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Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce Coffee Contacts; Monthly Luncheon of the First Friday Club; Launch party at The Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium

First thing in the morning on Thursday, July 6th, we attended an Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" that was held at"J's Pizza Market" on Center Street in Mentor.

We love pizza and and very much liked sampling one consisting of cheese and tomatoes that the owner, Mr. Jonathan Kelley, laid out for us. One of the reasons that the pizza was so good was that it was baked in a special Wood Stone Hearth oven.

We can see why, in 2016, that "J's Pizza Market" won an online contest for serving the "Best Pizza in Mentor". This was certainly no small accomplishment since, according to the "News-Herald" article about the contest that was proudly mounted on the wall, Mentor has a population of 47,000 and there are 8.1 pizza restaurants per 10,000 residents.

While we were there, we also dialogued with Mr. Keith Manos, a multi-faceted guy who among other accomplishments has been a teacher for over 35 years and is an adjunct professor of English at Lakeland Community College. Mr. Manos was there on this day representing Riverside Local Schools and, as it turned out, his late father was Judge John M. Manos who served on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and was a very good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong.

We plan to stay in contact with Mr. Manos and possibly hook up with him in the near future.

After we left Mentor, we headed back to Cleveland where we attended the monthly luncheon of the "First Friday Club" which always takes place at the City Club.

We shared a table there with Mr. Greg Wasinski, inspirational author and daily contributor to Sirius XM Radio's "The Catholic Channel", who addressed the club back in January. Also at our table was Mr. Bob Downs, who was visiting in lieu of a friend of his who couldn't make it. Mr. Downs is now happily retired and, as it turned out, whose wife used to attend CSU with our friend, former U.S. Congressperson Dennis K. Kucinich.

We noticed a table where five young women were sitting so we walked over to say "hello". We chatted with Miss Selena Walsh and learned that they were all volunteers for the 2017 annual "The Fest" which will take place this year on August 6th at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe. We have attended "The Fest" a couple of times on behalf of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" and believe that its website describes it accurately as "a one-day family festival sponsored by the Diocese of Cleveland. It's designated to bring thousands together for an amazing family day."

In fact the speaker of the day was Father Bob Stec who is the Pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Brunswick. He is also the main coordinator of "The Fest" which is what he mainly spoke about during his presentation. We learned about how "The Fest" was initiated in 2000 and has grown larger every year so much so that in 2016 there were 45,000 people in attendance. Father Stec, himself, described it as a day of "faith, family, and fun" with all kinds of bands and activities aimed at striking the right balance between enjoying a good time with family and friends (some newly made) while having a spiritual experience which culminates in a mass at the end of the day. Father Stec believed that for many of those in attendance, it is comparable to a pilgrimage.

We ourselves enjoyed "The Fest" because people of all faiths are welcomed there and we urge our readers to consider attending. More can be read about it at

During the Q and A, we asked Father Stec about another program that he initiated back in 2006 entitled "Mission Possible" which the program notes described as "a mission outreach program to the Dominican Republic. Over 200 missionaries have since made the annual trip to Higuey, Dominican Republic to build homes, introduce others to Christ and change lives. In addition to the homes, a church, school, medical/dental clinic, community center, baseball field and job training center have been built."

We went to and learned that it is actually "a network of churches in Northeast Ohio and community members that are sending missionaries to the Dominican Republic...the goal of 'Mission Possible' is to both address the needs of the poorest of the poor and raise up the next generation of individuals who will work to create a better world community."

To combat chemical dependency, Father Stec helped to launch the "Greater than Heroin Campaign" in 2016. To be sure, he has received many awards for his humanitarianism over the years.

Amusingly, one of the attendees was Father Ned Weist who used to be the Pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Parish when Father Stec served as an altar boy there back in the late 1960's. When he was introduced from the podium, Father Weist said of Father Stec, "he's come a long way, hasn't he?"

Another person who was highly praised on Thursday was Ms. Margaret Lynch, the Executive Director of the "Irish American Archives Society" for her outstanding commitment, hard work and patience regarding the production of the book, "The Day We Celebrate; 175 Years of Cleveland's St. Patrick's Day Parade" which chronicles its history between 1842 and 2017.


We attended its launch party at the Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium of the Cleveland Public Library on East Superior Avenue which featured performances by the "Jack McDonough File and Drum Corps" and the "Murphy School of Irish Dance."

There was also a short program wherein Mr. Tom Corrigan, President of the "Irish American Archives Society" acted as emcee and Mr. Felton Thomas, Director of the Cleveland Public Library (whose archives along with those of the "Plain Dealer" proved to be paramount in terms of conducting the necessary research pertaining to the book) and Ms. Shannon M. Corcoran, the Executive Director the 2017 St. Patrick's Day Parade spoke for a few minutes and there was then a panel discussion consisting of Mr. Patrick Murphy, Director Emeritus of the "Irish Societies of Greater Cleveland", interviewing Ms. Lynch along with Mr. Thomas F. McManamon, Mr. John Reilly, and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O' Donnell about their involvement (or that of their families) in the St. Patrick's Day Parades over the years.

In her speech, Ms. Corcoran noted that the creation of the book took six long years and praised Ms. Lynch for her oversight of the project saying that she was a most gifted and intelligent archivist as well as being very passionate about documenting the culture of the Irish community. Ms. Corcoran went on to say that the book was really "our story; of family and friends and heritage in the Irish community and its contributions to Cleveland."

During the discussion, it was also noted that Mr. Murphy and Mr. Tom Scanlon did a lot to assist the project and we also found it fascinating that Mr. Reilly's father, Mr. "Rip" Reilly, who was instrumental in getting the parade off the ground from 1958 to about 1999, kept boxes and boxes of documentation that ultimately proved to be invaluable.

We, ourselves, purchased a copy of the book and also obtained a pamphlet entitled "Grand Marshals of the Cleveland Ohio Saint Patrick's Day Parade" from 1935-2017 that contained short bios of all of them. The pamphlet was "presented as an Eagle Scout Project" by Mr. David Patrick Ryan from Troop 810 in Broadview Heights. Mr. Ryan was there and we shook his hand and thanked him for taking on such an undertaking.

When queried about what she found particularly rewarding about the venture, Ms. Lynch said that it was being able to make others aware of everyday people, not famous people, stepping up and doing a little extra for their community by involving themselves with the St. Patrick's Day Parade year after year; they were the heroes.

Afterwards, we headed back to our car that, unsurprisingly, was parked several blocks away from the library. On the way back we encountered a small group of people giving away free ice cream to those passing by who wanted some.

Although we do not eat ice cream, we still meandered over andlearned that they were members of the "Cityview Baptist Church" who do this perhaps once a week to provide relief from the hot weather. In addition, they are also engaged with other projects to help the less fortunate.

We talked to them for a moment before continuing to our car to go home. On the way we thought, once again, here were ordinary people putting a little something extra into their community.



Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC