Two young professionals enjoy giving back.
When Chrissa Morris and Frank Zonars started dating back in 2015, one of their first evenings was at the Franklin Park Conservatory’s Field to Table event. Since then, the couple has been spotted at many of Central Ohio’s top charitable events, ranging from those that support the arts to those that benefit healthcare causes, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association’s Promise Ball.
Together, they now serve on the host committees for the Columbus Museum of Art’s Wonderball and the North Market’s Apron Gala. Frank serves on the young professionals’ board of the Columbus chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, which provides programming and resources for business owners looking to grow and expand their businesses.
Chrissa, an assistant clinical professor practicing neuro-optometry at Ohio State University, and Frank, a business attorney with Vorys, are now married. But their pathways to meet were somewhat circuitous. Chrissa graduated from Granville High School and Miami University before earning an optometry degree from Ohio State and recently completing a residency with the VA medical centers. Frank graduated from St. Charles Preparatory School and the University of Chicago before earning a law degree from Boston College.
Today, the couple looks back on a fortuitous meeting at mutual friends’ wedding in 2013, and realizes that it was all meant to be. After starting to date, they discovered that their fathers, Dr. Bill Morris of Granville and Stephen Zonars, vice president and general manager of consumer shows for the Dispatch Media Group, had played church league basketball together at the Greek Orthodox Christian Church in Dayton. Their grandparents had been friends and had volunteered together for many years at church functions.
How did you get interested in philanthropy?
Chrissa: Service to others has been a really important part of both our upbringings. One thing I am especially proud of is my participation in a charity golf tournament my younger brother started to raise money for colon cancer research after a close family friend passed away from this terrible disease. Over a six-year period, the tournament raised over $50,000 for The James Cancer Hospital.
Frank: Both of our families have participated in a number of service activities over the years, many with our church community and, in particular, serving the homeless. Serving others is also an important pillar of the education at St. Charles. More recently, my family has been involved with the Salvation Army, which does a tremendous amount of good work in our community. Supporting our local nonprofits with our time and energy was a natural extension of these efforts.
Favorite charity event?
Frank: Our perennial favorite is Wonderball at the Columbus Museum of Art. The CMA is a fun and inspiring setting to experience great art, but many people don’t know that the CMA also offers numerous outreach programs to inspire creativity and wonder in members of our community, in particular children and teens.
Cocktail style or black tie?
Chrissa: Although we love any excuse to dress up for a night on the town, we prefer to be more flexible and creative with cocktail attire as opposed to black tie. Our personal styles are on the more traditional side, so we love to add something fun and unexpected to a traditional look.
Best tip for holding a cocktail while you're attempting to eat hors d'oeuvres?
Frank: Rather than invite disaster, I usually make a beeline for the nearest cocktail table. If there are no open tables, pick a friendly looking group of people and ask to share their table so you can eat with dignity—it’s a great ice breaker for making friends at large events.
Chrissa: I’m usually a great multitasker, but holding a cocktail and a plate while attempting to eat and possibly carry on a conversation can be quite challenging. That said, I usually convince Frank to hold my drink while I eat quickly and then enjoy socializing afterward.
Advice for other young professionals to encourage them to attend charitable events?
Frank: Young professionals in our community are blessed not only with thriving careers and a vibrant local economy, but also with a plethora of worthy charities to support. Even if you aren’t in a financial position to make big charitable donations as a 20- or 30-something, simply buying a ticket and contributing to a successful event, or volunteering some time to serve others, means a lot to our local nonprofits and the people and causes they serve. Also, your employer may be willing to support you by sponsoring an event (admission is typically included with sponsorship packages of a certain level) or with a donation to your cause of choice.
The funniest thing you've ever seen while attending a local benefit?
Chrissa: I think the funniest thing about many local fundraisers is the [distribution of] late-night White Castles. Seeing folks dressed up in their beautiful gowns and suits eating greasy burgers really has a way of bringing people together.
Best conversation starter when meeting people you don't already know?
Frank: Taking a genuine interest in the person you are talking to and asking lots of questions. In this hyper-busy social media age, I think people are surprised and delighted when a stranger makes a real effort to get to know something about them. Also, nothing beats a smile, a friendly hello and a firm handshake to make someone feel at ease.
Favorite places to shop for more formal attire?
Frank: One of the best parts of being married is that my wife does all my shopping. That said, I’m a big fan of Nordstrom for casual wear, and Charles Tyrwhitt and Joseph A. Bank for staples.
Chrissa: I love a bargain, but my favorite places to splurge are Nordstrom and Maje, which is a new favorite. ASOS is another go-to for fun, affordable and trendy attire.
What's your favorite evening on the town, when you're not scheduled somewhere?
Chrissa: Frank and I love a good outdoor patio where we can get a nice bottle of wine and a good dinner. The patios at G. Michael’s and Lindeys are two of our favorites.
Favorite restaurant for dinner out?
Frank: Our current favorite is the Whitney House in Old Worthington. The menu is creative but very solid, the service is consistently good, and the cocktails and wine selection are excellent. Other favorites are Basi Italia, the Athletic Club and, for a trendier vibe, Rockmill Tavern. When we want to stay closer to home, we head to Gallo’s or pick one of the excellent ethnic restaurants on the northwest side like Akai Hana for sushi/Japanese or Dosa Corner for Indian. For something more casual, it’s tough to beat Club 185 in German Village, an old favorite from our days living in the Brewery District.