All too often puppies and dogs find their ways into shelters, for many reasons, often for no fault of their own. They are the victims of circumstances beyond their control, like an illness or death in the
family, divorce, growing family, family relocation, or improper training and preparation from owners.
Nearly 3 million of them are euthanized every year in the United States.
All I have to do is walk into my parents home where I am greeted with 40 pounds of love to be reminded these animals deserve places they can call home. I see all the time through my dog training clients and friends the beautiful gift of adoption.
Coming up this Valentine’s Day weekend is our region’s largest pet adoption event, My Furry Valentine. It will be at the Sharonville Convention Center from 10 am to 5 pm.
My Furry Valentine is hoping to find homes for 550 animals during the Cincinnati pet adoption weekend event. The event is fun, family-friendly and free to attend. This year’s My Furry Valentine is hosted by phoDOGrapher and presented by Top Dog sponsors IAMS and Tri-County Mall with additional financial assistance from The Joanie Bernard Foundation.
My intern, Andrea Francisco, brought to my attention a campaign in Loveland City Schools that is all about recognizing students who speak out and stand up for others.
The My Voice, My Choice Upstander campaign is a district initiative that was described in a video by Loveland Superintendent Chad Hilliker. “It’s a program that talks about how students have a voice when it comes to if there is a problem,” he said. “We recognize students who have made a difference in their buildings and recognize the wonderful things they do. Maybe they see a friend who needs help or someone being picked on.”
Teachers from each building nominated students who embody the principles of My Voice, My Choice. Each student selected received a certificate and t-shirt as part of the recognition ceremony. They are:
- Loveland Early Childhood Center: Ryan Faessler, Ella McCormick and Elijah Rand.
- Loveland Primary School: Alex Abrinica, Dani Hildebrand, Tori Johnson and Claire Neiger.
- Loveland Elementary School: Ellie Boni, Allie Despotakis, Mary Haberer and Cameron Petrella.
- Loveland Intermediate School: Sam Greenberg and Lesley Webster.
- Loveland Middle School: Jack Aiken, Miya Shultz, Connor Wasmund and Jacob Eicher.
- Loveland High School: Logan Amon, Rachel Jones, Stephanie Simon and Clayton Walker.
“Kindness can be contagious when you have students who are not afraid to do what is right, and we strive to create this culture in our classrooms, our buildings and across our district,” Hilliker said.
Honorees are – left: front, Mary Haberer, Elijah Rand, Alex Abrinica, Dani Hildebrand, Tori Johnson, Claire Neiger, Ellie Boni and Allie Despotakis; back, Sam Greenberg, Lesley Webster, Miya Shultz, Connor Wasmund, Jacob Eicher, Rachel Jones, and Clayton Walker. Not pictured,Ryan Faessler, Ella McCormick, Cameron Petrella, Jack Aiken, Logan Amon and Stephanie Simon.
Last week, I sat in a filled to capacity room at the Phoenix as a panel of 11 people filled the stage, sharing one-by-one their own very personal story about their life and the impact of our region on it. It was all part of the new Enquirer series called #CincyStorytellers. You can watch all of their talks at this link.
What I loved about the event, besides the fact that I always enjoy opportunities to hear other people tell stories, was the great diversity they represented, the different points of view and different life experiences that individually and collectively are what has built such a dynamic region.
Take a look at who we heard from (as listed at www.Cincinnati.com):
David Falk owns Boca and Sotto and Nada. He is making Cincinnati a better place to eat nearly every day. Falk has lived all over the world, but in October of 2013 he wrote a Love Letter to this city on Huffington Post. He changed the conversation.
Molly Wellmann makes an amazing drink. She also creates places that make people happy. That is not easy. She owns The Famous Neon’s Unplugged, Japp’s, The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar and The Hearth Room. And Myrtle’s Punch House. Wellmann is also a true believer in this place. We have no stronger advocate.
Aftab Pureval is a lawyer at Procter & Gamble and this year he was in C-Change, a leadership-development program with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. He was part of a group that created the Grand City Experiment, which challenged people to do small things every day to make this a more welcoming place. It was simple, and it made a difference.
Libby Hunter is an example for all of us. One day, she saw some kids being lousy to another person. She thought all those kids needed was something to do; to love words and learning. It was naive, at best, and somehow, Hunter turned her life upside down to create miracles in Northside at a place called WordPlay Cincy. Now the story is evolving.
Dan Wright opened Senate in Over-the-Rhine before opening a restaurant there was a thing. He made a statement and invested his time and money. It was kind of a game changer. Then he opened Abigail. Now Pontiac BBQ. He planted a flag.
Alisha Budkie has a different kind of story. She has always been a part of the creative community in Cincinnati. She also knew of the frequent connection between creativity and mood imbalances. So she decided to create a community at that intersection. It will change lives.
Yvette Simpson has lived a life of civil service. She grew up here and faced her share of struggles early. But she found herself through work and education and became a leader. Simpson is intelligent and charming and she serves on City Council anyway. She is making a big difference.
If you ever noticed a big guy with a big beard and a bigger smile walking around Over-the-Rhine and thought he looked like a happy viking, you probably saw Jason Snell. His company is actually called We Have Become Vikings. He is an artist, designer, creator and light maven. If you liked the flying birds at Lumenoicty, thank Jason. If you like Mr. Satin, thank Jason. If you liked the Henry Holtgrewe mural, thank Jason.
Every city needs a Kathy Y. Wilson. She writes like an angel, and she challenges people like a sledge hammer. This is her home. And she is making it better with her words.
James Marable is smart and interesting, and making people dress better. Marable wanted to open a business, so he quit his cushy and safe job, ran up every credit card he had, borrowed and depleted his savings and opened OTR Fresh. Now he has a place on Main Street that provides a different look for a city that can sometimes use one.
Not listed here (probably because he compiled the list) was organizer and Enquirer reporter John Faherty. I actually was most looking forward to hearing what he was going to share because I follow his writings (all of the panelists were people whom he has written about). John has a way of expressing himself that moves and inspires me. Last year he openly and candidly shared his very personal, brave battle…and its impact on not only his own life but the lives of those who love him. If you haven’t already read his documentary article on how a transplant saved his life, I highly recommend it. During his #CincyStorytellers talk, he reminded the standing room only crowd that it was a pancreas transplant as he looked to the side of the room toward a few of his greatest supporters, his family.
There were so many lessons to have been learned in that evening. There were so many reasons to celebrate our great place where we all live, work and play. It is our diversity that collectively gives us all strength. Whether we are walking down the street, at work or a place of worship, or attending an event, we should realize that each one of us has our own personal story…our internal battles, challenges that we have overcome, people who make our lives whole, sadness and laughter. In our daily hast, think about how much more enriched our own lives would be if we take a moment to learn something new about someone…either a stranger or an individual already in our life. Let’s talk to each other. Let’s share our stories. Let’s be there for each other. And let’s celebrate that what we each bring to this world is truly a gift.
The transition for children to a brand new school often comes with many challenges. For Innocent Ntwali, a Rwandan refugee, those challenges were even greater. On his first day at Winton Woods Elementary School in Cincinnati he spoke not a word of English.
This past year his hard work and conduct in school have earned him the Kiwanis Character is Key Award for Fairness. “Through his year and a half at Winton Woods Elementary School, he has grown in so many ways by assimilating into the culture, learning the English language and becoming friends with his classmates,” said Principal Kendell Dorsey.
“Innocent never thinks about himself first,” said his reading teacher Lois Minton. “He always wants what is right for the group or the situation.” Physical Education Teacher Sheri Conrad, who is in charge of the school’s Sprinter’s Club, agrees. “In Sprinter’s, Innocence never cuts corners. He always runs the course the way he is supposed to. He leads by example every day and does not even know it,” she said.
“He is the epitome of good character,” Dorsey added. “Innocent is kind, smart and always willing to lend a helping hand. He is constantly challenging himself to be better.”
Photo: Winton Woods fourth grader Innocence Ntwali listens as Superintendent Anthony G. Smith reads Innocence’ recommendation for the Award. Photo by Teresa Cleary.