Creative Oxygen
by Linda Szyskowski
PUBLICATION DATE: January 21, 2020

Maria Hoschak-Gagnon grew up on a 62-acre working farm in Defiance, Ohio — a beautiful property that has been part of five generations. She has lived in Sylvania for the past 16 years, but her journey here was a winding one.
After graduating from Kent State University, Maria moved to Florida to pursue sales. She married there and the couple eventually moved to Dayton where they started their family. Next, the family moved to Lima and started a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. In 2003 they moved to Toledo and expanded the restaurant business to several locations. “Choosing a home in Sylvania was a happy accident,” recalls Maria. “We really didn’t know the area, but a good school system was important. A home we liked here became available first, so we purchased it. I’ve always been grateful it worked out that way,” she laughs. “I have always felt very entrenched here.”
Maria was a stay-at-home mom and kept active in sales and with volunteer work while her children were growing up. She was a representative for Arbonne Cosmetics and Wildtree, a recipe and menu planning website. Her older children attended Sylvania schools as well as her now 10-year-old son. Her husband, Adam, is a nurse with ProMedica. She also stayed active in the school system, even coaching a high school equestrian team and substitute teaching. She became familiar with SCAT when she attended its parenting classes. There she met former director, Deb Chany, who thought Maria would be great at teaching the classes. So three years ago she joined SCAT part time as a parent coordinator, then, one year later, became program coordinator. She became executive director just this past July. Maria applied for the position when Deb Chany stepped away, and she was hired.
SCAT has served Sylvania families for 33 years and has grown to a staff of eight. “Our mission is to help our youth stay away from alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors and educate students and parents about these issues,” says Maria. “We foster relationships with parents, schools, and students, believing that we will do better together. We cover subjects like vaping, social media, bullying, and anxiety issues in our parent classes. In our SCAT Kids youth groups, we teach leadership and sponsor fun activities. The Core Committed groups at Northview and Southview are run by teachers and coaches, and teach kids how to be the best version of themselves and form good relationships with like-minded students. We also have a close association with Sylvania St. Joe’s and the Toledo Islamic Academy,” she adds.
Grants, donations, and three annual fundraisers — a summer golf scramble, the SCATacular breakfast in October, and the Hot Cocoa Run in February — fund SCAT. All are part of Maria’s responsibilities in addition to overseeing programs and her staff. “It’s a big job, but we’re still always looking for ways to expand our outreach to Sylvania youth and parents and to partner with other like-minded organizations to be more effective in the community. Parenting classes are free and information is available through the schools, our website, Facebook, and Twitter,” notes Maria.
Sylvania Advantage and Creative Oxygen salute Maria Hoschak-Gagnon — an energetic, outgoing leader serving a vital need for Sylvania youth and their parents.