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
Kathy Smith was executive director of Cincinnati nonprofit Kenzie's Closet, and shares how it helps prom dreams come true for local teens

Kenzie's Closet Is A Dream Maker

It is a dream of most girls, to step out in a gorgeous evening gown, a flower corsage on her wrist and a young man on her side as she enters the darkened space. Her peers crowd the floor, watching her enter in awe. Her smile illuminates the room. But, ... Read More
TT Stern-Enzi

Films Are His Textbook For Teaching

You may have seen TT Stern-Enzi’s film reviews on FOX 19 or in CityBeat. He also writes for the Dayton CityPaper. Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting him over coffee. He has such a kind soul about him and when he talks about his passions – films, ... Read More
RJ Mitte and Nic Novicki were among the celebrities who attended the 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival

Cincinnati ReelAbilities About Appreciation

It has been about three weeks now since I left the Duke Energy Center, exhausted (and sick) from an incredible experience of being part of one of the hardest working teams you will ever meet, all working toward a goal of building something so powerful and important as to positively affect ... Read More

A Volunteer Helping Make Things Happen

One of the many benefits of working on the ReelAbilities Film Festival for me are the incredible people it has given me the opportunity to get to know. I will be sharing some of their stories in my blog. Caren Theuring is most definitely among them. Caren was a tireless ... Read More
Heather Seukamp is a teacher at St. Clement Elementary School in Cincinnati

Life Lessons Taught In Class

Kind, patient teachers who instinctively know how to bring out the best in children are such treasures. They are role models to young minds and their power has the capability of impacting entire journeys through life. Heather Seurkamp is among them. Her aunt, Terri Hogan, introduced us. Heather is a ... Read More
Susan Brownknight, executive director of Cincinnati nonprofit, LADD, talks about the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival

Cincinnati ReelAbilities Celebrates Difference

These past few weeks (and months) my blog has slowed as I’ve needed to focus much of my energy on promoting the 2017 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD, Inc. (and a project for the Countryside YMCA and mixing in pet training). The Festival is now a week away, ... Read More
Amy Delgado is a Cincinnati mother to a daughter who has Spina Bifida, and writes a blog called Ability Hacker. She shares what she learned from parenting.

A Mother's Lessons

My work on the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD, Inc. has connected me with some pretty incredible people in our region. Amy Delgado is one of them. ReelAbilities is about bringing people together to learn from and about each other and to celebrate our differences that together make ... Read More
Rosemary Oglesby-Henry, founder of Rosemary’s Babies, presented an award of appreciation to Dr. James Williams, president of Mt. St. Joseph University, for the school’s support.

Rosemary's Legacy

In all of my years of work for social service agencies, I have seen so many individuals and families affected by generational circumstances. There have been those who were born into environments surrounded by poverty, abuse or other hardships; and who have followed in the path of the generations before ... Read More
The greatest lesson in this world is how to give and receive love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

  I don't know who gets more out of my visits to the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, me or the kids. Usually I read to the 3 to 6 year olds, but last week we did something different. They each made a personal, hand made Valentine's Day car that ... Read More
Melissa Milinovich is 2005 Ms. Wheelchair Ohio and volunteers for the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. In this interview, she shares some of her story.

Melissa Wants You To See Abilities

I have gotten to know Melissa these past few months through my work with the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. She is a volunteer whose leadership and passion is greatly furthering the cause of our Festival whose goals are for people to change the way they perceive difference, to break down ... Read More
Jennifer Grimmett is volunteer coordinator for My Furry Valentine, a Cincinnati pet adoption event

My Furry Valentine Led By Passionate Animal Lovers

To organize a MEGA animal adoption event that finds homes for some 800+ animals, it takes a MEGA crew of hard working volunteers to make it happen. That event is the My Furry Valentine, our region’s largest adoption event that finds homes for pets from about 35 different rescue groups. ... Read More

Monnasia Is A Teen Without A Home, But She Has A Spark Thanks To The YMCA

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Working with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati I am so fortunate to be around people who are completely dedicated to enhancing the lives of others. I’ve seen so many children who in their brief years already have to learn out of necessity how to find their inner strength from overcoming personal hardships. They do that because of the nurturing guidance of YMCA staff and volunteers.

Rebecca Kelley, executive director of the Community Services YMCA, had shared this story with me. It’s a story she shared at the 21st Century Community Learning Center Conference in Washington D.C. earlier this year. Rebecca was speaking about the influence of supportive partners like JCPenney on her branch’s ability to help young kids succeed but the story itself is what inspired me.

Monnasia’s story

could be any of a number of Cincinnati area children who benefit from YMCA led afterschool programs.

“Her smile captures your eyes first, then her dark brown eyes hold your attention,” Rebecca explained. “Monnasia attends the YMCA’s CincyAfterSchool program at her school, where she experiences nine research-based program components. With help from JCPenney tutor volunteers, she’s improving in math and reading scores.  She enjoys expanding her knowledge and skills in global learning via the foreign language club, Skyping with students from Ireland, and salsa dancing that brings other cultures to life.  She serves on her program’s Youth Advisory Council to develop her leadership skills and engage in service-learning.  Right now, Monnasia is enjoying Cincinnati Public Schools’ Fifth Quarter, an extension of the school year for four weeks of instruction and enrichment delivered by school staff and community partners.”

Then Rebecca explained how the little girl so excited about learning told her YMCA CincyAfterSchool coordinator that drawing her self-portrait made her sad and proud at the same time. Monnasia was at the global family portrait project at the Cincinnati Museum Center; and, while she liked opening her mind to other cultures, it reminded her of incredible pain. The kind of pain no child should have to endure.

“You see, Monnasia’s family portrait looks different. She’s homeless.” Rebecca went on.

“Although Monasia receives support from caring adults and staff, as well as JCPenney’s generous gift cards for school supplies and clothing in the past, Monnasia has to think about which house she’ll be sleeping at this week.  When her school principal and YMCA site coordinator announced she would be honored as one of 28 CincyAfterSchool All-Stars, she had to figure out more logistics than most 12-year-olds on how she would get to the event and make it safely to her lodging that night.

“In nominating her for our All-Star Award, the principal noted how Monnasia has discovered her spark through the YMCA ArtWheels program.  She’s exploring college and career options already, and learning which classes she needs to take to fulfill those dreams in her eyes.  She demonstrates care for others by reading to Kindergarteners and listening to 1st graders read.  We know she’s going to succeed!,” Rebecca concluded.

Miami University’s Kappa Alpha Psi Trek 40 Miles On Freedom Walk

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Members of Miami University’s Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity walked 40 miles several weekends ago. A significant distance for anyone to trek in just two days, the fraternity’s Freedom Walk traced only a small portion of the brave and treacherous journey of their ancestors who escaped the deplorable conditions that were known as slavery.

Along the way, the eight students and some alumni passed known Underground Railroad safe houses and significant historic landmarks such as the grave sites of Underground Railroad conductors.

“The Freedom Walk was an awesome experience for everyone involved,” said Fraternity President Donovan Potter. “Reflecting on how we completed the 40 miles and experiencing the hunger and soreness that we felt, put it into perspective about how slaves had to endure all of that without the benefits that we dad. We were able to stop and get something to eat, readjust our shoes, and not have to worry about someone trying to capture us. It is very heart-warming to know that our ancestors endured the treacherous weather and wilderness just so we can have the life that we live today. This venture over the weekend is going to be an experience that will last us a lifetime.”

Kappa Alpha Psi also used the event to help raise money for the Cincinnati National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Donations are still being accepted. To give online, visit http://www.freedomcenter.org or send a check to The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) at 50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202. The Fraternity asks that you please note on the check that your donation is on behalf of the Freedom Walk.

(pictured) Top Row : Stephen Buchanan, Greg Jordan
Middle Row: Alex Tyree, Donovan Potter, Andre Rudolph
Bottom Row (left to right): Callen Reese, Glenn Miller

Not Pictured: Tyrone Jones

Robin and Brock Teach Kids About Character Values

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It started out as any other day for the group of Bloomfield Elementary School students. That is, until the door opened and 130 pounds plus of pure love stood before them, his tail wagging like a windshield wiper caught in torrential rain.

Brock, the greater than life teddy bear whose mission in life seems to be spreading joy and friendship, is a jet black Newfoundland who has become quite a celebrity among school age children throughout Butler County area schools.

He and his sidekick Robin Atyeo have been visiting students for about six years now. Actually, I’m not quite sure who is whose sidekick. I guess it would be more appropriate to call them partners.

Together through reading and activities they encourage children to think responsibly and make good decisions. It was actually Robin’s idea – Brock just happily tags along. You could all his a job with ‘perks’.

They’re actually a small nonprofit called R.S.B. Character Education (created to help Robin raise enough funds to keep the program going) aimed at teaching kids lessons in character values. How do they do that? Well, Brock’s Adventures is a series of books drawn by Robin’s now 17 year old son featuring everybody’s favorite larger-than-life teddy bear and local recognizable venues specific to local neighborhoods. In the classroom, Brock sits quietly while Robin first reads a book to the kids sitting round and then has a discussion about choices. Petting and hugging times comes after they’ve listened and participated.

The second part of the lesson comes after Robin and Brock leave. Kids can earn the status of ‘Brock’s buddy’ by completing character building activities throughout the month.

Robin recently received a grant to produce videos for teachers, giving classes more flexibility in teaching the lessons. Through the video program students will earn a visit from Brock through their completion of character building exercises.

So what drives this mother of four – that’d be two human kids and two that have four legs (did I mention the Altyeo’s just got puppy Brody, another Newfoundland, to be a teacher’s aide also?) – to give so much of her time and energy to her program?

“I had worked for the Butler County Juvenile Court and saw so many young people making bad decisions that were life changing. To teach kids that they have it in them to make good choices is really rewarding,” Robin said. “I hope Brock’s Adventures helps them to pause and think about the consequences of their decisions.”

I’d say by the number of Brock’s Buddies – she definitely has.

For more information on Brock’s Adventures, please visit their website.

(right – Brock & his illustrator, Scott Atyeo)

People Who Inspire Me: Ian Martin

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Earlier this year, Ian Martin, a senior at Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts, was one of 40 area teens recognized by the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati as a Character Award recipient. The Award recognized young people who exemplify the core values of the YMCA – caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Growing up in a single parent household for the majority of his life, Ian has grown to appreciate some of the smaller things in his life. As the oldest of four children, he made up his mind at an early age that he would be somebody great. Ian strives to constantly be a positive role model to his siblings and others around him. He has volunteered at the U.S. Bank Boys and Girls Club in Avondale since he was 13 years old, tutoring and providing homework assistance to children. Ian also served as president of the One Voice Poetry Club and Keystone Club. In 2009, he was selected as the Cincinnati Youth of the Year. Through networking he has established volunteer connections with Ceasefire Cincinnati at the Urban League and is currently part of the YMCA Cincinnati Youth Council as Vice Mayor.

I spoke with Ian about some of his life choices.

What motivates you to give back and be all that you can be?

“My mom is a single parent and I have three siblings. She is a strong woman and encouraged us to do better than she did, to go 10 or 12 steps above her. She taught me to aim for the sky. My mom also taught us to value the smaller things and always be grateful. I remember people who were extremely helpful to me and my family so I feel an obligation to give back. It is rewarding to know I can help someone like I’ve been helped. It’s a cycle.”

In my younger years I also had teachers who told me that material things didn’t matter. It is what is in your heart that matters.

What do have character values mean to you?

“I believe character values are the person you are, taking the initiative in your community, school and home to make them better. Character values are your motivation to succeed in all categories. They include having responsibility to take up actions that others may not be willing to do.”

Tell me a little more about your volunteer work and your passion.

“I had to grow up real fast and was always real quiet. I actually went to the Boys and Girls Club first before I became a volunteer. A woman there asked me if I’d consider poetry. I was the only guy in their poetry club but I found a passion for it. Now I write plays and monologues too.

As a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati I help kids with their homework or we play games in the gym. It is helpful for them to have a youth there who can relate to them. I think I’m making a small but powerful impact and that’s more than good enough for me.”

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