immigrant entrepreneur), Joseph Meissner (Attorney who has devoted himself to assisting the Asian Community of Cleveland and many others), Ernie Mihaly (a leader in the restoration of the Hungarian Cultural Garden), and Thomas J. Scanlon (Attorney who has participated in countless civic and charitable causes and events).

The format for this evening called for each of the honorees to be introduced by a close friend or associate so our own George Hwang from Pearl of the Orient introduced his dear friend Donna Hom calling her the “wonder woman of the Chinese community” due to her accomplishments. In fact, all of the inductees and those who introduced them gave very moving presentations and almost everyone acknowledged that they owed a lot of their success to family, friends and community and talked about how fortunate they were to live in this county and take advantage of its abundant opportunities.

Two moments that were especially moving was when inductee Joe Meissner spoke with great passion about the need to encourage more immigrants to move to Cleveland because everyone benefits from their imagination, hard work and intensity. The other moment occurred when 2013 inductee Sam Miller, who has been suffering from ill-health, still made it to this event because he had promised to introduce his dear friend Thomas J. Scanlon if he should ever be so honored. We were inspired by the way Mr. Miller rose above his obviously weak physical condition and joked that he was “a graduate of the Cleveland Clinic ICU” and we were very happy when he got a huge applause for his heartfelt introduction.

To conclude, we’d like to share the statement written by Dan and Debbie Hanson of Clevelandpeople.com which appeared in the program and Dan referred to in his opening remarks which reads, “we believe that Cleveland is richer because of our diversity and that the tossed salad is preferable to the melting pot. In the tossed salad model, unique cultures are maintained and celebrated as we all live in the same big bowl, rather than the melting pot where all are supposed to blend into a homogeneous mass.”

Dan said that he was delightfully surprised two weeks ago when he asked Irene Morrow of the American Nationalities Movement what she was going to do that weekend. Since Ms. Morrow is Polish, Dan figured that she would want to to attend the Polonia celebrations and the Polish parades but Ms. Morrow said said she planned to attend a Cinco de Mayo party instead.

What a wonderful example of different cultures taking a positive interest in each other’s customs and traditions!