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Out & About in Cleveland

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Hillcrest Holiday Luncheon

On Tuesday, December 9th, our first event was the Heights Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce Holiday Luncheon with Mr. Kordell Norton as the guest speaker. This luncheon took place at Maggiano's Little Italy on Cedar Road in Beachwood. Mr. Norton, a motivational speaker and marketing expert, was also the guest speaker at the holiday luncheon in 2013 and we have seen him at other events over the past year and a half. He is a very energetic, entertaining speaker who Ms. Angie Pohlman, Executive Director of the Heights Hillcrest Chamber, compared to "watching popcorn pop without the lid."

On this day, Mr. Norton spoke to us about networking and gave us several valuable tips as to how we can improve our personal presentation. For instance, he talked about how we can make a good impression in just a few seconds which is the length of most people's attention span at this point in time. We especially enjoyed, and found valuable, his advice on how to shake hands.

Even though we had see Mr. Norton at several previous events, this was the first time that we had ever met his wife, Ms. Renee Norton who accompanied her husband to this meeting and seemed to have a very good sense of humor which makes her a very good counterpart to Mr. Norton.

Among the other people there were Mr. Nathan Wright from Mary-Lou Shoes in Lyndhurst who told us that from what he has been reading, he believes that President Obama's executive order pertaining to immigration is a reasonable one.

We introduced ourselves to Mr. Jared Lavender from Keller National who grinned when he heard that we were from Margaret W. Wong and Associates because not only did his younger sister, Ms. Melissa Logan used to work for us but he plays volleyball with Ms. Chela Marquez and Mr. Francis Fungsang.

Among those that we shared a table with were Mr. Jonathan E. Davis and Mr. Brandon Ptak from Century Federal Credit Union and Mr. Doug McDermott and Ms. Lynda James from Grandpointe Healthcare Community. Ms. James was glad to take our contact information because she likes to salsa dance and most of her dancing partners are foreign born.

We had another good conversation with Ms. Sarah N. Fanger, Owner of Restoration Express, and her assistant, Ms. Samantha Slone. When we told Ms. Fanger that we worked with Margaret Wong she said that "when people talk about immigration, only one name is mentioned..."

We couldn't stay very long at our next event which was the North Coast Chamber of Commerce/Power of More annual holiday party at Dave and Buster's in Westlake but we are still glad that we attended it because we had a couple of good conversations in the time frame of a half hour.

We talked about immigration reform and President Obama's executive order with Mr. Todd Tramba of TCC Technology Solutions. He told us that his daughter's boyfriend/significant other is a young man who immigrated to the United States from Australia to study architectural design in graduate school where he met Ms. Tramba. He now has a work visa and the two of them are exploring options for their future; they may stay in the United States or they may move to Australia.

We have seen Mr. Martin DeVries of Dollar Bank at quite a few other events in the past year. At this evening's event, he was pleased to tell us that under the auspices of the Community Reinvestment Act, Dollar Bank made more Real Estate Loans to people of color in 2013 than any other lending institution in Cleveland. They also have, what sounds like a good program, called "Mortgage for Mothers" which offers a seminar for single mothers who are buying property for the first time.

We had a really good time visiting with Mr. Rich Stroffolino and his wife, Ms. Jacqueline Stroffolino. Ms. Stroffolino works for GFS Marketplace Store while Mr. Stroffolino is a disc jockey for WRUW-FM who has his own show called the "All Album Show" where he plays various albums and talks about how they were made and their effect on the music world. He does this for all types of music but there is a special emphasis on rock and roll. it turned out that he was "trained on blues" by our good friend Mr. Marty Gelfand.

Lastly, just before we left, we met Reverend Joanne Rowden of the Unity Spiritual Center on Detroit Road in Westlake. Reverend Rowden just came to this church and expressed an eagerness to talk to her new parishioners and see what their needs are and do her best to help fulfill them. She seemed to us to be a genuinely charismatic person that Mr. Kordell Norton, who spoke of charisma a few hours earlier, would like to know. We are glad that we now know Reverend Rowden and wish her the best. We look forward to perhaps attending one of her sermons.

The reason that we had to leave the North Coast Chamber event after a short time was because we wanted to get over to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Holiday Dinner at the Bohemian National Hall on Broadway Avenue.

We arrived a little earlier though, so we got to talk to Ms. Marie Hibler, along with her son Joe, who is a very active volunteer at the Museum and Gift Shop and has heard many good things about Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Before we went into the dinner, we spoke with Mr. Richard J. Konisiewicz who is a good friend of Ms. Wong's and who just got a job as Director of Development and Community Outreach at Global Cleveland. Mr. Konisiewicz happily posed for a photo with Mr. Peter Linberger and Mr. Clive Hamlin who were other early arrivals.

The dinner, itself, was very well attended. Among the people that we saw and spoke to were Ms. Branka Malinar, Dr. Eugene Jordan, Mr. Pierre Bejjani, Ms. Debbie Hanson, Dr. Anthony Yen, Ms. Anda Cook, Ms. Mary Hamlin, Ms. Sheila Crawford, Mr. Paul Burik and Mrs. Susan Burik , Mr. Tom Berardinelli, Mr. Harry and Mrs. Zada Davis, Mr. John Krenisky (who we saw recently at St. Casimir), Mr. Khalid A. Samad, Mr. Ernie Mihaly, Judge Ralph Perk, Ms. Erika Puussaar, Judge Diane Karpinski, Tahir and Senda Kasumov, Mr. Gino Colage (who said that Ms. Margaret W. Wong was a nice lady), Ms. Kori Smith, Mr. Marty Gelfand and his young daughter Eden, and Mr. George Terbrack.

We had a conversation about immigration reform with a person who came from a mining town in Western Pennsylvania. He told us that people from such countries as Italy, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland used to work in the coke ovens there. He favors immigration reform and believes that the controversy about it is "stupid" because "America was built upon immigration" and we have "to be adult enough to talk about what is taking place here."

Entertainment was provided by Mr. John Pastirik who played the accordion and a delightful moment occurred when Ms. Jane Wise, who works there, invited Dr. Anthony Yen to dance with her and they did the "Christmas Polka" together.

In 2016, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens will celebrate its 100th birthday so Ms. Shelia Crawford, President of the Federation spoke about possible events that might occur over the next two years. Afterwards, she continued a tradition of these holiday dinners by reading off the names of each garden in the order of their establishment and asked their representatives to give a greeting in the native language of the country represented by its garden.

Ms. Crawford concluded by saying, "what a wonderful family with all of these different nationalities" and that the Cleveland Cultural Gardens were "a beautiful chain" and that there was nothing else like it in the world.

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