It was a magical evening with the sun, and later stars, glowing through the grid of the geodesic dome at ASM International during Geauga Growth Partnership’s 7th Annual HomeGrown Geauga fundraising event. The weather was perfect; the guests satisfied their palates with tastings from some of Geauga’s best restaurants and chefs; and there was plenty of diverse entertainment to amuse the crowd.
Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP) hosts this event each year to raise funds to support its highly successful Youth Workforce training programs, which are reaching students in nearly every public, private and parochial school in Geauga County with the skills they need to enter the workforce.
The theme of these HomeGrown Geauga events has always been to focus on all things Geauga County – its people, produce, products and places. This year the event was held for the third time at ASM International.
Geauga restaurants and chefs supported the event by donating their food and services for the 350 guests expected. Each served a different menu item to give guests delicious and assorted selections. Featured eateries were Blazin’ Bills, Burntwood Tavern, DiBlasi’s Bakery, Element 41, Sirna’s Farm fresh Kitchen Pizzeria, Tom’s Foolery, Warren’s Spirited Kitchen, Welshfield Inn, Chef Jonathan Bennett featuring Adams Reserve Cheddar, Chefs Joe Matteucci & Timothy Willis of UH Geauga Medical Center Nutrition Services, and Chef William Davis of ICASI & Loretta Paganini School of Cooking. Some tastings included pulled pork sliders, homemade pasta with spinach and artichokes, fire roasted tomato gazpacho, reuben perogies, mushroom & fennel bruschetta, spinach & feta stuffed phyllo, mini chicken pot pie, assorted mousse cups, and more. Select cheeses were provided by Great Lakes Cheese and bourbon tastings from Tom’s Foolery. Wines from Vintage Wine Distributor helped stock the full bar.
Guests were entertained by “home-grown” talent, such as GGP’s favorite band No Moss, who performed throughout the evening. No Moss performed many musical genres including old standards, pop, country, blues and good old Rock-n-Roll spanning the past 50 years. A local band, No Moss has been playing together since the October of 2012. The band features Jim Anderson – lead guitar, vocals, harmonica. Bob Walker – drums, percussion. Denise Geisler – vocals. Bill Hanna – bass guitar. There was also a special surprise as the bagpipes, played by Jack Murray from Geauga Highlanders, introduced Ansel Savage, a Geauga historic figure and namesake of Ansel’s Cave in Geauga Park District’s West Woods.
There was magic in the air for visitors who opted to have Tarot Card Readings by Vitki, or who had an encounter with Magician & Illusionist, Rick Smith, Jr. As a Guinness Book of World Records Holder, and guest performer on shows like “ABC’s Shark Tank”, “America’s Got Talent”, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and more, Rick Smith Jr. is revered as a hometown success story and GGP was pleased to have him at HomeGrown. Many were spellbound by the talents of JoyUnspeakable, the living statue, who literally brings to life the characters he portrays. With motionless poses, costumed as a miner, his dynamic animated movements and expressions display a mastery of character communication.
Guests were motivated to support GGP’s Youth education programs by participating in various fundraising activities such as silent auction and raffle, using the latest mobile technology by OneCause. Funds raised at HomeGrown Geauga benefit GGP’s Youth Education programs, developed with the mission to “Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce Today.” These programs include Career Readiness events and Career Awareness training, Ignite Your Career event, and the High School Internship program. The multi-faceted workforce training continuum was launched in 2012 under the leadership of GGP founding director Frank Samuel, who was passionate about preparing young people for successful careers. Since the program’s inception, when nine (9) high school students were matched with sponsoring employers for summer internships, the programs have grown exponentially.
In 2018 alone, more than 1,400 Geauga County students participated in GGP’s Youth Workforce training programs. On average, 90% of students report feeling more prepared to enter the workforce; 40% of businesses employing interns, continue that employment relationship beyond the internship period, and the Internship Program is making a direct economic impact on Geauga in the amount of $80,000 annually.
GGP would like to thank those students from GGP intern classes 2014 – 2019 who volunteered their time to help at HomeGrown Geauga this year: Samara Benza, Valerie Heintz, Kaylee Klepper, Brendan Leininger, Maggie Murray, Cole Prots, Deanna Swinerton, and Ryan Tien.
Geauga Growth would like to thank all sponsors who helped to make HomeGrown Geauga possible!
Thank you to PRESENTING SPONSOR: Great Lakes Cheese; DIAMOND SPONSOR: Preston Superstore; Waste Management PLATINUM SPONSORS: ASM International; Richard & Christie Frenchie; Kinetico Incorporated; UH Geauga Medical Center; GOLD SPONSORS: Arms Trucking; Covia Corporation; Huntington Bank; Junction Auto Family; KeyBank; Patterson Farm; Sheoga Hardwood Flooring & Paneling as well as our Silver, Bronze and Patron Sponsors and Valet Sponsor: Geauga County Maple Leaf
Pictured In Cover Photo: From top left, John Epprecht & Elizabeth Noreika, JoyUnspeakable, the bagpipes, played by Jack Murray from Geauga Highlanders with Ansel Savage, and No Moss, photo courtesy of Geauga Growth Partnership