St. Xavier 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.
This is National Volunteer Week, seven days of celebrating the good will of millions across the country who have given of their time, their hearts, and their resources to enhance lives and causes that are meaningful to them.
Locally, large and small nonprofit organizations working to improve neighborhoods, strengthen families, save non-human animals, and lift people up could quite simply not do their very important work without the generosity of others. More than 8000 people give of their time to the FreeStore FoodBank alone. And that is just one of hundreds of causes in our Greater Cincinnati area.
Tonight I am told the staff and board members of nonprofit Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, that has empowered more than 160,000 vulnerable children and young adults since its founding through the mentorship of positive adult role models, will be very busy. They will be calling EVERY active CYC volunteer and thanking each one for his/her time and effort.
Wow, that is a lot of phone calls!
They will be reaching out to people like Harry Blanton, a CYC mentor for 18 years. His first mentee was Patrick, who at nine years old had an incarcerated father and a mother struggling with addiction. Thanks to Blanton’s influence in his life, Patrick attended St. Xavier High School, then Xavier University, and is now a financial counselor pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership. He and Harry are still close, and even recently attended CYC’s Trivia Night for Brighter Futures together, playing on the same team. “It is a joy to have Patrick in my life and I can’t imagine it without him,” said Harry.
The feeling is shared by Patrick. “I am an example that even though the cards are stacked against you, you can succeed if you have the right people on your side,” he attested. “CYC provided that person to me: Harry Blanton.”
Success stories like theirs is not uncommon at CYC. Just last fall, former mentee Lamont got married with his mentor Tim Clarke by his side – as none other than his best man. Matched when Lamont was just 13, the resulting relationship was so important to Lamont that instead of wedding favors, he gave a gift to CYC in honor of every wedding guest.
The gesture’s weight was not lost on Tim. “When I saw on the place setting the little card, I was unable to give the regular speech I had prepared,” he said. “I just had to thank him. For him to want a gift to give to CYC for this to happen to someone else—I got emotional. It was a great day.”
Volunteers are everywhere
These are such beautiful stories. And with those two, there are thousands more too of people all around us, and even ourselves, who are making a positive difference.
The dictionary definition of a volunteer is: a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself a service or undertaking. This means that to be a volunteer doesn’t necessarily mean you are going through a social service agency. It is as simple as an act of kindness to a stranger on the street or an extended hand or ear to a friend or loved one who needs someone to be there.
Today, let’s celebrate those wonderful gifts. But also, let’s commit to finding ways of giving those gifts every day.
I’d like to tell you a little about the man with whom I have been spending a lot of time working with these past few weeks. His mother used to call him a ‘Gift from God” and I think she was pretty intuitive.
Roger Grein was recently honored nationally and locally with distinguished honors for his lifelong generosity and focus on strengthening lives and communities. He was selected from 19,000 full time volunteers as the National Father George Mader Award by the Catholic Volunteer Network. Named after the Network’s founder, the annual Award is given to an organization or individual that encourages lay men and women to serve others locally, nationally, or internationally. Grein was also named 2012 Philanthropist of the Year from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cincinnati Chapter.
The Man Behind The Awards
At 70, Roger is a simple man. He still lives in the modest house in Lockland where he spent many years of his life and comes to work every day in a nondescript building on Benson Street in Reading.
But inside those walls, inspiration comes alive. To the right of his desk are rows of softball trophies – some so tall they reach higher than my knee (And those, he says, only represent a fraction of the trophies he had. He donates them to charities.) Each trophy represents another milestone in his 36 year coaching career, a journey that led teams to world championships and travels to Hawaii, Mexico, Sweden and the former Soviet Union.
All of that is from a man who, in school never came close to earning a spot on sport teams. Roger was asked to chalk the base lines, collect towels and fetch water instead.
You see, Roger was never expected to excel – physically or mentally. He was six months old when Frank and Thelma took him home from St. Joseph Infant Home. His birth certificate read ‘disnormal baby.’ He might not walk, the doctors said. He might not talk. And he might never know them.
Thelma would have none of that. In her eyes, her son could do anything. “Heal-toe,” she used to say. She walked her son everywhere, made him study, helped him find summer jobs, taught him about giving back, and ensured he was included. She expected from her son what other mothers expect from their sons – great things.
“The only time I realized I was different was when someone asked me why I walked the way I do,” Roger told me.
By the time he was around 11, he had already started a lawn business and joined an investment club. He used to get out of class to check the stock market, he remembers.
Roger studied finance at the University of Cincinnati, earning his MBA, but even with two degrees work was hard to come by. So he got back into the lawn cutting business and started handing out business cards, asking customers if they needed tax service.
That first year, Roger did 25 returns and his mother typed them up. By the third year he was doing 345 returns and had become the tax commissioner in three municipalities. In 1970, he was doing 850 returns with a staff of eight.
Unknown, however, even to family was that in his success, Roger was secretly giving away thousands…at one point, giving over half a million each year. In 1999 he gave Northern Kentucky University $500,000 for softball player scholarships and to improve the girls’ softball field, and for students with disabilities.
It was about 12 years ago, after learning of an NKU philanthropy program for students, sponsored by the Mayerson Foundation, that he vowed to expand the idea. That promise led to his meeting with Father Michael Graham at Xavier University to start a similar program there, which led to 34 colleges and universities embracing his philanthropy education model through a program that is managed by Ohio Campus Compact. And, now to over 2000 local teens engaged in becoming young philanthropists through Magnified Giving.
The vision of Magnified Giving is for every high school student in America, beginning with Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, to someday have an opportunity to learn firsthand how to be generous and wise philanthropists through hands-on experience. Participating school groups are challenged to determine how they want to invest up to $2000 in a nonprofit.
The organization’s fourth year is seeing a record number of schools and students involved. Over 2000 students in 36
Magnified Giving programs (35 school-based and one community-based) are researching hundreds of nonprofit agencies, sending over 300 grant invitation letters, and will be awarding grants collectively totally nearly $60,000 at the 2012-2013 Award Event, scheduled for April 30 at McAuley High School.