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Project Love 22nd Annual Rescuer of Humanity Awards Dinner

"Margaret W. Wong and Associates" contributed to the Values-in-Action/Project Love 22nd annual Rescuer of Humanity Awards Dinner so we attended it on Tuesday evening at Executive Caterers on Landerhaven Drive.

We didn't realize until just an hour before it started that through a snafu on our part no reservation had been made so we contacted Ms. Amanda Guarnieri, Communications Specialist with Values-in-Action, who told us to go ahead and come on over and had a name tag already for us when we arrived.

During the reception preceding the meal, we visited with Ms. Linda Lanci, a delightful person who the mother of our friend Mr. Wally Lanci. Ms. Lanci told us about how fun it was to attend the Greater Cleveland Film Commission benefit last week wherein the famed actor, Mr. Tom Hanks did a Q and A. We also talked with Mr. Alexis Edelman, co-founder of"Legacy Biographies" which makes use of all forms of media to preserve "family stories and values for future generations." Mr. Edelman, who immigrated to the United States from Argentina years ago, said to give his best to Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

During dinner, we were seated at a table with Mr. Gary Distelhorst, Executive Director of the Lorain Community College Foundation, and other members of the faculty and administration of Lorain Community College.

The proceedings began with Mr. Ratanjit S. Sondhe, Board Chair of the Values-in-Action Foundation giving a stirring address about the need to establish unity in a divided world. Mr. Sondhe said that people are like the beautiful flowers on a tree whose roots are nurtured by our different cultures and religions. He went on to say that if we water civility, as we do the roots of the tree, the benefits will be abundant.

Along these lines, as the program notes explained,  "Values-in-Action/Project Love programming helps build a community culture that involves CARING for each other. Appropriately, the theme for this dinner is LOVE IS IN THE CARE. Love may be a value, but it is meaningful only if one puts it into action. The honorees this year represent the value of LOVE and the action of CARING."


Appropriately, those honored included Ms. Maria Miller, "Consummate Community Volunteer"; Mr. Fred Koury, President and CEO, Smart Business Network; The Higley Family, "Longtime Civic Cheerleaders, The Albert M. Higley Co.; the Cleveland Clinic "and its 50,000 caregivers who put patients first"; and Dr. Bennet Omalu, "First to Discover & Diagnose Chronic Brain Damage in NFL Athletes."

In January, 2016 we had attended a City Club presentation regarding the impact of Dr. Omalu's findings and, of course, a movie was made titled "Concussion" wherein Dr. Omalu was played by Mr. Will Smith. This dinner was the first time that we had seen Dr. Omalu in person, however, and he gave a fine speech about the interconnectedness of all people and how his personal faith motivated him to take on the NFL for the purpose of letting the truth be known so that steps could be taken to avoid serious head injuries in the future, particularly when young children play football.

What really made the evening for us were the awards given to Mr. Marc Nemunaitis and Mr. Nathan Birtley, who are respectively a school counselor (who we met through our activities with the Mentor Chamber of Commerce) and a senior student both from Mentor High School. They were honored for their involvement with the Mentor CARDS (Caring And Responsibility Determine Success) program that involved high school students talking to elementary school students about issues like bullying. They also worked hard on a Project Love Kindness rally that brought together students from schools in Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties.

Another very promising award recipient was Ms. Taylor Wynne of Beaumont High School who is the cousin of the late Mr. Eric Russell, a high schooler who could have reacted hatefully after he was victimized by another student in a racial incident. Instead Mr. Russell channeled his energies towardsbringing people at his school together and thereby making a more forceful and positive statement about how wrong racism is. Sadly, Mr. Russell passed away recently due to a fatal illness but his memory is enshrined by Ms. Wynne who has adopted her cousin as her role model.

Ms. Wynne's biography read in part that she credits Mr. Russell "for not only helping her learn the values to overcome bullying at her previous school, but also for finding forgiveness towards those students and the strength to speak about her experiences." It goes on to say that the award that was bestowed her (named after Mr. Russell) "has a very special place in her heart."



Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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