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CINspirational People: Caden Elrod


Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  It is one of my favorite quotes, and it very much reminds me of a third grade student I recently met, who attends Hyde Park Elementary School.

Caden Elrod with Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune

Caden Elrod with Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune

In November, nine-year-old Caden Elrod became the youngest recipient of the Student Recycler of the Year Award from the Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District.

Let there be no mistake. Caden has found his calling, what makes him come alive and inspires him to lead by example.

Caden told me he has been recycling his whole life except for when he was a baby. But I think his spark was really ignited when he saw trash in the Ohio River and all along its shores. Then, in about the first grade he started looking into it and found information on a massive patch of literally billions of plastic pieces that have accumulated hundreds of miles into the Atlantic Ocean, known as the Island of Trash.

“It kills animals, and plants won’t be able to grow because stuff may get stuck in the plants,” he told me.

And that, Caden thinks, is just unacceptable. So, in his own way he set out to be a change maker.

Caden has been encouraging his school and his fellow students to recycle more. He made a cake that looked like a recycling truck for his Boy Scouts annual cake auction. He has shared photos of garbage along the Ohio River and elsewhere to get people’s attention. He and his dad drop off used electronics to Cohen RHyde Park Elementary School student Caden Elrod along the Ohio Riverecycling. He will talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of doing their part. And he has applied to participate in the Hamilton County Recycling Policy Committee, although he won’t be old enough to join for a few more years.

At home, he has inspired his whole family to recycle (with the exception of his sister and that, he told me, is just because she is still a baby). They have recycling bins throughout their house.

“He will hold us accountable. He will always say to us, ‘I want you to do a little more’, Tonia Elrod, Caden’s mother said. “I am always conscious of it now. Even today I went to lunch and had a plastic cup but they couldn’t recycle there so I brought the cup home.”

Caden wants people to be aware that there are a lot of ways we can reuse products. Here are a few examples he pointed out.

  • He has turned worn shoes into flower pots (a boot is easier to put a flower inside)
  • You can make tunnels out of used plastic bottles by cutting off the top and bottom (he is not sure what you would use these for)
  • You can make shelves from leftover wood
  • He once made a giant thing out of cardboard that he rode on with his dad
  • He once made a chair from a stick and a piece of wood
  • He once made a game out of cardboard pieces

He has also learned there are some things you cannot recycle like foam things and packaging peanuts.

“I am trying to be an example for the whole world and my family,” he told me.

Here are a few more questions I asked him.

Lisa:  How does it make you feel to recycle and encourage others to do the same?
Caden:  It makes me feel good and like I am doing something that will help other people to live in a better place.

Lisa: What advice do you have for others about recycling?
Caden: Everyone should recycle as much as they can. There are like 33% of communities in the United States where you have to subscribe to recycle and that is not good. If you have contact with one of the leaders, you should tell them that you want to stop that so more people can recycle.

Lisa: When you grow up, what are some ways you can do more?
Caden: After school, I want to learn how to recycle electronics and foam.


#CINspiration  #GoodThingsCincy



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Pro Seniors Honored Cincinnati Seniors


What better way for Pro Seniors, a Cincinnati nonprofit organization that assists older Ohioans with legal and long-term care problems, to celebrate its 40th anniversary than to honor older Cincinnati legends.

Cincinnati nonprofit Pro Seniors honored Cincinnatians

Honorees Honorable Nathaniel Jones, Sister Rose Ann Fleming, Mary Meinhardt and Marty Brennaman with Pro Seniors Executive Director Rhonda Moore. Photo credit: Pro Seniors

Marty Brennaman, Sister Rose Ann Fleming, the Honorable Nathaniel Jones and Mary Meinhardt were recognized as “Seniors Who Rock” at a November event.

In case you are unfamiliar, Marty has been the stand out voice of the Cincinnati Reds since 1974; Sister Rose Ann is an attorney and special assistant to Xavier University President, The Rev. Michael Graham; and also is an NCAA faculty athletic representative for Xavier, working with the men’s basketball players. The distinguished career Nathaniel Jones includes serving as general counsel of NAACP and on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. And Mary is an advocate for seniors, serving as a volunteer guardian for Cincinnati Area Senior Services and board member of EPIC House and Pro Seniors.

The honorees each shared one of their favorite inspirational quotes that has kept them rocking. Among those quotes were:

 “For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game,”
and “Don’t pass up the opportunity to apologize for a mistake,” from Grantland Rice.
-Shared by Marty Brennaman

The Bible verse “Encourage one another day after day.
– Shared by Sister Rose Ann Fleming

During Pro Seniors 40 years, more than 110,000 seniors have been helped with legal problems and more than $36 M has been recovered in retirement benefits. Additionally, 166,000 seniors, their families and their caregivers have benefitted from Pro Seniors community education presentations. Among Pro Seniors’ other programs are: a free legal hotline; long-term care ombudsmen as advocates for seniors; and prevention, detection and reporting of identity theft and health care fraud.


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Loveland’s Hannah Laman Wins National Award


Way to go Hannah Laman! The Loveland 12 year old was selected from more than 32,000 nominees across the country as one of 10 national Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program winners!  For the award, Hannah receives a $10,000 scholarship for higher education; and Kohl’s is donating $1,000 to the nonprofit Adopt A Book Founder Hannah Laman Win's Kohl's National Awardof her choice. (I bet that nonprofit is Adopt A Book!)

Hannah and her twin brother, Alex, (with help from their parents) founded Adopt a Book that collects and distributes new and gently used children’s book to those who can’t afford them. To date, Adopt a Book has donated 60,000 books to more than 50 organizations, schools and hospitals that serve children in need.

“The most rewarding part of sharing books with others is that other kids have the opportunity to read and own a book of their own,” Hannah told Amazing Kids! Magazine.


Link to a past post about Adopt A Book.  #CINspiration

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Voices Of Giving Awards Honor Greater Cincinnati Philanthropists


In our region, we are fortunate to have so very many diverse causes that are each enriching neighborhoods and lives in unique ways. Their important work would not be possible without a team of dedicated staff, volunteers, and donors.

For the past five years, it has been such a privilege to work with the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council committee helping to spread awareness of very generous people who are helping to ensure our community’s valuable nonprofit organizations can be sustainable in the future. They recently honored 27 philanthropists including Jim Huizenga, as a professional advisor, with Voices of Giving Awards. (You’ll be seeing more information in local news print over the next few months.) All philanthropists honored have made a bequest or planned gift to their favorite charity.

Mike and Marilyn Kremzar are examples of our humanitarian leaders who have committed years to empowering people who have been down on their luck

Mike Van Oflen, Tony Lavatori, Tonya Lavatori, Mike Kremzar, Marilyn Kremzar, Kurt Reiber and Mindy Hammer

Mike Van Oflen, Tony Lavatori, Tonya Lavatori, Mike Kremzar, Marilyn Kremzar, Kurt Reiber and Mindy Hammer photo credit: Paula Norton

through the Freestore Foodbank. Since joining its Board in 1984, Mike helped create the hugely successful Cincinnati COOKS!, a culinary job training program that not only provides nutritious afterschool meals to children at risk of hunger but also has seen more than 1,200 adult graduates move on to gainful employment. The Kremzars named the Freestore Foodbank as a beneficiary of their IRA.

There are so many wonderful stories like theirs of why charitable giving is such an important part of their lives. Please click the link to read more about all of the honorees. 2015 Voices of Giving Honoree backgrounds


Other honorees include:

Deacon David A. Klingshirn on behalf of The Athenaeum of Ohio;
Alan and Dianne Thomas on behalf of the Brighton Center;
Marjorie and Roger Santor (posthumously) on behalf of CET – Greater Cincinnati Television Educational Foundation;
Robert Buechner on behalf of The Children’s Home of Cincinnati;
John H. White, Jr. on behalf of Cincinnati Museum Center;
Albert W. Vontz III on behalf of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park;
Barb and Mort Nicholson on behalf of Cincinnati Public Radio;
Norita Aplin and Stanley Ragle on behalf of Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra;
Jack Kirby on behalf of Episcopal Retirement Homes;
Mike and Marilyn Kremzar on behalf of Freestore Foodbank;
John Isidor and Sandy Kaltman on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati;
Burke Neville on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation;
Peggy Kite on behalf of Life Enriching Communities Foundation – Twin Lakes;
Dr. George Rieveschl, Jr. (posthumously) on behalf of the Lloyd Library and Museum;
Mona Morrow on behalf of The Salvation Army;
Emily Pan on behalf of Saint Joseph Home;
Mary Kay Pastura Hauser on behalf of St. Ursula Academy;
The Calonge Family on behalf of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Note: one of the honorees did not want to be recognized in Event promotion.

Jim Huizenga, senior program officer at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation,
honored as a professional advisor, was nominated by Saint Joseph Home

Platinum Presenting Sponsors of the 17th annual Voices of Giving Awards are The John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust, PNC Bank Trustee, and The Salvation Army.  Silver Sponsors include Graydon, Head and Ritchey LLP, the Johnson Charitable Gift Fund, Life Enriching Communities, Smith Beers Yunker & Company, Inc., and Xavier University.  The Event was hosted by CET and emceed by Local 12’s John Lomax.

“Our Voices of Giving honorees represent the true spirit of philanthropy and their gifts are enhancing the quality of life for our community, now and in the future,” said Sue Ellen Stuebing, vice president of the board of The Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council. “We thank them not only for their generosity but also for allowing us to recognize them.  By doing so, they are inspiring others in our community to demonstrate that everyone can make a lasting impact by leaving a legacy.

Voices of Giving honorees photo credit: Paula Norton

Voices of Giving honorees
photo credit: Paula Norton

The 2015 event was co-chaired by Telly McGaha and Molly Talbot. Committee members included Lori Asmus, Carol Derkson, Bruce Favret, Misty Griesinger, Doug Heeston, Anna Hehman, Bill Hitch, Mary Alice Koch, Michelle Mancini, Tracy Monroe, Carol Serrone, Carol Stevie, Sue Ellen Stuebing and Dan Virzi.

The Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council is a professional association for people whose work includes developing, marketing, and administering charitable planned gifts for non-profit institutions and a variety of other legal and financial settings.




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Through Magnified Giving, Greater Cincinnati Students Learn Philanthropy

Wyoming High School students learned about philanthropy from Magnified Giving, a Cincinnati nonprofit organization

Students from Wyoming High School presented their grant check of $1500 to their chose charity, Childhood Food Solutions.

It is one of the most unique and broad reaching efforts to inspire lifelong wise and generous philanthropists. In its seventh year, nonprofit Magnified Giving kicked off the 2014-2015 school year by giving money to groups of students from a record 52 regional schools, with the charge of extensively researching, debating, discussing, and ultimately investing it wisely into causes of value to them. It all culminated with those more than 2,500 students collectively granting nearly $100,000 to 70 diverse charities in a series of awards ceremonies.

This is the second year that I have helped Magnified Giving spread the word about its impact. (You will probably be reading about it in a community paper near you soon.)

Four students were also recognized with Roger Grein Spirit of Philanthropy Award, nominated by teachers and selected for exemplifying the meaning of philanthropy as expressed through essays. Honorees included: Julie Gyure from Perry High School, Alex Deters from St. Xavier High School, Becca Faeth from Holy Cross High School and Katie Perry from Roger Bacon High School.

Cincinnati student Katie Perry received the Roger Grein Philanthropy Award from Magnified Giving

Katie Perry and Roger Grein

To truly understand the power of this organization is to read what these honorees had to say about how participating has changed their outlook, changed their life. Below are excerpts from their essays.

“This program has shown me that philanthropy is all about fixing our society’s problem of inequality from its roots, not just with monetary donations, but with time. Volunteering at organizations and taking your own time to get to know them and make personal connections. Using your talents, finding what you personally do well and then applying that to an organization, such as using an eye for fashion at Dress for Success, or culinary skills at a soup kitchen. A quote that my dad always says is ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ The meaning of philanthropy is use your time, talent, and treasures to do something you love that the common good can benefit from. Magnified Giving taught me that philanthropy isn’t just a definition written in my notebook, but it is a feeling that you demonstrate through giving back to the community.” – Katie Perry

Cincinnati student Alex Deters receives Roger Grein Philanthropy Award from Magnified Giving

Roger Grein and Alex Deters

“Mr. Grein came to speak to my service class at St. X, and I paid close attention to every word of his life’s story, especially the parts concerning his service and work for the common good. He was describing a particular moment in his life, in which he came to realize his love of service and the call he felt to serve, and realizing it or not, Mr. Grein articulated the exact conversion that was taking place in my heart….Deep within my heart, I began to feel a call to selflessness, a call to help my fellow man, but more than anything, a call to service. This call has changed my life irreversibly. I will never be able to see the world the way I did before, and I have decided I will live out this call to service wherever it may take me in my life, following Mr. Grein’s example.” – Alex Deters

Becca Faeth received the Roger Grein Philanthropy Award from Magnified Giving

Roger Grein and Becca Faeth

“Roger (Grein)’s story touched my heart and I want to do something good for the world just like Roger did! The Magnified Giving program is just my first step! The program gives me the opportunity to go out in the world and lend a helping hand to those who need it. I can give my time, support, and love to people who struggle every day. Magnified giving has raised my confidence in becoming a better person. The program has helped me to see how easy it is just to help someone out whether by money, time, etc. I feel like I am an important part in this world because of this program. It helped me see that I want to help people and have a passion for helping others. The program has brought me closer to the outside world, it has brought my school community closer, and it even brought my family together.” – Becca Faeth

“By participating in civic and volunteer activities, I found my niche. I absolutely love working with people, especially when it is for the betterment of society. This has led me to an undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati in organizational leadership with a minor in human resources and nonprofit work. Now I believe that as long as one follows their passion; the size of a paycheck does not seem so important. Fast forward ten years. I plan to be working at a nonprofit such as Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, or Make-a-Wish. I’ll be working alongside individuals who are all there for the same reason; to address an issue occurring in the community, working for justice. My team should consist of human resource gurus that not only focus on community needs, but the needs of their fellow co-workers. Together we will be able to apply our skills and talents to create a positive environment in the workplace and for the people we serve. Magnified Giving has set the path for my future and I will forever be indebted to this amazing organization for doing so.” – Julie Gyure

2014-2015 Participating Schools:

Participating Schools include Aiken High School, Anderson High School, Aurora, Badin High School, Bellevue High School, Bethel-Tate High School, Bishop Brossart High School, Bishop Fenwick High School, Catholic Central High School, Chaminade Julienne High School, Cincinnati Country Day High School, Colerain High School, Covington Catholic High School, Dater high School, Deer Park High School, DePaul Cristo Rey, East Clinton high School, Elder High School, Highlands High School, Holmes High School, Holy Cross High School, Indian Hill High School, Lakota East Freshman School, LaSalle High School, Loveland High School, Madeira Middle School, McAuley High School, McNicholas High School, Mother of Mercy High School, Milford High School, Mt. Notre Dame High School, Moeller High School, New Bremen High School, Notre Dame Academy, Perry High School, Purcell Marian High School, Reading High School, Roger Bacon high School, School for Creative & Performing Arts, Seton High School, Seven Hills High School, Shroder High School, Springer School, St. Henry High School, St. Xavier High School, Summit Country Day, Taft Information Technology High School, Taylor High School, Villa Madonna high School and Wyoming High School.

Cincinnati Bell, a partner of Taft Information Technology High School, donated the seed money for Taft’s grant funding.

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