Western Reserve Academy was a beautiful setting for the 12th annual “Toast to Hudson” held in February. More than 275 guests enjoyed the winter gala sponsored by Hudson Community First. The event’s presenting sponsor was Akron Children’s Hospital. Shawn Lyden, chief strategy officer at Children’s gave a video welcome.

Guests enjoyed a spectacular food display by Taste of Excellence and select wines and craft beers provided by Esber Beverage. Clarice Harbert was the winner of the John Hardy black sapphire necklace donated by Jewelry Art. More than 100 auction items grabbed the partygoers’ attention. The Raise Your Hands for Kids portion directed by Brad Wright generated funding for Community First programs, including No one starts with Heroin, Take a Second Make a Difference and more.

Spotted in the crowd was Ohio’s new Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Jamie Messenger the resource specialist for Drug Safe Hudson. Superintendent Phil Herman was in attendance along with Montessori head of school Matt Virgil and state representative Casey Weinstein. Mayor David Basil gave the official toast.

The event generated more than $100,000 that will be used for an array of Community First’s leadership, character and self-esteem building programs and activities in all schools in Hudson. According to Laura Gasbarro, Community First’s Co-executive Director, the Community came out in force to support Hudson’s youth. For more information about Community First, visit hudsoncommunityfirst.com. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS SUBMITTED BY HUDSON COMMUNITY FIRST.

Laura Jones and Laura Gasbarro, Co-Directors of Hudson Community First

Ted Olson and State Rep. Casey Weinstein with Nicole and Ross Kowalski

Pam Bellin, Marietta Marquart and Clarice Harbert

Danette Fischer, Gretchen Greissing, Clarice Harbert, Julie Suez and Julie Ridgway

Marsha Steiner, Mark Fischer, Jill and David Latta, Kevin Steiner and Karen and Jack Fish