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Solon Chamber of Commerce Holiday Luncheon

On Tuesday, December 16th, we attended the Solon Chamber of Commerce Holiday Luncheon that was held at the Bertram Inn in Aurora. Just like last year's holiday luncheon, the event was very well attended. Awards were given out and Mayfield Collision Center was named Business of the Year, Mr. Cary Root of Root Information Technologies and Mr. Bill Oler of Western Reserve Safety Council shared the award for Member of the Year, and Ms. Charisse Lewis was named Volunteer of the Year. Each of the honorees received a plaque from the Chamber and commendations from U.S. Congressman David Joyce and the City of Solon, both of which were presented to them by Solon Mayor Susan Drucker. They also received a citation from Ohio State Rep. Marlene Anielski who was there to present them herself.

In terms of holiday entertainment, we really enjoyed the performance of the Madrigal Choir from Solon High School under the direction of Mr. Gary Lewis. The choir performed such holiday favorites as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "O Come all Ye Faithful", and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Most significantly, they performed a medley of Hanukkah songs and reminded us that the first night of the celebration was that evening.

We visited with Ms. Cathy Schultis, Manager of the Solon Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, who told us that the Chinese School in Solon will have a small art exhibition at the library in January, 2015. Mr. Lenny Brinda, who is retired but still helps out at Steve's Sports, Inc., told us about the white fleece jacket that he designed for some friends who work at the Cleveland Clinic to wear because temperatures tend to be cool inside the clinic. Apparently, this jacket is becoming quite popular now at the Clinic and the administration is thinking of offering it to employers working at other locations.

We gave our card to a person named Diane from a local senior living facility who told us about a foreign born woman who just received her green card but has yet to apply for citizenship. We met the Reverend Scott Low from Solon United Methodist Church who we have talked to before at several events involving Africa and told him about the fundraiser to help Ebola victims that we attended on December 13th at CWRU and that we had seen his friend, Mr. Martin Zeinway, President of the Liberian Association of Cleveland, there.

We had a particularly nice visit with Mr. Michael S. Stelzer of Knowledge Management Services (KMS) who told us about his grandmother "Izzy" who is 103 years old and in good health. She has 65 grandchildren and enjoys/enjoyed watching all of them grow up and would love to have even more.

Ms. Jennifer Jaketic, Treasurer of the Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus (CDWC), organized "Party with a Purpose" to benefit the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center's Project Star which assists human trafficking victims. This event was held in the Foundation Media Room at the House of Blues and about 30 of us attended. For admission, we were asked to bring items like toiletries, canned goods, children's clothing and gift from grocery stores that would help the victims to start life anew.

At this event was Ms. Teresa Stafford of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center who spoke for a few minutes about the need for a program like Project Star and how appreciated the items that we had all donated would be. Accompanying Ms. Stafford was Ms. Kelsey DeForest who spoke about how difficult and rewarding it was to work with home trafficking victims. Both Ms. Stafford and Ms. DeForest encouraged all of us to volunteer some time at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Also speaking tonight was Ms. Emily Hagen of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence who asked that we contact our state legislators in order to urge them to support 2 pending bills that would make it mandatory to test all rape kits and to take away the parental rights of those who have been convicted of a sexual assault that resulted in a pregnancy.

We knew many of the people that were there including newly elected Ohio State Rep. Kent Smith, newly elected Domestic Relations Court Judge Francine Goldberg, Ms. Angela Shuckahosee (Cleveland Tenants Organization), Ms. Sharon Bennett (a key mover in Mr. Anthony Fossaceca's bid for Ohio State Rep in District 6), Ms. Justine Smith, and Ms. Leslie Phillips.

We were especially glad to encounter Ms. Mary Reynolds Powell who wrote "A World of Hurt; Between Innocence and Arrogance in Vietnam" about her experiences serving as a nurse during the war. Ms. Powell was there with her husband, Dr. Doug Powell who also served in Vietnam. We have heard Ms. Powell speak before and she is very effective in talking about the effects of war as seen through the eyes of a medical professional.

One person who was assisting the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center in a creative way was Ms. Karen Smolen who created two special catalyst Jamberry Nail designs. Ms. Smolen told us that the proceeds from the sale of these designs from tonight until next Tuesday, December 23rd would be donated to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Both Ms. Jaketic and Ms. Cynthia Demsey, Chairperson of the CDWC stated that this was not a partisan political event but a way of giving back to the community. Ms. Demsey said that there was something to be said for volunteering for a cause that affects people's lives; it makes a difference on a personal level and it helps others.

Since Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed's annual Toys for Tots Party was taking place at Metropolitan at the 9 on East 9th Street which was just a few blocks from the House of Blues so we decided to stop there for a few minutes on our way home.

The party took place on Level B and was absolutely packed with people who were getting ready to watch the fashion show. We managed to find Councilman Reed and said hello to him and spent a few minutes talking to Mrs. Gayle Cummins, the wife of Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins who was modeling tonight too.

We liked it that besides Councilman Cummins, the models seemed to come from every walk of life because there were members of the Browns football team, a fireman, an entrepreneur and a defense attorney among others all acting as models. Of the clothes that we liked were those designed by Mr. Anton Zbarzh who immigrated to Cleveland from Russia in 1996. We credit Ms. Brandy Bright who put the party together this year with a lot.

On our way back to our car we met Mr. Fred Geis, who was also a model, and told him how much we liked the partyt. Ms. Geis was very modest about his contribution but we were glad things turned out as well as they did because a lot of neat new toys were donated which will make quite a few children happy on Christmas morning.

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