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Coffee Contacts; “Citizen of the World: Suffering and Solidarity in the 21st Century” and Fundraiser

On the morning of February 4th, we started the day at Coffee Contacts put on by the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce. On this day, it was held at the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club in Mentor-on-the-Lake. Ms. Sherri Trivisonno, one of the coordinators, summed up why networking is so important when she said that if you tell one person who you are, what business you represent, and what that business does then that person may tell six other people and the word will get out.

Among the people that we told these things to was Ms. Natalie Jamison from Forbes House, a battered women's shelter in Lake County, which will be having their own reverse raffle on May 20th that we will attend if we can.

We also talked to a person from Cleveland who is aware of Margaret W. Wong and Associates and respects the work that we do.

IMG_7592We got to meet Mr. Jaime Cordova, General Manager, and Ms. Linda Lee, Membership Coordinator, of the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club which was incorporated in 1928 and is a beautiful establishment. Ms. Colleen Gallagher, who married into a family that has maintained its membership for three generations, talked about the fun yachting club activities that she has taken part in over the years.

It was emphasized that a person or party does not have to own a boat/vessel in order to join but, later in the program, a representative from a local lending institution let it be known that financing might be obtainable if someone wanted to purchase one.

Next we went to the First Friday Club of Cleveland where several people stopped us and said that they really enjoyed receiving the "Happy New Year!" greeting just sent out from Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

Our friends Sister Rita Mary Harwood and Sister Kathleen Ryan made a special effort to walk over to us to say hello and we sat with longtime First Friday Club members Mr. Vin DeCrane and his wife, Flo. In fact, Mr. DeCrane told us that he has been attending these meetings for fifty years now. We met, for the first time, Mr. Richard Kubrak, Director of Service and Outreach at St. Edward's High School in Lakewood who was there with a number of students.

The title of this forum was "Citizen of the World: Suffering and Solidarity in the 21st Century" featuring Reverend Donald H. Dunson of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Elyria who talked about his experiences assisting the young people of East Africa, particularly in Uganda, a region torn apart by civil war where the poverty is extreme.

IMG_7597We had the opportunity to talk to Rev. Dunson for a few minutes before the program began and were impressed by his commitment and his humility. For us, the stories that he told were gut-wrenching but oddly hopeful at the same time because even though many of the people of East Africa had nothing, their spirits are undeniably high and they so very much appreciate the human kindness displayed by Rev. Dunson and the people who work with him.

In 2001, Rev. Dunson founded the St. Kizito Foundation whose mission is to "respect and promote the value of human life by nurturing and shaping the future of East African youth with difficult backgrounds." Its goals are "to increase awareness of the needs of the vulnerable youth of East Africa; provide life assistance by meeting the basic needs of those we serve-namely food, shelter and medicine; provide education to impoverished students; promote solidarity and global awareness; and to provide counseling to bring about healing of self and families."

Rev. Dunson told us that several times over the years he has tried to obtain temporary visas for East Africans that he works with so they could accompany to speaking engagements like this one and express their own point-of-view but, unfortunately, all of the request were denied.

One thing that wasn't denied though was the support of those at the First Friday Club on this occasion. As we were getting ready to leave a young man from St. Edwards seized the initiative and took to the stage saying that he and his fellow students had decided to take up a collection to help the St. Kizito Foundation and everyone was welcome to place a dollar in a glass that was being passed around. Almost everyone there reached into their pockets and Rev. Dunson couldn't have been more delighted by the wonderful kindness that was so very apparent. From talking to him beforehand, we believe that he would regard the inspiration to take up this collection as an affirmation of faith.

Our last event for Thursday was a fundraiser held at the Barley House on West 6th Street for Judge IMG_7605Matthew A. McMonagle who is running to retain his appointed seat on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. This seat was previously held since 1979 by his father, Judge Richard J. McMonagle who stepped down in January. For sure, Judge Richard J. McMonagle was at his son's fundraiser on this day.

Judge Matthew A. McMonagle was very glad to see us there and we got to talk to his wife, Lisa, about the possible places that they may choose to go to this weekend. We told her to check and promised to email her a link to it.

There was another event going on in the Barley House at the same time so the place was packed and quite noisy so we left within an hour.

We did see the prominent veteran attorneys, Mr. Richard Pogue and Mr. Tom Scanlon there so we managed to manipulate ourselves through the crowd to say hello.

We were pleased to see Mr. Anthony Alto, Recruitment Election Official from the Poll Worker Dept. at IMG_7607the Cuyahoga Board of Elections, there doing his job.

Another person who did her job was a young food server named Monika who, even though she had a lot to do with so many people present, took the time to find out if the quesadillas served had meat in them (they did not) because we are vegetarians.

It seemed like most of the people there were attorneys and, of course, they all either knew of Ms. Margaret W. Wong or actually knew her including Mr. Richard Gurbst, an old friend of hers. Another attorney told us that he had referred several cases to Margaret W. Wong and Associates over the years.

As for Judge Matthew A. McMonagle, who has only been on the bench for a month or so, we talked to Mr. Tony Manning, an attorney who just completed a case with him. Mr. Manning described the newly appointed judge as "engaging and very helpful in resolving the situation. He was excellent."


Written by:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

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

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