Heard about the Assistance League?
The Assistance League is an all volunteer nonprofit organization in Greater Cincinnati and its signature program is Operation School Bell has provided new school uniforms to 1,908 students during the 2014 to 2015 school year. The organization has helped the children in need in 35 public and parochial schools throughout the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas. Each school uniform consists of short and long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks, underwear, a belt, a fleece jacket and a pair of shoes. Individuals and grantors enthusiastically support this program which directly impacts a child by providing an essential need – clothing. Learn more: http://www.assistanceleaguecincinnati.org/
A little over a month ago I wrote about the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD, a nonprofit organization for whom I am now doing public relations, bringing world renowned photographer Rick Guidotti here to share his – and ReelAbilities’ – message that it is our differences that give individual’s their own unique beauty.
Through the ReelAbilities Education Outreach Team, Rick spoke with hundreds of area high schools. And already, something truly outstanding has occurred to spread impact. Milford High School Photography Teacher Janelle Schunk came up with an idea for a project pairing students with and without disabilities to create an exhibition called Different Lives Same Beauty.
Milford’s Photography I class worked with students in the school’s multiple disabilities unit to learn about each other’s differences AND similarities. In addition to create beautiful portraits, building relationships and friendships were also goals.
“I was nervous when I first met John, who is nonverbal. I wondered how I was going to make him smile. We learned he likes beads and were able to use beads to get him to smile and look at the camera,” student Leah Breuer shared in a blog post on the Milford Schools site. “Before I had never really talked to the kids in the MD unit, but after this project I know all of their names and I say hi in the hallways.”
What is really awesome about this is the lasting impact this project will have as a foundation for future good friends, neighbors, citizens, employers and employees.
Please click to see WLWT coverage.
Speaking about success in the classroom
What is inclusion and why is it important in the positive growth for all children? Sara Bitter, ReelAbilities Education Outreach Team chair, was interviewed recently by Jason’s Connection about the impact of ReelAbilities’ work in area schools. Please click here to read her interview.
She shared how inspiration for working with ReelAbilities came from her son who has a disability. When he entered kindergarten, she gave a presentation to his class. I think the first thing the presentation did was, it helped the kids understand some of the challenges of his disability. More importantly though, it helped them to see (through real pictures) all of his many capabilities, she told Jason’s Connection.
“…we shouldn’t assume that because someone has a disability, he or she can’t have big achievements. Can’t have great life experiences. Or can’t get a job, have a family or have a successful life. Modifications and accommodations throughout a person’s education will help them be able to participate in almost every academic and extracurricular activity so they can grow into productive self-determined adults. It just takes an ability to think outside of the box and make this happen.
Please click here to learn more about the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival Outreach Program.
I am so fortunate that my public relations work allows me to help such truly special causes. Magnified Giving is among them. The nonprofit works with schools to teach young people about being educated philanthropists. I have been helping them with their recent year end awards events.
Below is more about them…
They are from different neighborhoods diverse by ethnicity, cultures, religions and economic backgrounds. And for the past year, they were the more than 2500 students in groups from 50 regional schools who were given more than $1000 by Magnified Giving to extensively research, debate, discuss, and ultimately come to a decision on a worthy cause for whom to grant that money. Some also volunteered their time and even raised additional funds to give to organizations that speak to their hearts.
It was a process that taught students leadership and life skills, how to work together as a team toward a common goal, and how to be wise donors to causes important to them. Before filled auditoriums at four events, those students walked on stage to share their experiences and present checks that collectively totaled more than $75,000.
Ian Dollenmayer, a 2012 graduate of Covington Catholic High School and Magnified Giving alumni, shared his thoughts at one of the events.
“Looking at this program’s title, I believe it is that first word—“magnified”—that truly makes this experience unique. What are magnified are our perceptions, our knowledge, and ourselves. Discovering charities around this area requires us to exit our comfort zone, to journey beyond the conceptual academia of the classroom into the harsh pragmatics of the world around us. Outside the walls of our schools, we find a world that is plagued with problems, but we also are able to see working solutions. We see what it is that different organizations are trying to alleviate and how they are going about doing so.
Above all else, we meet people. Some are the ones afflicted by the ills of an imperfect world, while others are the ones trying to help. It is these meetings and relationships that have the capacity to fundamentally change us. We see in those around us a struggle to make ends meet and live healthy lives, and we in turn see those fighting to give those very things.
What I believe this ultimately gives us, at least what it has given me, is vision. We are among the fortunate, so it is our duty to use the advantages given to us to assist those who are in need. This vision allows us to see where our advantages can be used, where our fortune can be shared, where we can change someone’s world. This day, I challenge us all to use the lessons we have learned from the Magnified Giving program as we advance forward in our lives because no matter where we go, no matter what we become, these are the ideas that can carry our world to a better tomorrow. Be you a politician, a doctor, an accountant, a biologist, an engineer, an artist, or any one of a million different professions and vocations, the world will still need improvement. People will still need our help. It is here our mission begins, and it begins today.”
Roger Grein, founder and CEO of Magnified Giving, shared this note he received from one of the participating teachers – Heather Campbell, national board certified teacher at Butler Tech at Lakota East High School.
“I work with some kids who have been disengaged in school, have low self-esteem, have been sometimes marginalized by our education system, and are often times challenged by overwhelming circumstances. I am blessed to have the opportunity and support to teach these students in ‘my way’ through ‘my methods’.
Today as my students had a contentious, intense debate- on task for 1 ½ hours- I realized just what an important part Magnified Giving has played in their process of evolving, scholastically and on a personal level. I was outside of the room, but I could not help but hear them- they expressed their thoughts, their passions eloquently and respectfully. They called me in when they needed help in organizing their thoughts, but I merely listened and summarized what I heard. I did not put my two cents in. I have never seen this group- individually or together take something so seriously. EVERY one of them weighed in. EVERY one of them had definite thoughts and contributions to the discussion.
I assured them that they could not make a wrong decision. In the end, they felt the difficult bending that sometimes must come when a group cannot meet unanimity, but must come to consensus. I think they will volunteer for other organizations who did not receive their award. They know now that awareness is the first step, and that they can be messengers.
Most importantly, I feel that they truly were affected by this process and have become more evolved, more aware, kinder citizens of their community and their world. For this, I am truly grateful to you.”
If you believe in the cause of Magnified Giving, you can support their work with a monetary donation. Please visit http://www.MagnifiedGiving.org to learn more.
To view more photos from the Magnified Awards events, please click here.