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
Jenny and Bill McCloy of Cincinnati are philanthropists who give of their time to Melodic Connections, Ken Anderson Alliance, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, among other causes. They hope their example inspires others to give back too.

They Hope To Inspire Others To Give

Today I want to introduce you to a couple I got to know through my work on the ReelAbilities Film Festival. Jenny McCloy co-chaired the 2017 ReelAbilities, and the more I get to know about her and her husband, Bill, the more impressed I become. Jenny and Bill were recently ... Read More

Cincinnati World Affairs Council

When I first heard about the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, it brought me back to my earliest experience of learning about people whose cultures are different from my own. (You can read about it here.) What an important cause, now more than ever. As an adult, if you are ... Read More
How cultural diversity and international exchange programs make us better people and a better world.

Cultural Diversity Helps Us Grow

In life, we learn so much from our experiences. They shape and teach us, how to see our world and those who share it with us. When we get to know one other, we break down stereotypes, open communication, bridge understanding and come to appreciate the unique gift each person ... Read More
United Pet Fund, which supports Cincinnati dog rescue organizations and shelters that do dog adoptions, is holding a fundraiser.

United Pet Fund Garage Sale

I remember so well that day when United Pet Fund held its grand opening of its then new 8,500 sq ft Blue Ash Resource Center. In a warehouse building that would come to be stocked with pet food and supplies, dozens of people who shared a common interest in the ... Read More
Tish Hevel founded the Brain Donor Project in memory of her father, Gene Armentrout. The Cincinnati nonprofit organization has registered almost 500 brains for donation from 46 states.

Brain Donor Project Is A Father's Legacy

Gene Armentrout and his daughter, Tish Hevel Gene Armentrout was surrounded by family when his heart beat its last pulse March 10, 2015. He was an avid tennis player, an amateur bridge partner, sometimes golfer and passionate runner for 25+ years. He was the guy running in Eden Park or ... Read More

DJ Brings Out The Happy In People

It is funny that Dona Jean Gatwood, director of community inclusion programs at Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD, Inc.) told me one of the perks of her job is that it gives her the opportunity to laugh a lot, as, it is because of people like her that ... Read More
How a vacation to Destin, Florida rejuvenated Lisa Desatnik.

The Greatest Rejuvenator Of All Time

When was the last time you were under great pressure to complete deadlines and assignments? How often do you have nights where you lay in bed awake thinking about what is on your plate? When was the last time you took a vacation and really checked out from emails and ... Read More
Mary Ronan, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, and John and Eileen Barrett and Chris Bochenek, were recently honored by the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati at its annual awards presentation for their commitments to giving back.

Honorees For Giving Back

Mary Ronan, superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, and John and Eileen Barrett and Chris Bochenek, were recently honored by the Assistance League of Greater Cincinnati at its annual awards presentation for their commitments to giving back. Mary Ronan Mary was recognized with a National Operation School Bell Award. Operation School ... Read More
Operation Give Back is a Sycamore Township nonprofit organization that supports students living in poverty

Operation Give Back

Children living in poverty, or in need of tutoring or mentoring, are not relegated to certain neighborhoods. They are all around us. They could be our neighbors or someone living down the street. They could be a classmate to your child. Let’s face it, on any given day, any one ... Read More
Varen Noell Rogers was chosen as the cover girl for Cincinnati Family Magazine

Meet A Cincinnati Cover Girl!

Super cool for 5 year old Varen Noell Rogers! Months back I remember her mother, Stacy Sill, telling us her daughter was in the running for the cover model of Cincinnati Family Magazine…and now Varen’s beautiful face is gracing thousands of issues around the region. I asked Stacy to share ... Read More
Northern Kentucky University student Jayren Andrews is a leader and role model.

NKU Student Is A Change Agent

A freshman at Northern Kentucky University, Jayren Andrews has already long established himself as a change agent. Wise beyond his years, he is a young man driven to be a voice, a leader, and a role model for his peers, his neighborhood, his network, and even his world. While attending ... Read More
Lori and Bill Beer have established an endowment fund for the University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business.

The Beers Give $500,000 To Support UC Students

It’s great to see people in our community, leaders and innovators in their fields, to step up and pave the way for future generations to carry on that legacy. Lori and Bill Beer Lori and Bill Beer are doing just that with the establishment of a $500,000 Beer Family Endowed ... Read More
Led by Suzanne Deyoung of La Soupe and Julie Riney Richardson, Indian Hill High school students prepared over 5,000 quarts of soup made from rescued food.

A Soup Project For Indian Hill Students

Can a village feed a city? Absolutely! And the entire student body at Indian Hill High School has been working with Suzy DeYoung and La Soupe, Julie Richardson, and Sugarcreek (a co-packer) to prove it can happen. Led by Suzanne Deyoung of La Soupe and Julie Riney Richardson, Indian Hill ... Read More
Dan Marshall is a Cincinnati musician, speaker, and business consultant.

Dan Marshall Never Has Bad Days

Dan Marshall will tell you, he does not have bad days. He only has character building days. Seven years ago he stood before a packed auditorium for an Ignite Cincinnati Event, and reminded the young professionals that even when things are going bad, “you are going to learn something from ... Read More

An Act Of Kindness For The Birds

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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…

Jenny Durbin shared how she was the recipient of a random act of kindness when someone she barely knew took in Jenny's chickens.After researching the care and feeding of chickens, I double checked my city’s ordinance and found it was legal to keep a small flock of the birds, so long as they were well housed and cared for. So, I ordered 6-day-old chicks which arrived in the mail. Two years later, however, now completely attached to and enamored of my darling hens, the city council changed the ordinance making chicken keeping illegal.

Heartbroken and more than a little miffed, a friend, with whom I’d only recently become acquainted, offered to take in my illegal chickens and to house them and their considerable coop in her yard.

It was such a huge thing, a selfless thing, kindly, heartfelt, charitable. Never has my need been so great and the answer so unlikely, but there it was, “Yes”, a willingness to help. It left me not only deeply, endlessly grateful, but ever more open and willing to also step up, to help when I might otherwise not. ♡

 

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Lessons From A Mission Trip To South Africa

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In her own words…
Lisa Jones, My Furry ValentineLisa Jones, My Furry Valentine event manager, shares lessons from her mission trip to South Africa 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 came?” I hadn’t really thought about it. I heard “life-changing”, “you won‘t ever be the same again”. Perhaps I managed my expectations well by not forming many before I left.

At the Johannesburg Airport we are greeted by probably 20 women from Mamelodi. When I say greet, I mean they have whistles, horns, duck quackers and they grab me as soon as I’m out the sliding doors from baggage claim. They hug me and pass me on for more hugs. They are singing and dancing (making LOTS of noise) and throwing the biggest party ever and I’m crying like an idiot – exhaustion, right? Only the first of many times I saw immense joy radiating from South Africans.

Our first of two days of medical clinics starts out well enough. I volunteer for intake which entails asking the patients their name, living situation, HIV status, etc.. This seems easy and unemotional, or so I think. My first interpreter Mel is amazing. He is 18, smart, funny, mature and so sweet. I want to pack him in my suitcase and bring him home with me. But then he takes a break and I get Girly. Girly wants me to pray out loud for the patients. I don’t want to generalize so I’ll say that most (but probably all) South Africans like to (and are good at) praying out loud. I hate to pray out loud. After praying for about 15 people we intake an 84-year-old woman. She has no fingers on either hand, walks with a cane and wears a black knit GAP cap to cover all the scabs on her head. She is so sweet and full of smiles and she is the same age as my mother. After we pray with her I need to take a break to have a long cry, overwhelmed again. I play with some kids, do cartwheels with them and eventually go back to work with Girly.

That night I write in my journal “Thank you God for this unbelievable difficult day. Thank you for Mel, thank you for Girly. Thank you for filling me with enough of your holy spirit to reach out to these people. Thank you for my little old lady. She pulled me closer to you God, continue to open my ears, my heart and fill my mouth with the words You want me to say and I promise to continue to know more of you.”

Our second medical clinic was set up in Phomollongh which is essentially a squatter’s camp. Dwellings are made of whatever can be found. Metal rooftops are held down by rocks, overturned wheelbarrows, car seats, bikes, whatever. Conditions are far worse today, many more translators needed. The look on most faces is blank and empty. Far fewer smiles today, and shoes. And I am numb. I took blood pressures and tested blood sugar levels at triage. At the end of this day we meet the 5-year old girl that will haunt everyone on this trip. She lives alone with her younger sister, abandoned by their mother. A neighbor (who has brought them to the clinic) tries to look out for them but they mostly eat whatever they can find among the piles of garbage that seem to be everywhere. Her clothes are in shreds. Since it takes about 3 hours for a patient to be seen at our clinics, waiting in line, then intake, then triage, then nurses and doctors, everyone has seen this little girl.

You cannot not see this little girl. Her eyes are yellow and red and swollen and glassy. And they are vacant and dead. Something is seriously wrong with her. One of our doctors tells us later that night through tears that she has a Chlamydial eye infection which means she is being raped.

  • And then there was the 11-year old pregnant girl.
  • And then there was the woman who came to us directly from the hospital, with the EKG pads still attached to her!
  • And then there was the epileptic woman who was carried in a chair to the clinic for treatment.
  • And then there was the little boy with cerebral palsy cradled in his father’s arms, mother also by his side. Eyes rolling back into his head, no body control, being continually kissed on the forehead by his parents.
  • And then there were all the children holding out their hands for our pizza at lunch or offering up empty soda bottles for us to refill with ours – and having to look the other way because we couldn’t start a feeding frenzy.
  • And then there was the sweet little girl happily dancing in my arms to Bob Marley’s “One World” who 15 minutes later would fall fast asleep on my shoulder.

South Africa is a bit of a contradiction. I met people there who don’t just have faith in God they have complete dependence on Him. And I saw things there that might make some people question whether there is a God. In revisiting “expectations” about South Africa I would have to say there are a few things to safely expect on a visit to SA.

You will want to return there before you have even left the country.
You will see unending joy and abundance where you would expect hopelessness and despair.
You will want to pack up someone you meet and take them home with you.
Your transportation will break down, it is just a matter of time.

 

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Cincinnati Boychoir Inspires Values

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“No matter where you come from and where you start, singing brings you together in life,” KellyAnn Nelson told me.

KellyAnn Nelson shares how her work with the Cincinnati Boychoir inspires herThose 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 now of about 1000 singers ages 21 to 45), she is also managing artistic director for the Cincinnati Boychoir and has served as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator and presenter at various National, All-State and Regional honors choir events, conferences and choral/vocal jazz workshops in Michigan, West Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, Connecticut, Minnesota, Kentucky and Indiana.

The Cincinnati Boychoir’s annual Sing Me A Story: A Christmas Carol holiday extravaganza is tonight at the Aronoff Center and the more than 200 members will be singing holiday favorites plus new songs destined to be classics.

If you are unfamiliar with the Boychoir, it is a 53 year old organization that has grown to become one of the premiere professional boychoirs in the United States. Hundreds of students from more than 990 different schools come to the Aronoff Center for the Arts each week to prepare beautiful music, make friends, learn, and strengthen character values.

I asked KellyAnn to share how her work with the Cincinnati Boychoir has touched and inspired her.

In Her Own Words…

I have the privilege of watching these boys grow from squirrelly new singers into talented “big brothers”.  I’m also able to craft experiences for them that allow them to work with incredible talent, travel to see incredible places and perform on incredible stages.

Most importantly, they get to see the power of music in action.  They get to shake the hand of a nursing home resident whose eyes fill with tears as they listen to “Deck the Halls” and remember Christmases past.  They get to sing “Carol of the Bells” for a few thousand people in the heart of downtown and watch the Cincinnati Boychoirlittlest kids stop running around for a moment to pretend like they are ringing their own bells.  And they get to take music that they’ve been perfecting for months out into the community at large and share it.  Our youngest humans learn to give and create happiness by sharing what they can – not money and gifts, but intangibles like songs and smiles.

At the Cincinnati Boychoir, we run every program decision through three lenses.

  1. Does the opportunity allow the boys to engage in their community?
  2. Does the opportunity allow the boys to grow as humans?
  3. Does the opportunity allow the boys to travel – either figuratively or literally?

This summer our Ambassadors are headed to South Africa, and this February our DeltaChor and JourneyMen hop on a bus for Philadelphia.  But all of our boys travel – be it to a school gymnasium where they can show other boys that it’s “cool” to sing, show emotion and have fun, or to the stage of Music Hall with the Cincinnati Opera – because music lets you go places in time, in your city, or in the world like nothing else can.

My boys sing well.  But I’m most proud when they sing Happy Birthday to an overtired friend in the choir, or smile at their neighbor as that chord they’ve worked on for so long finally locks.  Our boys help each other, make friends who don’t live in their own neighborhood, and become great citizens who look out for each other while looking outward toward other people they meet at concerts, on trips or in rehearsals.  I’m so proud of them.  But I get a little emotional at this time of year when they are singing – a lot.  It’s powerful to seem them realizing the power of sharing music with others.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s Sing Me A Story: A Christmas Carol. If you miss this show, there are many other opportunities to see and hear the Cincinnati Boychoir.

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Lucy May: Inspired By Her Teacher

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Lucy May of WCPO tells the poignant stories of poverty, courage, determination, love, passion, diversity, and kindness. Every day people who collectively make Lucy May, a Cincinnati reporter at WCPO, talks about how her teacher was her inspiration for her path toward journalism.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 one very special teacher, without whom, Lucy said, she may never have discovered her love for storytelling.

In Lucy’s Words

“When I was a junior in high school, my French teacher, Jacque VanHouten, started a conversation with me about college. I knew I wanted to go to college, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I told her that I liked to write, and she told me I should study journalism. Then she told me two or three places where I should apply to journalism school. Then she even took an Amtrak train with me to go visit the school that she thought would be best for me.

My parents were divorced, and my dad lived out of town. It never would have occurred to me to ask my mom to take time off work and leave my younger sister to go visit a college campus with me. But Mrs. VanHouten thought it was important so we went. And it was amazing. I fell in love with the campus, and we found out during the visit that I had been accepted. (Because Mrs. VanHouten marched me to the admissions office and demanded to know the status of my application after I told her how much I loved the school.)

I ended up going to that college. It’s where I learned the craft of journalism, and it’s where I met my husband. So much of what is important to me in my life might never have happened if it weren’t for Mrs. VanHouten and the fact that she cared enough to have that conversation with me. I remain forever grateful to her, and she will always hold a special place in my heart.”

 

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The Gift Of Kindness Received

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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 her words:

“I was in the hospital quite a bit last year due to medical problems. I have Spina Bifida. During my stay at the hospital, two friends came to visit me. One of them brought my fiancé, Chuck, BBQ for dinner. She brought so much that Chuck had BBQ for several nights in a row, when he left the hospital for the night.

After I left the hospital, I had follow up appointment with the two doctors that conducted the two surgeries. My friend picked me up at my home and took me to the doctors appointments.

My friends were the sunshine in my darkest hour. My friends are considerate, caring, and generous. In my opinion, this is the definition of kindness.”

Beth Cremshaw with the Spina Bifida Coalition of Cincinnati shares her definition of kindness.

 

 

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