Philanthropy – volunteers and nonprofits
A photograph on my dresser serves as a lasting memory of the afternoon I was part of a group who volunteered at a local nursing home. I think there were about 40 of us from Give Back Cincinnati there that day. Some of us were matched with residents, others helped coordinate the games.
Give Back Cincinnati is such a great concept. The nonprofit, all volunteer, organization was started by three people who wanted to create an opportunity for young people to socialize through activities that are making a positive difference in communities. Today the group has more than 5000 members and has diversified to include international projects, national trips in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and local civic engagement and volunteer efforts.
Paint the Town is the largest and flagship event, involving some 1300 volunteers. This year teams painted 42 homes for those who wouldn’t have been able to afford to hire someone. However, with more than 30 local projects there is almost certain to be a volunteer event for every interest.
They are role models of selfless giving for younger generations whose gifts are helping to ensure diverse causes will be viable for the future. Collectively they have committed to giving millions, but more importantly, they’ve committed to leaving their legacy. This is the common thread of the 21 honorees from this year’s Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council’s Voices of Giving Awards. They were all nominated by area non-profit organizations impacted by their selflessness, generosity and foresight.
“Greater Cincinnati is a generous, caring community and non-profit organizations are an especially important aspect of our lives,” Andrea Herzig, president of GCPGC told the audience at the Awards event. “Our Voices of Giving honorees have all taken the time for purposeful giving; planning their gift for generations they will never meet. This is the true meaning of altruistic philanthropy.”
Presenting sponsor for the GCPGC Voices of Giving Awards was the Josephine Schell Russell Chairtable Trust, PNC Bank, Trustee. The event was hosted by CET.
It was a real honor for me to be a part of the event for the second year, helping GCPGC share information about the honorees with the community.
2009 Voices of Giving Award recipients:
(Note: one honoree chose to not be recognized publically)
William (posthumously) and LaVerne Stautberg, nominated by Santa Maria
Mary Beth and Jim Foxworthy, nominated by the Deupree House
Dr. Corning and Mrs. Carol Benton, nominated by the Marjorie P. Lee Retirement
Nancy A. Creaghead Ph.D., nominated by the University of Cincinnati Foundation
George H. Musekamp, nominated by the American Cancer Society
Wilma K. McGrath (posthumously), nominated by the Catholic Inner-City Schools Education Fund
Ruth Upson, nominated by the Children’s Home of Cincinnati
Dr. and Mrs. Ira Abrahamson, nominated by the Cincinnati Art Museum
Dorothy Whitley Lang, nominated by the Wyoming School Foundation
Eva Jane Romaine Coombe (posthumously), nominated by Seven Hills School
Alice Sparks, nominated by Greater Cincinnati Television Educational Foundation CET
Marge Gallagher, nominated by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati
Paul Keidel, nominated by Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Henry ‘Bud’ Pogue IV (posthumously) and Betty Maupin Pogue, nominated by Northern Kentucky University
Robert Kanter, nominated by Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Susanne Ernst Geier and Philip O. Geier Jr. (posthumously), nominated by United Way of Greater Cincinnati
Judy and Roger Short, nominated by The Wellness Community of Greater
Margaret Berning Wais, nominated by St. Rita School for the Deaf
Rev. Thomas Bokenkotter, nominated by The Athenaum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
The beauty of the human spirit, its ability to heal and its ability to touch others, is a wonderful thing. I think the older I get and the more life experiences I am exposed to, the more I appreciate that.
Many of you may know I do a lot of work for the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. There have been so many days I’ve been uplifted by the people who I’ve met, those who have reached out to make a difference in the lives of others and those whose lives have been positively impacted by their generosity.
The Fischer’s are one in many examples. It was about three years ago when the most unthinkable of tragedies struck home for them. In a split instant, their world was turned upside down. Andrew, adventure seeking son to Lois and Wayne and brother to Amanda and Alan, was killed in an accident.
I sat in a room at the Clippard Family YMCA as Lois stood before other parents and guardians with their children, sharing her story that just four years ago she would never have imagined she’d be telling.
It was the story of a young man completely engulfed in life. Andrew was an Eagle Scout who loved exploring, challenging himself and others while learning about giving back and making a difference. Some of his greatest pleasures were times spent at summer camps rock climbing, caving, swimming, fishing and growing through friendships.
It was in Andrew’s senior year at Colerain High School that his life was tragically taken from those who loved him, but the Fischer’s are keeping his memory and passion alive through the hearts of other young people.
Andrew’s Scholarship Fund was set up to give elementary students in the Northwest School District whose families otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it, full scholarships for a week at the YMCA Camp Ernst. In its first year, the Fischer’s collected enough to allow 8 kids the opportunity to go to camp. Last year 11 kids received scholarships. And in 2009, Lois looked out into a room of 16 kids, many of whom have never been to camp before. Lois’ friend, MaryAnn Herbster; sister, Kathy Jacob; and Clippard Family YMCA staff helped raise the money.
“We really wanted to do something to honor Andrew and this is a perfect way,” said Lois, who has been office manager of the Clippard Family YMCA since 1999. “The volunteers and staff at the Y have been so supportive in helping to raise funds so that we can send more kids to camp. It’s a good feeling to know Andrew’s memory is making a positive impact on the lives of other young people.”
I thought from time to time, I’d ask that question of people I know. So many of us give of our time in our own very personal way. In fact, there are as many different opportunities to share of ourselves, as there are people to go around – actually, probably more.
When others do nice things for us, we tend to not forget…for a very long time. Diane Haddad is one of those people for me. Whenever I think about Give Back Cincinnati, I think about her because I will always remember her smile. I remember how, in the awkwardness of entering an environment where I knew no one, she went out of her way to make me feel welcome. I had a great time that day, and on another subsequent day when I volunteered at one of their projects. It’s a wonderful organization.
So, I thought it’d be great to start this journey by asking the question of Diane first. This is what she said:
“I started volunteering with Give Back Cincinnati because I had moved back to town recently and needed to meet people. There was one event in particular I went to that really clicked with me–everyone was having a great time helping out this one family, and at the end of the day, we could see the work we did. I liked being part of something like that. I wanted to be even more a part of it, so I applied to be on the board. I’ve never met a group of more involved, energetic, forward thinking people who care so much about their city! I wanted other Give Back volunteers to experience some of that energy.”
For three months they’d been asking their parents to come a little early so they could complete laps around the gym, all on their own initiative. They walked and skipped and hopped, sometimes as much as 10 times around before they started the day’s lesson.
However, this project wasn’t just about getting in shape and having fun, it was about doing something good for other people. For each lap the kids counted, their friends and family pledged them a penny, or contributed a non-perishable food item. Step-by-step, coin-by-coin, the donations added up. By the end, they had collectively raised 10,300 pennies (and 75 pounds of food).
Judy Haverkos, co-coordinator for the Gamble-Nippert YMCA program, said the students chose to give their earnings to Santa Maria Community Services. The food went to the Manna Food Pantry. H.A. Musser, Jr., Santa Maria president explained to the group why their efforts were so important.
Did the kids understand they were doing a good thing? Absolutely! “I like helping people,” said Aiden.
“Community service helps teach them character values and teamwork. Coupling that with having fun while being active is really a great teaching tool,” said Cindy Klopp, the other co-coordinator.
The coin project was just one of many enrichment activities for children in YMCA homeschool programs. Haverkos said their group is studying artists, helping the branch ‘go green’, and learning American Sign Language.
Pictured are kids who helped raise money – Victoria Freudiger; Hannah Musser; Oscar Allen; Aiden Bezdek; Samuel Musser; Nathan DeVoe. David and Rose Homelle; Adriana and Alexandria Norton; Mary Nerswick; and Joe Dupont also helped fund raise but weren’t available for the photo.