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Semi-Monthly Coffee Contacts; First Friday Club luncheon; Fundraiser for Mayor DeGeeter; Fundraiser For Cuyahoga County Councilman Miller; Cinco De Mayo celebration

IMG_0713On Thursday, May 5th, we got up early and headed to Painesville to take part in the semi-monthly "Coffee Contacts" networking event put on by the Eastern Lake County and the Mentor chambers of Commerce.

On this day the event was held at the Bella Donna Salon and Spa on Main Street owned and managed by our friend, Ms. Mary Jo Miller who participates in all sorts of good things and has acquired the well-deserved reputation as being a community leader.

We heard about several upcoming events that we now plan to take part in including a IMG_0712"chocolate walk" kind of tour of Downtown Painesville taking place on Friday, May 6th, as well as the annual "Bathtub Race 2016" in which we are entering a vehicle.We brought along a copy of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way" to be given away as a door prize. It was won by Mr. Anthony Platano, Branch Manager of US Bank in Mentor who remembered seeing us at the Ceramics Expo at the IX Center last week when he did a walk-through. He seemed glad to have won "The Immigrant's Way" because his father-in-law immigrated here from Italy and his brother-in-law is from Albania.

Next we went to the City Club to attend the monthly First Friday Club luncheon. On this day the speaker was Mr. Dan Misleh, Executive Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, a partnership of 14 national Catholic organizations, which emphasizes the need to take an interest in what is going on in the world environmentally and become responsible stewards of what God has given to us.

Mr. Misleh talked about all sorts of programs (such as recycling and energy conservation) that are available for the IMG_0715parishes to take part in.

Overall, what the Catholic Climate Covenant does is to  encourage dialogue, build relationships between people and the 14 organization it partners with, and helps to lower our carbon footprint. He believes that such work complements the work that his church does to help people live meaningful spiritual lives.

At lunch we sat with two retirees, Mr. Jim Keegan and Mr. Bob Pearl. Both were very much involved in the Senior Education Program that Baldwin-Wallace offers. Mr. Pearl is a Native American and talked to us about his being a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.  We didn't realize it before we talked to Mr. Pearl but Native Americans born in the United States were not granted citizenship by Congress until 1924. He has been a member of the First Friday Club, which was founded in 1958, since 1960.

We also encountered our friend, Mr. Grant Goodrich and we talked for a moment about the Puerto Rican debt crisis (he was at the Happy Dog on Tuesday night too) and we both wished the media and our political leaders would make it more of a priority.

We followed this event with two political fundraisers, both of which started at 5pm.IMG_0650

First, we arrived a little early at the fundraiser for Mayor Tim DeGeeter of Parma that was held at the Union House on Brookpark Road in Parma. The treasurer of the mayor's campaign, Ms. Shelley Cullins told us that they are very grateful for the consistent support of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Another person who was grateful for our support was Ms. Sarah Donnersbach who told us that Ms. Wong always supports her March of Dimes walk. Ms. Donnersbach is an attorney in the office of Mr. Robert Weltman, an old friend of Ms. Wong's.

We talked to Mayor DeGeeter for a moment before we left. He told us that his priorities include the progressive development of the new open-air shopping center that was formerly the Parmatown Mall. He was very proud of some beautification projects such as what is taking place in Ukrainian Village which really means a lot to the community because Parma is a sister city with Lviv, Ukraine.

We left Parma and hurried over to our second fundraiser which was for Cuyahoga County Councilman Dale Miller (who represents District 2) that was held at Massimo's on West 25th Street.

IMG_0748We met Councilman Miller's brother, Mr. David Miller, for the first time and shared a table with couple whose last name was "Patterson" also. They even had a son whose first name was "Michael". We both agreed that there was very little chance of a family connection since Mr. Patterson was initially from Illinois and we moved to Cleveland from Los Angeles in 2008.

We talked to Councilman Miller about his what projects he plans to undertake in the future. He told us that he would like to see more long-range financial planning for Health and Human Services in Cuyahoga County. In addition to the latter, he is involved in an internship program pertaining to small business and he would like to see constructive criminal justice reform that would seek alternatives to incarceration when it is practical.

Soon we had to leave to go to our last event which was the annual Cinco De Mayo celebration at U.S. Bank which was, thankfully, also on West 25th Street maybe only a couple of miles away.

It was good seeing old friends there like Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins, Mr. Blaine Griffin of the Community Relations Board, Mr. Juan Crespo of the Hispanic Alliance; Reverend Omar Medina, Mr. Joseph IMG_0751Meissner, Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan, Ms. Lucy Torres, Dr. Maria Pujana, Ms. Mari Galindo-DaSilva, and Mr. Luis Gomez.

At this point, we needed a rest so we kicked back and had some chips with delectable guacamole dip and listened a group of minstrels called "Mariachi Santa Cecilia" play some songs.

Everyone at this event was very grateful to Ms. Angela R. Green, the branch manager at US Bank, for allowing us to have this event there.

During the brief ceremonies, the keynote speaker was Mr. Max Rodas, Executive Director of NLURC who talked about the history of Cinco De Mayo. For him, what mattered most about it was how the Mexican militia composed of IMG_0760determined citizens was able to turn back the French Army in 1862. He compared it to David vs. Goliath and/or people coming together to defeat a bully. He made references to this year's U.S. Presidential election by inferring that this is what must be done again this year though no specific candidates were mentioned.

Two particularly poignant moments occurred that night.

The first was when Dr. Maria Pujana was given a special proclamation from the City of Cleveland for her contributions IMG_0753 to the medical community the Hispanic community and the Cleveland community as a whole; and for her process as an internationally acclaimed jewelry designer. Dr. Pujana was very moved by the tribute and talked about how much it meant to her when the "Window of Health" program was adopted by MetroHealth in a partnership with Mexico.

The second was when Ms. Mari Galindo DaSilva talked about how happy she was to have been born in Mexico and how happy she was to be an American citizen at this time. It was like playing the national anthems of the U.S. and Mexico together at the same ceremony which is exactly what happened this evening just as it should have.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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