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
Actor John Lawson shares his story: disability does not define him.

Disability Does Not Define John

Through my work promoting the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, I have gotten to know some pretty amazing people who have impacted me in very meaningful ways. Actor John Lawson is among them. I met and got to know John when I was promoting the 2015 Festival. He was a volunteer ... Read More
Quote about life by Nora Roberts

In Life, Just Go For It!

A reminder...let's focus on going for what we want in life.   Read More
Kate Lopez is a volunteer with the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. She talks about what having a disability has taught her.

What Disability Taught Kate

I am so fortunate that my work allows me the opportunity to get to know some incredible people who are so passionate about their cause. Kate Lopez is definitely among them. She and I met when I coordinated the marketing/public relations for the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by ... Read More
Grace DeGregorio, editor of Cincinnati's Hyde Park Living, shares her story

Grace Shares Life Lessons

Today I have such great pleasure in sharing the story of a very dear person and friend. Grace DeGregorio has been editing Hyde Park Living for 20 years. And, for about 15 or 16 of those years I have been writing a pet behavior column for her. I love that ... Read More
King Records Cincinnati landmark

Saving King Records

I can’t think of a more relevant day to be thinking about a Cincinnati landmark and treasure where some of the greatest music originated, and where civil rights and inclusion was modeled at its best. I hate to admit, when I was first hired to work on the Hidden Treasures ... Read More
quote by Martin Luther King Jr

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Today we celebrate a man of courage, wisdom and vision. In his lifetime, Martin Luther King Jr. devoted himself to bringing people together in harmony. He was about giving people wings to soar above inequality and find their inner strength and passion. He was about giving people eyes to see ... Read More
Amanda Broughton and Michele Hobbs founded Cincinnati pet food company, Pet Wants. They and their customers donated 4000 pounds of pet food to the Stray Animal Adoption Program.

Pet Wants Donates 4000 Pounds Of Food

“Giving is not just about donating. It is about making a difference.”  -  Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of United Nations Foundation That is so true. My friends at Pet Wants, all natural pet food company, truly believe in giving back. I have seen them at adoption events giving food ... Read More
Choose to be happy.

Choose To Be Happy

No special reason. Today, let's make a conscious decision to choose to be happy. Read More
Isabella Noe, a Cincinnati students, talks about kindness

Isabella's Lesson In Kindness

My intern, Isabella Noe, a senior at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati is a very special person. It gives her such satisfaction to reach out and help others. Below is her story, in her own words, of how a simple acts of kindness touched her; and how she thinks ... Read More
Elizabeth Truitt is director of public relations for Broadway Cincinnati

Elizabeth's Work Is Her Passion

I can’t remember how Elizabeth Truitt and I first met, but I know this. She has an effervescent smile that lights up a room and having lunch with her can be a ton of fun. Her passion for her work and life is contagious. It is what I enjoy so ... Read More

A Mom’s View On Beauty

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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.  It is that distinctive sound that has earned him his nickname, That Voice Guy.

But behind that voice is a beautiful human being who sees and appreciates life, in its darkness and its light. Perry embraces the lessons his journey continues to teach. He stops to smell the flowers and doesn’t take any moments for granted.

His mom, his best friend, died in his arms in 2001 after a short battle with cancer, but not before imparting her wisdom upon her children. Her final days were spent surrounded by friends and family. She and Perry shared some pretty important conversations.

“Periodically during our evening talks ,Mom would comment on what a nice voice I had,” he shared.  “After about the 4th time of her telling me this, I asked her what she meant by saying this to me. She got that smile on her face, and explained that when she passed away, if she made it to heaven what a wonderful thing it would be to still hear her only son and perhaps if I were in radio or television, maybe some of the broadcasting waves would reach her, thus she could still hear me. At that point, I promised her I would see what I could and try my best.”

It was about 30 days after burying her that Perry found himself enrolled in the Ohio Center for Broadcasting and graduated nine months later at the top of his class earning the ‘Gary Burbank Award’ for his achievements. His first radio gig was as a news anchor for 700 WLW. I am pretty sure that is where our paths first crossed.

Perry recently shared this reflection from his mom, and it is so moving. I asked him if I could share it.

I distinctly remember waking from the surgery to remove my cancerous right eye and asking Mom: ‘What am I gonna do until my prosthetic eye is made, people are gonna look at me like I’m a freak with an eye patch’…

Mom: ‘Honey, you’re still a handsome man with a huge heart and you always will be, and you’re imperfect, but I’m imperfect, and every single person in this world has imperfections. And when anyone looks at another and sees them as imperfect or less than attractive, that… is a reflection upon them and it shows their true colors and limitations… and not yours.’

The point of the above conversation with my Mom when she was living is:

No matter what has set you back, a stroke, loss of a limb, any type of injury, disease, or abuse you’ve had to suffer. You do NOT have to be perfect to be recognized, nor to be considered beautiful, or loved.

Because being perfectly imperfect is more than good enough for those who love and adore you and me for who and what we are… And those people who love you and me through all of our imperfections, well… quite simply put, they’re keepers.

To Perry, your mom was one very smart and very beautiful woman. I would have loved to have met her.  I see so much of her in your perspective of life. That is an incredible legacy. There is absolutely no doubt that your mom is listening to you right now and smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Army Officer’s Lesson Passed On

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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 on that platform where the lives of Cheryl Beardslee and I first intersected. You can tell a lot about a person’s character by his or her Facebook content. It is in the Home Feed where I have come to see Cheryl as an uplifting figure who sees the best in others and sees life through a glass half full. Often, her name is beside feedback to others giving praise, encouragement, or joy.

Now having met her several times at parties, I can say, she is just as warm in person. Cheryl is someone who finds great joy in her life. Conversation with her comes easily as she is both an interested listener and speaker. If you ask her about the people who matter to her, her tone brightens and she opens up to story upon story of their impact.

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.One of those people is Courttney Cooper, one of Visionaries and Voices top selling artists known for his vividly detailed maps of Cincinnati. The two came to know each other when Cheryl was a special education teacher. Now he is her Godson, and they see each other as often as possible. This picture was taken last month at his birthday party. “He is one of the hardest working students I had,” she said. “From him, I learned about the importance of perseverance, hard work, kindness and making the most of the gifts you are born with,” she told me.

Cheryl also credits her parents, both past army officers, for teaching her about good character.

Talk about not giving up. Her dad, Charles, was 17 when he decided he was going to run away from home to join the army. He donned his only suit, dress shoes and a tie and began his 30-mile journey, trekking through the night to arrive by 3:00 am. He took his shoes off (because they were his good shoes after all), put them behind his head, and laid down on the cement to wait. The recruiter showed up three hours later and wasted no time in signing up this young man who clearly had an undaunting determination that would be of value to the military.

Charles was soon commissioned by the President of the United States to become a Lieutenant Colonel before going after his next question. There was this beautiful woman who was an army nurse…and so of course, Charles suddenly became ill (or so he told people).

They eventually eloped to Jeffersonville, Indiana and were together the rest of their lives imparting their work ethic and values onto their children and others.

Later, they settled in Cincinnati where Cheryl’s dad became the manager of the Regency (apartments) and the entire family lived in a unit and helped. Charles’ staff were like family. “One man told us, ‘the Colonel was like his dad,’” Cheryl said. “That is how people felt about him (her dad). He could inspire people.

“If he asked you to do something, if you would not jump up immediately, then he would say, ‘I wouldn’t pay you a million dollars for your help’ until you would jump up. And then he would say, ‘I only want your help if you will help me with a giving heart.’”

To Lt. Colonel Beardslee, I want to thank you for that legacy. Clearly that giving heart has been passed down to your daughter.

 

So Much PETential Cincinnati dog training by Cincinnati certified dog trainer, Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KA, CPBC

Lisa Desatnik Public Relations

The Giving Fields Gives Produce

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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.

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. It is also the home of the Freestore Foodbank’s The Giving Fields, an expansive 10 acre community farm that provides fresh produce for Northern Kentucky food pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies. During 2016 growing season alone, some 2,400 volunteers helped plant, weed, harvest, and glean enough vegetables to supplement nearly 120,000 meals.

Dan is among those volunteers. Most days for the past six years he can be seen navigating the rows, fence lines and pretty much the entire length of the farm driving a lawn mower. As a neighbor, it is a job he enjoys doing in his retirement. “It is something simple that I can do to contribute to our community,” he said.

Interested in helping out? The Freestore Foodbank is always looking for new volunteers. For more information about volunteering at The Giving Fields or for questions about donating gardening items or supplies, please email our Volunteer Services Department at volunteer@freestorefoodbank.org or call (513) 482-7550.

So Much PETential Cincinnati dog training by Cincinnati certified dog trainer, Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KA, CPBC

Lisa Desatnik Public Relations

 

Carol’s Work Inspired By Humanity

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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 my main point of contact 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.for numerous years. Always appreciative, upbeat and welcoming, she was one of the reasons I looked forward to that project.

Carol was involved through her work with a Cincinnati nonprofit organization, Catholic Inner-City Schools Education (CISE), which supports the education of about 2000 urban students at eight Catholic elementary schools and several Catholic high schools. The CISE schools welcome all children, regardless of their religious backgrounds and economic circumstances. (Around 75% of the students at CISE are not Catholic, 83% are minorities and 93% are poor.)  Carol worked there almost twenty years before her retirement, 8.5 years as its part-time associate director and 11 years as its first full-time director.

CISE was, and probably still is, her passion; although now, in her retirement she is enjoying spending quality time with her family – husband Richard, two adult daughters & spouses – Beth Walker (Tom), Laura Ash (Joe) and our four grandchildren Nathan, Evan, Ava and Eli.  Retirement also gives me more time to pursue my love of travel and to plan our upcoming adventures.   In the fall, she will be doing more volunteering.

Lisa:  Tell me about some of what you are most proud of in life.
Carol: One of things of which I am most proud – in addition to my family – is having had the opportunity to work with CISE and have a positive influence on the lives of so many young people. The growth of community support of the CISE program over the past 20 years has been amazing.  It was a privilege to work with the dedicated, hardworking CISE Board and staff, as well as with the principals, staff and faculties of the CISE schools.  They are all so mission-driven and inspiring. In addition, I am in awe of the extremely generous donors who have done so much for the students at the CISE schools over the years because they feel committed to giving children the same opportunities that they have receive.  Everyone involved with CISE shares the belief that education is the key to overcoming poverty.

Lisa:  Where does that drive and passion come from?
Carol: My personal belief in the power of education was shaped by my mother.  I grew up in East Price Hill and attended St. Lawrence School, now a CISE school.  Neither of my parents had the opportunity to attend college and worked hard to provide for our family.  My mother was insistent that my sister and I go to college because she wanted us to have more opportunities than she had.  Mom went to work full time to pay for our tuition at Seton High School and to put us both through the University of Cincinnati.  I am so grateful to her and have been inspired by her selflessness and by the great value she placed on education.
Lisa:  Tell me a little about your philosophy on life.
Carol: I believe the reason that I was drawn to CISE is that we are all connected through our humanity.  I love the following quote by Dr. Martin Luther King:  “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”

 

So Much PETential Cincinnati dog training by Cincinnati certified dog trainer, Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KA, CPBC

Lisa Desatnik Public Relations

Foster Parents To Adoptee Parents

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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 first set of five kids were African American, two of them were babies. They stayed with the Reilly’s for about 3 ½ weeks, and were followed by two girls and a boy who were with them about 4 ½ months. The next set of kids were teenage brothers, one with cognitive disabilities, who lived with Don and Cindy for over nine months.

Through these relationships, the Reilly’s learned two things: opening your heart up to young vulnerable kids one of life’s most rewarding experiences. The other lesson – it is VERY difficult to say good bye to temporary foster children who you have grown to love.

“We took a deep breath, wrote a letter and met with a social worker to say we wanted to foster to adopt the next time around,” Don told me.

Their next call was about a ‘unique situation’. There were six children and three of them had already been placed. Cindy actually knew the foster parent. Don and Cindy agreed to take the other three girls.

Ariel (8), Marissa (9), and Katelyn (11) met their new parents to be at Ault Park, the site where Don and Cindy were married years back. Two meet and greets, and a weekend stay later, the girls were asked if they wanted to stay. And, 4 ½ years later, Ariel, Marissa, and Katelyn became Reilly girls.

It was about four months after the adoption was finalized that Cindy became pregnant and Adrianna brought the family to six.

Lisa: What have your daughters brought to your life?
Don: Many think they know how to love but they don’t. I was raised by single mom who had many bad things happen to her and so she never really knew how to love. She would pat you on the back and say I love you. I grew up thinking that was what love was. My daughters have taught me how to love, and that you can love someone unconditionally.

Lisa: What do you hope to impart on your daughters?
Don: Cindy’s and my goal is that we want our girls to be good people, grow up, do what they want to do in life, and be people who have their hands out for those who need help. That is how I lead my life. One of the reasons I have started my own business what so that it could be a place where people can come to work and have a boss who cares about them, encourages them, and brings jo to their life. I want my girls to live that way.

The first 20 years of my life were all about me but I look at that as a good thing, and that is how I overcame a lot of my insecurities. Until I met my wife, I always was a worker. I began working when 14 years old. I think I kept busy so I didn’t have to deal with my life. I thought I was different because I didn’t have dad. I always thought it’d be neat to have a dad. Then I met my mentor who talked to me about just looking forward. He drove me to stay focused not on my past but what I want from my life. I try to teach my kids that they too can keep going forward and not look back. You can get caught up too much looking at the past and it can hurt you.

So Much PETential Cincinnati dog training by Cincinnati certified dog trainer, Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KA, CPBC

Lisa Desatnik Public Relations

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