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Eastern European Month Celebration

In September, 2015 the Ohio Legislature designated April as "Eastern European Month" and called upon the people of Ohio "to observe this month with appropriate educational opportunities, ceremonies and activities."

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Accordingly, on Tuesday night, April 4th, we went to Bohemian National Hall on Broadway Avenue to take part in the Eastern European Congress of Ohio's (EECOH)Eastern European Month Celebration.

We really want to compliment our good friend, Ms. Laurel Tombazzi, the chairperson, for working so hard to put this organization together. As it pamphlet reads, the EECOH is "a 501(c) 3 nonprofit charity established to unite Ohio's residents whose ancestry and heritage are from Eastern Europe. We foster discussions and events through bipartisanship to advance Ohio's Eastern European Agenda."

Another good friend of ours, Mr. Dick Russ, former Cleveland TV News Reporter and 2010 Slovenian 'Man of the Year', said during his brief but thoughtful speech, he and his wife (also of Eastern European descent) "were raised with those values which I believe are common to the cultures and countries and the peoples of Eastern Europe...to me they have always been God, family and country. And by country, for those of us who make our homes here in America, it is the United States, with the deepest respect and connection to the country of our origin."

In another part of his speech, Mr. Russ said that families who immigrated to the U.S. from Eastern Europe bring with them stories-both good ones and bad ones of personal joyful happenings and, unfortunately, repressive governmental policies-that have shaped their outlooks. He believed that "what we learn from them-at least our family-we store as resources to defend ourselves from modern encroachments on our liberty."

Along these lines, Ms. Tombazzi expressed great hopes for the EECOH "school passport program" which involves persons giving 40 minute presentations on their Eastern European heritage to youngsters who will write down what they have learned in a special "passport" which really impressed Mr. Paolo DeMaria, Ohio's Superintendent of Public Instruction, when it was presented to him.

One highpoint of the night was when Ms. Marija Karic, the Treasurer of the EECOH,  presented a special award to her father, Mr. Zoran Karic, a former Cleveland Crunch Soccer Player who immigrated to the United from Yugoslavia/Serbia. After the presentation, Ms. Karic told us that Ms. Margaret W. Wong guided her family through the immigration process.

We were grateful to Ms. Tombazzi when she introduced us as representatives from "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" and were happy that our colleague Mr. George Koussa was able to join us at the celebration along with his fiancé, Ms. Liliana Bruckner who immigrated to the United States from Romania.

Another person who we talked to was labor attorney Mr. James Petroff who sometimes refers clients to our office on immigration matters. As it turned out Mr. Petroff attends St. Clement of Ohrid Macedonia Orthodox Church in Avon where we tabled two years ago at its summer festival. At dinner we sat with Mr. David Boston who came to Cleveland all the way from Dayton to attend this dinner and Mr. Alex and Ms. Hajnal Kezdi who remembered us from our mutual attendance at Hungarian Museum programs.

It just so happens that our own mother is of Bohemian descent and we had some questions about the country which became part of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Fortunately, we encountered Ms. Helen Roth, Ms. Dolly Baer and Ms. Marija Juba-three knowledgeable ladies of Czech descent who were glad to answer them for us.

Thus, we went to bed that night not in the least bit hungry thanks to fine dinner, in high spirits from the good company, and a bit wiser about our own heritage. 

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC