What a Night! GGP’S Homegrown Geauga was a Virtual Hit!

Sep 28, 2020News, Newsletter

Betsy Covington
Geauga Growth Partnership, Inc.  



It was a difficult decision, but in July, just less than 4 weeks before the August 7th event, Geauga Growth Partnership (GGP) announced that their signature fundraiser, HomeGrown Geauga (HGG), was going to be 100% virtual. HGG provides key support for Geauga Growth Partnership’s mission to enhance the economic climate in Geauga County by attracting new business, supporting existing businesses, and preparing the workforce of the future.  This critical event was scheduled to take place in person at Sapphire Creek Winery & Gardens; however, out of concern for the health and wellness of sponsors and supporters, GGP made the call to hold the fundraiser as a live streaming event.

According to Kimm Leininger, President & CEO of GGP, “In light of spikes in COVID-19 cases happening at that time, the GGP Board of Directors made a bold and brave decision to move HomeGrown to a virtual event.  My first thought was…oh no!  Now what?  But this opportunity resulted in the GGP team learning new skills and paving the way for innovation in fundraising!”  She continued, “While we were extremely disappointed that we couldn’t enjoy the night with our supporters, I am so pleased and proud of how our team refocused to pull off this amazing evening!”

Supporters, sponsors, and community members joined the live stream for a fun, entertaining evening which was kicked off by the Intersection Jazz Trio and hosted by local auctioneer, Scott Mihalic along with Ms. Leininger. The event was a full-scale production complete with pre-recorded welcome and thank you messages from Presenting Sponsors, John Epprecht of Great Lakes Cheese and Kathleen Dangelo of Sapphire Creek Winery & Gardens, as well as, testimonial videos from participants in GGP’s Youth Workforce Development Programs praising the impacts of these programs which this fundraiser helps to support. Virtual guests were amazed by professional illusionist, Rick Smith Jr and were able to purchase tickets for a $5,000 cash raffle and bid on high end silent and live auction items such as a vacation at a home in France and rare bourbon and cigar packages.

In addition, watch party packs were available for purchase and hosts and guests enjoyed a special Chenin Blanc from Sapphire Creek and award-winning Adam’s Reserve Cheddar from Great Lakes Cheese. If you were unable to join the fun, simply type bit.ly/HomeGrown20 into your browser to watch the show!

Viewers applauded the production, and the team received many positive responses following the event.  Rich Frenchie, GGP board member and a HGG sponsor stated, “The 2020 HomeGrown Geauga event was awesome, creative, entertaining, and most successful.  The planning and execution for the event was phenomenal and the results exceeded expectations. ” Beth Bunton, owner of Troy Chemical and a sponsor of the event shared, “HomeGrown Geauga, despite being a virtual event, was an exciting event that highlighted the collaborative efforts of the local talent found right here in our rich business community!”  While Melanie Scanlon, executive director with Leadership Geauga confirmed, “It is critical that we support our nonprofit community, especially during these times, so I excitedly marked my calendar for the Virtual HomeGrown Geauga event.  To keep with the feel of an in-person event, I gathered with a friend, socially distanced of course, and we had dinner, bid on items and enjoyed hearing about GGP’s work within the community.  Kimm and her team did a great job creating an event that was fun, engaging and mission driven! Kudos GGP!” Finally, another sponsor, Junction Auto’s Matt Emrick says of the event, “During the current times that we are in, it was refreshing to watch something different on my TV other than the normal shows.  Hearing the stories, listening to the event, and sharing time with folks all over the country that we do not get to see enough made the night very inspiring.  If nothing else the realization that we are truly all in this together was brought to the forefront.”

“We knew we were going to have other nonprofits watching us too.  We are the first in our area to do something like this and it was really important for us to provide the best experience we could.  And I believe we did that…we have been receiving calls from other nonprofits and we are happy to talk with them and provide guidance for their upcoming events,” stated Leininger.  In fact, development professional, Molly Smith from Kent State University Geauga Regional Academic Center was tuned in and shared, “HomeGrown was a fantastic event this year! We enjoyed watching on our TV, while enjoying our wine and cheese, and supporting a great cause. We really enjoyed playing along with Rick Smith, Jr. and his card trick. It worked for us!!! So fun! Great job to the entire GGP staff and Board!”  Longtime GGP supporter and local business owner, Marie Lovas of Beaches and Dreams Travel noted, “It turned out to be much more fun than I was expecting!  We sat down with our beverages and great cheese and crackers and other snacks and pretended we were at a party. We enjoyed the bidding. Of course, it is always more fun attending live but this did work in a pinch. Great job doing a creative event!!!”

Leininger concluded, “Events like these don’t happen on their own.  We are grateful to all who supported this event, both that evening and leading up to it.  And it was great to co-host with Scott Mihalic, who is a true professional and provided us with significant support leading up to the event.  Finally, GGP has a terrific team – both board and staff – who believed from day 1 that we could do this!”

GGP would like to thank the entire team from Colortone Staging and Rentals for hosting the event at their studio and helping to provide a tremendous experience.  Please mark your calendars for Friday, August 6, 2021 when HomeGrown Geauga will be held at Sapphire Creek Winery & Gardens.

HomeGrown Geauga was Presented by Great Lakes Cheese & Sapphire Creek Winery & Gardens and Sponsored by the following:

Thank you to all HomeGrown Sponsors!

To become a member or support Geauga Growth Partnership and our mission please contact us at info@geaugagrowth.com, call 440-564-1060, or visit https://www.geaugagrowthpartnership.com/.

Geauga Growth Partnership’s mission is to enhance the economic climate in Geauga County by attracting new business, supporting existing business and preparing the workforce of the future.