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>> Several months ago, we began our search for the best and the brightest unattached local men and women to participate in our 2nd annual Single in the City contest.
We weren’t looking for the typical singletons, sitting at home and waiting for their prince or princess to come. No, we were on the hunt for singles that are active in their communities, who make a difference in people’s lives, who go out and pursue their passions. Well, we’re happy to report that we’ve found a half-dozen of them.
By day, they’re mild-mannered Northeast Ohioans but in their spare time, not only does this group of Super Singles serve their community (and the world), they’re friendly, open to new relationships and pretty good-looking to top it off.
We’ve enjoyed working with these men and women, and we can’t wait for you to meet them!
photos by Shane Wynnwith photo assistanceby Becca Gippinon location atPub Bricco.
>> Jessica Cole considers herself a Renaissance woman. This 26-year-old board-certified music therapist heads the music therapy program at the Blick Clinic Inc., providing services for over 75 people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. “I love witnessing the healing power of music in my clients,” she says. “It’s the best job ever!” She also plays guitar, piano and viola and specializes in ethnic and world percussion. When her workday is over, she teaches a music and drumming course for youth at risk in the Akron After School program. No stranger to the stage, she’s also a professional opera singer and recently joined the Akron Symphony Chorus. Cole has served as an editor for Ohio Life News (a small community newspaper from Cleveland geared toward minority and religious populations) and is active in the marketing of local political campaigns.
Longest relationship: 2-1/2 years / My ex would describe me as: A picky eater “I’m a vegetarian” / My “type” is: Quirky and intelligent men who can make me laugh. It’s a plus if they play a musical instrument, are Libertarian and enjoy genres of music other than what’s on the radio / My guilty pleasure: Grilled cheese / Current celebrity crush: Johnny Depp / I’m a sucker for: Animals / Book that best describes me: “Pride and Prejudice” / I own too many … Tubes of mascara / Most people don’t know I: Love death metal / The craziest thing I ever did: Move to Los Angeles to complete an internship at a psychiatric forensic facility / Part of my charm: I’m unexpected.
>> When Brad Kaster enters a room, he is a magnetic presence. With his striking blue eyes and broad shoulders, he is the picture of health. This 33-year-old optometrist has worked with Volunteers for Optometric Services to Humanity to provide eye exams to people in El Salvador. And while the right woman will steal his heart, she can’t have his kidneys because he’s only got one left. During the summer of 2008, he donated a kidney to his father, Phil Kaster, in a successful procedure performed at the Cleveland Clinic. The experience made him realize that “when it comes to my family, I’ll do anything.” A big sports fan, Kaster plays on a golf league and pickup basketball. He also enjoys music and plays guitar, piano and drums. He’s a member of the Portage Lakes Community Council and the Portage Lakes’ annual Polar Bear Club which, this month, is expecting 900 jumpers to raise money for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
My “type” is: Sociable and active “Someone who wants to have kids and get involved in a church.” / My guilty pleasure: Listening to non-fiction books in the car / Pet peeve: The word “like” / I’m a sucker for: [Women who are] Forward and witty / Song that best describes me: “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, because the song has it all / Most people don’t know I: Secretly want to learn Irish tap dancing because it’s just like drumming / Favorite local hangout: Dano’s / The craziest thing I ever did: Jumped off a 50-foot cliff in Marseille into frigid water / My idea of a great date: Doing something active, then eating a good dinner.
>> Carla Overly’s daughter Brooke nominated her for this contest because, she says, “my mom is the strongest and most successful woman I know!” Overly, who is in her 50s, is a single mom who raised Brooke and her 17-year-old sister Bri while enjoying a thriving career as the chief financial officer of Mont Granite in Solon. Overly calls her girls her “Number One priority” and, to shield her daughters from unnecessary drama, she avoids rushing into romantic relationships. “I think it just happens,” she says. “You have to be friends first.” Overly’s home in Mogadore is often frequented by her daughters’ friends who turn to her for advice. “I tell it like it is, and they keep coming back for more,” she says. Always the first to lend a hand in tough times, Overly supports fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland, the Arthritis Foundation’s Red and White on Thursday Night and at events that help the National MS Society, American Cancer Society, United Way and tsunami and hurricane relief efforts.
My “type” is: Athletic, accomplished, fun, good sense of humor, intellectual, interesting and adventurous / My guilty pleasure: Nails, pedicures and body wraps / Song and movie that best describe me: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and “The Blind Side” with Sandra Bullock / I own too many … Shoes / Most people don’t know: I was a shy tomboy / Favorite local hangout: In the summer, on my back porch at the pool with my girls and friends playing pool volleyball / Part of my charm: I have a very silly side, and I’m upbeat like the Energizer Bunny, so I’m told.
>> Evan Gildenblatt may only be 21 but this Kent State University senior is unabashedly old-school and has a tie and bowtie collection to prove it. “Ties conjure up a sense of another time,” he says, adding that he always likes to look his best. “First impressions are important.” That’s a top priority for Gildenblatt, who is studying Applied Conflict Management and aspires to be a diplomat. “I’ll go wherever I’m needed,” he says. “Whether it’s dangerous, impoverished or off-the-beaten-path.” As director of Kent’s undergraduate student government, he helped bring President Obama to campus during last year’s campaign. “It was a huge collaborative effort,” he says. “Meeting the president was the most extraordinary experience of my life. He’s a remarkable guy.” When it comes to dating, Gildenblatt is looking for a woman who finds politics fascinating as well. “She’s willing to stand up for what she wants but she doesn’t need to be as much of a political wonk as me,” he says, flashing a charming grin.
My ex would describe me as: Quirky / My “type” is: Compassionate, intelligent, cute and active / My guilty pleasure: Blackjack / Pet peeve: I can’t stand it when people are disrespectful to one another for no apparent reason / Favorite cause: African Refugee Development Center in Israel / Current celebrity crush: Rashida Jones / Book that best describes me: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (or the Robert Redford movie adaptation) / Most people don’t know I: Am a vegan / As a teenager, I had a poster of: Martin Luther King Jr. on my bedroom wall / My idea of a great date: A romantic dinner at a small restaurant, a nice stroll outside and a trip to the symphony/opera/theater.
>> Lisa Fulton is the type of woman who immediately puts you at ease when you meet her. She has a warm smile and eyes that sparkle, as if she knows a secret … and she’s not telling. Fulton is a hair stylist at Rian A Hair Studio in Akron and was nominated for Single in the City by one of her clients — a testament to how well-respected she is. This 31-year-old is looking for a man who is honest, adventuresome and funny, “or thinks I’m funny,” she adds. Fulton does yoga and has participated in several half-marathons, 5Ks and other runs. In addition to working with teens in the St. Hilary Parish youth group, she’s traveled on two missions to the Peruvian Amazon with her dentist dad, Dr. Bob Fulton, to provide dental care to the locals. “My life changed after those trips,” she says. “It brought me back as a more aware person. These people live with a roof over their head but no walls on their homes. I became a lot less materialistic. In my home life, it’s more simple. I don’t need things; it’s about simplicity.”
My guilty pleasure: Overindulging in food and wine and forcing myself to wake up and work out at Bandit Fitness / Favorite cause: Amazon Promise / I’m a sucker for: Romantic talk in a romantic foreign language / Movie that best describes me: “The Sweetest Thing” / I own too many … Sunglasses / Most people don’t know I: Regularly listen to 89.7 WKSU / Favorite local hangout: Pub Bricco for Wednesday Jazz Nights / The craziest thing I ever did: On one of my trips to Peru with the Amazon Promise, I extracted a tooth with the help and supervision of my dad (who is a dentist) / Part of my charm: Silly, light-heartedness, welcoming and understanding.
>> Kendra Preer is a firecracker, wrapped in enthusiasm, with great legs. This confident 42-year-old serves as the director of the Upward Bound Math-Science Academy at Stark State College. With aspirations to someday be the president of a community college, she’s definitely on her way. She won the 2012 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Diversity Officers in Higher Education and was a finalist in 2008 for the Clorox Pine-Sol Make a Powerful Difference Award. Preer is passionate about higher education administration and, in particular, working with students and encouraging young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers. In romantic relationships, she says she’s currently in a good place to entertain the idea of finding Mr. Right, whom she describes as very intelligent (“On a date, if I’m bored, it’s time to go”), professional, family-oriented, a person of faith and “Easy on the eyes would be nice too.”
Longest relationship: 4 years / My ex would describe me as: Sweet, nurturing and extremely driven / Current celebrity crush: New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker / I’m a sucker for: A clean-cut gentleman who still believes in courting a lady / Movie that best describes me: “Something’s Gotta Give” I am Erica Barry! / I own too many … turtlenecks / The craziest thing I ever did: Camp out all night on the streets of Pasadena to save my front row spot to view the Rose Bowl Parade / As a teenager, I had a poster of: singer Al B. Sure on my bedroom wall / My idea of a great date: Al fresco dining, moscato and great conversation on a summer night / Part of my charm: My optimism and love for adventure.
E-mail them to managing editor Abby Cymerman at firstname.lastname@example.org