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.
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.
Attending an awards event is truly an inspirational experience. And the Cincinnati Rotary Club’s 2014 Jefferson Award luncheon was no exception. The Awards program honors ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things,’ although the truth is I wouldn’t classify any of those whose names were recognized as ‘ordinary’.
They are amazing people who have a passion and a drive to get things done. They have a genuine heart for others. They are leaders. And they are people whose voices cause people to take notice.
While one person was awarded the Jefferson Award, the finalists are absolutely deserving of recognition too. So I wanted to include the videos of each of them and I encourage you, if you want to be inspired, to listen to each one.
Congratulations to Wendy Steele, 2014 Jefferson Award Recipient!
The year was 2001 when Wendy Steele, a former bank vice president and stay-at-home mother to three, had an idea. And out of that idea sprouted an organization and a movement that has infused millions of dollars into the hands of dedicated individuals and teams making a difference in their communities.
Impact 100 is Wendy’s brainchild. It is a nonprofit that has given out more than $2,500,000 to 22 different nonprofits in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area since its inception. Its concept is simple and powerful. Impact 100 members each donate $1000 and annually pool their resources; research nonprofit applicants; vote for the organization that could have the largest IMPACT; award a grant (of at least $100,000); and follow-up to hold the agency accountable.
By 2013, the local Impact 100 had grown to include over 300 members, some of whom now split the $1,000 membership fee and a single member’s vote.
And the giving doesn’t stop there. Today Impact 100 is in 18 communities across the United States and several communities in Australia. Nationally, over 5000 women have contributed more than $25 million to charities.
(video credit: Local12 Creative Services Dept)
Dr. Ira Abrahamson, founder of the Abrahamson Pediatric Eye Institute in 1996 with a mission of wiping out preventable blindness in children by developing a vision screening program. His program has expanded to 29 elementary schools and several community centers throughout Greater Cincinnati.
(video credit: Local12 Creative Services dept)
Brooke and Keith Desserich founded The Cure Starts Now Foundation in 2007 in honor of their daughter Elena, who lost her battle to cancer at the young age of 6. Today The Cure Starts Now has surpassed $2 million in research funded at some of the top prestigious research facilities around the globe, including our Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
(video credit: Local12 Creative Services Dept)
Created in 1972 by then-Cincinnati resident U.S. Sen. Robert Taft and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Jefferson Award is presented annually to recipients in more than 90 U.S. cities. It’s organized by the Institute of Public Service and supported locally by the Rotary Club of Cincinnati, one of the area’s oldest business organizations with 300 members. This year’s Jefferson Award winner will go to a gathering of all U.S. honorees in June. Over the years, numerous Cincinnati winners have been recognized there with national honors for public service.
What a gift this blog has given me to get to meet truly beautiful people, people who give with their whole hearts realizing they have the capacity to affect lives.
Meredith Bailey is one such person. A senior at Walnut Hills High School, our paths crossed for the first time several weeks ago when her proud mother reached out to me. Karla wanted me to know about this special young philanthropist who has quietly been collecting shoes to share with those who otherwise would not be able to afford one of the great necessities that we so easily take for granted.
It began about four years ago. The Walnut Hills High School senior was looking for a Girl Scouts community service project. She donated a lot of shoes to Nike who recycled them for padded floors of playgrounds built in underserved neighborhoods. Then she gave shoes to pantries and Cincinnati nonprofits, and before long word got out. The requests kept coming in.
“I couldn’t turn my back,” Meredith told me. “Sure, sometimes I wish I had chosen something easier and there is nothing worse smelling than a carload of smelly gym shoes on a hot summer day but it’s a good feeling to know I am helping people.”
Meredith estimates she has collected, sorted, cleaned and distributed some 6,500 shoes since she began. Hundreds of pairs were given to Project Connect, to ensure Cincinnati Public Schools students who are homeless have something to wear on their feet when they come to class. She delivered 75 pairs of boots to Rockwern Academy last December. Six Cincinnati area nonprofits including the YWCA Battered Women and Children’s Shelter are also on Meredith’s list.
And about 300 shoes were given to SOTENI, who will give them to people in the villages of Kenya where native Cincinnatian Randi Marsh has established a program to fight AIDS.
I stopped by the Bailey’s house the other day to meet Meredith in person. A beautiful, tall and slender teenager greeted me with multi-colors of paint all over her hands. “I am a counselor at Girl Scout camp,” she explained. I had figured her summer job would have something to do with giving back.
She took me to her back porch where she had only a fraction of her shoe collection. (She had just given hundreds of pairs to Project Connect.) It was then, seeing her expression as she looked into the piles that I could really see deep within her soul. There, standing in front of me, was a young woman who hadn’t even decided upon her college yet but who had the foresight many don’t accumulate in their lifetime.
It is one thing to see in an email the words from someone telling you how happy it makes her to know she is helping people. It is a totally different experience to hear those words from a voice that crackles in raw emotion as she internalizes the impact of her good deeds.
Meredith spoke of a child who was able to attend camp because now there were shoes to cover her delicate 1.5 sized feet. And of the girls she came to know at a Girl Scout forum who put a face to the poverty in Kenya Meredith had until then only heard about through the news. One of them who had little or no material possessions had aspirations of becoming a doctor one day.
“It really gives you a different perspective on how much we have and they don’t have,” Meredith told me. “Those girls don’t have much but they still have dreams. They are so strong despite their circumstance.”
For me, I think strength can be measured in so many different ways. Caring and putting those feelings into action builds many of those muscles.
“I think happiness is the most important thing in life. The fact that I can make people happy is all that matters,” Meredith said.
If you have shoes to donate to Meredith’s cause, you can email her at: WeBeBailey@aol.com.
Last fall it was so wonderful to have been given the opportunity to learn about one of our region’s truly great philanthropists – Roger Grein when I helped raise awareness of his contributions. Roger has given to local nonprofits with his resources and his heart. However, his greatest legacy is in the hearts of thousands of young people in whom he and his Magnified Giving team of staff and volunteers have instilled long lasting generosity.
Magnified Giving is a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to educate, inspire, and engage students in philanthropy. Its vision of Magnified Giving is for every high school student in America, starting with the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, to someday have the opportunity to learn first-hand how to be generous and wise philanthropists.
Each year, participating school groups are challenged to determine how they want to invest up to $2000 in a nonprofit. They research, evaluate nonprofit grant applications, fundraise to earn matching dollars – gaining leadership, communication, and teamwork skills as part of the process. This spring in a packed auditorium of over 600 students, teachers, nonprofits, donors, parents, and community leaders, nearly $50,000 was presented to causes doing great work.
“The most rewarding aspect of Magnified Giving is when what we do in the classroom reaches beyond the walls of the school in a tangible way. I see students ‘get it’ when they come back from a site visit,” said Julie Vehorn, director of curriculum and instruction at Roger Bacon High School overseeing her school’s Magnified Giving program.
Aiken College & Career
Cincinnati Country Day
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
Miami Valley Christian Academy
Mother of Mercy
Mt. Notre Dame
Notre Dame Academy
Perry High School
School for the Creative and Performing Arts
Summit Country Day
Madeira Middle School
Northern KY Youth Advisory Board
Zai is a senior at Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame High School and she is someone who inspires me. At a young age, she has a huge heart and understands the power of kindness. She said giving back just does great things for the heart.
“Philanthropy literally means “love of humanity”. In simplest terms it means giving back to your community. This big word has a big punch! Once you understand philanthropy your heart will grow bigger. I know mine did for sure,” she said.
Zai told me her passion for helping others began three years ago when she got involved with her school’s Youth Philanthropy Council (YPC).
“Being a part of helped me push to get my book published. My book is titled Animal Adventurers Book 1: Murder at Thompson Manor which is the first in the series. I wrote this book in order to give animals a second chance for a family and life,” she said.
Over three quarters of the profits goes to nonprofit organization Magnified Giving, towards the Animal Adventurer Grant.
Magnified Giving is a local non-profit that educates youth, mainly high school students about philanthropy through a yearlong program. They research, do presentations, have fundraisers, and at the end of the year give a money grant to a non-profit.
About Zai’s book, Animal Adventures Book 1: Murder at Thompson Manor
Chrissy only knows that she is alone, with no one to turn to. All she has to offer herself is a small amount of hope that her world will go back to normal, whatever normal is.
When Chrissy gets recused her world seems to make a little bit of sense again. She gains a new family composed of Pumpkin, a clumsy black kitten, Lianna, a stubborn know-it-all Dalmatian, and Frosty, an over-excited, talkative Siberian husky. But when a stranger, with an offer, comes to the door, her secure world comes crumbling down around her. Chrissy must leave behind her safehome, and go on a spiraling adventure to save her family.
Of course her adventure isn’t easy, especially when her new billionaire owner is murdered, and her family is left abandoned once again. Things get even more out of control when her rescuer Brad, is accused of being the killer, and is locked up in jail. Will Chrissy and her family be able to prove Brad innocent and catch the real killer?
The Animal Adventurers is a creative blend of non-stop suspense, drama, and mystery. It’s a heartwarming story filled with courageous, abandoned characters that will do anything for family.
For more information on Animal Adventurers please go to www.animaladventurers.com