Philanthropy – volunteers and nonprofits
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 many, many hours of research, they are launching AccessCincinnati.org, and are marking the occasion with a party TONIGHT at 6 pm at Taft’s Ale House (1429 Race Street; Cincinnati, Ohio 45202). The party will include free appetizers, information about the reviews and website, and a presentation of the first official Access Cincinnati window cling.
For Kathleen and Nestor this project is of personal significance as they are both parents who have children with developmental disabilities and aging parents. “We created the site to make it easier for anyone with children in strollers or with mobility issues to find an accessible venue, feel welcome and confident they can patronize a restaurant or bar without problems entering or being seated,” said Kathleen. “We hope the site encourages restaurants and bars to consider accessibility beyond ADA requirements because it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business.”
Approximately 13% of Cincinnati residents are senior citizens and just over 12% of Hamilton County’s population has a disability. Cincinnati also hosts large conventions with Veterans, seniors and people with disabilities such as the National Veterans’ Wheelchair Games with 600 athletes visiting our city in July.
More than 65 citizens helped crowd source the information. Currently, there are approximately 150 reviews out of about 225 potential bars and restaurants, most in Downtown, OTR, and The Banks. To keep this information up-to-date, more crowd sourcing is needed. Cincinnatians are asked to visit www.accesscincinnati.org and sign up to receive their mobile survey to crowd source additional venues around the city, including other neighborhoods like Walnut Hills, Price Hill, Clifton, Avondale and Northside.
The Access Cincinnati mobile site provides information on Entrance, Space, and Restrooms. Restaurant and bar owners, that have been reviewed, will receive the Access Cincinnati window cling, providing potential customers passing by, with the information they need to decide whether a location meets their unique needs, before trying to enter.
“We want everyone to feel welcomed in our city and we want to provide information that can help individuals make their own decisions about where to spend their money and have a good time,” said Nestor.
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 honored by the Community Foundation West Chester/Liberty with its Patricia F. Alderson Philanthropist of the Year Award. It is a befitting award for two people whose passion is making a difference for so many.
Quietly, without need or want of recognition they give generously with their time and their resources to causes close to their hearts. Jenny is president of the board of Melodic Connections, a Cincinnati nonprofit organization that brings out creative expression in people with disabilities. It is a place where their 22 year old son, Sam, who has Down syndrome and is mostly nonverbal has found a voice. Bill has been very involved with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, having served on its Board and as chairman of its golf outing for many years, a role he continues. He is also vice president of the Board of the Ken Anderson Alliance, a nonprofit organization committed to building live, work, and play options for adults with disabilities.
The McCloys have four children. Sam is their second. “One of the things Sam does for us is that he brings to the forefront the importance of supporting those in need. We both have come from very humble beginnings and lived paycheck to paycheck until 1998. We have been very fortunate to be able to do all that we do for others,” Bill told me.
When it comes to giving, Bill was very clear, they do what they do not for any kind of recognition, in fact, they would prefer to keep everything they do between themselves and the organizations and lives they touch. While they are very appreciative, accepting this award was not something that came easy for them or something they took lightly but they realized that their example may impact the decisions of others.
“We have never used the word philanthropist (to define themselves) but we knew we had a responsibility to give back and to influence our children and others. If our giving encourages one other person to give then it is worth putting our name out there,” Bill said.
Bill’s advice to others? “Give in any way, shape and form you can and it will come back many fold.”
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 looking for an opportunity to get to know and understand people from other countries, getting involved with the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council is a great way to start. The nonprofit organization builds global understanding and promotes international awareness through education, information and exchange of people and ideas.
Awarded the 2012 Best of the City Award from Cincinnati Magazine, its more than 1,600 supporters include individuals, corporate, civic and academic members, and community volunteers who host visitors in their homes. It has welcomed visitors to our Greater Cincinnati region from over 100 countries; about 300 visitors annually. And about 9000 students have increased their global skills through its programs. It is affiliated with the National Council for International Visitors.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities, please click here.
“Just” Dinner with international guests through the US Department of State premier exchange program, The International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) with Greater Cincinnati volunteer host family. It is a wonderful two-way exchange of politics, similarities and differences, culture, family, professions, & more! Hosting is one of the most beneficial ways for Americans and visitors to put a true face to countries.
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 offers.
I was 11 years old when I went through my first interviewing process. I was applying to be one of four students selected to represent Cincinnati, and the United States, in an international friendship program known as Children’s International Summer Village. Founded right here in Cincinnati in 1951, CISV chapters across the globe host summer camp-like villages where delegations of 11 year -olds from diverse countries learn about peace by gaining understanding and building friendships. Impressionable minds come to see beyond differences to realize how alike they are as human beings.
I was a finalist that year which meant that, while I didn’t attend a Village, I and my family began the process of welcoming to our home Irene, a girl from another country, Sweden. While she was here, she and I attended a day camp similar to the village only we went home every night, where we spent our days among dozens of other young people, many of whom spoke limited to no English. And the following year, at 12 years of age, I boarded a plane with other Cincinnati children to spend five weeks in Sweden with Irene’s family.
I will never forget those early experiences and the influence they have had on my life. It is an incredible gift to come to know someone different from yourself. You grow as a person. You grow in your perspective. You appreciate differences. You thirst for learning and you become more welcoming to those whose cultures, religions, backgrounds, and ways of life are not like your own.
Since then, I continued my journey. In high school, I became involved with AFS, an interchange program. Camilla, who I still consider my Swedish sister, lived with us for a year. I was president of the Wyoming High School chapter my senior year. As an adult, I volunteered as a driver for the Tennis Masters Tournament in Mason for about 17 years getting to meet people from around the globe, even opening my home to a young tennis player from Brazil one year. I served on the board of the CISV Cincinnati Chapter for several years, and my brother and his wife adopted my niece, Kalianni, from India. Through my career and personal life, I am involved with causes that bring people together through and celebrate difference.
The lessons that you learn from getting to know and appreciate people who do and say and experience life unlike yourself truly are transformational. Stereotypes are dispelled as you come to know people as individuals, human beings who have their own unique qualities and share a common need for being seen and welcomed. Communication barriers are broken down, replaced with open conversation. Workplaces and communities are strengthened by diverse people participating together. World peace is given new perspective as places on a map and cultures that are foreign to us, represent individuals, relationships, and feelings.
You need not have to wait until adulthood to enter this classroom. Teaching young children to value and include others who are different from themselves is an incredibly important lesson. There are so many opportunities through school and the community to get to know others with different beliefs, ways of getting around, learning styles, backgrounds, ages, and cultures. As adult role models, we have a great responsibility to be setting an example, to be encouraging those experiences, to be helping children navigate the journey and grow into caring, welcoming adults.
And, as adults, we too can learn and grow so much from each other. When we include people who are different from ourselves, we are all better for it.
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 welfare of animals were standing. All eyes were on a man and his dog, and the connection that spoke to the hearts of everyone in that room.
Dr. Zekoff, a Blue Ash veterinarian, founded United Pet Fund to support the work of dozens of local animal care and service organizations including dog and cat shelters and rescues without the resources to maintain their very important, difficult, and often emotional work of saving lives.
Next weekend, you are invited to attend UPF’s Garage Sale with tons of household items, sports equipment, toys, pet supplies and more…all to benefit UPF’s work – and ultimately over 85 regional animal shelters, rescues and advocacy groups. Below are more details.
UPF Garage Sale Preview Party
When: Friday, June 9 from 4 to 8 pm
Where: UPF Resource Center, 11336 Tamarco Drive; Blue Ash, Ohio 45242
Cost: A $10 donation
UPF Garage Sale
When: Saturday, June 10 from 8:30 am to 4 pm
Where: UPF Resource Center, 11336 Tamarco Drive; Blue Ash, Ohio 45242