A group of young professionals who live, work and play in the Portage Lakes is working to offer networking, professional development and philanthropy through a new group. Each member aspires to support and showcase the Portage Lakes area.

A group of young professionals who live, work and play in the Portage Lakes is  working to offer networking, professional development and philanthropy through a new group. Each member aspires to support and showcase the Portage Lakes area.

“It is all about stepping up, and catching a spark, to support our community,”  said Kaley Foster, one of the founders of the Portage Lakes Young Professionals (PLXYP).

The group was formed in January as a sub-committee of the South Summit Chamber of Commerce.

The group was formed with th hope of strengthening the community by cultivating, developing and connecting young, like-minded professionals, according to co-founder Katie Wheeler.

“There was no where for young professionals to meet,” she said.

Young professionals now have two opportunities to meet each month. There, they can exchange ideas and form the next wave of leadership in the area. Breakfast meetings are held at 7 a.m the second Monday of each month and an after hours meeting is held from 6 to 9  p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month. The meetings are held at Portage Lakes area business such as the Honeymoon Grill,  Prime at Anthes, Naughti Vine Winery and Dusty's Landing.

The group welcomes young professionals ages 18 to 40 years old who live and work in the Akron area.

To date, about 25 young professionals have attended each event.

One of the most popular events held every year is the Fourth of July fireworks on Portage Lakes. Nick Wladyczak, also a founder of PLXYP, noted that those volunteering for the Portage Lakes Fireworks Association have done the work for many years. He said PLXYP has committed to help with the Fourth of July event and show new leadership. Wheeler said they have also committed to helping with the Dragon Beat Festival held on Portage Lakes in July.

Wheeler and his colleagues hope the younger generation takes on leadership roles that will continue these traditions in the community.

The Young Professionals recently made a presentation to the DECCA marketing club at Barberton High School about how important it is to volunteer in the community. High school students from Coventry High School also attended a recent meeting of the South Summit Chamber of Commerce and PLXYP as well.

Foster, Wladyczak and Wheeler are graduates of Manchester and Coventry High Schools. They are proud of their community and want to showcase to those not aware of all the area has to offer.

The mission statement of the PLXYP reads, in part, “We aspire to attract and retain young talent through our meetings.” Foster said they want to spur young professionals to take action.

“Just do something,” Foster said, “… have the courage to try.”

Those interested in joining PLXYP or attending the next breakfast or after hours meeting, can find details on the group’s Facebook page or by emailing portagelakesyp@gmail.com. New members and ideas are always welcome.