Typically, the summer months are months when things move at a slower pace and workloads become less demanding. Not the case for thirteen local business professionals who not only are working their day jobs but are also learning to dance and be creative with fundraising efforts, all to benefit the local community in the fight against
poverty and access to healthcare.
Known as Dancing Under the Stars, this year’s participants, Ryan Callender, Paul Catalano, Anthony DiBacco, Lynda Frate, Julie Janco-Gidley, Scott Marn, Stephanie Meacham, Miguel and Tanisha Solivan, Steve Trivisonno, Sarah Wade, Kristina Willey and Cookie Wilson each are charged with learning new dance moves along with raising funds to contribute to the event’s total proceeds. Since its inception, the event has raised nearly $350,000 for Lifeline and the Family Planning Association of Northeast Ohio, a division of Signature Health.
Without a doubt there will be friendly competition on the dance floor but the last few months has seen its own competition out in the community as the dancers have been holding creative fundraisers all over Lake County. “The fundraising activities have been creatively exceptional this year.” states Volunteer Chair Dione DeMitro.
We have had Anthony Dibacco as a celebrity bartender at Happy Moose, Kristina Willey, pajamas and all, at Java Express for “Wake up with Willey” and numerous raffles.” Additional events included the Chilly Willey Ice Cream Truck out on the road on July 18th stopping at scheduled companies throughout the day with novelty ice cream treats for sale to employees, driven by dancer Kristina Willey, “Diamonds on the Rocks,” a whiskey tasting and fine jewelry event held by dancer Stephanie Meacham at DavEd Jewelers in Willoughby and Sip and Tip with Scott J. Marn at Longo’s Pizza on Mentor Avenue. Rounding out the month on July 26th is Kristina Willey’s “Wind Down with Willey” at Billy’s Martini Bar in Mentor.
Along with fundraising activities, the dancers have been spending plenty of hours with their paired professional dancer coordinating a dance for the competition which matches their personal interests and style. This year’s lineup, the tenth year for the event, is one of the largest yet competing for the coveted trophy and bragging rights.
The actual event itself is on Friday, August 3rd at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa (5783 Heisley Road in Mentor). The evening kicks off with a social hour and buffet at 6:30 p.m. followed by the dance competition at 8:00 p.m. and the winners announced at or before 10:00 p.m. Past years have drawn a crowd of close to 450 people who are in attendance to support a friend or coworker dancing, support the two organizations benefiting from the fundraiser or simply to come out and network with others and have fun with the competition.
This year being the 10th year, the goal is to get close to 600 in attendance. “This is truly one of those events everybody just has fun with. It’s amazing to see the community come together in support of our two beneficiary nonprofit organizations, Lifeline and the Family Planning Association of Northeast Ohio, a division of Signature health,” states DeMitro.
Tickets are available for Dancing Under the Stars priced at $75 per person or corporate tables for 10 with preferred seating for $900. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite at Dancing Under the Stars or by calling 440-728-6542. Reservations are needed. For more information visit Dancing Under the Stars.
Lifeline, founded in 1973, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to lead the Lake County community in the fight against poverty by offering programs and opportunities to empower residents to achieve self-sufficiency. Lifeline’s Board and staff believe firmly that self-sufficiency means something different to every consumer. To some it may mean securing affordable housing and keeping their utilities connected so that they have a safe home. To others it may mean having access to medical services so that they can properly maintain their health. And to others it might mean enrolling in school or job training programs so that they can pursue different career opportunities.
As a Community Action Agency, Lifeline is uniquely poised to rapidly respond to the critical needs of our local community and is proud to provide a safety net for those in need.
Because poverty affects every household differently, a wide variety of programs are offered designed to combat the many effects of poverty. Currently programming is divided into four main areas: Healthcare Assistance, Housing & Energy Assistance, Consumer Education & Job Training, and Information & Referral Services.
About the Family Planning Association of Northeast Ohio
The Family Planning Association of Northeast Ohio, Inc. (FPANEO) was established in 1970 to provide the community with medical services, counseling, and education related to reproductive health. Clinic sites are located in Lake, Ashtabula and Geauga counties with the mission of promoting informed decision-making and personal choice about parenthood and sexuality in a confidential and compassionate manner. Over 65,000 men and women have received services provided on a sliding fee scale based on family size and income. Everyone receives services regardless of income or inability to pay.
Although birth control services were among the first provided by the FPANEO, many others have been added over the years. Screenings for breast and cervical cancer, testing for and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections, pregnancy testing, counseling, gynecological care, prenatal care and men’s services are also offered. Educators provide programs and workshops to the local community in schools, youth and adult detention centers, and other social service organizations.
In 2017, FPANEO began the process of merging with Signature Health, a major provider of behavioral health services in Northeast Ohio. Signature Health’s new designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center added primary care to their menu of services, including voluntary family planning services. The organization is excited about the potential to provide more holistic care to all clients as a result of this merger.
Pictured In Cover Photo: Kristina Willey and Christine Matthews and Kathy Strancar.