Gift Local this Holiday Season!

We are inspired everyday by the work of our community emergency assistance program, named Lake Township F.I.S.H. (Faithfully I Serve Him).  This Holiday season, FISH is giving back in a number of ways to people in need in our community.  You can give them a helping hand throughout the season by participating in the Affordable Christmas program, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives.

What is Affordable Christmas?  As a Chamber of Commerce, we look at this program as a gift not only for those in need, but a gift back to our local community as well when gifts are purchased locally.  Affordable Christmas is a local shopping event on December 13 for lower-income, working-class families to provide their children fun and exciting gifts during the holiday affchristmasseason. Families are invited through partnering community organizations such as Lake Local Schools, Lake Township FISH and Stark County Family Council to attend the event and purchase new, unused gifts at 1/10 the cost of their original price. All gifts are intended for children and teens ages 0-16 years old.  Volunteer on Sunday December 13 from 3-6pm for this program, hosted at RiverTree Christian Church Lake Campus.

Local businesses are invited to place their own stock of toys and clothes at registers and encourage customers while they are checking out to purchase an extra item to donate to Affordable Christmas or host their own toy drive.  For a list of items Fill stockings for FISHneeded, click here.  Hartville Collectibles‘ new Children’s Boutique (located on the second floor) is participating in this program as well and toy drop-off locations are Best Bib and Tucker and Peace, Love and Little Donuts of Hartville.

On Tuesday, November 24, a group of local churches led by Hartville Mennonite Church gathered together to provide all of the ingredients of a traditional Thanksgiving meal to Lake Township residents referred by Lake Township FISH, Lake Center Christian School, Lake Local Schools and Greentown Elementary.   GentleBrook Event Center hosts the event and the children can make Thanksgiving cards while their parents select their ingredients.  Donors that made this event possible are Hartville Kitchen, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Hartville Church of the Brethren, Advent Lutheran Church, Bethany Mennonite Church, Church Upon the Rock, Adventure Place, Rivertree Lake, Maple Grove Mennonite Church, Uniontown United Methodist Church, East 12108809_741787219285765_8812601852599261478_nNimishillen Church of the Brethren, FISH, Solid Rock Church, St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church, Hartville Mennonite Church, Pole Position Marketing, GentleBrook and New Life Episcopal Church.  

Lake High School National Honor Society student Megan collaborated with FISH and local volunteers and employees from Pole Position Marketing and Best Bib and Tucker in our community to make 180 stockings that have been distributed throughout Lake Township shops to fill with donations.  Twice is Nice and Best Bib and Tucker are collecting items until November 30.  Those donations will stock the pantry shelves for the winter months when need is greater.  On December 7, the giving continues as a “Breakfast Food Drive” at Lake High School fills the stockings with the makings of a wonderful Christmas morning breakfast!

Lastly, stop on out to Evening in the Village in Historic Downtown Hartville on Sunday, December 6 from 4:30-7:00pm for a Lake Township tradition!  Tree lighting, visit with Santa, wagon rides, choirs, children’s activities, and downtown shops open! A collection site for Affordable Christmas and donations for Lake Township FISH will be available during the event.

Lake Township is known for its generous and giving nature.  Thank you, especially during this Thanksgiving week, for making this a great community for all!


Yoder Medical Gives Back

Yoder Medical, located in the Edison Park Plaza, has been “Outfitting The Medical Community And Beyond” since 1992.  We are a one-stop destination for medical supplies, uniforms, footwear and accessories.  We are also a family owned and community-minded business that has recently re-branded into a specialized community minded uniform boutique.  We pride ourselves on the ideology of giving back through our partnership with local non-profits such as the “Ronald McDonald House of Akron” and “Banded”.
We invite our customers to stop by “Annabelle’s Corner” for a Dansko shoe fitting; where each pair purchased results in a personal contribution made to the Ronald McDonald House of Akron on Annabelle’s behalf.  Annabelle is the name of owners’ Titus & Carla Yoder‘s granddaughter whose immediate family had an excellent experience with the organization while she was undergoing medical treatment.
Our accessory department shines with the addition of our Banded headband products.  This organization provides both fashionable and functional headbands while giving back through their partnership with Amazima Ministries.  For each product purchased, 3 meals are provided for the children in Uganda, making a difference for them.  As of June 2015, 1.8 million meals have been provided by Banded’s retail partners and consumers!IMG_0211
Why not make your purchase count by making a difference in someone else’s life?  We have enjoyed the concept and hope that you will too!  Stop by and see us at our Edison Park Plaza location and visit our Facebook page for our “Scrubs of the Week, Wacky Wednesday and Fun Fact Friday” posts to find out more about our promotions and new products!

Lifetime Achievement Award – Ellis Erb

Lifelong Lake Township resident Ellis Erb will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce at their Annual Leadership Awards Dinner on February 17, 2015, at the Hartville Kitchen. His keen philanthropic interests, combined with his business skills and building photo (3)knowledge, have enabled Mr. Erb to promote positive interests in our community for residents of all ages.

Founder of Ellis Erb, Inc., his commitment to our community remains strong.  He is currently serving his fourth term on the Board of Lake Township Trustees.  Even so, Mr. Erb’s desire to make a positive difference has been multi-generational.

His career began as a building contractor in residential and church construction. He was instrumental in the founding and development of the Lake Senior Center, serving as its first president.  He was one of the community leaders who helped purchase and design the Lake High School Athletic Complex.  He worked on all of the Lake Local Schools facility designs. Mr. Erb and his team built the 7-acre Alumni Field 2 lake high schoolHartville Hardware,  America’s largest independently owned hardware store.  Some of his other local well-known buildings are the Hartville Village Hall, Lake Center Christian High School, the Chapel in Marlboro, Consumers National Bank, Grinders Above & Beyond and Schoner Chevrolet.  The additions to the Hartville Church of the Brethren and Advent Lutheran Church are his work. He built the Edison Park Plaza, which included the True Value Hardware, and the nearby residential area. He developed the Indian Village residential allotment and the Cheviot Court Condominiums.ellis buildings

Mr. Erb served as Street Commissioner for the Village of Hartville for fifteen years. He was an active member of the Hartville Lions Club. Currently, Mr. Erb is a voting member of the Stark County Regional Planning Commission and the Stark County Township Association. He is a member of the National Association of Home Builders.

He and his wife Janice are members of Grace Brethren Church.  They have four children, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


Contributions by:  Penelope Frederick, The Hartville News

Community Service Leadership Award – Crissy Mudd

Crissy Mudd continually  inspires her Teen Leaders at the Lake Community YMCA through her work as the Teen & Family Director.  The Lake Chamber will Crissy Mudd Community Service Awardhonor her with the Community Service Award at their Annual Leadership Award Dinner on Tuesday, February 17 at the Hartville Kitchen.  The Leadership Award is presented to an individual that has distinguished herself by selflessly demonstrating an act of community servitude, a spirit of volunteerism, uniting the community in a common goal, or raising awareness of an issue.

Mudd and her Teen Leaders partnered with GentleBrook clients to “Disable the Label” and Teen Leader Hunter Bussey stated  “We are making a difference and spreading the awareness to others about their choice of words that they use.  One small act of kindness can spread the wordmake a huge difference in someone’s life.  I am thankful to be in YMCA’s Leaders Club to take a stance!”

The majority of Crissy’s role at the Lake Community YMCA is with the Teen Leaders program.  Teen Leaders is a Middle School and High School program that meets bi-weekly to impact the community through service projects and volunteering.  They gain personal growth through experiencing leadership roles and responsibilities.  Last school year the program had over 2,400 service hours recorded.  Mudd stated, “We have one of the largest, if not the largest, Teen Leader programs in the state of Ohio. The best part is splatter scatter 1having the teens realize that no matter what it is that we do it is fun to help others and that we receive so much more than we give!  True happiness is found when you are serving others! ”  Mudd has been married to her high school sweetheart, Mark, for 24 years.  Together they have four children.

The family attends Rivertree Church where Mudd and her daughters serve in Treehouse Kids nursery, caring for children.

Contributions by:  Penelope Frederick, The Hartville News


Community Impact Award – Debbie Marshall

Lake High School Guidance Counselor Debbie Marshall impacted the Lake Township area and surrounding communities with the creation of Lake Community Cares.  Lake Community Cares is an educational support series to help families dealing with the crisis of addiction in our community.

Debbie Marshall Community Impact

When Lake High School counselor Debbie Marshall accepts the Community Impact award at the Lake Chamber of Commerce Award dinner on February 17, she has quite a story to tell about the need for intervention and education. Her involvement began with conversations with her friend and former colleague Jan Miller regarding the growing crisis. Certainly, Mrs. Marshall has been a driving force to educate our community. She attests to bringing on a broad range of professionals to help fight against addiction’s grip. As a result, in 2014 Lake Community Cares was formed.

To educate and support families about substance abuse in our community, the group had created a series of topics. “Gone but Not Forgotten” held in November, featured three Lake High School seniors, who had each lost a brother to heroin overdoses within a year. From L Taylor Alaina Amanda“Hidden in Plain Sight” held in January of this year was an interactive exhibit, showing more than 150 items, which may be found in a teenager’s room and may reflect addictions and risky behaviors. On February 23 the group will host a town hall meeting featuring Sheriff Maier and Judge Forchione. In addition, a support group for those suffering from addiction is in the planning stages.

The Stark County SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss And Continuing Everyday) group will be in Hartville for the next three months. Uniontown Police Department now has a drug drop off box. She hopes to continue providing educational support programs.

faces of the community for debbie marshall video

Mrs. Marshall has been with Lake Local Schools since 1997 and currently works with Junior & Senior Career Tech/Prep students.  She is a graduate of Kent State University, and has a Master’s Degree from Malone University in school counseling. She and her husband Joe have two children.

Congratulations to Debbie Marshall!

Contributions by:  Penelope Frederick The Hartville News

Economic Impact Award – Downtown Hartville Second Saturday Series

This year we have the privilege of honoring an organization of merchants who collaborated in a grassroots economic impact photo with titlescampaign to showcase and highlight the Historic Downtown Hartville area.  For its downtown revitalization efforts and support of arts and history, Tara Wiederman, Megan Wise and Emilie Ketcham representing the Downtown Hartville Merchants Association, are the recipients of the Economic Impact Award for the Second Saturday Series.  The trio will be honored at the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce Annual Leadership Awards Dinner on Tuesday, February 17 at the Hartville Kitchen.

The organization’s goal for the Second Saturday Series is to showcase the arts and history of their community and to create a gathering place for residents and visitors of all ages. Last year, they sidewalk sale Collage 1increased downtown visitors by 10% over the previous year’s project and 400% compared to a typical Saturday, translating to a 100% sales increase at downtown businesses during the event.

This year, Arts in Stark has awarded grant dollars to help the organization further their goal to position Downtown Hartville as the history and arts center for the Village.  2015’s themes include sidewalk sale, Old Fashioned Days & Car Show, Get Out and Play Day and Art & Music Fest.  For more information on upcoming events, visit them at their website or on Facebook.


Contributions by Penelope Frederick, The Hartville News


Outstanding Business Professional of the Year – Sue Grabowski

We’d like to Congratulate and give a glimpse into the work of our Outstanding Business Professional for 2014, Sue Grabowski, President of Grabowski & Co. in Uniontown.  Sue will be honored at the Lake Township Chamber Leadership Awards Dinner on Tuesday, February 17 at the Hartville Kitchen.  Hands down, this is my favorite event of the year because it showcases the amazing community we serve and the incredible support these leaders receive from their colleagues, clients, family and friends.

Sue’s business has experienced incredible growth and accolades since the inception of Grabowski & Co. in 1997.  She remains humble and dedicated to her mission of staying true to helping her clients tell their stories through the power of the written word.

Sue is a Canton native and a 1991 graduate of Malone University with a degree in Communication Arts with a concentration on journalism. Early on, she gained experience at a local newspaper, Babcox Publications and Covington Communications, an Akron-based marketing communications firm, before joining Progressive Insurance in 1995 as a senior communications representative.

Sue left Progressive and launched Grabowski & Co. in 1997 in her home. Today, Grabowski & Co. is a strategic marketing communications firm that employs 21 and serves Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofits. Clients include The Timken Company, TimkenSteel, Veyance Technologies, Akron Children’s Hospital, Malone University, Premier Bank & Trust, Kenan Advantage Group and Morgan Engineering. In the past seven years, Grabowski & Co.’s work has garnered more than 60 local ADDY® Awards, including three “Best of Show” and four “Judge’s Award” honors.

Grabowski & Co. has been included on the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Weatherhead 100™ list of fastest-growing organizations in northeast Ohio. The company also received a 2010 Business Excellence Award from the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Sue is a graduate of Leadership Stark County. She currently serves on the board of Pathway Caring for Children, Mobile Meals of Summit County, Absolute Hospice and Indigo Ink Press. She is on the Development Committee at Lake Center Christian School. She  also is a member of the Business Excellence Award Committee of the Canton Regional Chamber of  Commerce and formerly served as Board Secretary for the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce.

Sue has been married to Leonard for 20 years. Her proudest productions are her three children – Abbi, 17;  Mitch, 14; and Zane, 10. The family lives in Uniontown.

YMCA Teen Leaders & GentleBrook Clients Work Together to Disable the Label

GentleBrook and the Teen Leaders from the Lake Community YMCA have joined together to take a stance on the use of the “R” word.  Natalie Mudd a Teen Leader from the YMCA said, “The “R” word is very hurtful to those who are called it and disrespectful to the developmentally delayed!  I am so happy to be a part of this project because we are a voice for the voiceless.”  The Teen Leaders accepted the challenge to take part in the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign.

Joining forces, GentleBrook and YMCA together started a campaign and then made a video to help further their impact.  “We are making a difference and spreading the awareness to others about their choice of words that they use.  One small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life.  I am thankful to be in YMCA’s Leaders Club to take a stance!” Hunter Bussey said.  The video was made to emphasize that all people should be accepted and respected.  It is very apparent in the video that there is mutual acceptance, love and respect between the YMCA teens and the GentleBrook staff, workers, and residents.  There is a great amount of pride to see the progress that is being made!  “At GentleBrook, we are so inspired by this young group of individuals, they truly are making their mark on the world by spreading the word and embracing differences.” Dianna Huckestein, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, GentleBrook.

About GentleBrook

GentleBrook is a not-for-profit organization that offers residential services, day habilitation, vocational services and supportive employment programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Since September 1974, the organization is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, with their mission of maximizing each individual’s potential and independence.


In addition to the organizations core services, GentleBrook also operates 3 retail store locations (Stark, Coshocton, & Holmes Counties) for product sales, offer community event rentals at their GentleBrook Centre, Woodshop & Craft Production Program, Farming & Horticulture Programs, along with many community partnerships to further enhance and enrich the lives of their clients and the local communities in which it serves.

GentleBrook’s corporate offices, one of their residential-intermediate care facilities (ICF), and one of their day habilitation sites are located in Hartville Ohio, their other residential facilities and day habilitation work site is located in West Lafayette, Coshocton County.  All of GentleBrook’s facilities are licensed and certified by the State of Ohio.

GentleBrook currently provides residential, day habilitation, and vocational services to more than 250 clients.

For more information about the services and programs GentleBrook offers visit

 About Lake Community YMCA

The Lake YMCA building opened in September of 2004. The facility is located within the Lake Community Center complex along with Lake High School and Middle School, Mercy Medical Center, the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce, and the Stark County Public Library. These community partners give the Lake YMCA a very unique opportunity to collaborate on various programs and share resources that provide high quality services to the communities of Uniontown, Hartville and Lake Township.

lake y logo

Since opening, the Lake Community YMCA has continually strived to serve the needs of the community through programs that focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Key program areas include child care (before/afterschool), youth and adult sports, health and wellness, swimming, teens, families, and seniors. Lake YMCA currently serves over 7600 members.

The Lake YMCA is a branch of the YMCA of Central Stark County, which was founded in 1866.  Today the YMCA of Central Stark County serves nine communities:  Alliance, Canal Fulton, Canton/Canton South, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton, Meyers Lake and Minerva.  YMCA Camp Tippecanoe, located in Harrison County, offers residential camping programs each summer.

The YMCA of Central Stark County serves over 90,000 program and membership participants each year.  These participants are served by over 800 full and part-time staff.  Over 2,500 people volunteer their time every year at the YMCAs as board and committee members or assisting with various programs.

OUR VISION: For Youth Development

  • For Healthy Living
  • For Social Responsibility
  • OUR MISSION: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all programs.
  • OUR PROMISE: No one is turned away from the YMCA due to an inability to pay.
  • OUR CHARACTER PILLARS: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship

7 Years Later, the Reasons I Didn’t Change the Mission of the Lake Township Chamber

May 1, 2007.

When I walked in the door of the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce my first day I didn’t know that I had just joined a business community like no other.

Fast forward to today:  May 1, 2014.

I still walk in that door every day and thank my lucky stars I am a part of that business community that is like no other.

If you know me well, you have figured out by now that milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. are all a pretty big deal to me.  For me, they serve as benchmarks, times to reflect, and of course, a reason to have some cake and celebrate.

Today, I’m celebrating the opportunity that was presented to me on May 1, 2007 to join this community and be a part of its Chamber of Commerce with the mission at right–our mission 500

That mission statement isn’t just words on paper to me.  It’s how I approach every day here.  A few months after I started at the Lake Twp. Chamber, someone somewhere who didn’t know our community but felt they knew a lot about Chambers told me to suggest to the Board of Directors that I drop “While reflecting the values of the community” from the end of our mission.

I told them to pound salt.  (In a nice way, of course)

Because they were missing the best part of our Lake Township community.  Our values–and our commitment to them.  Seven years later, I’m so incredibly proud of staying true to this area–that is not my hometown, but has become my “home away from home.”  The connections we have been able to make together as a business community over the last 7 years I have been here and the 18 prior to that have built an incredible foundation for our future success.  

At every event, I’m always so amazed that people thank me–because it’s all them–being who they are that make this work, and grow, and thrive.  I’m just blessed to be a part of making the connections that build on our foundations of those who sat at a table 25 years ago and thought what a great impact we could make by working together instead of going it alone.

our values

So, to all of our members and supporters, thank you.  Our theme for our 25th Anniversary this past year
has been “Together We are ONE Chamber, ONE Community.”

Truer words were never spoken.


-Christa Kozy