Newtown Giving Box Is Little Food Pantry

I have seen little pop up libraries around town – small stands in residential neighborhoods inside which are books for people to take, read and enjoy. But I have never seen a pop-up food pantry before…until I heard about a project by a group of Turpin High School students in ... Read More
kindness toward seniors - Our gifts of touch, smiles, time and even just a simple comment can help someone get through a very lonely day or difficult day

Kindness Toward Seniors

The other day, after I shared a story about my mom on Facebook there was a short discussion of seniors. Brigid Mclinden Duffy shared some of her experiences and thoughts on kindness toward and appreciation of older adults. I thought it was so touching that I wanted to share her ... Read More
Skye Toomey, a senior at Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, shares why she is in her school's Earth Club and how her group is helping to reduce waste.

Saint Ursula Students Take On Waste Reduction

I love hearing about young people growing by practicing and learning about how they can contribute to strengthening their community. At Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, one way students are doing that is through their Earth Club. The group has implemented a "reduce/are-use/recycle program that has made a HUGE impact ... Read More
Rakel Sanchez, health management director at Horan Associates, talks about lessons learned from being a teenage mother.

Being A Teenage Mom Taught Resiliency

I have been involved with Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club in Kenwood for close to a year now. In addition to the incredible opportunity it has given me to practice and hone my speaking skills, it has opened a door through which I have built relationships with many uplifting ... Read More
Melanie Corwin, executive director of UCAN - Cincinnati nonprofit spay/neuter clinic, shares why she is passionate about her job and volunteering with My Furry Valentine

My Furry Valentine Volunteer Has Heart For Pets

For hundreds of Greater Cincinnati families and individuals each year, Valentine’s Day has become a holiday to treasure…as it represents the day their lives joined with a life of a furry (and even feathered) looking for a forever home. It happens because of what has grown to be the largest ... Read More
Jodi Franks shares a lesson in unconditional love and kindness

A Lesson In Unconditional Love

I love asking people questions about their lives. I often learn new reasons to empathize, respect, admire, and appreciate them. Jodi Franks is one of them. I have known her for years…beginning from way back when, when she was a producer on Warm 98 (98.5 FM). We stay in touch ... Read More
Susan Booth, a Northern Kentucky realtor with Coldwell Banker West Shell, shares a random act of kindness story from her neighbor after a debilitating accident.

A Neighbor Who Cares

Something to give you thought:  If your neighbor had an accident that caused her to be immobile, would you step up to help her out? Janet Nieheisel is a neighbor who did. Facebook has given me the great pleasure of getting to know Susan Booth, a Northern Kentucky realtor with ... Read More
Kriss and Dan Barr wrote The Fido Factor - How To Get A Let Up At Work on leadership, that was inspired by their dogs

Leadership Inspired...Inspired By Dogs

Being a dog (and animal) lover and business professional, I was particularly interested when Krissi Barr (founder and CEO of Barr Corporate Success) and her husband, Dan Barr (a sales and marketing professional) shared with me at a holiday party that they were working on a book about business leadership ... Read More
Robin Nichole and her daughter Sydnee Tubbs at an anniversary celebration for Cincinnati nonprofit Rosemary's Babies

From Teen Parenthood To Blossom

It was before the holidays last year when I was in a room filled with men and women – some of whom began their journey toward adulthood as teenage parents. We were there to celebrate a momentous occasion – the one year anniversary for a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting ... Read More
Jeff Blevins, Ph.D., head of the Department of Journalism at University of Cincinnati talks about his inspiration as a teacher

An Educator's Inspiration

How wonderful it is when you have a career that gives you passion and purpose, that allows you to impact yourself and others in positive ways.  I asked Dr. Jeffrey Blevins to share what gives him reason to look forward to his days. This is what he shared...a teacher's inspiration. ... Read More

Reflecting on Good People from 2017

I want to thank so many special people in Greater Cincinnati who are making our community better, stronger. I so enjoy having this platform for sharing some of those around me who have touched and inspired me. Thank you to them, and thank you to all of you for reading, ... Read More
A special homecoming for a killed marine's dogs. Michele Witte, a dog rescue transport driver, shares why she and her husband helped drive these dogs to their grandmother.

Killed Marine's Dogs Make It Home

I have heard the stories of volunteers who give of their time, their vehicles (and airplanes), and travel expenses to transport dogs who, for all kinds of reasons, have been displaced. One recent story especially touched me. This photo taken of homecoming of the marine's dogs titled, ‘The Boys Are ... Read More
quote about courage by Maya Angelou

The Importance Of Courage

Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest. - Maya Angelou Read More
Mike Scheele was a shy child who had dyslexia. It was his disability that inspired him to be an admired teacher as an adult.

From Shy Child To Teacher Of The Year

One of the gifts that Facebook has given me is the opportunity to get to know how truly special some people are from my past, to learn about a side of them that I never saw when we were growing up. One of those people is Mike Scheele. His father ... Read More
Jenny Durbin shared how she was the recipient of a random act of kindness when someone she barely knew took in Jenny's chickens.

An Act Of Kindness For The Birds

If you are someone who is very attached to your non-human animals, you will appreciate Jenny Durbin’s story. I had asked her to recall a time when she was on the receiving end of kindness. This is what she shared… Jenny Durbin: in her own words... After researching the care ... Read More
Lisa Jones, My Furry Valentine event manager, shares lessons from her mission trip to South Africa

Lessons From A Mission Trip To South Africa

In her own words… Lisa Jones, My Furry Valentine event manager, revisits a long journal entry written after returning from a mission trip to South Africa   Our last night in Mamelodi I’m asked at dinner “so Lisa did South Africa live up to the expectations you had before you ... Read More
KellyAnn Nelson shares how her work with the Cincinnati Boychoir inspires her

Cincinnati Boychoir Inspires Values

“No matter where you come from and where you start, singing brings you together in life,” KellyAnn Nelson told me. Those words are KellyAnn’s passion and her driving force behind her career and her impact. Founder and Artistic Director of the Young Professionals Choral Collective of Cincinnati (with a roster ... Read More
Lucy May, a Cincinnati reporter at WCPO, talks about how her teacher was her inspiration for her path toward journalism.

Lucy May: Inspired By Her Teacher

Lucy May of WCPO tells the poignant stories of poverty, courage, determination, love, passion, diversity, and kindness. Every day people who collectively make up this place we call Greater Cincinnati. This week I am asking people to talk about an experience that has changed their life. Lucy told me about ... Read More
Beth Cremshaw with the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati shares her definition of kindness.

The Gift Of Kindness Received

I have been sharing different perspectives on Kindness this week. Today I want to share the story of someone on the receiving end of kindness. Beth Crenshaw is vice chair of the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati, Inc., and she wants to remind us that kindness can have a great impact. In ... Read More
Cincinnati's Local 12 News Anchor John Lomax talks about what kindness means to him

John Lomax Talks About Kindness

LOCAL 12, WKRC-TV's John R. Lomax is loved my Greater Cincinnati. He has such a benevolent heart. He is as genuine as they come. John shared with me his thoughts on #kindness. "I believe kindness is knowing someone is in pain or distress, taking time to figure out what that pain or distress ... Read More
What kindness means to Robin Klaene

What Kindness Means To Robin

What does #kindness mean to you? To Robin Klaene, "Kindness to me is always being there, in good times and in bad. My friend Eydie Bookman is the kindest person I know. She is always giving of herself and her time. We have been friends for over 25 years and ... Read More
Celebrating World Kindness Day, Kristin Harmeyer shares what kindness means to her.

What Kindness Means To Kristin

Celebrating World Kindness Day all week this week, I am asking people the question, "What does kindness mean to you?" This is what it means to Kristin Harmeyer, health & wellness coordinator for LADD, Inc. (Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled),: "Being kind is about treating everyone with respect regardless of their ... Read More
Earl Edmonds was named to the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame for his coaching at Cincinnati area schools.

The Making Of A Good Coach

I first met Earl Edmonds at the Healthy Kids Triathlon Race of the Countryside YMCA (a public relations client of mine) and there was something about him that just stood out to me. I could tell he really enjoyed being among the young athletes. Later I got to talking with ... Read More

Respect And Value Kathleen

Today I’d like to introduce you to a friend who holds a very special place in my heart. Kathleen Sheil is an incredible example for all the qualities that I look up to another person. She is confident, yet humble. She is open and honest and genuine, and most definitely ... Read More
Judy Albert volunteers for the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati

How Her Family Drives Her Passion For Volunteering

It has been nearly four decades since Judy (and her husband, Dave) Albert first became one of the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati’s earliest volunteers. Back in the 1980s, when the Coalition was still very much a ‘grass roots’ organization, its address was her home and the phone rang in ... Read More
Lori Cook, marketing specialist at Countryside YMCA, shares how her inspiration comes from her sons.

Kindness Learned From Her Sons

Beyond an orientation meeting to introduce me to the Countryside YMCA, I was getting ready for our first official public relations planning meeting. I chose a sleeveless fuchsia colored shirt with white pants because that color combination just makes me smile. When I arrived, and walked through her office door, ... Read More
quote from Richard Branson on taking risks

Taking Risks...Is Worth The Risk

I love this quote. It speaks to me on so many levels beyond work. If we aren't willing to take risks, we may miss out on so much of what gives us purpose and fulfillment in life. We may miss out on relationships. We may miss out on incredible experiences. ... Read More

This Dog Rescue Run Is Her Passion

I met Lori Gerring several years back through her work on the Paw Joggers Rescue Run. Billie Mendoza, founder and owner of Paw Joggers, whom I have known for many years had expanded her capacity to help pets by forming a nonprofit organization to organize an annual race that would ... Read More
Rachael Moore of Cincinnati Art Underground talks about how art is discovery

Rachael Moore Sees Art As Discovery

Rachael Moore will tell you, she is not an artist but she is a huge fan of the arts. She used to be what she calls ‘that typical visitor’ who would pop into museums during her trips to admire art, but really, not giving it much more thought than whether ... Read More
Thomas Courtney talks about inspiration through possivity

The Best Version Of Who We Are

The other day, Thomas Courtney and I met for coffee and he shared a story with me that I thought everyone could benefit from hearing, so I asked him to write about it as a guest post, which is below.  Thomas has created and is in the process of bringing ... Read More

Portraying Souls Through Art

Jing was 16 months old, just weeks ahead of playing make believe, running, jumping, and exploring. Only those developmental milestones she was on target for reaching, had to be delayed. The course of her life was about to make a detour that would alter her journey for a very long ... Read More

Anita's Gift Saved Howard's Life

For many years Local 12’s Troubleshooter Howard Ain was the problem solver for thousands – those he assisted first hand and many more who benefited from his advocacy through watching his television segments. And, as it goes in life, you never know when your role will change from the giver ... Read More
Margo Hess shared these words of wisdom at our Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club in Cincinnati about transitions

Lessons From Transitions

Before Labor Day, my Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club lost one of our dearest members. Several years after her first meeting, after having served as our Club's VP of Education (the most time intensive of our Board positions), inspiring and uplifting us with her humorous and thoughtful speeches, critiques, and ... Read More
Lisa Desatnik gave a speech at her Cincinnati Toastmasters Club about why she does not like the phrase, 'Good Luck', and what she suggests to use instead.

Instead of Good Luck, Say This

NOTE:  This is a speech that I just gave at my Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club in Kenwood. We meet every Tuesday at Noon and would love to have you join us as a guest or member. Please contact me to learn more!!   Darrell Royal once said, “Luck ... Read More
Of this photo, WLWT News Anchor Megan Mitchell says, "beautiful scenes like this remind me how we are all connected to our planet and each other. "

Megan Raises Voices Of Unheard

I met Megan Mitchell for the first time one morning when I had stopped by their newsroom earlier this year to talk about the 2017 ReelAbilities Film Festival. I had asked for suggestions of news staff who may be interested in helping to emcee our screenings, and was pointed in ... Read More

These Adults Explore And Give

You may find them dancing, sightseeing, hiking, tending to vegetables in a garden, or volunteering their time. One day they may be exploring Fort Ancient, the next they may be touring one of the local waterways on a pontoon boat. One day they may be sorting items at Matthew 25: ... Read More
At 3, Eva Brandstetter is a little girl who learns an important lesson in kindness.

At 3, Eva Learns A Lesson In Kindness

There is something so uplifting about seeing the beautiful heart of a little child who already at a very young age knows and appreciates what it means to be kind to others. And behind that child is very likely adult role models from whom those values have been instilled. Eva ... Read More
Amy Tobin dwells in possibility

Amy Tobin Dwells In Possibility

I love this quote by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It reminds me a lot of Amy Tobin. When I think about Amy, I smile. She ... Read More
a quote by Lisa Desatnik of appreciation

Today Is A Gift

Some morning reflection. It is so easy to get caught up in our day that we forget to notice and appreciate all the simple pleasures that surround us. Someone is in our thoughts but we don't reach out, or we are afraid of speaking our feelings. But the truth is, ... Read More
Fox 19 Morning News Anchor Charisse Gibson talks about her love for Cincinnati, her volunteer work, and her inspiration.

Charisse Shares Cincinnati Love

It was very hot and humid day in downtown Cincinnati. Traffic was heavy. Pedestrians hurriedly walked along the sidewalks. The sun’s reflection bounced from windows and caused deep shadows among those in its path. Hours later there would be loud music reverberating from the stage at Fountain Square. Families and ... Read More

A Mom's View On Beauty

You may not recognize the name Perry Elliott aka Scott Perry, but, I have no doubt you would recognize his deep, polished, dramatic at times and sometimes whispy voice that has promoted Steve Harvey, NBC's hit America's Got Talent, the Oscars, sports broadcasts, big screen movies, and other television shows. ... Read More
Cheryl Beardslee of Cincinnati says Courttney Cooper, an artist at Visionaries and Voices, taught her about making the most of the gifts you were born with.

An Army Officer's Lesson Passed On

Facebook has so dramatically altered the way we communicate, and sometimes meet.. It has introduced me to people I would never have come in contact with. It is a source of support, of sharing good news and bad, of laughing at each other’s stories, of connecting, really connecting. It was ... Read More
The Freestore Foodbank’s The Giving Fields is a community farm that provides produce for Northern Kentucky food pantries with the help of over 2,400 volunteers.

The Giving Fields Gives Produce

Just along the southern bank of the Ohio River sits the small rural town of Melbourne, Kentucky, spotted with rustic farms and quaint resting spots. The 2010 Census counted 401 people residing in its neighborhoods. It is also the home of the Freestore Foodbank’s The Giving Fields, an expansive 10 ... Read More
Carol Stevie, recently retired director of Cincinnati nonprofit Catholic Inner-City Schools Education (CISE), said the reason she was drawn to CISE is that we are all connected through our humanity.

Carol's Work Inspired By Humanity

I have often said I am so fortunate that my work has introduced me to some pretty incredible people. Carol Stevie is among them. We came to know each other through my work on the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council’s Voices of Giving Awards. A committee member, Carol had been ... Read More

Foster Parents To Adoptee Parents

It was over six years ago when Don and Cindy Reilly’s lives changed forever. Tears swelled in their eyes as the credits rolled to the movie, the Blind Side. And, the next thing they knew, they signed up for CPR and first aid classes and began talking about fostering. Their ... Read More
Last summer, Kathleen Cail and Nestor Melnyk were awarded a grant by People’s Liberty from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Foundation to create Access Cincinnati, an online resource providing accessibility information on restaurants and bars to families with strollers, veterans, seniors and other individuals with mobility issues.

Access Cincinnati Launches

Last summer, Kathleen Cail and Nestor Melnyk were awarded a grant by People’s Liberty from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile Foundation to create Access Cincinnati, an online resource providing accessibility information on restaurants and bars to families with strollers, veterans, seniors and other individuals with mobility issues. After ... Read More
At 90 years old, Dr. Aurora Lira, is still winning medals in dance competitions. She and her partner just won a gold medal at the Millennium Dancesport Championships in Orlando, Florida.

90 Year Old Dancer Inspires

A note from my friend, Magno Relojo… A 90 yr old lady who happens to love dancing and dressing up, inspires us with her enthusiasm for learning and memorizing her dance routines. At this age these can be difficult tasks to do but it is so amazing to see her ... Read More
Danielle and Chris Jones of Cincinnati wrote a book about their journey through tragedy and finding joy.

How Their Loss Is Helping Them Do Good

Danielle Jones was working at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center when we first met.  I remember us walking through the hallways, into the waiting rooms, and even further into the patient rooms where young, innocent girls and boys were resting nervously with their families before or after procedures. One thing ... Read More
Be proud of what makes you uniquely different, beautiful and YOU!

Be Proud Of You

Just a reminder... Be proud of what makes you uniquely different, beautiful, and YOU! ~ Lisa Desatnik Read More
Jennifer Okoniewski, a Cincinnati nurse, reflects on the meaning of her job.

A Nurse's Reflection

"Thoughts from my quiet time before work.... Although I don't deal with physical life-threatening issues, I work with mentally life-threatening issues. Being a Psych nurse... Patients here are suicidal, homicidal, schizophrenic, psychotic, bipolar, and so many other illnesses. Just because someone is not physically ill does not mean they are ... Read More

Newtown Giving Box Is Little Food Pantry

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I have seen little pop up libraries around town – small stands in residential neighborhoods inside which are books for people to take, read and enjoy. But I have never seen a pop-up food pantry before…until I heard about a project by a group of Turpin High School students in their school’s chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America. It is part of the business management class.

The Newtown Giving Box is a hand-made container that is shaped like a house, and has a large door that opens to containment blocks where non-perishable food, hygiene and household items are stored for those in need to anonymously stop by and take what they need. The free little pantry is a partnership with the Newtown United Methodist Church (3546 Church Street; 45244) – where it is located – and is stocked by community donors, many of whom are Turpin students. It is to help families and individuals who struggle with occasional food insecurities.

“One of the biggest things we have learned is that there are people everywhere who need help,” said Jessie Pierce, Club vice president, “and, where there are people in need, there are people willing to help. I have always loved community service. This has really opened my eyes to who I am helping.

“The Newtown Giving Box has taught us a lot about leadership and how much it takes even for a smaller project. It was a lot of work to get this in the ground.”

I asked some of the other Club participants for their thoughts. This is what they shared.

Lindsey Viel told me, “A teacher said that someone else wants to do this now. That makes me happy that we have opened other people’s eyes too.”

“This week was the first time we saw it being used substantially. When I showed photos to our class, it was so exciting. It makes me feel like I am contributing to the community which is a really good feeling,” said Molly Campbell, Club president.

The students maintain a Facebook page where they post what is needed. Your contributions are very welcome.

What is accepted:

– Non-perishable food items: peanut butter, canned meats, canned fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains, bread, crackers, baby formula, baby food, pasta, etc.
– Hygiene Items: Shampoo, Conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, feminine care products, children’s bath products, etc.
– Household Items: Toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, sponges, diapers, etc.

Kindness Toward Seniors

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The other day, after I shared a story about my mom on Facebook there was a short discussion of seniors. Brigid Mclinden Duffy shared some of her experiences and thoughts on kindness toward and appreciation of older adults. I thought it was so touching that I wanted to share her words. I hope kindness toward seniors - Our gifts of touch, smiles, time and even just a simple comment can help someone get through a very lonely day or difficult daythey inspire you too to think about how your actions can brighten someone else’s day.

In her own words…

“I told a very elderly man in church today that he has a wonderful smile! You would have thought I gave him $1000 dollars. He was tickled and his shoulders pulled up out of their slouch, he stood a little more erect and it almost looked like he was a little younger all of a sudden!! But besides caring, kind words, we must not forget the gift of touch! Some go years after the death of a spouse or friend, never feeling a hug, a gentle kiss on the check or a nice back rub! Yet who of us would want to end up never experiencing the kindness of a hand on ours, the gentle tickle of a kiss on the cheek or the back of our neck, the warmth and soothing feel of someone’s head on your shoulder?

Another perspective . . .

When I am walking into a store or church and an elderly person is moving slowly they often say oh go ahead around me. Well I don’t. I tell them they are giving me the gift of time, calmness and relaxing. And I thank them. I feel this takes away the sense of feeling a bother and gives them a sense of being able to do or give back to another. We each gave gifts to share. The bright side is realizing and accepting the gift of another!

Our gifts of touch, smiles, time and even just a simple comment can help someone get through a very lonely day or difficult day!”
– Brigid McLinden Duffy

 

 

Saint Ursula Students Take On Waste Reduction

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I love hearing about young people growing by practicing and learning about how they can contribute to strengthening their community. At Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, one way students are doing that is through their Earth Club. The group has implemented a “reduce/are-use/recycle program that has made a HUGE impact at the school and has dramatically decreased the amount of trash generated. Skye Toomey, a senior this Skye Toomey, a senior at Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, shares why she is in her school's Earth Club and how her group is helping to reduce waste.year, wrote about her experience in the Earth Club and why it is important to her.

In her own words…

“Here at Saint Ursula Academy, we take our mission to build a better world seriously. Amongst the many ways that we achieve this is through our Earth Club and “Green Team”. The Green Team consists of members from the Earth Club as well as students taking the AP Environmental Sciences elective. The Earth Club’s mission is to promote environmentalism and natural resources through understanding our environment and our impact upon it as human beings.

One of the ways that the Earth Club has implemented its mission is through the Composting, Recycling, and Upcycling system. Over the course of the First Semester of  the 2017- 2018 school year (August 10-December 19) we have sorted our lunch trash into landfill, compost, upcycling, and recycling categories. We as a school have also implemented reusable dishes to further cut down on waste. Here are some of the statistics that show how successful this program has been at reducing our waste:

  • 85 composting days (24 lbs/day average) = 2,040 pounds
  • 85 upcycling days = 50 pounds of packaging upcycled (soft plastics, foil-lined granola bar wrappers and chip bags)
  • (Recycling program already in place before grant; the new waste reduction initiative ensures that recycling is now properly sorted)
  • Disposable plates saved: 150/day x 85 days = 12,750 plates
  • Disposable cups saved: 100/cups x 85 days = 8,500 cups
  • Disposable silverware saved: 150 pieces/days x 85 days = 12,750 silverware

Total pounds of waste diverted (from last year as well)

  • 3,216 pounds of compost diverted
  • 74 pounds of upcycling diverted

I have been a member of the Earth Club for my entire 4 years at St. Ursula. For the last two of those years, I have been in a leadership position. To see such a huge success in this endeavor is really exciting to me. Every day at lunch, two to three girls from the Earth Club or one of the AP Environmental Science classes monitor the recycling program at lunch and also answer questions about what can be composted versus thrown out, or recycled versus upcycled. This helps to educate our fellow classmates as well as ensuring that each item ends up in the right spot. We all sign up for lunch days voluntarily, and everyone really enjoys it.

Why is this important to me? Well, I was raised by my mother who is an active environmentalist and has taught me to respect the environment from the very beginning of my life. She instilled in me a sense of awe at the wonder of nature and a sense of ownership for the stewardship of our planet. I hope to be able to make a difference or to educate others through this recycling program, or any of the other wonderful things we do here at Saint Ursula to make the world a little bit better, because every little bit helps.”

~ Skye Toomey

Being A Teenage Mom Taught Resiliency

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I have been involved with Toast of the Town Toastmasters Club in Kenwood for close to a year now. In addition to the incredible opportunity it has given me to practice and hone my speaking skills, it has opened a door through which I have built relationships with many uplifting and inspirational people.

Rakel Sanchez, health management director at Horan, is among them. Most definitely she is one of the reasons I look forward to my Tuesdays at Noon. She greets everyone with a smile. Whether or not she has known you for a year or an hour, she asks questions to learn more about you. She encourages you to participate. When she serves as an evaluator – a role I think is one of the most difficult of roles – she gives positive, constructive feedback in a way that makes people feel good about themselves and their abilities. As a fellow Board member, I have seen how she steps up to the plate with creative ideas and initiative to take on tasks for the betterment of our Club.

Rakel Sanchez, health management director at Horan Associates, talks about lessons learned from being a teenage mother.One day, Rakel shared with us a very personal story about her journey and life lessons from having been a teenage mother.  It touched all of us. It gave us yet one more reason to be proud to have her as one of our leaders. Since I didn’t record it, I asked Rakel if she would write some of that story for my blog. Please read it below.

In her own words…

“A life challenge that I overcame was not allowing an event, that shaped my life forever, to derail me from achieving my dreams.

When I was 16 years old, I became a teenage mother. As one can imagine, this had a profound effect on my life and my future. However; I was determined to not allow my new identity of being a teenage mother define my legacy and close doors on my future. Instead, I allowed for it to become the catalyst in which I would strive to achieve my goals, not only for myself but for my young son.

As challenging as it was to redefine who I was as a young adult, I knew that without an education my life dreams would not be achieved. Ultimately, what I sought was to become an independent woman who could support myself and my child and provide the life I knew he deserved.

I graduated high school with honors and continued my studies at a local community college. Upon receiving my associate’s degree I continued forward to a four year college and graduated two years later with a bachelor’s degree in health education with honors. From there, I went on to pursue an advanced degree and graduated a few years later with my master’s degree in public health.  It has been more than 16 years since then. My life was forever changed by the birth of my son but, because of my strength, determination, grit, family support, and faith in God I would not be where I am today.

I have learned through my life challenge, no matter what unexpected event life throws your way, you have to discover your self-resiliency and never give up on yourself. We all face trials and tribulations but the key to overcoming any obstacle is to have faith, do the work, make the sacrifices, and surround yourself with people who are going to uplift you–especially when you feel defeated. Know that it will not be an easy path but once you climb the mountain and get to the top, the view is AMAZING and it’s in that moment you realize the gift was in the climb.”

 

My Furry Valentine Volunteer Has Heart For Pets

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For hundreds of Greater Cincinnati families and individuals each year, Valentine’s Day has become a holiday to treasure…as it represents the day their lives joined with a life of a furry (and even feathered) looking for a forever home. It happens because of what has grown to be the largest mega adoption event in the region, My Furry Valentine, that attracts over 1400 visitors and has more than 700 animals (dogs, cats, birds and some other species) from dozens of rescues. If you are looking to add a non-human friend to your household, you just may find your new companion Valentine’s Day weekend!

(More information on My Furry Valentine is below.)

Melanie Corwin, executive director of UCAN - Cincinnati nonprofit spay/neuter clinic, shares why she is passionate about her job and volunteering with My Furry ValentineEach year I like to profile a volunteer who helps make the event possible. This year I spoke with Melanie Corwin, My Furry Valentine’s rescue shelter coordinator.

Hers is a very important role that includes writing the application and vaccine requirements, communicating with the rescues, helping them set up on Friday, and coordinating the team of veterinarians and vet techs who check in every animal before opening the doors to the public.

The role is a perfect fit for Melanie, who, as executive director of UCAN (nonprofit spay and neuter clinic), already has a relationship with many area shelter and rescues. AND the heart for this cause. She herself shares a home with her son and five rescues – two dogs (Peanut and Blackie) and three cats (Katniss, Grayson and Calypso).

Melanie came into this line of work because it is her passion. Prior to joining the staff team at UCAN, she was a private practice attorney for 25 years working with nonprofit organizations. She and her son began volunteering at a no-kill shelter as a way of her teaching him the importance of giving back. It was a fateful activity that would change the course of her career – and he life.

“It got to be so depressing,” she told me. “We’d see the animals all get adopted and then the next week, all of the cages would be full again.”

She saw spay/neuter as a solution and began supporting UCAN financially. Then she joined the Board, having served as director, then vice-chair, and then chair of the Board before ultimately joining UCAN’s staff as executive director in 2012.

“People love their pets. Some say you should not adopt one if you can not afford the care but I don’t believe it. There should be community resources to allow them to have that animal,” she said. “There are so many benefits. Everyone deserves the love of a pet.

“Almost every day someone comes in and I have never had to say no. I enjoy getting grants to enable us to do free spay/neuter to help people who can not afford it,” she said.

UCAN was founded in 2001, to stop the endless cycle of unwanted births and euthanasia. The two main reasons people do not sterilize their pets are cost and lack of access to spay/neuter services. UCAN solves both of these issues. It provides low-cost spay/neuter services and free transports to its Colerain Ave clinic from several locations in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. The nonprofit clinic performs over 13,000 surgeries each year and this past year began offering low cost vaccinations also.

Melanie and the rest of the My Furry Valentine team will be very busy February 10 and 11, doing their part to help hundreds of animals find their forever homes.

Looking for a dog or cat (or other small animal)? Plan on being there!

My Furry Valentine Facts:

Where:  Sharonville Convention Center (11355 Chester Road; 45246)
When (and cost):
Early Bird Entry Saturday, February 10th       10am – 12pm: $25

Saturday, February 10th                                       12pm – 5pm: $5 ages 5 & up

Sunday, February 11th                                           10am – 5pm: $5 ages 5 & up

For a list of participating rescues and to see pictures of many of the adoptable animals, please visit www.myfurryvalentine.org.

 

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