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Published: Monday, 2/19/2007

Elegant Mom's Nite Out Gala warmed up a snowy weekend

TOLEDO is filled with community movers and shakers from the corporate world and from other fields, and they continue to make a difference in our community.

AN ELEGANT Dr. Zhivago-style winter wonderland of icy blue and snow white set the scene Saturday night for 250 guests at the 14th annual Mom's Nite Out Gala and Auction in the Stranahan Great Hall. The decor may have reminded guests of the cold weather outdoors, but inside there was a warm, sparkling feeling, perhaps because of all the special people present in support of Mom's House, a nonprofit organization that assists young single mothers in completing their education.

Honored guest was Shenikwa Stratford of WNWO-TV, Channel 24, the first African-American woman to serve as primary news anchor in Toledo. The list of her community endeavors goes on and on, including speaking engagements, fashion shows, and luncheons, but most rewarding for Ms. Stratford is the time spent inspiring children when she visits classrooms.

That's because she first became interested in becoming a news anchor at age 6, when Dallas news anchor Clarice Tinsley spoke to her kindergarten class. From then on, she was involved in elementary, junior high, and high school news broadcasts. She names her mom and stepfather, Barbara and Rodney Walter, along with Oprah Winfrey and CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien, as her role models.

Ms. Stratford encourages people to be an example of success for their children and for others, and not to worry about past mistakes but to show how one can overcome them and move on to be successful.

Ms. Stratford, a native of Dallas, is a graduate of Howard University in Washington.

Her broadcasting career included stints at Fox stations in New York City and Amarillo, Texas, before she landed her job at WNWO-TV, Channel 24 in Toledo. It is here that she met her husband, Jon Carr, a University of Toledo assistant football coach, whom she married in July. They are expecting their first child, a girl, in May.

Rick Lipps, general manager of WNWO-TV, confirmed the honor was well-deserved. "Shenikwa is a tremendous asset to the station and the community, and her involvement is indicative of the type of person she is."

Keeping the evening on target was emcee Bill Spencer, chief meteorologist for WNWO-TV, the perfect touch to the winter night.

Special guests were Tequilla Thomas, Mia Cunningham, and Janaver Jones, all Mom's House graduates who told their stories of success.

Fabulous food by Le Petite Gourmet sated appetites and live entertainment by Dezire kept one's toes tapping as guests perused silent-auction items.

Towering floral centerpieces on each dinner table held Lindt chocolates, and hidden in just one arrangement was a pair of gold and diamond earrings valued at $1,500 from Joseph Licata Jewelers. But guests had to purchase the centerpieces to find out if theirs held the special package. Barbara Tartaglia was the lucky winner.

Board chairman Bill Sheehan of Sovran Co. was all smiles, especially because the evening's net is estimated to be about $25,000. Mr. Sheehan announced that toast.net and WNWO-TV have created a scholarship of $2,000 for the next two years that will be given to Mom's House clients in Ms. Stratford's name.

TWO well-connected folks in the community relations field here retired last month, so quick, grab them before someone else does!

•Marcia Siemens is ready to roll in her husband Don's Corvette now that she is officially retired from the Kroger Co. Mrs. Siemens started as a grocery store checker at $2.40 per hour. That was 38 years ago, after she wrote on her application that she left her last job because there was no room for advancement. She went on to become the public relations coordinator in the Toledo area and then an assistant manager.

A real people person, she is involved in other community endeavors, including sitting on the board of the Northwest Ohio Food Bank. To celebrate Mrs. Siemens' retirement, friends, co-workers, and family gathered Jan. 9 at her favorite restaurant, Eddie Lee's. Letters, poems, and pictures brought back lots of memories. Mrs. Siemens left with a handsome laptop computer from Kroger. Hmm. Maybe she is not as retired as she thinks she is.

•Chuck Krueger - the guy with the bright blue eyes and winning personality - has retired from FirstEnergy, the parent company of Toledo Edison, as vice president/external affairs after 21 years of service with the company. However, his career in Toledo also included stints as a reporter and news manager at WTOL-TV, Channel 11.

The soiree was Jan. 25 at the Toledo Club, and Mr. Krueger, thinking it was just a reception, made reservations for dinner that night. Well, surprise! The place was packed with bigwigs and friends. Among the guests was retired WTOL-TV anchor Jeff Heitz, who just came home from Hawaii, where Mr. Krueger and his wife, Jan Skunda, have a vacation home just a stone's throw away from Mr. Heitz's place.

Extra-special was when Ms. Skunda serenaded Mr. Krueger with song. Mr. Krueger was so overwhelmed as he looked around the room, he was nearly speechless - and that is rare - but he managed to say, "You honor me with your presence."

BEFORE we know it, boating season will be here. But in the meantime, boaters are getting things ship-shape.

w Perrysburg Boat Club is sailing into its 70th anniversary this year and the celebration was kicked off with the change of watch Jan. 13th at Carranor Hunt and Polo Club. And baby, they have come a long way, as this year's commodore is Marylin Metti, one of the first women to take the helm for the club. By her side will be husband Ron.

•The Toledo Power Squadron, which hosts boating safety, charting, weather and other navigational classes throughout the year, held its change of watch Jan. 13 at the Toledo Yacht Club in honor of the new commander, James W. Balogh, and his wife, Jean. The evening started with a "social adjustment," followed by dinner and the ceremony. If you want to get a few boating tips from the salty dogs, Jim Sommers said he will be standing by at SomAGA@aol.com or 419-691-7719.

•The Opening of the Port Ball was Jan. 26 at Zenobia Shrine. The event, while hosted by Maumee River Yacht Club, Toledo Sailing Club, Toledo Yacht Club, and Bay View Yacht Club, is a gathering of all boat club members of the Associated Yacht Clubs, which includes members from Ohio, southern Michigan, and Canada. All proceeds fund the opening of the port festivities on Memorial Day weekend, the official kick-off of the boating season. Heading up the ball committee was Jeff Molnar.

THE MEDICAL community had several changing-of-the- guard dinners recently.

•Physicians gathered for the Academy of Medicine Annual Meeting Jan. 11 at Gladieux Meadows. Outgoing president Robert Kose handed over the gavel to 2007 president Anthony Armstrong. President-elect is Diane McCormick. A reception was followed by dinner and a program, which included featured speaker Lloyd Jacobs, president of the University of Toledo. Dr. Jacobs, who is also a physician, talked about maintaining the physician work force in the community, and added that UT is committed to working with all partners in the community to accomplish this feat.

•The Toledo Dental Society Installation Banquet was Jan. 12 at the Ward Pavilion at Wildwood Metropark, with Matthew Lark as emcee. The Dan and Don duo played tunes for listening and dancing.

Immediate past president Keith Norwalk turned the gavel over to new president Michael Cook as Dr. Cook's family, including his wife, Kathy, sons Aaron, 16, Daniel, 15, and Nathan, 13, and daughter Kiley, 14, looked on. The society has 310 members.

•St. Anne Mercy Hospital Medical Staff Annual Black-Tie Meeting was at the Wyndham Hotel Jan. 13. Herbert Stockard, the new chief of staff, was introduced by Steven Ariss, outgoing chief of staff, and the rest of the evening focused on fun. The Parisian-themed night included cocktails and dinner, but no long speeches.

Instead, everyone was up and moving as they danced to the tunes of the KGB band and shopped with complimentary euros at vending carts for treats, including French wine, truffles, petit fours, and french bread to fill their take-home market bags.



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