The innovative work of Toledo GROWs has yielded a Toledoan of the Year. Mike Szuberla was honored at an award ceremony earlier this week along with four others from the community. Below is the Blade article.....
5 are Toledoans of Year for efforts in community
Awards recognize individual efforts
Five people - including an 8-year-old girl who collects socks for the homeless - were honored with Toledoan of the Year Awards last night at a reception in the Erie Street Market.
The honorees were selected by a panel of judges in five categories: mentor, humanitarian, innovation, community investment, and leadership.
Before the presentations, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner noted the bad economic conditions and urged the audience of 100 to "do absolutely the best job we will ever do in our lives in uplifting and inspiring others."
The mayor said the recent city layoffs, including 75 police officers, were bad, but "not the end of the Earth."
Mr. Finkbeiner said challenges can make people stronger.
Of the proceedings last night, he said: "We honor individuals who quietly and humbly work to improve this community.
The honorees were:
•Brittany Gessner, the owner and head coach of the Cheerworks Sparks Gym, who won the mentor award. She dedicates much time to her cheerleading and dance teams, one of which includes special-needs athletes, who travel with the other squads.
•Hannah Turner, who started Hannah's Socks, a nonprofit organization that provides warm clothing to the homeless in northwest Ohio. She won the humanitarian award. At 8, Hannah is the youngest winner.
She has collected more than 50,000 socks and spends her Saturday mornings distributing socks to those in need.
•Mike Szuberla of Toledo Grows, the outreach program of the Toledo Botanical Garden, who won the innovation award. He is a regional and state leader in community gardens. Toledo Grows serves and supports 50 community gardens with organizational resources and technical assistance.
•Paul Ormond, chief executive officer of HCR ManorCare Inc., who won the business community investment award. His Toledo-based company continues to grow and will add 85 jobs with the expansion of its business.
•Greg Braylock, coordinator of Youth United Way, a program of the United Way of Greater Toledo, who won the leadership award. He teaches teens how to become leaders and encourages them to perform to the best of their capacity.
Presenting the awards were Ron Royhab, Vice President-Executive Editor of The Blade, and Laura Emerson, news anchor at WUPW Channel 36. The event was sponsored by The Blade, the city of Toledo, and Fox Toledo.