Toledo is a melting pot of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Yet these folks have at least one thing in common: doing their part in making their community a better place in which to live by helping others in need.
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Two black women's organizations hosted Founder's Day events recently.
ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA Sorority, Inc. celebrated 102 years of service with a reception last Sunday at Brandywine Country Club.
The “Sustaining the Vision: A Celebration of our Founders” event was hosted by the undergraduate chapters at Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo and the graduate chapter, Zeta Alpha Omega.
AKA was founded in 1908 at Howard University with 20 women. Now the membership is more than 250,000 women in chapters worldwide with a “service to all mankind” motto.
After a delightful meal and musical and dance performances by members including Bertha Peyton, Mary Hayes, Gabrielle Hill, and Rosalyn Cooper, the program recognized Covenant Youth Development, the Firm, and the Genesis Project for their community service.
The return of AKA member Jala Anderson made the event extra special. The guest speaker, a former news anchor for WTVG-TV, Channel 13, told of her love for Toledo and shared her journey. After she was married in Toledo, she went to North Carolina for a new job, lost that job after three years, then moved back to her hometown of Chicago, where she worked for a pharmaceutical company that was downsized.
Most devastating was the death of her husband, Tony McKee, in a 2006 car accident. Jala said her experiences, her faith in God, and her grandmother's encouragement helped make her a stronger and better person.
Now Ms. Anderson works for Abbott Laboratories as a global field sales trainer and she continues to do community work and give motivational speeches. With Ms. Anderson was her pride and joy, her newly adopted 4-month-old daughter, Phoenix Rose.
THE LOCAL chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs' Inc. has been in existence for 46 years. A celebration took place last month during the annual Founder's Day program of the Toledo Club of NBPWC, Inc. at the Ramada Inn on Secor Road.
Leola Haynes, event chairman, said the chapter hosts annual community programs related to health issues, financial planning, teen pregnancy, scholastics and college preparation, and many others. But on this occasion it was all about thanking those who have contributed to the community.
The highest honor from the organization is the Sojourner Truth Award for a woman who has distinguished herself in her business or profession while being devoted to community service. The award is not automatically given every year; it can only come through the national office, which must make the presentation, so the national president, Sandra Anne Coleman of Detroit, was present to bestow the honor.
This year the honoree was Doni Miller, CEO of Neighborhood Health Association, which has nine federally funded health clinics in Lucas County that provide medical and dental care to anyone, regardles of their means. Ms. Miller, an activist for women's rights, is a tireless community leader and volunteer.
The 16th annual Make-A-Wish All-Star Celebrity Sports Auction was held recently at the Seagate Convention Centre with 700 people on hand.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northwest Ohio grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions, and this night more than a dozen young people who were granted wishes were in attendance, including this year's wish child, 4-year-old Briahna, who thanked everyone for her trip to Walt Disney World.
Featured speaker Dave Dravecky, former all-star major league pitcher, talked about his battle with cancer, saying that his strong Christian faith and family helped him to become a survivor. After his retirement, Mr. Dravecky, who lost his pitching arm to cancer, founded Endurance, a nonprofit organization “created to minister to those suffering with cancer and amputation.”
Welcoming everyone was Tom Dillon, chairman of the local Make-A-Wish board. Emcee Dan Cummins of WTOL-TV, Channel 11, kept the evening on target. There were plenty of silent auction items, but it was the live auction by Pam Rose that sparked excitement with fast and furious bidding for all kinds of sports memorabilia, art, and vacation and entertainment packages. Following that was a Grant-A-Wish Auction with Cliff Smithers and Harvey Steele of WKKO-FM, 99.9, that allowed supporters to bid to help grant a wish to a child.
The estimated amount raised from the evening is more than $100,000. Marcy McMahon, founder of the local chapter chartered in 1984, was all smiles. After all, one wish costs about $6,000 to grant, although the organization seeks donated services and items whenever possible.
Thanks go to the attendees, the endless list of business, media, and individual sponsors, and the more than 100 volunteers including Dave Mallory, auction chairman, and Joan Fankhauser, Brittany Craig, Denny Gill, Kevin Kimmet, Lisa Rechtenwald, Joe Rodriguez, Jennifer Davis, Brent Vogel, and others. Board member Chrys Peterson of WTOL was there too.
THE fourth annual Entre Amigos (Among Friends) fund-raiser presented by Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center recently at Mi Hacienda Mexican Restaurant on Glanzman Road. SQACC piggybacks this event with the YMCA's annual scholarship campaign, because since the two organizations are community partners providing services in the old south end of Toledo, said Joe Balderas of the center.
This year the event generated nearly $4,200 with additional money yet expected. The proceeds support a youth soccer beginners program, a bike restoration program, the continuation of community gardens to help feed families, and other community programs. Last year $1,300 was donated in support of the YMCA scholarship fund, but the board has not met yet to approve the donation for this year.
Nearly 170 adults and a dozen children enjoyed a Mexican buffet and camaraderie. SQACC board members played hostess and wait staff, showing guests to their tables, serving salsa, chips, and drinks, and clearing the tables. Working hard were Dora Lopez, Duane Rodriguez Winter, Al Gonzalez, Sharon Haeflinger, Arturo Quintero, Thelma Briseno, and Mr. Balderas. Seen were Robert and Stephanie Alexander, Todd and Denise Tibbits, Steve and Debby Cotner, Margarita DeLeon, recently appointed 6th District Court of Appeals Judge Keila Cosme, members of the Vanderhorst family, the Manhattan Off Broadway Dance Company, and the Toledo Jeep Hispanic Association, and many other supporters of the center.
Jamie Farr was in town to narrate the Toledo Symphony's "The Planets" concert recently at the Peristyle, and afterward he headed out to dine at one of his favorite places: the Beirut. While there, he visited with Karen Jarosz and Mayor Mike Bell, center. Mr. Farr, who continues to support his hometown, is a fine example to Toledoans who have gone on to make it big in other parts of the country.