Legacy of Beauty
November 2011 Issue
November 2011 Digest
Christening a new park, crafting an important message, baking decadent delights.
Salem teachers William and Margaret Baker loved bird-watching. So much so that they spent their free time traveling the world to engage in it and, upon their return, regaled students with tales of their adventures.
In their later years, the couple also enjoyed spotting species along the shores of Guilford Lake in Columbiana County. Sadly, the Bakers have passed away.
But they made their passion for the great outdoors a lasting legacy: They bequeathed $500,000 to The Nature Conservancy to help protect their beloved local wetlands.
In September, the Bakers’ dream turned to reality with the opening of Hellbender Bluff, a 752-acre park located in Madison Township, just outside of Lisbon. (The park is named after the Hellbender salamanders residing in nearby Little Beaver Creek. Measuring 2 feet in length, they are among the largest in North America.) Using the bequest funds to match a grant from the state’s Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy helped the Columbiana County Park District purchase the land to make the $1 million space a success.
“Water is such a critical issue,” says Columbiana County Park District board member Dorothea Betz, who explains that the area is home to many bird and fish species that would be on the endangered list without this natural habitat.
“Preserving wetlands,” she adds, “is so important to the environment.”
In addition to breathtaking views of forested cliffs and Little Beaver Creek, the park also provides opportunities for canoeing, hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing and bird-watching.
“Not only is land being conserved, which is good for plants and animals,” says Terry Seidel, director of protection for The Nature Conservancy’s Ohio office, “but it also offers people ways to enjoy the natural world.”
Future plans for the park include construction of a pavilion and tree-planting in spring.
“It was a lot of work to pull all of this together, and that’s what makes this time so exciting for us,” says Betz, who looks forward to winter walks in the park when “huge ice hangs down off the bluffs.
“It is,” she adds, “quite beautiful.” — Jessica Roblin
Although the 180 residents who call Kemper House home struggle with memory loss, miracles happen every day. Kimberly Mirolli has seen them: Sometimes a stanza from a favorite song or a passage from a beloved poem triggers a spark of recognition. Art-therapy sessions also have the power to afford reminiscences of happy times past.
“It’s important for every person struggling with dementia — whether in the mild or late stages — to feel productive and special,” says Mirolli, vice president of building and facility systems at the three Kemper residences, located in Olmsted Falls, Mentor and Strongsville. So, she makes it her mission to tailor-make activities for those living there.
And, to help raise funds for the pursuits — which range from organizing outings to Cleveland Orchestra concerts to coordinating day trips to The Holden Arboretum — Mirolli fashions bracelets from sterling silver beads and Swarovski crystals. Her idea to design the bangles was born one afternoon in 2006, while she was surfing the Internet.
“I noticed that there was so much jewelry for sale to increase awareness of other health concerns,” Mirolli recalls. “But I didn’t see anything that really raised consciousness about Alzheimer’s disease and similar illnesses.”
The executive, who dabbles in graphic design during her spare time, ordered materials and got to work crafting bracelets for her cause. She made several to display and sell in the Kemper House lobbies. Word spread and requests poured in. To date, Mirolli has handmade more than 200 of the exquisite accessories for customers around the country. Although they’re available “in every of the color of the rainbow,” Mirolli says the most popular hue is purple, which represents Alzheimer’s disease.
The focal point in her basic design is the word “Remember.” However, most folks placing orders ask that the name of a loved one grappling with the disease be incorporated into the motif.
Mirolli happily complies.
“I started the project to help bring smiles to our residents’ faces and soothe their family members’ hearts,” she reflects. “But the emotional rewards that I reap are overwhelming.” — Linda Feagler
Bracelet prices range from $58 to $64 (including taxes and shipping). For more information, visit kemperhouse.com or call 440/256-5200.
It’s a strange, yet fun word. Perhaps clouds come to mind, or cotton candy. But for Fluff Bakery & Catering owner Jessica Kopelwitz, the word reminds her of a feeling: whimsical and worry-free.
Which is why she decided to name her business after that sentiment.
“I want people to walk in, and feel like they can leave their cares behind,” Kopelwitz explains.
The Athens resident, a self-described bakery lover since childhood, opened her establishment last year. Her business plan was succinct: “Make it a big-kid bakery.”
“It’s nice to have a place that’s a little goofy,” she says about the atmosphere.
The Ohio University graduate also remains true to her surroundings: She strives to use and sell local ingredients, including java from the Silver Bridge Coffee Company in Gallipolis and produce and meats from Starline Organics in Athens.
Variety at Fluff is based on harvest, so November means pumpkin cream cheese Danish and pawpaw pumpkin bars — made with the tree-fruit similar in texture to a banana that tastes more like a kiwi.
But although she enjoys catering to adult cravings, Kopelwitz has not left her youth behind: One of her most popular goodies is the Booty-Shaker Bar, a tempting concoction of chocolate fudge, almond icing, ganache, cookies and white chocolate — a combination of tastes kids of all ages love.
“It’s a layered bar of goodness people go crazy for,” she says.
The baker, who grew up in New Philadelphia, whips up many of her sweet treats with fond memories of the trips she and friends made to Aberth’s Bakery, where Kopelwitz says, “the bakery fairies” worked their magic overnight.
“I always loved the fact that every time I stopped by in the morning, there was a huge plethora of goodies,” she says.
Now, Kopelwitz is a bakery fairy, creating new recipes and offering new surprises every day.
She encourages her customers to leave all guilty thoughts about indulging in sweet, baked pleasures at the door. Her slogan: “Life is fun. Eat it up.” — Jessica Roblin
Fluff Bakery & Catering, 8 North Court St., Athens, 45701; 740/249-4286, fluffbakery.com