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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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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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