Lighthouse Youth Services
Many years back and very early in my career, my mentor, Bill Mefford, told me about an organization for whom one of his friends was looking for a public relations contractor. Long story short, that woman was Ruth Voss and the organization that became my first long term PR client is Cincinnati nonprofit organization, Lighthouse Youth Services.
Ruth was the impetus for Lighthouse’s existence. (One of my close friends, Connie Dreyfuss, was a friend of Ruth’s and also one of the founding board members of Lighthouse.) I never had the fortune of meeting Ruth but from what I’ve learned about her, she was an incredible woman, mother, wife, and advocate.
Recently I’ve come to know one of Ruth’s sons, Peter, and through him I’m learning more about this woman whose impact is touching the lives of thousands of young people.
It was in 1971 when Ruth, then the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Teen-ager editor and mother of eight, received an urgent invitation to visit with President Nixon in the oval office of the White House. The President was looking for her ideas on getting youth involved in the country’s affairs. As can happen when one begins talking about their passion, that conversation quickly became pointed toward a Cincinnati half way house for girls that was just opening.
Ruth sat beside our country’s leader and told him the story of how she and a group of volunteers had tirelessly worked for four years to get that project off the ground, and how desperately short they were of operating funds. President Nixon looked her in the eyes and asked her how much she needed. “$30,000,” was her answer. “I’ll give you $50,000,” he told her.
That check led to Cincinnati’s New Life for Girls that ultimately became Lighthouse Youth Services, and that $50,000 was its first year’s budget. Peter told me how that allowed them to buy two homes – one in Madisonville and one on Ezzard Charles Drive. Ruth was a sorority sister of Marge Schott, whom also became a donor. One of those homes was names after the Reds’ former owner.
Peter tears up when he talks about his relationship with his mother. An only child, her parents were immigrants who came to the United States through Ellis Island and made a home in Cincinnati. She and her husband, Peter’s father, met on a blind date when they were attending University of Cincinnati. When they married, Ruth wanted a large family and was a loving role model to her children. Her strong heart for kids led to her work at the Enquirer, and her hosting events for and coaching young writers.
He shared with me a prose he wrote as a gift for his mother on her first birthday after his dad’s passing.
“ Mom cherished this gift with all her heart, and it remains on display in my home; always!,” Peter said, adding, “When my wife & I were dating, she was told by her ObGyn MD she would never have biological kids. We fooled science and were blessed with Katie & Bobby, two years apart. We NEVER take our children for granted; nor one another, as Gloria (his wife) nearly expired delivering Bobby!”
Peter told me if I had known his mother, I would have no doubt been her friend and I can absolutely see that. I wish I had had the opportunity to have met the woman who set my career path in motion but I am glad to know her son. Ruth’s impact lives on.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation recently honored dynamic people whose commitment to philanthropy is helping to make our Greater Cincinnati community a better place for all of us.
Ed and Carole Rigaud are this year’s recipients of the Jacob E. Davis Volunteer Leadership Award, recognizing their leadership and generosity of time toward improving the quality of life in our region. The Award was named in honor of Jacob E. Davis, GCF’s first Governing Board Chair and Volunteer Director from 1978 to 1987.
The Rigauds’ names are synonymous with generosity and dedication. They have demonstrated these qualities in their professional, volunteer, and family lives. I have been fortunate to have seen Carole’s heart in action first hand during my eight year tenure working with Lighthouse Youth Services, one of her charitable causes.
During his 36 years at Procter & Gamble (P&G), Ed became the first African-American line vice president, eventually serving as vice president of government relations in North America. In 1998, he became the first president and CEO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, on loan from P&G. Today, Ed is a co-director of Taft Business Consulting LLC. He is also the president and CEO of Enova Premier, LLC, automotive product supply and services.
Ed’s numerous volunteer roles include being a past member of the National Museum and Library Services Board, appointed by President Bush in 2002. His many volunteer activities include Honorary Chairman of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and serving on the boards of the Williams College of Business at Xavier University, and UC Physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical College.
Carole has a long list of volunteer commitments and awards. She serves on the Lighthouse Youth Services and 4C for Children gala committees. She volunteers for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Lighthouse Youth Services, Advocates for Youth, The Women’s Alliance, The Healthcare Connection, and Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. Carole has served as the co-chair of the 2013 National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s International Freedom Conductor Awards and on the boards of GCF, Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati May Festival, Dress for Success, The Mercantile Library, Interact for Health, Cincinnati Museum Center, Northern Kentucky University Foundation, and The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education.
Carole has been honored as an Enquirer Woman of the Year, a Girl Scouts Great Rivers Council Inc. Women of Distinction, and with the Lighthouse Youth Services 2010 Beacon of Light Humanitarian Award.
The GCF honored Foster & Motley Wealth Management with GCF’s Bridge Builder Award. The Bridge Builder Award is given each year to a professional advisor(s) who has been a supporter of the Foundation in multiple ways over many years.
Foster & Motley, Inc. is an independent SEC Registered Investment Advisor established in 1997. Its focus is to help its clients reach their financial goals. Its team of 32 employees provides the highest quality, customized, fee-only financial planning and investment services. They assist clients in managing well over $950 million in assets and provide comprehensive solutions to their complex financial and investing needs.
In Trenton, New Jersey there is a very special organization that is quietly making simple wishes happen for foster children and vulnerable families. One Simple Wish recently made a trip to Greater Cincinnati to take 20 foster kids of Lighthouse Youth Services to a Cincinnati Reds game. What a wonderful gift that no doubt has given some children with lots of potential, a lasting memory.