Talk of the Town by Mary McKenna

by Mary McKenna

For 9-year-old Madeline Lisowski, whose family vacationed in June to the scenic islands of Oahu and Maui, her first trip to Hawaii was every bit the tropical paradise she dreamed it would be. “Madeline simply fell in love,” said her mom, Victoria, adding that the timing of their stay in Lahaini – just months before the horrific firestorm swept through it – was particularly “impactful.” The aftermath “really affected Madeline emotionally,” noted Victoria. “She couldn’t believe that people lost everything.”

Madeline Lisowski soaks up Hawaii’s
magic during a June trip to Lahaini.
Photo submitted

According to Victoria, whose maternal grandmother was born and raised on the island of Kauai, the Hawaiian culture is a big part of life for the Lisowskis. She also said that homelessness, even here in Ohio, is something Madeline understands because of her family’s involvement in Akron’s Haven of Rest ministries, and that news of displaced wildfire survivors spoke “even louder to her” as a result. Eager to help, Madeline “came up with the idea to sell bracelets,” Victoria said. “She made eight different models to pick from and customized a few different things.”

Her bracelets, made to order and beaded with the Hawaiian words Ohana (family), Koa (warrior), Mahalo (thank you), Ku’uipo (sweetheart), Aloha (love), Maui and Lahaina, were posted and sold on Facebook. “People all over the country bought them,” said Victoria, who marveled at her daughter’s compassion and the overwhelming response she received. “She sold over $700 in bracelets, and my husband, who was really proud of her, matched it all.”

Thanks to Madeline’s efforts, the kindness of others, and her family’s support, she was able to donate over $1,500 to Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center, a nonprofit relief organization providing emergency help to those impacted by the fires on Maui. Thank you, Madeline – Mahalo! – for the beautiful example of your outreach to the people of Hawaii.

One local mom turned entrepreneur has the solution to cranky car rides and restless kiddos. It’s a new product called FlipFort, a fabric cover designed to create an on-the-go, cozy napping space for kids in the car or stroller. FlipFort Cco-founder Sarah Filipovitz of Hudson, along with her college friend and business partner Ellen Velez of Shaker Heights, said they came up with the idea after one particularly miserable road trip Ellen took with her children to Cape Cod. “On the drive, neither of her kids could nap,” said Sarah, adding that the sun-shade solution on the market didn’t sufficiently block the sun or give hopeful car nappers needed “separation from distractions.”

Hudsonite Sarah Filipovitz (l) and friend Ellen Velez are running a startup to provide shade to children in car seats and strollers. Photo submitted

As they began brainstorming, the idea of a fabric cover that could “flip” from car to stroller came to mind as a necessary dual purpose. “We had both lived in urban areas for many years,” Sarah said, noting that for many city-dwellers “strollers are their cars.”

The two friends sketched their ideas and enlisted the help of Sarah’s mother-in-law to begin sewing design prototypes. “At the beginning, we worked with a startup group called MAGNET, which is in Cleveland, to help us learn what we needed to know about manufacturing a product,” she said, adding that COVID slowed their manufacturing progress, but not their determination to learn what they could to make their product the best it could be. From idea to market, it’s been a four-year process and labor of love. The pair finally launched their new business and started selling last November. “We currently offer three colors but are looking forward to adding some fun patterns in our next order,” said Sarah, who’s delighted by growing sales and meets weekly with Ellen to divide up their on-going to-do list.

 “It has been a journey, and I like to think of it as a really intense MBA program. We have had to learn manufacturing, design, patenting, marketing, testing and now sales,” explained Sarah. “The fun part of all of this is how much support and expert advice we have received in each area along the way. … We hope to become support for others too because it has been a gift to us.”  Congratulations to you both on the success of this new business venture, Sarah!

A nationwide initiative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encouraging churches throughout the country to provide community-based outreach to pregnant and parenting women facing difficulties has been met with great support at St. Mary Catholic church, where a new ministry program called Walking with Moms in Need was recently launched. The program is made up of compassionate volunteers dedicated to helping women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy and/or parenting. Program Director Susan Lettieri explained that any woman who may at any time feel “overwhelmed with her current situation” can get the help and emotional support she needs by contacting the organization at 330-655-3536 or or visiting

According to Susan, the program matches callers with trained volunteers or “companions” who are committed to “walking” with them, step-by-step, providing the friendship, guidance and support needed for each woman’s individual journey – free of charge, judgment and bias. “We are a supportive outlet where she can explore her options without the pressure or opinions of well-meaning family or friends,” said Susan. “Everything we do is free, confidential and non-judgmental. We work with any woman in the Hudson, Kent, Twinsburg or Streetsboro area regardless of race, religion or marital status.”

In addition to the emotional and spiritual support available to women through this ministry, Susan said they also work with local pregnancy resource centers and other charities to help provide necessary personal care items, baby supplies and furniture, maternity clothing, housing and more. “At Walking with Moms in Need, we believe that no woman should have to face a crisis pregnancy or parenting difficulty alone,” she said.

Finally, a great big congratulations to Jack Jenkins, a 2023 graduate of Hudson High School, who has been awarded the Steve Sogan Memorial Scholarship. The Sogan Scholarship Fund was established at Hudson Community Foundation three years ago in memory of long-time Hudson resident and Hudson High School Hall of Fame student athlete Steve Sogan, who died suddenly in July 2020 in Colorado, where he most recently lived. The son of Hudson residents Ed and Mary Sogan, Steve graduated Hudson High School in 1993. Having helped Hudson win league titles in three sports, he was inducted into the Hudson High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. This scholarship is awarded to one or more Hudson High School senior athletes who participate in multiple sports and embody Steve’s  hard work, integrity and sense of community on and off the field. Jack, who is playing lacrosse at the University of Michigan this year, excelled in both lacrosse and football at Hudson while maintaining a high-grade point average in honors and advanced placement classes. He was the captain of last year’s Hudson lacrosse team. In last year’s Hudson football season, he caught 42 passes for 764 yards and eight touchdowns. In addition, Jack was a member of the St. Mary’s senior basketball team that won the Catholic Youth Organization state championship this spring.

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