Chambers, Noche De Guayabera & Iftar Dinner

On Friday, July 25th, we attended three networking events and a very good dinner.
The first networking event was that of the Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce which was held on this morning at the Buy Rite Office Showroom in Beachwood.

It was very well attended with about 50 people there, most of whom we already knew but we still made several new contacts including a representative from an accounting firm who offered to help our clients who have immigrated to the United States understand our system of taxation and give them a general overview on how to pay taxes.

We also met Ms. Chris Kiec who told us that it was strange that she encountered us here because just a couple of days ago she was having a discussion about immigration and the name of Margaret W. Wong came up.

Moreover, we met Mr. Paul Qua who is a fleet manager at Classic Auto Group by profession and is also the new President of the Rotary Club of Cleveland which honored Ms. Wong several months ago. Mr. Qua told us about an event at St. Dominic’s around seven or eight years ago where he played poker with Ms. Wong and she won.

The second networking event was actually the monthly luncheon of the Painesville Chamber of Commerce which was held at the Fairport Harbor Senior Center but there is always an opportunity for networking at a chamber event so we warmly greeted newcomers from Farmers Insurance and Active Plumbing Supply who had never been to one of the Painesville Chamber meetings.

Ryan Morgan speaks at Painesville Chamber of Commerce
One of the sponsors of the luncheon today was Lake Erie College which was represented here today by Mr. R. Scott Evans, Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chief of the President’s Staff, who told us that the college President Michael Victor, who we have seen at several chamber functions over the past year, would have probably been with us today except that his mother just passed which was sad. Nevertheless, Mr. Evans was a more than capable substitute and he talked for a few minutes about Lake Erie College and told us about a new program that was just launched to train physicians’ assistants that has proved to be quite popular; over 700 people applied for 24 openings.

Today’s Keynote Speaker was once again Mr. Ryan Morgan, Manager of Online Marketing for the Employer Resource Council. Today Mr. Morgan spoke about “inbound marketing” which uses content to attract customers by way of blogging, social media, search engine optimization, lead conversion and marketing automation.

Before we left we had a discussion about immigration with a person who expressed her opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to remain in this country. But, on the other hand, she recalled a situation that she had encountered years ago wherein a man from Central America who immigrated to the United States illegally got married to a woman who was a United States citizen and, even though they loved each other and it was a good marriage, the authorities found out about his illegal status and deported him back to Central America so his wife went with him even though she didn’t want to live there and neither did he. The person we were having this discussion with thought that this was outrageous and that the “couple should be able to live anywhere they want to”.

That evening we went to the “Noche De Guayabera” annual scholarship fundraiser of the Young Latino Network which supports educational and leadership development opportunities within the Hispanic Community. This fundraiser took place at the Ariel Center in Cleveland and lasted from 6pm to 11pm.

We arrived right at 6pm because we wanted to network for a while before we had to leave to attend an event at 7:30pm at John Carroll University. We planned, however, to return to “Noche De Guayabera” around 9pm or so for more networking.

Upon our arrival we were cheerfully greeted by Mr. Anthony Alto, who works for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, who was coordinating the event and even though we could only stay for slightly less than an hour we made about ten new contacts including Ms. Silvana Ochoa, President of NSHMBA Cleveland Chapter, who has worked with Margaret W. Wong and Associates before. Another person there who knew Ms. Wong was Ms. Vicky L. DePiore, Senior Human Resources Generalist with UTC Aerospace Systems, who worked with Ms. Wong in 1989 when Ms. Wong was assisting Teledyne.

We gave our contact information to Ms. Toinette Parrilla, Director of Public Health for the City of Cleveland, who will be contacting Ms. Wong shortly because she needs her counsel on immigration issues pertaining to public health.

About 6:45pm we left the Ariel Center to attend a traditional Iftar Dinner at John Carroll University in the D.J. Lombardo Student Center that was organized by Dr. Zeki Saritoprak, Professor of Islamic Studies.

The program consisted of Dr. Saritoprak and Dr. Sheila McGinn, Dept. of Theology and Religious Studies speaking briefly, and a wonderful speech by Dr. Muhammad Shafiq (visiting from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, where he is the executive director of the Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue , and professor of Islamic and religious studies) that was titled “Ramadan: Restraining Craving, Healing Stress” which dealt with the purpose and importance of fasting to the Islamic people.

Dr. Muhammad Shafiq at Iftar Dinner Dr. Zeki Saritoprak at Iftar Dinner Dr. Sheila McGinn at Iftar Dinner

Also attending this event, were our friends Pierre Bejjani, Asim Datta, Murat Gurer (who told us about the event), Fareed Siddiq, and Paramjit and Linda Singh.

Another person who was there was Mr. Thomas A. Downie, an attorney who we have met several times before. Tonight Mr. Downie laughed good-naturedly and said that “I keep running into people who know Margaret Wong but have never met her myself!”

Just before 9pm we moved to a dining room where prayers were said and dinner was served after the sun went down. We were very happy when Dr. Saritoprak asked Father Joseph Hilinski, who we met at the March for Immigration Reform a few weeks ago, to come up and join him in the leading of prayers.

After a delicious dinner composed largely of vegetarian dishes, back we went to “Noche De Guayabera” at the Ariel Center and arrived there just before 10pm.

By this time though, most of the attendees had gone home even though there were still a few people dancing and visiting. We told Mr. Anthony Alto, who looked to be the person in charge who we had met earlier, that we were back and Mr. Alto did a double-take and said that he didn’t realize that we had left!

We spoke with Mr. Richard Estremera from KeyBank was told us that he believed that this was a successful event because it was predicted that 100 people would attend this event and 120 actually did.

Needless to say, it was the end of the day and we were tired so we stayed for about a half hour and then got ready to leave. Before we left, we stopped to talk to Dr. Julio Aponte who had been working to bring athletes from Central America to Cleveland to participate in Gay Games 9. Initially, 34 athletes wanted to come but, due to complications, only 18 were coming now.

Yet Dr. Aponte was not upset at all; in fact he was quite pleased over the number of athletes that were actually coming. We compliment Dr. Aponte on his hard work and are happy also that 18 people will soon be visiting Cleveland who would not be coming if it were not for Dr. Aponte and others who have worked so hard on this project.