AngelaHuston@zoominternet.net   CRHuston@zoominternet.net

On July 19, which may have been one of the hottest days of this summer, enthusiastic supporters of the Children's Center of Medina County gathered on the front lawn of the newly expanded property at 724 East Smith Road, Medina, for the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Kimberly Marshall, Economic Development Director, City of Medina, and Board member of the Center, welcomed the guests to the invitation-only ceremony. It was generally agreed by everyone present that it is sad there is such a need for the services the Center provides, but genuine gratitude that it exists and has come to the aid of so many abused and neglected children. Marshall quoted Center Director Rhonda Wurgler, who has said many times, she hopes to be out of a job someday because it would mean this cruelty has been stopped.

The Center's Board President, Brian Cullen, delivered an invocation and then told the audience what a huge day this was. He expressed gratitude and appreciation to those who have been helpful in any way, and encouraged others to aid this cause.

Medina City Mayor Dennis Hanwell praised the staff for the commendable work they do to fight the constantly growing need; in the last 10 years, the center has served more than 1,500 children. Hanwell added the equipment is so advanced the FBI and Homeland Security have brought representatives to the facility.

Medina County Commissioners Bill Hutson and Pat Geissman agreed Medina is very fortunate to have the Center. Medina is a great place to live, work, and play, but they said we must remember the less fortunate groups that still exist and need help.

Eric Allen, representing Pride One Construction, said the company was proud to be chosen as the general contractor on this project. He also recognized the valuable sub-contractors who gave both time and money to it.

Westfield Corporate Reponsibility Leader Jani Groza said the oppressive heat we were temporarily enduring was nothing compared to what abused children suffer through. She added there is no question Westfield is proudly supportive of the Center.

United States Senator Rob Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, defined the Medina community as one that comes together and gets things done. He praised the work of the Center that provides much needed service to abused children. He and his wife Jane, who accompanied him to Medina, chose to spend their 33rd wedding anniversary at this momentous event. He presented Center Director Rhonda Wurgler with an American flag that flew over the Capitol.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof told those gathered the recently completed state budget is the most kid-friendly budget in history; several significant improvements are included to take care of vulnerable children, all children. Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, who joined Obhof at the podium, said "We're here to work together. Children represent 30 percent of the population but 100 percent of the future." The two men assured the guests the two parties do work together.

Ohio 69th District Representative Steve Hambley said, "Unfortunately, there is evil in this world. We need to eradicate it." He applauded the efforts and dedication of the Center, and paraphrased Nelson Mandela's observation that the

way we treat our children is a reflection of our society.

Michelle Gillcrist, representing Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Carrie Bartunek, for Attorney General David Yost, Leah Jones, for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Brandon Gibson, for Congressman Gonzales, and Brunswick City Mayor Ron Falconi each presented proclamations to Center Director Rhonda Wurgler.

Wurgler expressed gratitude to all who came out to support our community's children. She said it does take a village to raise a child and Medina truly is that village. She added, "We would not be here without the Medina community. The children are worth these efforts."

Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jaclyn Ringstmeier then arranged the dignitaries for the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

All were invited to tour the 5,200 square foot Center that includes a state-of-the-art medical exam room, a neutral and soundproof forensic interview room, a team viewing room, four child-friendly decorated playrooms for foster care visits and so much more.

Capital Campaign Committee Chair Jen Graham expressed gratitude for the overwhelming support from the community and announced that to date they have reached 78 percent of the Capital Campaign goal. The project kicked off with a generous lead gift of $50,000 presented by the Medina County ADAMH Board to sponsor the Conference Room.

Board President Brian Cullen said the goal of the campaign is to retire the full amount of the construction debt so the Center operates without a mortgage. He invited the community's participation to make a lasting impact on the county.

The community is invited to an open house August 11, from 2:00 to 5:00. For more information please contact Anna Guy-Leach at aguyleach@medinacountychildrenscent.org or 330-591-2682.