United Pet Fund Opens New Center To Help Animal Rescues


I have got to say. I so admire people who have a dream and a passion, and absolutely do not quit in pursuing it.

Dr. Zeke Zekoff at United Pet Fund Resource Center Grand Opening

This photo of Dr. Zekoff captures the heart of what United Pet Fund is all about.

Dr. Zeke Zekoff is one of those people. As a busy veterinarian, he has witnessed the tremendous gift of life and love given to animals who, for any number of reasons, have found themselves homeless only to be saved at the hands of caring people. Those people are the advocates, volunteers and staff of many area rescue organizations.

The problem is, there are just SO many animals in need and heart alone is not going to help those organizations flourish, or even maintain their level of sometimes very difficult, emotional and challenging work at nourishing, rehabilitating and finding new homes for those in their care.

Dr. Zekoff had a vision…to create another nonprofit that could assist those animal care and service organizations including dog and cat shelters and rescues with basic business services, education, food and emergency funding, and products.

That vision is United Pet Fund; and in five years they have supported the work of dozens of local member causes. They even hold a Pet Health Day in Over-the-Rhine once a year with a free preventative health clinic.

This week the culmination of five years of fundraising was celebrated with the grand opening of the 8,500 sq ft United Pet Fund Resource Center and warehouse.  Dozens of animal advocates were there to celebrate such an important goal, and one that is going to allow for expanded services.

“I’ve always felt the need to give back to those who take care of homeless animals and use the gifts I was given that could most help them. United Pet Fund is a personal ministry to me,”  Dr. Zekoff said. “This is what I will do to help this unrecognized army caring and finding homes for the animals the Lord has here now.”

He is excited about the future and wants to reach more organizations. “In five more years I would like to see United Pet Fund take on the role of “the” go-to animal support organization in the Tri-State and the State of Ohio. In 20 years, I’d like to have every major city with a UPF-type organization using the internet and major shippers to parcel out the blessings that businesses and the public donate.

“You never know when the big opportunities or supplies will arrive, but you have to be ready,” he said. “Now with the space a Resource Center provides, we can take our core mission to the next level and be a central source of distribution to really be impactful.”

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Reasons To Play At Cincinnati Parks’ Smale Park This Summer


The big kid at heart in me can hardly wait to see the new elements of our Cincinnati Parks’ Smale Park, truly one of our city’s great gems.

On May 12, this new spectacular ‘SplasSmale Riverfront Park in Cincinnatih & Play’ Susan and Joe Pichler Fountains element opens atop the carousel plaza.

And, speaking of the Carol Ann’s Carousel…it opens May 16,  just west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge in downtown Cincinnati. Located inside a glass building, the carousel is 20 feet tall and 46 feet in diameter and will operate year-round. The Cincinnati Parks Foundation received a $5 million gift from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. / U.S. Bank Foundation to build the carousel, which honors Carol Ann Haile’s philanthropic vision.

You can bet you will be seeing me there this summer!

What makes this carousel ride even more special is that its 44 animal characters 5-04 Marthaare hand carved and each tells a story of our great city.  This one is Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon.  After magnanimous efforts to save from extinction the beautiful bird that once numbered in the billions, her death at our Cincinnati Zoo resulted in stronger conservation laws.

The paintings on the carousel feature a whimsical exploration of one of Cincinnati’s parks. Animals featured in the paintings include an elephant flying a kite at Ault Park; giraffes enjoying the sunset at the Alms Park overlook; a squirrel, toad, and lizard band playing in Washington Park; and an artist owl painting the Abraham Lincoln statue at Lytle Park, with the Taft Museum of Art in the distance.

Local artist Jonathan Queen was selected to create them.  “My own experiences in Cincinnati’s parks inspired most of these scenes,” he said. “I also thought about my own family and what we’ve enjoyed doing together in the parks.”

Jonathan Queen completes Rapid Run Park in his studio.

Jonathan Queen completes Rapid Run Park in his studio.

In addition to the Cincinnati Parks landscapes, Jonathan worked with ArtWorks apprentices to paint 16 views of Cincinnati architectural landmarks for the center of the carousel.

His paintings appear effortless, but they required nearly two years of painstaking work. You can that work in an exhibition at the Taft Museum of Art called From Studio to Carousel: The Whimsical World of Jonathan Queen from May 22 to September 6, 2015.

The exhibition will include preliminary sketches, clay models of animals, and all 16 painted studies.
Thursday, June 4, 7 p.m.

Jonathan Queen will discuss his work decorating Carol Ann’s Carousel and From Studio to Carousel: The Whimsical World of Jonathan Queen in the Sinton Gallery. Reception to follow.

FREE Taft Members and Students. $10 Public (includes Museum admission)
Reservations: (513) 684-4515 or taftmuseum.org

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Oklahoma Restaurateur’s Note Of Kindness Teaches Us A Lesson


By now, you may have already seen this photo as it has gone viral since being displayed outside P.B. Jams, an Oklahoma restaurant, and on Facebook.

Oklahoma Restaurant Owner Writes Note For Dumpster DiverThe restaurant’s owner, Ashley Jiron, posted it after realizing an anonymous person had been sifting through her garbage. She told ABC News of how her heart sank when she noticed bags and containers in her dumpster that once held disposed food, were emptied. “I knew I needed to do something right away,” she said.

Perhaps that person’s plight struck her so deeply because Ashley understood better than most.

“I am a mother of two little girls and I’ve struggled like a lot of single parents out there, and I’ve had to ask for state assistance food stamps and such,” she told Good Morning America. “Sometimes at the end of the month there wasn’t enough to feed me and my family. Something as simple as even just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is very comforting to somebody and maybe even offer them a few words.”

It got me thinking, of the times in my own life when I have faltered. I will never forget the people who were there for me with support and encouragement, even when I didn’t ask for it. They were just there. They grounded me and kept me focused in a positive direction. Those acts of love and kindness embed in our souls.

They strengthen us. They nurture us. They give us wings.

There is something so powerful about our human connection. Often we don’t even know of the impact we are having on those whose lives we touch. But make no mistake; kindness has huge potential for affecting change in individuals, families, workplaces, classrooms, and the community.

And the giver can be just as much the receiver as its effects boomerang. Helping someone else has a way of lifting ourselves up as well, even more so sometimes when we are dealing with our own challenge.

Yet, how often is it that we know someone may be going through difficult circumstances but in our busy and already cluttered lives, we don’t reach out.  Not because we are not generous people. We just don’t get around to it for any number of reasons.

Ashley and her compassionate sign that has been seen around the country, maybe even the world, make me question – if the tables were turned, if I had seen that someone had been rummaging through my garbage, would I have posted a sign like hers.

The truth is, in my life, I have been a shoulder for so many people. I have mentored youth. I have given of my time and resources to help people when they needed it. I have encouraged others to see their own strengths when they were focused on their weaknesses. I have volunteered for causes when I can.

But…I may not have thought to put that sign on my restaurant door if I noticed someone had gone through my trash.

I am so inspired by Ashley’s gesture. Whether or not that anonymous person comes forward, Ashley has reminded me of the power we each have to impact those around us.

Let’s make a point to not forget.

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