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HUDSON -- A project that combines the love of food with providing food for the hungry was unveiled May 11 by the Leadership Hudson class of 2017.
The group, consisting of Nicole Alverson, Jim Christ, Kathy DeLong, Nicole Gallagher, Tom Goad, Jenny Kelemen, Wes Lambert, Joe Moran, Kelly O'Brien, Charlotte Reed, Maureen Reich, Meredith Zaffrann and Keri Zipay, chose for their service project to organize a Hudson Restaurant Week beginning in 2018 to raise funds for the Hudson Food Pantry.
Each leadership class, since 2003 has developed a project to benefit the Hudson community.
"Everything we did in our group sessions and private meetings revolved around food and baking," Goad said.
After completing nine monthly meetings with topics about government, Hudson history, leadership, community needs, education, business, economic development, quality of life and ethics, the class members create a project that will benefit Hudson as a whole.
The class members looked at different projects they could do.
"We wanted to decide what our legacy would be," Goad said. "What would the class of 2017 bring?"
After defining what leadership meant to them, they decided the common denominator was giving back to the community, Goad said.
"Our number one goal was to ensure that we were making Hudson a better place to be," Goad said.
DeLong shared stories about families in Hudson who had trouble making ends meet. The Hudson Food Pantry helped them in times of need.
"When I moved to Hudson, I made the assumption that hunger is not a problem in this community," Reed said. "But I learned my assumptions were mistaken. Many people in Hudson make the same assumption, and many don't know we have a food pantry in Hudson."
In 2016 Hudson Food Pantry served 574 people, which included 200 children, Moran said. The need is growing with two to six new families seen at the pantry each month.
It costs $,6000 annually to run the Hudson Food Pantry but only $1,000 was raised last year, Moran said.
"As a group, we want to close this gap," he said. "We want to have Hudson come together and help with this need."
Cleveland has a Restaurant Week to showcase their restaurants, Alverson said.
Leadership Hudson wants to bring Restaurant Week to Hudson to showcase the more than 40 restaurants in Hudson and support the Hudson Food Pantry, Alverson said.
The Leadership Hudson class would use its resources and partner with local organizations to market the event, Reich said.
The plan is to invite people from Northeast Ohio to attend the annual event and maximize donations to the Hudson Food pantry, Zipay said.
"How cool is that?" Zaffrann said. "You get to eat and raise money for the Food Pantry."
After setting goals, the class will talk to sponsors and finalize what restaurants will be participating by fall. Materials and advertising will promote the event in early 2018.
Leadership Hudson is facilitated by Bob Carter, Jill Centrello and Vic Hamor and runs from September through May with a meeting per month.
"Every year, I am incredibly impressed by the interest and dedication that the Leadership Hudson participants demonstrate in learning about and enriching our community," Carter said. "We also are grateful for the community support of the program, including Leadership Hudson program sponsor the Rotary Club of Hudson Clocktower, as well as the dozens of outstanding speakers throughout the year who help to educate and inspire the participants."
Past projects of Leadership Hudson include Taste of Hudson, Hudson Farmer's Market, Junior Leadership Hudson, Screen on the Green, HeART of Hudson, Solar Panels and Pedal Hudson.
The Screen on the Green will show "The Secret Life of Pets" June 16, "La La Land" July 21 and "Moana" Aug. 26. The movies begin at dusk and are sponsored by Primrose School of Hudson and The Veterinary Center of Hudson.
Junior Leadership Hudson shared their experience in which students from Hudson High School and Western Reserve Academy learn leadership skills and participate in service projects similar to the adult program.
Students from HHS included Jenny Gan, Maggie Lehman, Katelyn Sobczak, Maria Zou, Kelsey Lowman, Hady Truesdail, Alex Dyer and Andrew McDonald.
Students from WRA included Brooke Barsella, Yiwen "Mary" Ning, Kali Chapas, Ghassan Hamzeh, Fangzhou "John" Qui, Dana Lake, Logan Snell and Yue "Connie" Wang.
Anyone interested in applying for the 2017-18 Leadership Hudson class can go to www.LeadershipHudson.com for more information and applications.
For more information on Hudson Restaurant Week, contact email@example.com or visit @HudsonOhioEats on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.