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Paul Charles LaGuardia
When you’re helping others, your true self shines through, and the five singles we’re featuring in this, our 3rd annual Single in the City cover story, are shining examples of that.
They may be unattached but they’re not sitting at home, waiting to be rescued from Singledom. No, they’re out in our communities, making our neighborhoods better places to live, meeting new people — and having a great time doing it.
We’re so excited to introduce them to you … As they say — so often — on the show, “How I Met Your Mother,” have you met Emilia, Samantha, Amber, Wes and Paul?
Growing up in Cambridge, Ohio, Wes Warne saw his mother participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and he often walked some laps with her in memory of his grandfather who lost a battle with lung cancer before he was born.
”I’ve always been a fan of the Relay for Life,” the 25-year-old says. “My mom taught me that it’s important to take the time to do your part.”
Today, living in North Canton and serving as a Senior Business Development Specialist with the Canton Charge, Warne is proud to work for a company that understands its role in community involvement.
“Our players, dance team and whole front office staff get out on a regular basis to do work like serving meals at shelters, hospital visits, food drives and fitness clinics,” he says.
“We’re also very involved with the United Way. The team is always excited for the opportunity to pitch in on some community service during the Day of Caring. Last year, we spent the day planting flower bulbs and painting playground equipment, which makes for some great team bonding.”
In my spare time, I like to: Spend my lunchtime at the gym and my evenings mountain biking and trying to golf, when the weather allows / Favorite local hangout: Loby’s / I’m a sucker for: Dogs. I’m the kind of person that will say hello to the dog with its head out the window in the car next to me at a stoplight / Most people don’t know I: Am a fan of Pixar movies. I never have a problem with watching a movie with my nieces when I’m home, and yes, I do own “Despicable Me” on DVD / The craziest thing I ever did: Was being named ‘Most Daring’ and ‘Biggest Threat to Pedestrians’ in high school / My idea of a great date: A bike ride on the Towpath is a great way to spend some time together. A nice conversation over dinner and wine is always a good time as well, but any date can be a great one if you’re going with the right person.
If the Sykes family name sounds familiar, it’s because 28-year-old Emilia is the daughter of Vernon and Barbara Sykes, both of whom have represented the 34th District in the Ohio House of Representatives since 1983. Their youngest daughter has launched her campaign to take over her father’s seat, which will become available due to term limits.
A licensed attorney with a master’s degree in Public Health, Sykes is the Administrative Staff Advisor for the Summit County Fiscal Office. She says she’s best described by the book, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandburg and, in particular, the chapter titled, “Sit at the Table.”
“I’ve always wanted to position myself in a place where I can really help people and make a positive impact in my community,” she says. “I can’t do that unless I’m sitting at the table where decisions are being made.”
Sykes has volunteered at Sarah’s House food pantry and with Community Legal Aid Services’ HEAL program, a medical-legal partnership with Summa Women’s Health Center.
“It’s really a great collaboration that deserves much more attention than it currently receives,” she says. “I was happy to be a part of it.”
I love living in this area because: It’s home. My family is here, I grew up here, it’s the best place I’ve ever lived / My guilty pleasure: My Aunt Ressie’s peach cobbler / Pet peeve: Bullies / I’m a sucker for: My niece and nephew. They get away with anything and everything around me. Just don’t tell my sister / Most people don’t know I: Am an Ohio state champion in gymnastics / The craziest thing I ever did: I moved to Atlanta with all of my stuff in my car with no place to live. It worked out. I found an apartment in about a week / My idea of a great date: I really like going to sporting events / Part of my charm: My sister says I always seek out the good in everyone, but my mom says it’s my dimples. I get those from my paternal grandmother.
When you’re talking to Cuyahoga Falls’ Samantha Coldwell, she looks you in the eye and pays attention — a trait she says is part of her charm. “I’m a great listener and very open minded, which makes for easy conversation,” she says.
The 31-year-old is a Marketing Management teacher at Barberton High School as well as a member of Torchbearers, and her passion is local causes. “I like making a difference in my community and giving back to the world that directly surrounds me,” she says.
Coldwell serves on the planning committee of the Halloween Charity Ball in Akron, which supports two local charities each year.
“I love being part of such an amazing event,” she says. “This year we chose Akron Rotary Camp and Victim Assistance Program. We are very excited to raise this money for them and get involved in their causes.”
She says the song that best describes her is “Dreams” by The Cranberries, especially the lyrics: “Oh, my life is changing every day, in every possible way.”
“It’s a song about remaining optimistic,” she says. “I try to view changes in life as opportunities. I love meeting new people, visiting new places and trying new things.”
In my spare time, I like to: Run or bike the Towpath and hike the Metro Parks. During the winter I am yoga-ing (I’ve decided it’s a word) at Yoga Bliss studio / I love living in this area because: I have a large extended family that I’m close with, and many of them are here. Plus, Akron is a great city with much to do. It bugs me that the city is underestimated at times. The culture, the arts and the parks are amazing / Favorite local hangout: Luigi’s for its pizza and salad; Baxter’s after work; and Portage Lakes during the summer / My guilty pleasure: Pedicures / Pet peeve: Spelling mistakes / Most people don’t know I: Backpacked through Australia when I was 20 / The craziest thing I ever did: Lived and worked in the Greek Islands in my early 20s / My idea of a great date: Good wine, great conversation and a comfortable atmosphere.
Amber Genet wants to be the girl in a Bon Jovi song and identifies most with the song, “It’s My Life.” “I try not to be a face in the crowd, but stand up and live my life,” she says. “And in the end, I want to say I did it ‘my way.’”
This 29-year-old corporate event planner at Westfield Insurance realized after college that she was missing the camaraderie of peers going through similar struggles in finding a career.
Then, she discovered Torchbearers, a group of young professionals who were also interested in the same community service, education and social opportunities. Not long after that, she joined the Downtown Akron Partnership Emerging Leaders and now serves as the group’s president.
“The connectivity I’ve gained from my groups is, by far, my favorite benefit and outweighs the sometimes overwhelming time commitments,” Genet says.
“I’ve made lifelong friends, and while we move on to different groups or start new ones, we have a deep understanding of the importance of service to our community. I know that this is something I want to continue throughout my life.”
I love living in this area because: I’m constantly going places that are new to me. When people live in this area, we take for granted all of the wonderful things around us / Favorite local hangout: I’m having a love affair with craft beers. I enjoy beer spots like Baxter’s, The Lockview and the new Lizardville. In the summer I must attend the Blues & Brews event at Lock 3 / Pet peeve: When people touch their eyes! It totally grosses me out, even when it has to do with contacts. / I’m a sucker for: Good manners and charisma. When someone is polite and has good manners, it speaks to them as a person but also to their appreciation of the people and world around them. For me, it’s also about more than opening doors and not talking with your mouth full. It’s about being on time, good to your word and respectful.
Paul Charles LaGuardia
Paul LaGuardia is a first-year member of Akron’s Torchbearers but, like many young professionals, he’s still searching for that one cause to direct his passions.
“By aligning myself with a great organization, it provides me the opportunity to get involved in many different areas in the community,” he says. “As I continue to get involved, I hope to find my niche.”
The 30-year-old sales manager/project manager for Diamond Communications LLC — and a former member of The University of Akron’s soccer team — lives in the Portage Lakes and takes time to coach a team of 4- to 7-year-olds as part of the Manchester Youth Soccer Association.
“When many of the other coaches focused on victories, we focused on having the absolutely best time possible,” he says. “When the kids from other teams were begging their coach to go into the game, my kids were begging to come out of the game and hangout with ‘Coach’ on the sideline. We won approximately one game in three seasons but, more importantly, we were undefeated in snacks after the game.”
In my spare time, I like to: Go to the gym, golf, check out great restaurants and go to Browns games / My guilty pleasure: Absolut and soda with a lime / Pet peeve: Steelers fans. Unfortunately we actually have a couple in my immediate family, but my mom is smart enough to relegate them to the kids’ table during our family’s Sunday lunch / I’m a sucker for: I don’t know … Yogis? Oh, how about a yogi in a Browns jersey? How about a yogi in a Browns jersey in the process of mixing an Absolut and soda? / Most people don’t know I: Once saw Denzel Washington walking down the street in New York City and called him Will Smith / Part of my charm: My huge biceps. Or maybe my toned calves. And I think that’s the perfect way to end this interview.