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Published: Thursday, 2/15/2007

Gathering kicks off new group for young professionals

Brain drain? Not hardly. A new group for young professionals, EPIC Toledo: Engaging People, Inspiring Change, has been established through the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Its mission is "to connect high-potential emerging leaders to each other and the community." And chairman Brian Epstein of Trust Company of Toledo says, "Toledo is a great place to live ... so get involved and take action!"

There are already more than 100 individual members and more than 20 corporate members. But a Feb. 7 gathering at the Erie Street Market's Civic Promenade may have increased those numbers.

Tanya Pipatjarasgit, left, Kris Keating, and CJ Murawski at the EPIC Toledo reception.
Tanya Pipatjarasgit, left, Kris Keating, and CJ Murawski at the EPIC Toledo reception.
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More than 800 young professionals, sponsor representatives, and seasoned movers and shakers gathered to see what the group is all about. Those over age 40 may have felt like oldsters compared to the crowd of people in their 20s and 30s. It was great to see so many young people willing to get involved in their community.

Guests mingled while feasting on a buffet donated by Shorty's, Gianno's at the Inn, Manhattan's, and The Blarney, while the Toledo Symphony Orchestra Jazz Trio played background tunes.

Door prizes were tickets to popular events, including the Boys and Girls Clubs' Barefoot at the Beach event, the American Red Cross' Oscar Night, Toledo Zoo's Rock 'N Roar, the Toledo Chamber Clambake, and more.

Above the constant din of chatter, there was a brief program introducing EPIC Toledo. Working with Mr. Epstein on the advisory council are Joel Jerger of Fifth Third Bank, chairman- elect; Ricardo King of Owens Corning, vice chairman, and Wendy Gramza and Samantha Scott of the Chamber of Commerce.

John Cole, left, Marcel Pringle, and Chris Mitchell were among the guests at the gathering for the new Toledo young professionals organization. John Cole, left, Marcel Pringle, and Chris Mitchell were among the guests at the gathering for the new Toledo young professionals organization.
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Action committee chairmen include Stephanie Cousino of National City Bank, membership; Dan Zawisza of the Rueben Co., networking; Stephen Vasquez of the United Way, community involvement; Lara David of WT05-TV, Buckeye CableSystem Channel 5, cultural arts; Nancy Caswell of Gorillas & Gazelles, advocacy; Carrie Serber of Eastman and Smith, marketing and public relations, and Michael Hanf of Hanf Associates, economic development.

So just why should a young professional join? The benefits are bountiful: Networking with peers; the opportunity to participate in private events, seminars, and focus groups; learning about issues and economic development affecting the region, and the chance to make a difference in community. Memberships for individuals are $75 per year for those 21 to 40 years old. See www.epictoledo.com to find out more.

A NEW fund-raiser, "Room to Breathe," to benefit the Lung Cancer Alliance was Feb. 10 at Snook's Dream Cars museum in Bowling Green. It was the brainchild of Louann Cummings of Perrysburg, a nonsmoker who has successfully battled lung cancer. She was at the helm for the evening of fun with about 230 people, mainly middle-aged rock-and-roll lovers, and some 20 and 30-year-olds showing up everyone on the dance floor. But octogenarian Charlie Cummings, Mrs. Cummings' father-in-law, beat them all with his fancy moves. Mrs. Cummings' husband, Paul, lead singer for the Suburban Legend, and his band of baby boomers played all night long. However, band members refused to turn the lights down low because they wanted to see their music without using reading glasses. It's tough getting old!

The vintage cars and nostalgic memorabilia set the scene for the '60s-themed affair, along with tasty treats such as a smashed potato bar, root beer floats, cherry cokes, and M&M brownies. Mrs. Cummings said the event netted about $17,000, thanks to the guests, volunteers, and major sponsors, including Snook's, Gladieux Enterprises, American Rent-All, the Kuhlman Corp., and MacKinnon Interiors.

Enjoying the night were Tim Gladieux, John and Janie Miller, Karen and Bob Lucas, Bill Sanford, Barb and John Hammill, Deb and John Joslin, Darlene and Mike Portnoy, Keith and Sandy Custer, Karen Frankowiak, Jim and Ann Worden, Robin Laird, Beth and J.B. Ewing, and Lance and Patrice Craig and their son, Michael.

VALENTINE'S Day is over, but you can still remember that special someone. This month, Stella's restaurant in Perrysburg is selling heart-shaped paperweights with all the proceeds going to the American Heart Association. And anyone wearing red on Thursdays this month will have 10 percent of their bill donated to the AHA. That's thanks to owner Jim Hodulick.

There was breakfast at The Pinnacle a few weeks ago for the Ambassadors of the Heart Association. The breakfast was generously hosted by Richard Stansley. There was also a seminar at The Pinnacle on "The Heart of the Matter" by Northwest Ohio Cardiology Consultants, which offered tips on women's heart health and related issues.



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