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Butler County Young Professionals reach 15-year mark

Allison Petrozza searches for a wig from a selection of donated costumes at the Butler County Young Professionals’ Ghouls for Good store in October 2022. Butler Eagle file photo

Diving into the business world with little knowledge and or no connections often can be overwhelming and scary.

For the past 15 years, in affiliation with the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, the Butler County Young Professionals has been striving to help people make those connections and obtain new knowledge through professional development and social activities.

Audrianna Bly, chairman of the Young Professionals, said one of the biggest misconceptions about the group is that members have to be under a certain age to join, but people of all ages are welcome to learn more about the business world in Butler County.

“Our group is about networking young professionals to be able to feel more comfortable with getting out into the business world,” Bly said. “Or feeling more comfortable with making new relationships.

Bly said one of the biggest benefits of joining the group is speaking with seasoned professionals to help them learn things and become more comfortable speaking in groups.

This can be done at the chamber’s monthly mixers.

“(Mixers) are usually held in different parts of the county,” Bly said. “The main part of that is to feel more relaxed when meeting people. It's not a formal thing where you have to go around and introduce yourself.”

The Young Professionals also tries to give back and help the community any way its members see fit.

Bly said members try to volunteer at as many events as possible, such as food bank distributions and various fundraisers.

Ghouls for Good

Young Professionals do more than just help other groups, as they conduct projects of their own such as its Halloween costume drive.

“The biggest thing we do is our Ghouls for Good program,” Bly said. “That is where we get Halloween costume donations then we set up a store in October for two nights. Children can come in, and they don't have to pay for it. We get them a little shopping bag that they can use for trick-or-treating.”

Kristen Kane, a Young Professionals board member and chairman of Ghouls for Good, said this is the eighth year for the program.

Ghouls for Good was started by Kane when she brought the idea to past Chamber of Commerce president Stan Kosciuszko.

“I just ran all my ideas to him and there was long pause and (he) said he loved it,” Kane said. “He put me in touch with Butler County Children & Youth Services. The first year we didn't know what to expect, but it was well-received.”

Kane said this year’s Ghouls for Good costume drive is in “full force” and the group is seeking sponsors.

The Ghouls for Good store will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 16 and 17 at Cubs Hall, 113 S. McKean St., Butler.

“I think this is going to be our best year yet,” Kane said. “We also have businesses donating stuff for the kids to take home.”

Costumes for the program get collected in a variety of ways. One of the costume collections will take place at Recon Brewing on Route 8 in Center Township from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 1.

Children are given vouchers at school or at other community events to be used to pick up a costume, but if they don’t have a voucher, that doesn’t mean they can’t stop by and try to pick up a costume.

“If a kid comes in who got one from school with siblings that don't have one we won't turn them away,” Kane said. “The kids get so excited and the parents are always appreciative.”

Kane said parents seeking vouchers for their children can reach out to the Butler County Chamber of Commerce.

Bly said she would like to see the Young Professionals do more mentoring and educational events, while also setting up a scholarship fund set up for students going to school for a business-related degree.

Kane said she believes the group always tries its best to give back to others because without them, the group would not be the same.

“Without the community, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Kane said.

Jay-Lee Owens, 1, of Butler, tries on a dinosaur costume as The Butler County Young Professionals give away free Halloween costumes at the Butler Cubs in Butler in October 2022. Butler Eagle file photo

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