The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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        East Toledo Family Center executive director Jodi Gross did not know the real reason she was going to the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce’s 25th Annual Prism Awards Tuesday.

        She did not even know she was going to the Prism Awards — she thought she was going out for a “relaxing dinner” with her husband, daughter and daughter’s family at a Japanese restaurant when they pulled into the Sunrise Banquet Center.

 

        She was even more surprised when her name was announced as the chamber’s Person of the Year. She gave a short speech, tears welling in her eyes.

        “I was really surprised,” Gross said. “I am humbled and honored to have been chosen for the Person of the Year.  

        “I am one of the luckiest people to get to champion for our community and more specifically the families that we serve through all of our programs and services.  And, I am blessed to have great support from my family and the community.”

        Gross has worked for the East Toledo Family Center for almost eight years. She started at the family center in December of 2010 holding the position as the community builder and running the program ‘One Voice for East Toledo’. In August of 2017 she was promoted to executive director of the Family Center.

        Gross is an active member of the East Toledo Club. Before being employed by the Family Center she was an active board member for more than 15 years.

        “She has been successful at assisting the communities of East Toledo and creating the neighborhoods that the city strives for,” says a statement from Prism judges.

        “Now that she holds the executive director position she is motivated to strengthen the relationship the ETFC has with the community and strives to make it a trusted and valuable source for all its residents.”

        Gross, who oversees more than 40 programs at the center, said she was honored to be picked for the job.

        “When the center brought me in as a community builder, my job was to bring people together,” said Gross. “My vision is that we continue to partner with as many agencies as we can. We should continue the traditions of the family center, improving the lives of people in East Toledo,” said Gross.

        She has been a community advocate for East Toledo for over 20 years, and knows that getting people involved is the standard for improving neighborhoods. 

         “My experience is when things need to be accomplished, you have to be that change mechanism, and the family center is that. We look at what type of programs will benefit the community, how we can help our families be stronger and be financially sound, and how we can get residents and other stakeholders involved in the community. So my vision is to take it to the next level. We do great things there every single day. The staff that’s been there, longer than I have, continue to work hard every day, and are the champions of East Toledo. I can take credit for the last 6 and a half years as a community builder, but the center has been doing this for over 116 years. I think we can continue to build and make our community a better place.”

        When she first became a community builder, surveys were conducted in East Toledo to determine residential satisfaction, she recalled.

        “What we found in those surveys is we needed a platform for people to get involved,” she said. “We had a community meeting in which 150 people came, and all of a sudden One Voice was created to get people engaged in their neighborhoods. That was part of my responsibility, to build more partnerships from that platform, more volunteers. We have more people involved than ever before. To be in the executive director position now allows me to build upon what we created on a bigger scale. I’m just privileged now to lead that effort. We’re all about helping the community. We can only do that if we all work together.”

       

Lake student honored

        Lake High School student Grace Blandin was honored at the banquet as the 2018 Young Person of the Year.

        Blandin was nominated by her school to attend HOBY and Students in Action in Washington, D.C.

        Blandin played a major role in the “You’re Knot Alone Project,” distributing bracelets throughout the Lake District and to other districts within the region to bring awareness to suicide prevention and help young people recognize that they are ‘knot” alone.

        Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans, and experts say more awareness is needed to reach people who are in crisis.

        “This and many other projects show how Grace is a leader, helps others, and makes a difference in her community,” said the judge’s statement.

There are many misconceptions that contribute to an unrealistic picture of suicide in our society.

        Continuous education on this subject is very important. Death by suicide is a serious public health issue, with more than 42,000 people dying from suicide each year.

        Statistics show that suicide rates have increased across all age groups over the last few years. Though even with more than 200 percent increase in suicide rate for females age 10-14, the suicide rate of men remains four times higher than of women.

        Prism Award judges were Genoa Banking Company President Marty Sutter, Mr. Emblem owner Pat Slygh and Northwood City Administrator Robert Anderson.

       

 

 

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