What is The H2O Foundation?

 H2O is a non-profit Foundation established in August 2016. The basis of our thoughts was giving back to our local community and truly touching those that need a helping hand. Our Board Members of H2O consist of local energetic business owners and entrepreneurs, specifically Jim MacLellan, Eric Engelke, Aaron Rasmussen and Mark Svozil. Each of the Board Members have the same thoughts and mindset, one which we know we will only be measured by the legacy we leave behind through our attention to helping others. 

 We have been working together on a local event that was started 11 years ago, when we adopted a single family through a local elementary school to purchase gifts and provide groceries for Christmas. We were overjoyed by how much it meant to the family and still think back fondly of that experience. Over the years, it has grown from one family, to five, then ten, and now over the last eleven years we have touched over 250 local families. We network with local school counselors from the 7 elementary and 3 middle schools here in Brunswick, Ohio. 

“We will only be measured by the legacy we leave behind through our attention to helping others."

These families are not out seeking help, we have inquired and identified them along with help from the school counselors. Most of our sponsored families are comprised of hardworking people just like each of us. Some of the children have lost their parents and live with other family members, live in foster care, or live with other guardians. We have come to understand that these collective families have just hit a rough patch in the road, one which we are just looking to ease the financial stress around Christmas for these families. We supply gifts and food for each of these families and deliver around the entire city on Christmas Eve.

With the support of many individuals behind the scenes, all this has been possible over the last 8 years. We feel very fortunate that so many people, when it comes time to serve, answer the call. H2O looks to expand its reach, to touch many more families, in creative ways to give back through our community that has given so much to each of our families.

Our Board Members

The hearts and brains behind the operation. 
Taking the time to give back to their local community, one step at a time

Jim MacLellan

Husband and Father of 3, Entrepreneur & Investment Driven, Golfer

Eric Engelke

Devoted Family Man, Numbers Guy, Cleveland Sports Fan, Movie Buff

Mark Svozil

Horticulturalists/Green Industry Passion, Driven to motivate and build people. My 3 kids are my world.

Aaron Rasmussen

Family, Friends, Outdoors

H20 Individuals

The Stories Behind H2O

Tom & Michele  |  H2O Recipients & Volunteers

“Why were we chosen? .. we were doing okay for a middle income family, trying our best to stretch the budget to make Christmas nice for our unexpectedly growing family. My wife and I thought we were about done raising our three kids, ages 24, 22, 18 at the time. HOWEVER life tossed us a curve ball ! … We unexpectedly gained permanent custody of three kids, ages 12, 11, 8 (my wife’s sister kids) H20 found out about our situation from the Brunswick elementary school one of our kids was attending. At first we had never heard of the H20 program, nor did we know what to expect. We were asked for a list of a few things that our “family” might enjoy to make this first holiday a happier memory given the situation of our family dynamics changing so suddenly! We just knew it was a family owned local business that chose a few family’s each year to brighten the lives of a few local families that were going through some tough times or challenging situations.

The reasons the families  are chosen vary depending on the situation, it’s not “always” about income, and other times it is. In our case H2O provided our family with gifts above and beyond what we could provide to make what would have been an average Christmas into a FANTASTIC CHRISTMAS! that our new family will remember for a lifetime! and provided the kids with a little distraction from dwelling quite so much over the trauma of moving to a new city and starting new schools for that first Christmas. In our opinion, the real gift went way beyond just getting more “stuff” H20 provided a needed mental and emotional boost at a time when our family really needed it (how do you put a price on that?) And as parents of now 6 kids, it really renewed our faith in the kindness of others and the helping sprit towards others in times of need, be it financially sometimes, or emotionally sometimes.  After we received this wonderful gift of giving from H20 in our time of need, it also gave us an EXCELLENT opportunity to instill the value of “giving back” to others in our kids, just as they were once recipients. Our family now contributes to the H2O program to help share this gift with others in times of need, We as a family will be forever grateful to H20 for helping us in our time of need, and will be lifelong supporters of this awesome program!"

Mercurio Family |  H2O Recipients

“It was a regular Sunday with the kids outside playing basketball and us working on chores in the house.Our son Vinny (age 10) came in the house crying with a headache.He was really upset and not calming down so my husband’s initial reaction was something is not right let’s take him in.I left to take him to the emergency room which is 15 minutes away.Within those 15 minutes he had vomited and lost consciousness in the back seat.Within 2 minutes of me getting him in the ER he stopped breathing.We are so thankful that we made it there in time for such a critical illness.Our son Vinny was life flighted from Brunswick ER to Cleveland Clinic Children’s hospital 11/12/17 where we spent 26 days in the PICU and 26 days on M50 before heading over to Rehab for 77 days. We learned he had a bleed near his brain stem which was critical to many core functions (breathing and waking up being two big ones).He was on a ventilator for 24 days and we were given a grim diagnosis.He remained in a coma for weeks and then a minimally conscious state for months.

The end of February he emerged and was fully aware.The emotional ride of what he had missed (holidays, school, our planned vacation to Orlando, etc.) along with his new limitations were hard for him to take in.He played sports and was a straight A student.We were blessed that he started talking in March and his NG tube was out, but still had many things ahead like getting off of a puree diet and thickener for drinks, motor skills, learning to walk again and countless others. 

Coming home after 129 days in the hospital with a special needs child is terrifying.There were so many things we needed for the house that was both emotionally and financially daunting.We learned of the H2O foundation from a friend.I shared our story with Jenny and she offered support from the foundation by purchasing the wheelchair ramp for us.Being able to get Vinny in and out of the house safely has been so helpful.Thank you for helping us in our time of need and continuing such a wonderful foundation.

To donate directly,
visit www.caringbridge.com and search Vinny Mercurio

Brian Williams  |  H20 Volunteer

" The H20 Foundation has become one of our favorite Christmas traditions.   It does so many things:  It gives us the chance to do something special for someone really in need.   It is absolutely moving to see the looks on these families, both children and adults, when these gifts, which symbolize love and support, are bestowed upon them.    There is no greater feeling than knowing you have made someone’s Christmas truly special.     

Additionally, it helps us show our own children the true meaning of Christmas, which is giving to others.   I am certain that this will serve as an inspiration for my children, and many others for that matter, to do something special for others during the Christmas season. “

Kaden Katanic  |  H20 Recipient

I am so thankful to H2O for giving me the opportunity to go to the AMCSI conference in Las Vegas.  I love airplanes and seldom get to ride in them so when I heard we were going to Las Vegas I went crazy!  The first day there we went to the conference, I saw my doctor from Philadelphia, it was the only time I was excited to see him because all the other times he was either giving me a cast or doing surgery.  We had a couple of hours between sessions, so we toured the city, went to Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, Pawn Stars, and the Strip.  One day we went to California just to say we’ve been there.  Another time I told my dad, “Let’s try the slots!”  My dad said, “Son, I would but I don’t know how to.”  So, the whole trip we didn’t even put one penny in!

I was born with arthrogryposis and this was the annual conference. It was a great experience for me to see other people with arthrogryposis and how they modify things to make life easier.  When I was a baby there was less technology than there is today.  At the conference we saw many new inventions and advancements in medicine to help me be more independent and made some life-long friends.  It was an inspiring and educational trip.  Thanks again!

Paul Herron  |  H20 Volunteer

“I would tell you that our experience this year with the H2O foundation was a good one.

For me it was filled with mixed emotions.

I was sad, but not surprised, especially given the current state of the economy and Covid-19, that there are so many families here in Brunswick who are in need of help. I was saddened to think that in spite of all the good that was done by the foundation and all the sponsors and volunteers, that there were likely many more families in our community who didn’t get the help they needed.

On the other hand, when we met in the K-mart parking lot Christmas Eve morning it was awesome to see just how many people were there to help others and spread some Christmas joy. It was awesome, but not surprising to me because I know first hand just how genuinely kind and generous our Brunswick community is. When my family was struggling – when Josh was fighting cancer – we felt the love and support of the Brunswick community in so many ways. More than you can imagine. So for that reason, it was especially meaningful for us to be able to help a Brunswick family in need.

The mother in the family we sponsored was very grateful for our help. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do for Christmas. Things have been really tough for us this year”, she told me. I feel like we made a big difference for her and her family, helped make their Christmas happier, and that feels good.

The best part about H2O for me though, is the people who run it. They are just genuinely great people. They are people who have worked hard to become successful, and who want to use that success to help others. That’s all. It’s not about them. It’s just about helping their neighbors. That’s awesome. That’s the Brunswick I know and love, and I’m glad to be part of that."

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