Chagrin Valley Chamber names new director and annual award winners: Valley Views | #socialmedia | #children


CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — The Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce’s socially distant awards evening held recently at the Mayfield Road Drive-In offered a few surprises. In addition to an evening of networking and the customary annual awards presentation, members were introduced to their new executive director, Jessica Debeljak.

A familiar face, Debeljak had served as the organization’s interim director and, before that, worked as an assistant to Molly Gebler, the former executive director.

Calling the transition “seamless,” Henry Grendell, CVCC’s board president, said the selection committee reviewed numerous resumes and interviewed several candidates before offering the position to Debeljak.

Starstruck attendees also watched on the big screen an interview with Bill Young about his Hollywood stunt-driving team and a surprise message from actor Erik Estrada, known for his role as Ponch on the TV series “CHiPs.”

Nonprofit links people and horses: In Step With Horses was honored as CVCC’s nonprofit of the year. The 4-year-old enterprise based in Geauga County helps people rebalance their lives following trauma or chronic mental health challenges by interacting with therapy horses and licensed therapists.

According to Melissa Hauserman, the nonprofit group’s president and co-founder, the award includes a $10,000 cash donation, which will help to expand services to youth, families and first responders. She said clients pay only what they can afford, and this donation will help stretch the dollars further to help more people.

Full Moon at the Farm: In Step With Horses is holding a fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at the farm, 9495 Stafford Road in Bainbridge Township. The venue calls for country casual, with live music, raffles, auctions, food, wine, beer and cocktails provided by sponsors Cleveland Whiskey and Tito’s Vodka. You can mingle with the therapy animals and meet other new friends. Tickets are $85. Contact instepwithhorses.org.

Speaking of winners: The firm Patient Computer Help for Grown Ups received the CVCC’s business of the year award. The chamber’s member of the year designation went to Hungry Bee and owners Kimberly and Jimmy Gibson. Joanne Zettl was honored as the presidential merit award winner, while Robin Peavy received the past president award.

Don’t scream for ice cream: Instead, bring your business cards and network with CVCC members from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, at Cibik’s Dairy Island, 8295 E. Washington St. in Bainbridge Township, for a taste of local craft ice cream and a soft drink.

Cibik’s ice cream is made on location from milk and cream sourced from Midwest farms. The event is free for CVCC members and $10 for non-members. For more information, call 440-247-6607 or visit www.cvcc.org.

Explore Cuba virtually: Park Synagogue presents a virtual trip to our southern neighbor at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, via Zoom. The program, “Jewish Cuba: Past, Present & Future,” features Cuban-American Saul Berenthal, owner of Cuba’s first kosher boutique hotel, talking about the history and present-day Jewish community there.

Park member Anne Sportas will describe growing up in Havana before her family left in 1966 to live in Cleveland.

The program is free and open to the community. Register by July 26 at www.parksynagogue.org, email epetler@parksyn.org or call 216-371-2244, extension 122.

Teens, create memes: The Geauga Park District invites Geauga County teens age 12-18 to create a meme and share it on social media from photos they took while visiting one of the district’s parks from now through July 27.

Participating teens will earn a $15 Visa gift card and be entered to win one of five Apple airpods. Prizes will be distributed Saturdays, Aug. 7 and 14, at special drop-in events with free pizza and soft drinks. Contact geaugaparkdistrict.org for information.

Teen bike challenge: Teens entering grades eight through 10 can enter the Geauga Park District’s X-treme biking challenge along the Maple Highlands Trail from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, starting at the Claridon Woodlands park.

Camp staff will lead participants to the Mountain Run Station and south to Tare Creek Parkway, a distance of 22 miles.

The cost is $30. Participants should bring lunch, water and a raincoat in a backpack, along with a signed camp waiver. Register to attend at geaugaparkdistrict.org or 440-226-4695.

Seniors bike, too: Seniors age 55 and up hit the Maple Highlands Trail from 3 to 4:30 p.m. each Wednesday for an escorted bike ride. No registration is required. Bring your own bike, helmet and water. Meet at the Park Avenue trailhead parking area behind the Marc’s store in Chardon.

To post your news and events, contact Rusek at jcooperrusek@gmail.com.

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