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Coffee Contacts at The Lake County Captains

On Thursday, March 16th, our first two events took place in the Lake County area. First, we drove to Eastlake for a Eastern Lake County/Mentor Chambers of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" that took place at the facilities of the "Lake County Captains" on Vine Street in Eastlake. Actually the chamber gathering took place at the Home Club House where players like to hang out before games so we were told that now was a good time to be good time to be there because after the season started, these premises were not always as clean as they were at this time.  

We have always liked trains so on this day we got to meet Mr. Tom Pescha, Vice President of the "Painesville Railroad Museum" on (where else?) Railroad Street. We found out that the Museum has at least one activity each month and Mr. Pescha gave us a schedule of upcoming events. We certainly hope that we can work a few of them into our schedule over the next year.

We also talked to Ms. Dani Klein, the Manager of "Stella's Art Gallery" located in the Matchworks Building in Mentor which will have its grand opening on March 31st. Interested patrons can take classes there and watch artists at work. Ms. Klein didn't believe that there were any foreign-born artists associated with the Gallery at this time but was hopeful about the future.

In the course of the morning, we conversed with the Captains' General Manager, Mr. Neil Stein; Assistant General Manager Ms. Jen Yorko; and Manager of Media Relations Mr. Tim O'Brien who told us that the team's opening game will take place on April 8th and tickets will go on sale starting this Saturday. We learned (we don't follow sports so a lot of this was new to us) that the "Lake County Captains" are an affiliate of the "Cleveland Indians" and 8 players who started with the Captains took part in last year's world series. We found out that the Captains often take on players from other such other countries as Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic and have had sportsmen come to them from as far away as Australia.

"Coffee Contacts" ended with a tour of the batting cages located next door. We learned that players often spend a large part of each game day working out there so that they will be at their best when it comes time to actually play ball. Interestingly, the batting cage area can easy be converted into a dance floor or a banquet facility and it is not uncommon for fans to be married there. Plus, there is enough room to conduct English classes for the foreign-born athletes and money management/life skills for the younger ones.

On Wednesday night we were reviewing upcoming events and discovered that there was one that we almost overlooked which was United Way of Lake County's "14th Annual Celebrity Server Fundraiser" taking place on Thursday at 11:30am at the American Croatian Lodge on Lakeshore Blvd. in Eastlake. It was too late to buy a ticket on line but we resolved to get there early at 11am and see if we could still get in.

Fortunately, the "United Way" people at the front table Ms. Jennifer McCarty (CEO), Ms. Jean Sency (VP of Resource Development), and Ms. Gayle Sikula (Director of Special Projects) were very understanding and said that they would see what they could do. At that point, Ms. Cheryl Kuonen, Director of Mentor Public Library, spoke up and said that there was room at the two tables reserved by the Library and we were welcome to sit with her, the library staff, and their guests.

We soon discovered that there were 59 tables that contained 10 seats each (which were mostly filled) and this was United Way of Lake County's largest fundraiser of the year. Those seated at the tables were served by local dignitaries (business and governmental leaders) who donated all of their tips to United Way. Thus, we were expected to "push your servers hard" and tip generously.

Before we ate lunch, we maneuvered our way through the ever-growing crowd and visited with such people as Mr. Brian K. Humphrey who is an old friend of Mr. Gary Hill whose wife Ms. Kathy Hill used to work for us for years before she retired and thus Mr. Humphrey has a "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" mug on his kitchen shelf.

We also listened as a person told us that story of how her son met and married a young Chinese woman while he was working in China and the bureaucratic entanglements they encountered trying to secure a visa for her so she could immigrate to the United States. After a very frustrating 18 months, they turned to the office of U.S. Congressperson Jim Renacci who looked into it and she got finally obtained her visa a month later.

Acting as emcees for the day were Ms. "Cat" Casey and Mr. Jeremy (J.J.) James who host "J.J. and Cat in the Morning" each weekday from 6am to 10am on Cougar Radio 93.7 FM. We had met them previously when we attended a "Coffee Contacts" at the radio station in Mentor on January 5th. Ms. Casey and Mr. James encouraged us to have fun while supporting a great cause at the same time. They then proceeded to conduct a Lake County trivia exercise and a hula hoop contest known as "the Shamrock Shake!"


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC