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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 volunteer with fantastic organization and communication skills, and relentless follow through. Among Caren’s tasks, she took on the huge responsibility of updating our ticketing site and of writing our film screening scripts for our emcees. This was no small feat, going back and forth with our host agencies and sponsors to get the names of panelists/speakers, information, and questions. She did it all always with such a positive attitude and she came through big time. During the Festival, Caren was there each day working at the box office.

I am so inspired by her. She was one very important part of our team who helped us build such an amazing event for the city to be proud.

Everyone has a reason for giving of their time to causes. One of Caren’s connection is her step son who lives at LADD’s Find-A-Way Apartments and has benefited from the opportunity to live independently in the community. It is for that reason that Caren and her husband, Jeff, do their giving to LADD.

Caren’s event planning career came later than most. She had gotten married, had three children and gotten divorced when she was still very young. She was doing administrative work but really wanted to further her education. Financially it was tough. She took out a loan and they did a lot of scrimping; and by the age of 40, she was enrolled in college. It was a part time job for a doctor during her college days that ultimately changed her path. She was offered a full time job after graduation that led to an executive director position (the only employee) of a newly founded professional association for radiologists. It was a role she had for eight years before leaving to figure out what she wanted to do next. Caren organized events locally, then accepted a job in San Francisco, and eventually came home to Cincinnati and worked for the Cincinnati Bar Association. She has been retired since 2012.

Lisa: What was something you enjoyed about being involved with ReelAbilities?
Caren: What was wonderful for me working on the Film Festival was that I felt part of something bigger than myself again and I didn’t worry about getting tired, I just did what I needed to do. That was cool. The accomplishment comes when everyone comes together and I did a small piece of it.

Lisa:  You have such a generous spirit about you. Where do you think that comes from?
Caren: In my own life, I have been helped by many along the way. There have been times when I have been down and out and not knowing what would happen the next day. There was always someone who came by and supported me. People need to stop judging people by where they are or where they’ve been, and just hold out their hand to each other and say what can I do for you? I try to do that now for others. I’ve learned the hard way that giving too much free advice is not always helpful. I just try to be there for people.

Lisa: Who is someone who stands out for having made an impact on you?
Caren: There have been so many people. When I was first divorced, I was going to a Catholic church and in that particular Parish, the attitude of divorce was that it was someone’s fault. I was devastated and not getting support. I walked with my kids to the College Hill Presbyterian Church and the leaders at that time were amazing. They ended up offering me a job. They were such stable, loving people. They took me and my three kids and helped us through the next few years. I’ll never forget that.

Also, I have a friend, James, who has been her friend for more than 30 years. I met him when working as an admissions coordinator for a nursing home. He was a nursing assistant and he had been a medic in the air force. He is the most compassionate person you would ever want to meet. He always has a positive attitude toward life. James is a friend who will not let you doubt yourself, and he is believable. I draw from his sweetness. I’ve always been attracted to extraordinarily compassionate people. James had been a big brother to three boys that he raised, he is always there for people. One time I was personally painting the outside of my house and he helped me scrape and paint. And then the city came by and condemned my garage, so James found this guy and the three of them went to Home Depot to get supplies and redid the front of it.

Lisa:  What is something to which you are looking forward?
Caren: I want to get back on my bicycle and ride it again. I was reminded by ReelAbilities that I can still keep up, I am not ready to sit in a chair. I also either want to go back to San Francisco, or take a trip that follows the follows the trip that Lewis & Clark took to the west coast.

Lisa:  What is one of your favorite quotes and why?
Caren: I spend a lot of time thinking about the spirit of things and really like this quote by Johann Wolfgang Von Gotha. “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”  To me it means you just have to do things. Don’t wait for an invitation to do what you need to do. If I had waited, I would never have done anything. Every journey starts with the first step. You can’t just sit around and say you will do things. This is what I tell my kids and others. Make the first step, then the second move, then the third move. I do believe there is something greater than ourselves that makes things happen when we start bringing the energy around to ourselves

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Nonprofit Spotlight: Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati


celebrities who have autism

They all have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD and autism are general terms referring to complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by varying degrees of repetitive behaviors; and social interaction, nonverbal and verbal communication difficulties.

(source: SpecialEducation.answers.com)

Darryl Hannah was diagnosed with autism as a child and felt isolated from others her age. Her experiences of isolation helped drive her love of old movies and interest in acting. Hannah’s acting career has spanned more than three decades. She has starred in dozens of films, including “Wall Street,” “Grumpy Old Men,” and the “Kill Bill” movies. Hannah is also an environmental activist. In an interview with People magazine, a friend remarked that when she “feels passionate about something, she loses all her fears.”

Known for surprising the judges and viewers with her incredible vocal skills on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009, Susan Boyle has released five albums, been nominated for two Grammy Awards, and won the Radio Forth Award in 2013. As a child, Susan was diagnosed with brain damage, but she sought a better diagnosis as an adult. In 2012, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She has said the diagnosis was a relief because she has a “clearer understanding of what’s wrong.”

“Blues Brothers” and “Ghost Busters” star Dan Aykyroyd was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in the early 1980s after his wife convinced him to see a doctor. He’s said that he has an obsession with ghosts and law enforcement, which led to the creation of “Ghost Busters.” Dan’s career as an actor, writer, and producer has spanned 40 years.

Kids often love to see people “just like” them. While the path of every child with ASD will be different, seeing well-known successful people with ASD can help inspire children as well as give them someone to look up to.

Locally, an estimated 20,000 people are affected by autism (according to the Autism Society) and there are many wonderful resources for families including nonprofit, the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati.

About the Autism Society

The Autism Society is the first organization in our region dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with autism and their families. Founded in 1970 by local parents and professionals, one of the ways it supports families today is by maintaining a communications support system called Autism Connection, available to everyone seven days a week by phone or online. Live, certified specialists are trained and ready to help by providing current and relevant information. Within the quote by Temple GrandinAutism Connection are these programs:

Connect To Live Help is the first step for families to find helpful services is to talk with a trained certified specialist and Autism Society staff are available from 9 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week.

Neighbor 2 Neighbor that links a parent in your area to you as a special personal contact.

Autism Conversations are groups in neighborhoods led by professionals and parents offering parents opportunities to learn more about ASD and treatment approaches.

Adults With ASD Group Meetings are held on the second and fourth Sunday evenings at The Children’s Home (5050 Madison Rd), with a goal being to provide a place for adults identified with Asperger syndrome/high functioning autism and support each other.

Monthly Family Support Meetings are held on the second Tuesdays from 7:00 – 8:30 P.M. at Kenwood Baptist Church at 8341 Kenwood Road.

For more on any of these programs, you can reach the Autism Society at: 513-561-2300 or http://www.autismcincy.org/

The Event To Connect

This Friday, October 23, is a big fundraiser for the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati.

The Event To Connect will include music and dinner by the Bite Open Bar. Plus, there will be a live auction and about 38 fabulous silent auction items including dinner at Ruby’s and cocktails at Ivy, sports memorabilia, a Belterra package, Disney items and a hopper pass, art from various local artists, several golf packages, holiday baskets, fine restaurant certificates, wine and other alcoholic beverages, entertainment tickets, and much more.
(Volunteer Terri Hogan has been volunteering countless hours to coordinate the silent auction.)

at The Transept on Washington Park
1205 Elm St; Cincinnati
from 7 to 11 pm
valet parking is available

There are a few seats still available. Tickets are $100 or a VIP ticket is $150. To register, please call 513-561-2300, email Carole Willenborg at cwillenborg@autismcincy.org; or register online here.

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CINspirational People: Terri Hogan


CINspirational People is a feature of Good Things Going Around profiling diverse people of Greater Cincinnati, what inspires them, and what is inspiring about them. You can read more profiles by clicking on the link at the top of the blog. Do you know someone to suggest? Please reach out. Thanks!

Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Terri Hogan, a Cincinnati volunteer and philanthropist. We met when I was working on the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival and she was the Premiere Weekend co-chair. If you know Terri, then you no doubt have also been inspired by her. She gives of herself tirelessly to causes and people she holds close to her heart. When knocked down, she bounces right back up with an invigorated determination. She practices her gratitude strength every day.

Cincinnati volunteer and philanthropist Terri Hogan shares about her inspirationTerri’s greatest lessons came from two of her greatest role models – her late father and her son.

The mother of a beautiful daughter from a previous marriage, Heidi, Terri was in her 40s when she and her husband Paul decided they wanted to adopt. The couple were in the delivery room when a tiny, four-pound premature baby boy made his entrance into this world. Bailey was perfect in every sense, hitting normal milestones for infants. But then things suddenly changed and at 2 ½, their little boy was given the diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum.

Terri walked out of her doctor’s office asking herself, “Now what?” It was overwhelming, she shared. So much so that she was given a prescription for her depression, and she never cried as much as she did the day she took her first and only pill.

“I just said, ‘no more’,” she told me. And that was her turning point.

She went back to school so she could learn how she could get her son to talk; and, about a month after she began learning about Applied Behavior Analysis, Bailey said his first words, “Mom, green train.”

If you have ever been a parent, you know, you will never forget your child’s first words. For Bailey, that sentence was the door that unlocked an entire world of exploration. And for his mom, it was the driving force for her relentless quest to keep learning, keep teaching, and keep giving.

Seventeen years have passed now since the Hogan’s first took their baby boy home and he spells words to him mom. On Facebook, Terri posts regularly about his progress and about the lessons Bailey teaches her about life. She writes of the people she has impacted and those who have touched her, as a result of his being in her life.

I asked Terri some questions.

GTGA: How has your life been impacted by having Bailey?
Terri: Prior to Bailey, I was self centered. I didn’t know the people I know now and didn’t feel as happy as I do now. Now I wake up and think, ‘What can I do today? Who am I going to help?’, because I feel like a single act of kindness can transform a person’s life forever. I never would have felt that before.

In my world now, I go to a luncheon and I am in awe. I realize there is still so much in this world to learn.

I also don’t worry about silly things.

GTGA:  How would you describe Bailey to a stranger?
Terri:  Bailey is really smart and he has a cute sense of humor. If he is motivated, he can to the moon and back. His eyes are amazing and he speaks a lot with his eyes. He is really social and high fives the waiters and waitresses. He loves to play ball and swim. He also loves his Reds and Bengals.

GTGA:  What has Bailey taught you about life?
Terri: He has taught me to not worry about the small stuff and he has really opened my life to a whole new world and made me happier than ever.

GTGA:  Tell us about some of your volunteer work.
Terri: It was about two years after I began learning about Applied Behavior Analysis that I got on the board of the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati, and now serve on committees. At the time, they had just lost about $100,000 and Paul and I were determined to help them recoup that. We pounded the pavement and organized events. We raised $80,000 for them that year because they do such a great job.

I am involved with so many organizations. Among them are Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Visionaries and Voices, Melody Connections, Impact Autism, Birthright, Hyde Park  Senior Center, and Crayons to Computers.

Paul and I like to help the small guys to help them get on track because we feel like the bigger organizations have a lot of support.

GTGA: This year you lost your greatest role model, your dad. Tell us about him.
Terri: My parents raised eight kids.  My dad was a self made man who was so giving and sacrificing. What I always loved about him was that he was always into something. I remember as a little girl that I’d follow him around. I’d sit down with him and he’d tell me everything he was involved in. And then when I began getting involved with things, he would help me and write me notes and send things he read in the paper. He’s say, ‘Terri, you need to see this. Your group may benefit from it.’ He was a teacher. I miss him.

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OneSight Volunteers Gave Free Vision Exams To Cincinnati Students


Our vision is something so easily taken for granted. We look around ourselves and see the vibrant colors dispersed around us. We see billboards, newsprint, books and computer screens. Our vision helps us to navigate and explore, read and draw.

OneSight volunteer David Brown helped provide free vision screenings to Cincinnati area students

OneSight volunteer David Brown helped provide free vision screenings to Cincinnati area students

So, think for a moment how difficult it would be for a young child who has sight but cannot see with clarity, not because of a medical condition such as corneal or retinal issues, diabetes, and blindness, but because screenings and corrective eye glasses are simply too expensive.

According to the American Optometric Association,one in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem that could inhibit school performance not to mention their quality of life.
Since 1988, Greater Cincinnati nonprofit OneSight has been working to change that. With the help of dedicated partners, it has screened more than nine million people globally.

Locally, OneSight, in partnership with Luxottica, has been performing free vision screenings in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky school districts since 1992. A team of 1100+ volunteers recently visited 108 local schools and performed distance acuity screenings for about 30,000 students. Additionally, kindergarten and first grade boys were tested for color blindness and all students in kindergarten, first and third grade were tested for amblyopia through stereopsis screenings.

Jessica Hercule is a Cincinnati volunteer of nonprofit OneSight

Jessica Hercule was one of more than 1100 OneSight volunteers who provided free vision screenings to Cincinnati area students.

Jenni Eilers, LDO, OneSight volunteer engagement manager, told me students not passing their screenings were sent home with a letter advising parents to schedule a full vision exam with an eye care professional; and for those whose parents could not afford it, OneSight provided assistance (subject to availability). Many students in the Cincinnati Public School District were helped by the OneSight Vision Center at Oyler School while other students in need were referred through the OneSight Voucher Program.

The OneSight voucher program works to help those in needs in communities nationwide.  Any 501c3 is able to refer patients that are financially and visually in need to a local retail location (LensCrafters, participating Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, and Target Optical) for free eyewear.  If the patient is in need of an eye exam the referring 501c3 can help them partner with a local eye doctor at the retail location and or another organization to receive and eye exam to prepare them for their visit.


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CINspirational People: Connor Thomas


CINspirational People is a feature of Good Things Going Around profiling diverse people of Greater Cincinnati, what inspires them, and what is inspiring about them. You can read more profiles by clicking on the link at the top of the blog. Do you know someone to suggest? Please reach out. Thanks!

Connor Thomas is a Loveland teen who is driven and passionate when it comes to pursuing goals, and one of those goals is supporting military veterans. In addition to raising thousands of dollars for the Joseph House of Cincinnati and the Disabled Veterans of America, he founded a military club at his high school (serving as its president) that organizes awareness and fundraising events. Recently Connor begun working with the Clermont County Sheriff’s Department to establish the Loveland teen is featured in CINspirational PeoplePurple Heart Initiative, a program that provides market parking spots for soldiers that have received the Purple Heart Award. Connor also runs a unique website called My Clermont Military Heroes that honors veterans.

With all of this, he maintains a 4.25 GPA and is an All-Conference athlete playing football and running track.

GTGA: Your two grandfathers served in the military, as well as your great grandfather. Please share about how they have influenced your work for veterans.
Connor: I have reverence for both my grandfathers for what they did for my country, as I do all veterans. They are both supportive and have bought many military items along the years. I did not get to meet my great grandfather, but he had three stints between the Navy and USMC. He was a very disciplined and proud American. I have some of his items.

GTGA: You have so many responsibilities that you excel in – academics, athletics and your charity work. Where does your motivation come from?
Connor: I grew up on a college football sideline and everyone in our family is so competitive. Board games rarely get finished. My motivation is 90% internal. I want to be the best at everything I do to challenge myself to be a better person, so I can continue to serve more or more efficiently, but I was put here to serve. I have raised tens of thousands of dollars for military charities as I love my vets. The 10% is my environment. Nobody would complain seeing me graduate from a service academy.

GTGA: What is one of the greatest life lessons you have learned from your experiences?
Connor: Humility is #1. I see the fellas at The Joseph House and hope they are picking themselves up off the turf. I don’t care how many times I get knocked down, I will always get back up. That is all I know. “Indeserta” Latin for never quit.

GTGA: What words of wisdom do you have for other young people about having goals?
Connor: I’d tell them to set their goals high and plan their course to get there. If you want to be a doctor, you better be a master of math & science in school. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have something. If something is difficult the price is high, but if you are willing to pay it, you will succeed.

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