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First Friday Club luncheon with Mr. Wasinski; Swearing-In of Meryl Johnson

Our second event for Thursday was the monthly First Friday Club luncheon which took place, as always, at the City Club of Cleveland. The speaker was Mr. Greg Wasinski who as the program notes described him is "a full time, Catholic Christian, Inspirational Speaker and Author from Cleveland, Ohio. He can also be heard as a daily contributor to SiriusXM Radio's "The Catholic Channel...Greg has quickly become one of the freshest and compelling voices in the church to help others find faith in the real world while once again understanding the beauty of why they believe in what they believe."

On this day he spoke about the Eucharist and the beauty of devoting oneself fully to Christ. We got to meet both Mr. Wasinski and his wife, Aimee, before the program started and found them both to be very upbeat and warm individuals; the kind of people we would gladly welcome as guests in our home. We mentioned to them that we had recently returned from visiting our family in Los Angeles and it turned out that they had been there recently too and all of us liked a promenade/shopping mall called "The Grove" in the Hollywood area.

Other people we talked to were Mr. Frank Osborne whose niece, Ms. Elizabeth Osborne, used to do managerial work at Margaret W. Wong and Associates, and Ms. Marian Rubin who we had met previously at the Diversity Center gathering in late November.

We sat at the same table as Mr. Kevin P. Flynt, Director of Community Outreach for Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, where we talked about how a rude person parked his/her car in the garage next in such a way that it deliberately took up two parking spaces. We think that Mr. Flynt was absolutely right when he said that a "petty theft" had been committed because all patrons of that garage are charged for one parking spot, not two.

At the conclusion of the program Bishop Roger Gries, OSB, the First Friday Club's Spiritual Moderator, told us that Bishop Richard Lennon, the Bishop Emeritus of Cleveland who had to resign recently due to ill health, may be having a tough time physically but he is "spiritually at peace" so Bishop Gries asked us to continue to pray for him.

He concluded by saying that he visited the jails of both men and women over the holidays and told them all that, in spite of all their problems and the misdeeds they have done, "God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it!"

Our last event for Thursday was the local swearing-in of Ohio School Board Member-Elect Meryl Johnson (District 11) which took place at the Harvard Community Services Center on Harvard Avenue in Cleveland at 6pm.

Unfortunately the late afternoon snow made the roads tough to maneuver and it took us over an hour and a half to get there via surface streets. We thus arrived feeling a bit edgy but very happy for Ms. Johnson for whom we had volunteered extensively during her campaign. Other people had a more difficult time on the roads than we did, however. Mr. Vern and Ms. Jeanne Long from the Westside/Westlake Democratic Club crawled up Hwy. 480 at 5 miles an hour because they admired Ms. Johnson and wanted to wish her well.

One of the people that we talked to there was Reverend Ben Goldstein of Heritage Community Baptist Church and active member of United Pastors in Mission. Rev. Goldstein said that he had watched Ms. Johnson "grow over the years in terms of personal spirituality." He went on to say that he believed that she emerged victorious in the November, 2016 election because "she worked very hard and had the heart of the people."

Other people who came out to congratulate Ms. Johnson were Ms. Nancy Stellhorn and Ms. Mary K. Evans as well as several other members of the American Association of University Women, and Mr. Stanley Miller, the former executive director of the Cleveland NAACP, who had attended high school with her.

In addition, several elected officials came to this event who are good friends of ours like South Euclid City Councilman Marty Gelfand, Mayor Trevor Elkins of Newburgh Heights, and Ohio State Senator Michael Skindell. Let us mention Ms. Johnson will be officially sworn in on Monday, January 9th in Columbus but she doubted that many of her friends could travel that distance so Councilman Gelfand suggested to her that she organize a local swearing-in that could be attended by all of her friends and supporters in the Cleveland and Lake County areas. 

On this occasion at the Harvard Community Services Center, Ms. Johnson was sworn in by outgoing Ohio School Board Member Ms. Mary Rose Oakar (who was graciously driven there in the bad weather by her niece, Ms. Ann C. Oakar). During the ceremony, the Bible was held by Mr. Irby Trimble, Ms. Johnson's brother. Before she administered the oath, Ms. Oakar said that she was very pleased that Ms. Johnson won because she wanted someone to succeed her who cared as deeply as Ms. Johnson did about the quality of education that our children were receiving.

Testifying to this was Ms. Brenda Eafford who spoke for a moment about how Ms. Johnson went out of her way to assist her son, Mr. Damyyan Eafford, when he was in the 9th grade. Both Ms. Eafford and her son, who will be graduating for CSU in the Fall of 2017, adore Ms. Johnson. A prayer of thanks and hope was delivered by Pastor Wesley Reid of Lee Memorial Church AME that Ms. Johnson attends.

When it became time for her to speak, Ms. Johnson inferred that she had taught public school for 40 years and she would draw upon the knowledge that she had incurred over the years to guide her in her new position. She said that she was very honored to represent District 11 and noted that prior to the election she had met with 25 of the 27 school superintendents in her district prior to the election but since then had met with the remaining 2.

Ms. Johnson provided us all with a copy of a the first edition of a newsletter pertaining to educational issues that she plans to put out on a regular basis. She then urged us all to contact U.S. Senators Brown and Portman and ask them to vote against the appointment of Ms. Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education because, as the newsletter states, "she has no relevant experience and she is on record in opposition to public education."

Finally, she talked about attending a meeting at Mentor High School earlier in the day andwhat a thrill it was to see the words posted on the school marquee all lit up in big letters, "Welcome School Board Member Meryl Johnson."


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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