H2O “Help to Others” Celebrates 30 Years With Memorable Tributary Bash

Attendees (from left to right) Rebecca and David Baas, Toni Gelsomino and Kate Ingersoll partake in "H2O Tributary Bash: A Seat at the Table" on February 4th. (Photo by Nancy Feighan)

They came from near and far to honor Lakewood’s incredible young people, and to partake in a celebration that was 30 years in the making.

A sellout crowd of 270 community members attended "H2O Tributary Bash: A Seat at the Table" on February 4th at Cove Community Center, enjoying a memorable night of festivities, philanthropy and fun. This 30th anniversary party and fundraising event served as a unique opportunity to celebrate an innovative program that has become part of the fabric of our community through empowering generations of young Lakewoodites to better the world around them.

"H2O Tributary Bash: A Seat at the Table" featured refreshments from Karen King Catering, live and silent auctions, a paddle raise, a wine pull, raffle prizes and games.  Thanks to the tremendous generosity of attendees, sponsors and alumni donors, the event generated approximately $59,000 to help fund H2O’s ongoing programming.

"For 30 years, H2O has been an integral part of the Lakewood community, a one-of-a-kind program that cultivates volunteerism and civic engagement among young people to enrich our city and its neighborhoods," said H2O Coordinator Emmie Hutchison. "We’re truly grateful for the support we receive from our community, as well as from our extremely loyal alumni base, and this year’s Tributary Bash provided a shining example of that support in action. On behalf of everyone associated with H2O, thank you to the many volunteers, donors, sponsors and guests who made this remarkable occasion possible."

The program portion of the event saw volunteer emcees Nick Aylward and Nate Kelly lead a variety of festivities. State Senator Nickie J. Antonio offered a senatorial citation recognizing the 30-year milestone, and current and past H2O staff members were honored, including founder Celia Dorsch, who shared that she was married in this same building back when it was Cove United Methodist Church. "This place and this program are both very special to me," said Dorsch.

A tribute video produced by current H2O participant Sean Miller was played for the crowd, and several alumni shared memories of the program. Volunteer auctioneer Chris Fornadel oversaw the live auction, which featured a Key West vacation (donated by Joyce and Wally Senney), a New York cabin getaway (donated by Cate and Mike Weber), a personalized quilt crafted by Suzanne Bednarchik, owner of The Quilting Bee, and a private four-course dinner prepared by Cleveland chef Adam Bostwick, winner of Food Network’s Chopped.

While the main level of Cove Community Center hosted the program, the basement level was transformed into a series of themed rooms: a wine room, a sports pub and a lounge. Lakewood High School’s talented jazz ensemble entertained attendees with a performance in the lounge.

"This was one of the first major community events to be held within Cove, which opened to the public last year, and many guests were introduced to the facility for the first time," said Hutchinson. "We were pleased to be able to help showcase this fabulous venue."

H2O was founded in 1993 with 10 students and an initial project involving a grassroots effort to recycle telephone books. Today, nearly 30 years later, this service organization has seen thousands of middle and high school students contribute more than 100,000 hours of volunteer work on projects ranging from youth mentoring to clothing and book drives to community beautification.

H2O thanks the following business sponsors for their generous support: The Castele Family Foundation, Citizens Bank, Friends of Nickie J. Antonio, Geiger’s, Lakewood Community Services Center, Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation, Laskey Costello, Lion and Blue, Palomaki Charitable Fund and Pinnacle Gardens Foundation.

Additionally, H2O thanks the following members of the Tributary Bash Committee for their tireless efforts in helping to make this event possible: Brittany O’Connor (Co-Chair), Celia Dorsch (Co-Chair), Debbie Baker, Matt Bixenstine, Traci Burke, Kristyn Callahan, Rachel Donaldson, Cathy Frantz, Kristen Humphreys, Brandon Jablonski, Nora Katzenberger, Karen Lee, Heidi Murray, Susan Wagner and Kris Williams.

Matt Bixenstine enjoys all things Lakewood, especially walking his basset hound through Madison Park.

Matt Bixenstine

I enjoy all things Lakewood, especially walking my basset hound through Madison Park.

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Volume 19, Issue 5, Posted 8:21 PM, 03.01.2023