Talk of the Town by Patty Reiman

by Patty Reiman

For some, February is just a wintry month where a quirky rodent predicts the onset of warmer weather and has the fewest calendar days to get us to spring. For others, it’s the month to reflect on the achievements of significant U.S. leaders and to spend at least one day focused on love.

Love can equate with generosity of time, attention and resources. Hudson is a generous community made up of people willing to support those around them, and you could see that through several recent community events and fundraisers held during the holiday season.

Soon-to-be residents of Hudson Community Living won second-place for a tree they
helped decorate for Case-Barlow Farm’s Winter Wonderland. Photos submitted.

One of those events was Winter Wonderland at Case-Barlow Farm in December. Part of that event’s festive and full, two-week schedule included the Tour of Trees, which was started in 2021 by Anita Creehan. In a recent Facebook post, fellow Hudsonite Lydia Wolf praised Anita’s “tireless work” to create “a spectacular event for all ages to enjoy.”

“She puts her life on hold for weeks or months to make this event happen,” Wolf wrote. “She and her husband, Joe, are super kind, hard workers who go above and beyond for this because that’s who they are.”

Lydia also told Hudson Life that Anita “has made a big impact on my life in a short amount of time.”

The Creehans, for their part, said they were supported by more than 40 volunteers who generously gave of their time during the hectic holiday season to do whatever it took to make Tour of Trees a success. The volunteer crew helped with set up and clean up, greeted guests, worked in the gift shop or refreshment area, and even performed as holiday characters like Rudolph and Olaf. Meanwhile, other creative types – professional floral designers, to be exact – donated their time and skill to create wreaths from repurposed items that were donated. These wreaths were then sold during Winter Wonderland, and half of the wreath sales funds were given to Hudson Food Pantry.

“We also collected food items and cash donations for the food pantry during events at the barn,” said Joe, who is on the board of directors for Case-Barlow Farm.

“Proceeds from Winter Wonderland events go exclusively toward the continued historic preservation of Case Barlow Farm, including renovations, upgrades and upkeep of the beloved Big Red Barn,” according to Jan Gusich, who heads up the event’s marketing efforts.

For the third year in a row, all trees at Tour of Trees were donated by generous community members, as were all the decorations and creativity provided by the nonprofits who decorated the trees. Tour of Trees 2023 included a walk through, forest-like experience inside the Case-Barlow barn of 35 trees decorated by local nonprofit organizations and voted on by guests to determine the top three winners. A generous donor provided $1,500 to the event committee for awarding $750 for first, $500 for second and $250 for third.

First place was awarded to the charitable organization Clayton Rakes, led by Jen Yozwiak and family. You may have already read about them here in Hudson Life since Clayton Rakes (named for their street) has been out and about in Hudson neighborhoods raking fall leaves and raising funds for ALS research. The Yozwiak family was touched by the disease when dad, Chris, was diagnosed with ALS in 2020. His son, Brady, started Clayton Rakes to help fund efforts to work towards a cure.

The team that earned a second-place prize, led by Lori Shockey and Jill Soltau, was Hudson Community Living, a supportive living environment being built across from the police station for adults with special needs. Families connected to HCL decided to decorate a tree for Tour of Trees after enjoying the 2022 event as a guest. There’s already talk of what the group might do for a 2024 tree entry!

Jill led the way by brainstorming tree design ideas and gathered interested participants, many of whom are future residents of HCL, for a crafting night to create their winning entry. Later the group visited Tour of Trees to see their creation on display. HCL was founded by Chris and Patty Guerreri, and 29 other local families have jumped on board to have their family member(s) live in the new facility, slated for construction later this year.

Last October, HCL felt the support and generosity of Hudsonites and others who want to help this innovative dream become a reality. They held a benefit dinner at Lake Forest Country Club and exceeded their fundraising goal toward the $10 million needed in total.

“The event was a huge success, raising both awareness of the needs for supportive living communities and raising close to $275,000. This exceeded our goal of $250,000,” said Patty.

Rounding out the Tour of Trees winners was third place awardee Jessica Chmura, who plans to pay it forward with her prize money and help out a future generation of Hudson artists and maybe philanthropists. Jessica, who teaches art at Seton Catholic School, worked on decorating a tree with her Creative Crusaders. They are an afterschool group of Seton fifth- and sixth-graders who meet regularly to explore art mediums and develop skills. The students created handmade ornaments and met on a day off from school to decorate their tree. She is applying the prize money toward a special field trip for the group to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art, “to celebrate and to expand their art interests.”

Seton Catholic School teacher Jessica Chmura said she will
use her Winter Wonderland third-prize winnings to take
a group of creative students to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Also making headline last month were Walsh Jesuit High School graduates and Hudson residents Sophia Frammartino and Madison Tomei, who were invited as guests to The Women’s Board of Akron Children’s Hospital 120th charity ball on Dec. 29. Sophia, daughter of Catherine and Anthony Frammartino, and Madison, daughter of Christina and Mark Grescovich, were recognized for their parents’ and grandparents’ volunteer contributions to the local community and continue that commitment of service by volunteering with Project Linus to make blankets for Akron Children’s patients.

These individuals are, of course, terrific examples of the purposeful spirit here in Hudson and a powerful incentive for all of us to spread a little love during this most-loving of months. Check out the Hudson League for Service’s Random Acts of Kindness week activities,, for a quick and easy start this month, and don’t forget to share your story or tell Talk of the Town who inspires you by writing us at ∞