Aiken High School
It is one of the most unique and broad reaching efforts to inspire lifelong wise and generous philanthropists. In its seventh year, nonprofit Magnified Giving kicked off the 2014-2015 school year by giving money to groups of students from a record 52 regional schools, with the charge of extensively researching, debating, discussing, and ultimately investing it wisely into causes of value to them. It all culminated with those more than 2,500 students collectively granting nearly $100,000 to 70 diverse charities in a series of awards ceremonies.
This is the second year that I have helped Magnified Giving spread the word about its impact. (You will probably be reading about it in a community paper near you soon.)
Four students were also recognized with Roger Grein Spirit of Philanthropy Award, nominated by teachers and selected for exemplifying the meaning of philanthropy as expressed through essays. Honorees included: Julie Gyure from Perry High School, Alex Deters from St. Xavier High School, Becca Faeth from Holy Cross High School and Katie Perry from Roger Bacon High School.
To truly understand the power of this organization is to read what these honorees had to say about how participating has changed their outlook, changed their life. Below are excerpts from their essays.
“This program has shown me that philanthropy is all about fixing our society’s problem of inequality from its roots, not just with monetary donations, but with time. Volunteering at organizations and taking your own time to get to know them and make personal connections. Using your talents, finding what you personally do well and then applying that to an organization, such as using an eye for fashion at Dress for Success, or culinary skills at a soup kitchen. A quote that my dad always says is ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ The meaning of philanthropy is use your time, talent, and treasures to do something you love that the common good can benefit from. Magnified Giving taught me that philanthropy isn’t just a definition written in my notebook, but it is a feeling that you demonstrate through giving back to the community.” – Katie Perry
“Mr. Grein came to speak to my service class at St. X, and I paid close attention to every word of his life’s story, especially the parts concerning his service and work for the common good. He was describing a particular moment in his life, in which he came to realize his love of service and the call he felt to serve, and realizing it or not, Mr. Grein articulated the exact conversion that was taking place in my heart….Deep within my heart, I began to feel a call to selflessness, a call to help my fellow man, but more than anything, a call to service. This call has changed my life irreversibly. I will never be able to see the world the way I did before, and I have decided I will live out this call to service wherever it may take me in my life, following Mr. Grein’s example.” – Alex Deters
“Roger (Grein)’s story touched my heart and I want to do something good for the world just like Roger did! The Magnified Giving program is just my first step! The program gives me the opportunity to go out in the world and lend a helping hand to those who need it. I can give my time, support, and love to people who struggle every day. Magnified giving has raised my confidence in becoming a better person. The program has helped me to see how easy it is just to help someone out whether by money, time, etc. I feel like I am an important part in this world because of this program. It helped me see that I want to help people and have a passion for helping others. The program has brought me closer to the outside world, it has brought my school community closer, and it even brought my family together.” – Becca Faeth
“By participating in civic and volunteer activities, I found my niche. I absolutely love working with people, especially when it is for the betterment of society. This has led me to an undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati in organizational leadership with a minor in human resources and nonprofit work. Now I believe that as long as one follows their passion; the size of a paycheck does not seem so important. Fast forward ten years. I plan to be working at a nonprofit such as Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, or Make-a-Wish. I’ll be working alongside individuals who are all there for the same reason; to address an issue occurring in the community, working for justice. My team should consist of human resource gurus that not only focus on community needs, but the needs of their fellow co-workers. Together we will be able to apply our skills and talents to create a positive environment in the workplace and for the people we serve. Magnified Giving has set the path for my future and I will forever be indebted to this amazing organization for doing so.” – Julie Gyure
2014-2015 Participating Schools:
Participating Schools include Aiken High School, Anderson High School, Aurora, Badin High School, Bellevue High School, Bethel-Tate High School, Bishop Brossart High School, Bishop Fenwick High School, Catholic Central High School, Chaminade Julienne High School, Cincinnati Country Day High School, Colerain High School, Covington Catholic High School, Dater high School, Deer Park High School, DePaul Cristo Rey, East Clinton high School, Elder High School, Highlands High School, Holmes High School, Holy Cross High School, Indian Hill High School, Lakota East Freshman School, LaSalle High School, Loveland High School, Madeira Middle School, McAuley High School, McNicholas High School, Mother of Mercy High School, Milford High School, Mt. Notre Dame High School, Moeller High School, New Bremen High School, Notre Dame Academy, Perry High School, Purcell Marian High School, Reading High School, Roger Bacon high School, School for Creative & Performing Arts, Seton High School, Seven Hills High School, Shroder High School, Springer School, St. Henry High School, St. Xavier High School, Summit Country Day, Taft Information Technology High School, Taylor High School, Villa Madonna high School and Wyoming High School.
Cincinnati Bell, a partner of Taft Information Technology High School, donated the seed money for Taft’s grant funding.
With support from the Mayerson Foundation High School Service-Learning Program, students from nine area Cincinnati high schools helped raise awareness about a child’s walk to school in Tanzania by walking through our downtown.
Teens from Aiken High School, Arlington Heights Academy, Finneytown High School, Gamble Montessori, Lockland High School, McAuley High School, Mt. Healthy High School, Ursuline Academy, and Wyoming High School/Wyoming Youth Services researched the needs in Tanzania through Village Life Outreach Project – a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization that partners with Tanzanian villages to design and implement sustainable projects to fight poverty, provide access to clean water and health care, and improve educational outcomes.
In rural Tanzania, East Africa, students walk nearly six miles to school, which can take up to three hours one way.
It was in 2010, when Wyoming and Finneytown High School students and staff supported the children in Tanzania by creating the “Walk in My Shoes” Challenge – a 5.5 mile walk in Cincinnati from Salway Park to Fountain Square. It was an effort that quickly spread.
Proceeds from the Walk help fund the Village Life Outreach Project Ugi Nutrition Program in Tanzanian schools. Ugi is a nutritious meal that feeds 1,200 Tanzanian students who walk to school per day and would otherwise go malnourished. The total cost to feed all 1,200 primary school children per year equals a daily cost of $0.04 per child.
Homelessness. It’s hard to imagine. Sitting in my comfortable living room thinking about time treasured with loved ones, I realize how easy it is for us to take what we have for granted. But, in one stroke of bad luck, one moment in time, I know life can change. People can change.
Buddy opened the Drop Inn Center – now Cincinnati’s largest homeless shelter filled to its 222 bed capacity most nights. It was in 1973 when his idea came to fruition as an evening-only shelter for the homeless located in a series of storefronts in Over-the-Rhine. On January 13, 1978, the volunteer forces of the Drop Inn Center made the famous “People’s Move” to the former Teamsters Hall at 217 W. 12th Street where the shelter remains today. Buddy also founded the Homeless Coalition in 1984.
“On the street, he knew everyone’s name, and they knew him,” Tom Dutton, a Miami University architecture professor and director of the university’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He was deeply loved. He was in people’s homes. One of the stories is how he used to fix people’s space heaters. He saw people as they were and didn’t judge them. It seems simplistic but is very powerful.”
A Simple And Powerful Lesson Lives On
Schools across the Greater Cincinnati are teaching their students to see the world as Buddy saw it, to understand the hardships faced by thousands, and to help with giving hands.
October was Homeless Awareness Month. Faces Without Places, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, and the Manuel D. & Rhoda Mayerson Foundation collaborated to identify about 30 schools, create an idea sharing kickoff, and provide support for a citywide Shantytown.
Shantytowns are simulations providing creative way to sensitize students to the issues of homelessness, difficulty in accessing affordable housing, jobs, and food. This year, students’ minds and hearts were opened when they heard the story of struggle and resilience from a Homeless Coalition Speaker’s bureau member – someone who has experienced homelessness. Inevitably, stereotypes of people experiencing homelessness were challenged and changed.
At Aiken High School, for example, where their theme for the year is ‘Here, There and Everywhere,’ Karen Barrett told me, “we wanted to make sure the students understood that to be involved in service, you don’t have to go overseas or out of state or even the school building.”
Beginning their Shantytown evening, participating students fed the school football team and cheerleaders and then cheered them off to the game. They made posters to advertise a canned food drive for Thanksgiving baskets and put them up throughout the school.
Then the students met peers from Shroder High School at a local grocery store where they were each given $1.00 to spend on snacks for the night and breakfast the next morning. “We explained that the $1.00 is just about the amount that a person on food stamps is given for each meal,” said Karen.
That night, eyes were open when an Aiken graduate shared her story of homelessness while attending classes there. Students saw the movie ‘The Soloist’ and talked about attitudes toward people on the streets before heading outside to sleep in the boxes they set up as makeshift housing. The temperatures that evening got down in the 30’s and many of the students came back in the building in the wee hours of the morning – an option they came to realize that was not available to those without homes.
For our Canned Food Drive, I went over to the Villa Madonna campus and picked up the mural that was made as a memorial for Buddy Gray. After studying it, one of my more artistic students commented, “I feel like I can see into the souls of those figures through their eyes”.
Shantytown served its purpose.
(Buddy Gray photo credit: Street Vibes)