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Annual Luncheon of the Community Foundation of Lorain County

On Wednesday, June 15th, we drove out to Lorain Community College for the annual luncheon of the Community Foundation of Lorain County which, as its website tells us, was created in 1980 to "work with donors and their financial advisors to craft charitable giving options that allow them to do good in the community while doing well financially."

TIMG_2135 he program was presided over by Ms. Farnaz Ansari Berna, Board Vice-Chairperson, who said that this day was devoted to making new friends, telling great stories, and celebrating the Foundation's achievements in Lorain County. Indeed, in 2015 it accepted 28 new endowment funds, received more than $11 million in contributions and awarded over $8 million.

We went to the Foundation's website to learn about its history and were glad to read that in 1998 it hosted "a delegation from Poland eager to learn the U.S. model of community foundations. That connection led to twelve years of involvement as a member of the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network and an international learning community exploring the best of North American and European adaptations of the original model. The Community Foundation has hosted visitors from at least fifteen different countries and is well-recognized and regarded in the global community foundation movement."

As far as making new friends, we appreciated the efforts of Mr. David Borocz-Johnson, Program Assistant with the Foundation, to obtain for us a veggie meal and we got to meet IMG_2134Ms. Linda Ong Styer, Senior Program Officer, who is very familiar with the work of Margaret W. Wong and Associates and looks forward to receiving our holiday card each year. We also introduced ourselves to Father John Retar, who impressed us as being a very humanistic person who is quite concerned about the immigrant community, from St. Frances Cabrini Parish and discussed the possibility of us tabling there during the upcoming annual festival. We shared a table with Ms. Sadie K. Goble who is on the Board of Directors for the Foundation. As it turned out, Ms. Goble oversaw the goings-on surrounding Hole #10 at the Lorain Chamber Golf Outing which we attended the previous week.

The keynote speaker was Mr. Brad Whitehead of the "Fund for Our Economic Future" whose mission is the advancement of "economic growth and equitable access to opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio by building shared community commitment, supporting high-impact collaborations and marshalling strategic funding."

Mr. Whitehead explained that its principles are:

  1. The economy isn't going to fix itself.
  2. We're all in this together.
  3. philanthropy has a role.
  4. Every voice matters.
  5. This is long-term, messy but critical work.

Subsequently, its overall goal is to transform the Northeast Ohio economy and it does this building community commitment, supporting collaborations, and marshalling funding with an emphasis on working through business, community, social and educational networks.

Mr. Whitehead believed that as of late things were going quite well because the Brookings Institute surveyed 100 metros and now rated the Cleveland/Lorain/Elyria region as number 54 in growth and number 14 in prosperity which was a great improvement from not that long ago when our region was ranked near the bottom.

Nevertheless, Mr. Whitehead was very firm as he pointed out that the improvement has been uneven and that economic hardship has fallen "disproportionately on the most vulnerable." In short, Brookings ranks us #16 in terms of economic inclusion but "by race" we are at a dismal #82 out of 100. Mr. Whitehead said that "growth and opportunity" are the keys to solving this problem; therefore, we must look at the processes of job creation (what kind of jobs), job preparation (who are the jobs for); and job access (where are the jobs located).

Mr. Whitehead made excellent use of slides in his presentation and one of the last ones that he showed read, "access to jobs is a particular challenge. The nearest job hub for the average Northeast Ohio resident is 75 minutes away by public transit versus 20 minutes by car. In economically distressed areas of Lorain County, as many as one in four employed residents don't have access to a vehicle. More than 2,200 Lorain County Residents report walking to work."IMG_2147

The program ended with Mr. Brian Frederick, President and CEO of the Foundation, talking about steps being taken to address these issues and urged support for an organization named "M.O.V.E. Lorain County" which is advocating for a better transportation system.

After the program was over we congratulated Mr. Whitehead on his effective speech and learned that he is an old friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's although their paths have not crossed in a while. He recalled that years ago his daughter worked with our office on a project in which she interviewed a lot of first generation immigrants. Each year Mr. Whitehead enjoys, just like Ms. Ong Styer, receiving our holiday card so he can find out how Ms. Wong and her family are doing.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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