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Talent : For Good

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Junior League of Cincinnati celebrates 95 years, honors women making a difference


It’s not too late to purchase your tickets to The Junior League of Cincinnati’s annual Cinsation gala, which will take place Saturday in celebration of the nonprofit’s 95th year as “an accelerator for good” in the community. 

“The Junior League has made an impact in almost every major area of our community, from the arts to social services,” says Susan Shelton, president of the JLC. “We have nurtured or accelerated over 120 projects.” 

Shelton has been a member of the JLC for more than 15 years and is proud to back the organization’s mission, which is “to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.” 

And since 1920, the nonprofit has done just that. 

“The Junior League of Cincinnati has been advocating on behalf of families in our community throughout our 95-year history, whether it has been focused on the juvenile justice system or mental health services for children,” Shelton says. 

Currently the organization is working on two projects: GrinUp! and RefugeeConnect. 

The members’ work with GrinUp!, a pediatric health campaign, is intended to promote dental health and awareness among children, while their work with RefugeeConnect consists of bringing communities together to improve the lives of refugees seeking a sense of place and belonging. 

“We are so passionate about this work and excited about the potential to continue to impact our community with these projects,” Shelton says. “No matter what the project or effort has been throughout our 95 years, when our members come together they can and have truly initiated change in our community.”

Do Good: 

•    Support the JLC by purchasing tickets to Cinsation Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Cincinnati Masonic Center downtown. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the gala at 8:30 p.m.

•    Apply for JLC membership and join the more than 1,000 women working toward bettering the Greater Cincinnati community.

•    Support the JLC by donating.
 

Project38 focused on helping local students overcome "Shakesfear"


“Shakesfear” is a condition that Jay Woffington, executive director of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, says affects maybe 1 in 3 Americans and needs to be promptly eradicated. So Cincy Shakes is doing its part to introduce students to Shakespeare in a way that honors the playwright and his works while engaging youth through live performance.
 
“We do a great disservice by pretending he was a novelist, and by doing so we teach our students his stories are unintelligible, dense, boring — and none of this is true,” Woffington says. “But there is a solution. In the same way we don't get our appreciation of Bach and Beethoven by reading the sheet music, we shouldn't limit our appreciation of reading the works in school. They’re not books. They’re plays.”
 
Woffington says actors, costumes, scenery and audience are key elements that “make theater,” so live performance is necessary when sharing Shakespeare with audiences who aren't already familiar with or appreciative of The Bard.
 
Project38 is an educational initiative the company has launched to connect its teaching artists with more than 1,000 students and faculty from 38 local schools to bring Shakespeare’s 38 recognized works to life.
 
The project will culminate with a festival April 15-22 at Memorial Hall, where students will have the opportunity to showcase and share their work with a live audience.
 
“We do 250 performances every year of classic plays that have stood the test of time … and kids come,” Woffington says. “Twenty percent of our audience is students, kids under the age of 18. We see over 30,000 kids a year in Cincinnati, and it works. Student comprehension improves 30-40 percent more than reading the play alone.”
 
Do Good:
 
• Support the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company by donating.

• Learn about the CSC’s educational opportunities and consider getting your school or student involved.

Buy tickets to an upcoming performance and enjoy an extraordinary live theater performance.
 

ReelAbilities Film Festival kicks off Friday with "Meet the Stars" event


When Kathleen Cail watched her daughter excel in her first-ever live theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof this past weekend, she felt a sense of pride and an immediate recognition of the ability her daughter possessed.

Cail’s daughter has a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Myotonic Dystrophy, “but that does not define who she is as a person,” Cail says.

As chair for the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, Cail is accustomed to seeing individuals from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and explore their differences while recognizing the shared humanity we all possess.

Her daughter’s school musical was a precursor to the excitement Cail will soon get to share with so many others, as Cincy ReelAbilities kicks off Friday morning with its Meet the Stars event, which is free and open to the public.

“It is fantastic to see celebrities from across our country who want to be a part of what we are doing here in Cincinnati,” Cail says. “They are talking about us and the great work we are doing to celebrate our diversity.”

Stars include Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin, Seinfeld and Bones’ Danny Woodburn and Sons of Anarchy’s Kurt Yaeger, among others.

“We want everyone to see our Greater Cincinnati region as a place that welcomes everyone, where people want to come, stay, work and raise a family,” Cail says.

Twenty film screenings will occur throughout the community from Feb. 27 to March 7 — including Wampler's Ascent, previewed here — with 2,500 individuals expected to attend. For Cail, it’s an opportunity for the Greater Cincinnati community to develop dialogue while educating and celebrating ourselves and others.

“The fact that Cincinnati and a local nonprofit, Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), host the national ReelAbilities program and that our festival is one of the largest in the nation is so fitting,” Cail says. “We really are an accepting and diverse community, and our community is truly so connected. The nonprofit, academic and business communities have really united around this festival, and that makes sense — this city supports its arts — and because we are so supportive of each other, we are able to unite so many sectors of our region behind this.”
 
Do Good:

Attend the ReelAbilities’ Meet the Stars event 9:30 a.m. Friday,  Feb. 27, at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati downtown.
 
• Check out the films and events and purchase tickets here.
 
• Support Cincy ReelAbilities by donating.
 

ChangingGears, LawnLife win big at SVP Fast Pitch


Social Venture Partners' Fast Pitch 2015 was a rousing success last week, presenting 11 different awards and seeing four of the eight finalists — ChangingGears, LawnLife, the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) and Healthy Visions — each coming away with at least $5,000. Just in its second year, Fast Pitch hosted 537 attendees to celebrate the awarding of $30,000 in unrestricted grants, scholarship and marketing support to local nonprofits.
 
ChangingGears won the $10,000 Innovation That Matters Grand Award and will use the funds to purchase tools and equipment needed to add a third service bay to its garage, which will allow the nonprofit to enable more individuals to take advantage of interest-free loans to become vehicle owners.
 
"It will increase our capacity to process donated cars, so we will be able to get more cars ready for clients," says Joel Bokelman, ChangingGears president. "Our capacity will also be increased to perform maintenance and repairs for clients that have purchased vehicles."
 
For Joan Kaup, executive director of SVP Cincinnati, the event's success shows how much interest there is in nonprofit innovation in Cincinnati.
 
"Our attendance and awards more than tripled this year over last year," Kaup says. "But we won't stop here. We are already thinking about how to make Fast Pitch even bigger and better in 2016."
 
LawnLife, whose mission is to "provide disconnected youth with an opportunity to gain real world experience and transferable skills," came away with $8,500 and the chance to represent Greater Cincinnati at the Philanthropitch International Competition in Austin, Tex., where more than $100,000 will be awarded.
 
"Tim Arnold, executive director of LawnLife, is a passionate, persuasive speaker. His story is personal and compelling," Kaup says. "LawnLife will be a good choice for Philanthropitch International, because the issue of homelessness and hopelessness of young men is pervasive. LawnLife is a innovative solution for this critical social problem that is transferable. Any city can adopt the model."

See the full list of Fast Pitch 2015 winners from Feb. 11 event at Memorial Hall.
 
Do Good:

Support Social Venture Partners Cincinnati by donating.

• Become a Social Venture Partner yourself.

• Connect with SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

C2C provides creative opportunities for teachers and students


Not only does Crayons to Computers serve area teachers by opening its doors for shopping days when educators can receive free supplies for their students, but it also partners with volunteers, businesses and other organizations to offer free educational tools and workshops.
 
Most recently, C2C partnered with Photo Pro Expo — the largest photography event in the Midwest — in an effort to support sixth- through 12th-grade teachers and students experiment with and learn how they might incorporate photography into the classroom.
 
In the “Capturing and Sharing” workshop for students, for example, participants spent time moving around different locations of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, where the event took place, to practice their skills. Each individual also received a free point-and-shoot camera to take home so they can continue to build their skills through practice.
 
“The student workshop was such a great experience and offered the kids who participated an amazing opportunity,” says Susan Frankel, C2C’s president and CEO. “Using photography and technology to connect the students to each other and to the world around them was truly inspiring.”
 
With technology constantly evolving, Frankel says it’s particularly important to stay up-to-date and find ways to relate to and connect with students. By offering opportunities to students as well as to teachers — who learned how to use new technology and who became more comfortable with the idea of introducing it into the learning space — participants felt more at ease and also inspired.
 
“The photography workshops offered through our partnership with the Photo Pro Expo provided an invaluable opportunity for the teachers and students who participated,” Frankel says. “With technology changing at such a rapid pace, it is opportunities like this that help us to ensure that the students we serve through Crayons to Computers have access to the opportunities and information that will prepare them for future success.”

Do Good: 

•    Support Crayons to Computers by volunteering and by donating.

•    Connect with C2C by liking its Facebook page.
 

Nonprofits to share stories, compete for prizes at Fast Pitch 2015


There’s still time to get your tickets to Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch, the competition in which eight area nonprofits will present their overall story and impact in three minutes or less. More than $30,000 will be awarded at the Feb. 11 gathering, which begins at 6 p.m. at Memorial Hall and is themed “Innovation That Matters.”
 
Having been chosen from a group of 20 semifinalists, the final pitchers are Breakthrough Cincinnati, Melodic Connections, Healthy Visions, Circle Tail, ChangingGears, Faces Without Places, Higher Education Mentoring Initiative and LawnLife.
 
For Melodic Connections Executive Director Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh, the coaching that's occurred throughout the Social Venture Partners process has been valuable, but the event itself will provide an opportunity for awareness raising.
 
“It is such a great way for us to help people understand the power of music therapy,” Zenk Nuseibeh says. “After Wednesday night, no matter the results, 500 more people will understand that music therapy is a science that has the ability to help people change the course of their lives.”
 
The funds awarded will enable the organizations to build capacity and ultimately reach more individuals in need, and one of the eight nonprofits will be selected to attend Philanthropitch International, where they’ll have the chance to compete for more than $100,000 in prize money.
 
“The prize money (from Fast Pitch) would allow ChangingGears to add a third service bay to our shop, so we can expand capacity and impact more lives through car ownership,” says Joel Bokelman, the nonprofit’s president.
 
Faces Without Places, Fast Pitch first-prize winner in 2014, is an organization that works to remove educational barriers for children experiencing homelessness. This year, Executive Director Ramin Mohajer will compete again for a potential $10,000 prize, which he says could allow the nonprofit to provide backpacks and shoes to hundreds.
 
“Every single organization in the room is doing amazing work and deserves more funding and recognition,” Mohajer says. “I remember sitting there last year and being glad that I didn't have to pick the winners.” 

Do Good: 

•    Purchase tickets to Fast Pitch 2015 at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine.

•    Learn more about Social Venture Partners Cincinnati and consider becoming a partner. 

•    Follow SVP Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

NCH City Center in need of funding for air conditioner, roof to allow for summer programming

Two nonprofits have joined together in an effort to fundraise for the North College Hill City Center, which serves as a venue for everything from children’s programming to a meeting and support spot for disabled veterans .
 
The Pro Foundation, which manages and operates the NCH City Center, is partnering with CenterStage Players, the oldest community theater group in Ohio, for The Awesome 80s Prom, an interactive performance and dance party Feb. 6-7.
 
“It’s a unique fundraiser,” says Kathy Harward, director of community outreach for The Pro Foundation. “We’ll have a whole prom court, and they’re all actors. They’ll be interacting with the guests and campaigning for them to vote for prom king and queen. People can dress up or come as they are.”
 
Proceeds will support rehabilitation of the city center, as its current infrastructure doesn't allow for year-round programming and is in need of a new roof and air conditioning unit.
 
According to Harward, more than 50 percent of NCH school district families are low income and 80 percent of the students participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
 
“The families can’t always afford good childcare, so you’ve got young children being left home babysitting the other children, and to be putting a 10-year old in charge of a 3-year old isn’t the best option,” Harward says. “It’s also important to keep the kids off the street. If they’re bored and have no structure, no activities and no one’s supervising them, it’s setting them up for trouble.”
 
Year-round programming would allow children and other community members to engage in intramural sports, fitness classes, summer camps, tutoring and daycare.
 
“We have an accredited dance teacher who scholarships dance students,” Harward says. “And there are just a lot of really good groups there who keep getting displaced, and I don’t want to see them getting displaced because we can’t continue to fund this. I want this to be a thriving community center.”

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets for The Awesome 80s Prom Feb. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. at North College Hill City Center, 1500 W. Galbraith Road. Tickets are $25 for singles and $40 for couples.

•    Support The Pro Foundation by mailing a check or money order to 812 Russell St., Covington, KY 41011 (the nonprofit's website is currently under construction). 

•    Contact Kathy Harward if you're a handyman or handy-woman who can volunteer services for the building's repair or if you're interested in volunteering with NCH City Center programming. 
 

Bacchanalian Society, CSO Encore gather YPs together to support Cincinnati Symphony


The Bacchanalian Society, which gathers young professionals (YPs) together to integrate “social and professional networking with philanthropy,” hosted its first 2015 wine tasting last week to benefit the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
 
CSO Encore, which is the CSO’s volunteer committee of YPs raising awareness of and drawing young audience members to the symphony, partnered with The Bacchanalian Society for its Winter Gathering. Jordan Weidner, co-president of the Bacchanalian Society, says the Jan. 29 event had near record-breaking attendance, a testament to the power of Cincinnati’s YP community.
 
“Cincinnati is a very easy town to find opportunities to get involved or be a part of something bigger,” Weidner says. “I believe charitable giving and support is part of the backbone of what makes Cincinnati great, and we believe that The Bacchanalian Society’s biggest accomplishment is not only in the money that has been raised but the awareness it has created for the beneficiaries.”
 
YPs, according to Weidner, “are a dynamic group,” and for the past 10 years the Bacchanalian Society has been able to attract an audience that's philanthropic, active and engaged.
 
Weidner, a Cincinnati native, says he’s more excited than ever to live in the area, and many of the other YPs coming out to support community-rooted organizations like the CSO share similar sentiments.
 
“There is something big happening in Cincinnati, and there a lot of people and organizations to thank for that,” Weidner says. “The Bacchanalian Society is about introducing YPs to new things and supporting the institutions that make Cincinnati a great city, so it was a no-brainer to have CSO at Music Hall for our Winter Gathering.” 

Do Good: 

•    Contact the Bacchanalian Society if you're a nonprofit that would like to connect with the organization and benefit from a future event. The organization usually hosts four wine tasting events a year.

•    Connect with the Bacchanalian Society on Facebook to keep up with future happenings. The next wine tasting is in May to benefit Cancer Family Care.

•    Contact the organization to volunteer at future events.
 

Urban mushroom farming project launches on Kickstarter


For Alan Susarret, owner and operator of Probasco Farm on West McMicken Avenue, urban farming is officially underway. He's been growing oyster mushrooms for two urban farmers markets and some local restaurants for the past couple of years, and now he’s ready to expand production.
 
Susarret is passionate about his work and deeply rooted in sharing his passions with the community. In October he provided a free workshop at the Village Green Foundation in Northside, and in April he’ll share his knowledge about growing mushrooms on straw at Garden Station in Dayton.
 
He’s now asking for the community’s help in an effort to jumpstart his endeavor. Susarret recently launched his urban agriculture project on Kickstarter, and in just nine days he reached his $719 goal — yet the project is ongoing, as costs from farming continuously add up.
 
“A promo I’m doing for the Kickstarter will involve donating mushrooms to Cincinnati Food Not Bombs,” Susarret says. “They get together, cook vegan dishes and share the food at Piatt Park on Saturday afternoons.”
 
Susarret has volunteered with the organization in years past and says the mushrooms — which differ from conventional farmed mushrooms in that they're both preservative- and pesticide-free — will most likely be used in a casserole or stir-fry dish for sharing.
 
“The greatest part about the sharing, being across the street from the downtown library, is we'll get a few suits, some down-and-out folks that may or may not know to look for us, and everyone in between,” Susarret says. “Lots of people stop to ask, ‘What is this?’ We respond, and regardless of class or ethnic origin some will turn up their nose and keep walking, while others will stop for food and/or conversation.

“That's the ultimate goal, community building, and providing a safe public space for meaningful interaction.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the promos and consider pledging to support Susarret's urban agriculture project.

•    Connect with Probasco Farm on Facebook. Beginning Feb. 4, if you "share" the project an added basket will be donated. 

•    If you're interested in volunteering with or learning more about Cincinnati Food Not Bombs, contact the organization. 
 

VAE closes season, celebrates 35 years


For 25-year old Matthew Swanson, joining Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble during its 35th anniversary season has been a thrill.
 
Swanson, the youngest member of the ensemble, is a Cincinnati transplant — originally from Iowa — who first became aware of the VAE as a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. He regularly attended concerts and rehearsals at the time, and when the opportunity to join the ensemble as an artist arose he seized the moment.
 
This weekend the ensemble closes its 35th anniversary season with the regional premier of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Sealed Angel, which is a musical interpretation and tribute to the Christian conversion of Russia.
 
“VAE's 35th season is a chance to celebrate consistency and creativity,” Swanson says. “The music is both firmly historical and decidedly contemporary. Shchedrin's sound world is spacious, but the intent of the music is human as it traverses a wide range of emotions.”
 
It’s the emotional appeal that Swanson says the VAE understands and is able to communicate in a way that reaches and moves audience members.
 
“The ensemble's repertoire includes a long list of choral masterworks … and VAE brings those works to life with energy and passion,” Swanson says. “Critical to the ensemble's identity, however, is a long-time commitment to new and inventive works — pieces new to us, to our audiences or that take a fresh look at long-held cultural conventions. It is the co-existence of these identities for over three decades that makes VAE a critical component of the region's cultural scene.”

Do Good: 

•    Check out the regional premier of The Sealed Angel at two performances: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at St. Boniface Church in Northside and 4 p.m. Feb. 1 at Mother of God Church in Covington.

•    Chat with Swanson and other VAE singers after the show. The ensemble wants to connect with you.

•    Support the Vocal Arts Ensemble.
 

Bouquet Restaurant launches monthly wine dinner series to benefit nonprofits


Covington’s Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar kicks off its Charity Wine Dinner Series this week to benefit The Carnegie. The five-course meal with wine pairings will become a regular event on the last Tuesday of each month to benefit a local nonprofit.
 
“It's about sustaining the community and shining light on other local businesses and charities,” says Chef Stephen Williams, who owns Bouquet. “Not only does it benefit them, but us as well as a part of that community. Hopefully the idea of helping others will become contagious.”
 
The idea for the dinner series came about because the restaurant wanted to resume its monthly wine dinners, which it had taken a break from during construction. It transformed into a charity event, however, after Bouquet employee James Reynolds, who Williams says “has a very philanthropic soul,” pitched the theme.
 
“He brought the idea to us, and we loved it,” Williams says. “It makes them even more fun.”

As a small business owner, Williams says he’s happy to support the community because “it all comes full circle.”

“Owning and running a business is not easy,” he says. “People put their whole lives into these small endeavors. I think it's important that we all help each other out. The more people that come to our area, the more we all benefit. Someone may come to The Carnegie dinner this month who has never dined in MainStrasse, then they see Otto’s and think ‘We need to try them too!’ We love the sense of community in this area and really enjoy the people around us.” 

Do Good:

•    If you're a nonprofit that would like to partner with Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, contact owner Stephen Williams to explain how your organization could benefit from being a recipient of the monthly event. Bouquet is currently searching for next month's beneficiary.

•    Call the restaurant at 859-491-7777 to reserve your spot at the Jan. 27 dinner. Individual tickets cost $125, and $40 will be donated directly to The Carnegie. 

•    Connect with Bouquet on Facebook.
 

Ingage Partners passionate to "B" the change


For Markku Koistila, business analyst at Ingage Partners, there’s much more to life than making money.
 
“Ingage values (the) people and (the) planet, in addition to simply focusing on profit,” Koistila says.
 
Ingage Partners is a Hyde Park-based management and technology consulting firm organized as a Certified B Corporation, which is a company using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Ingage cares about its employees, its customers and its community in a way that Koistila says he’s never experienced at previous workplaces.
 
“The B Corp concept of ‘being best for the world’ inspires you to always do your best as a professional since you know that your efforts will result in good for the community,” Koistila says.
 
To model that concept, Koistila organized an event last fall he termed “The Most Interesting Fundraiser in the World: Hot Latin Nights Edition,” supported by Ingage and Pay It Forward Cincinnati and resulting in $2,700 donated to ProKids.
 
“ProKids works to free foster children from abuse and helps them to achieve a safe and secure living environment — something that most of us take for granted — but this is not something that is guaranteed to many of the children in the foster care system,” Koistila says. “The people who work at ProKids really give everything they've got to these children, and it was truly an honor to raise money for this tremendously important organization.”
 
With the help of family, friends, a planning committee, community volunteers and organizations, Koistila was able to make the event a success, in which individuals came together to listen to live music, learn to salsa and enjoy fellowship with one another while supporting a cause.
 
“I'd never created nor chaired a fundraising event before this one, but I would certainly do it again,” Koistila says. “Not only did I receive a lot of support from my friends and family, but I also received a tremendous amount of support from Ingage and all of my colleagues.  There's nothing better than having a great time while raising money for a great cause.” 

Do Good: 

•    Learn more about B Corporations, and consider joining the movement.

•    Support ProKids by helping a child.

•    Use business for good. It begins with the individual. 
 

Cincinnati Youth Collaborative honors outstanding mentors


Cincinnati Youth Collaborative recognized Trinitii Brewer last week on National Thank Your Mentor Day with its 2015 Outstanding Mentor Award.
 
Brewer has served as a mentor for the past 10 years — ever since she started working at Luxottica, where employees engage in a collaborative program with CYC and Cincinnati Public’s Withrow University High School in which students travel to Luxottica once a month to have lunch with their mentors.
 
She’s worked with five mentees thus far and maintained what she says are “very different” yet “fun” and impactful relationships.
 
“Some I’ve helped with homework, helped with projects. Others, it’s been helping her get ready for prom, it’s all across the board,” Brewer says. “There have been some I wouldn’t see super often, but she’d call all the time just needing advice on everyday life things. You just don’t know what kind of relationship you’re going to have with your mentee.”
 
For Brewer, the most important aspect of the mentor/mentee relationship is the different perspective each has to offer.
 
“I can’t say it’s just a matter of teaching them stuff — schoolwork — some are smart on their own and don’t necessarily need assistance in that type of thing,” Brewer says. “It might be a life experience you’re offering them that they’ve never seen before, or when they come to Luxottica and see people coming to work every day they get that sort of insight like, ‘Oh, OK, this is what it looks like to be dressed for work.’”
 
Do Good:

•    Encourage your workplace to engage in mentorship.

•    Support Cincinnati Youth Collaborative by donating.

•    Become a mentor.
 

Healthy Visions delivers powerful, impactful program to teens by sharing stories


It’s not often that a high school student is sick but begs her mother to allow her to go to school anyway, so she doesn't miss out. But with Healthy Visions, a nonprofit that partners with local high schools to empower students with the tools needed to navigate tricky situations but still come out on top, it actually happens.
 
“It’s because we use young, relatable people that are cool,” says the nonprofit’s director, Carole Adlard, who founded the organization 29 years ago because she says she “saw the emptiness” in youth and “wanted to give them grounding and focus so they’d want to get up in the morning and do things.”
 
It’s through individuals like Drà — short for Ladrà — who go into high school classrooms and connect with students by employing humor to teach about relevant topics like relationships, sex, drugs and alcohol prevention, self harm, self esteem and acceptance. But it’s ultimately through Healthy Visions representatives’ openness and honesty that they’re able to connect.
 
Drà and his cousin, for example, were raised in the same household, Drà by his dad and his cousin by his aunt. They came from the same situation — one that was less than desirable, involving drugs, poverty and roaches — but took different paths.
 
“There’s no preaching going on with this,” Adlard says. “It’s very much discussion-based, so that’s the key aspect there, so that the kids don’t feel like they’ve been lectured. They feel like it’s a peer who’s had a little more experience than them, sharing.”
 
And it’s effective. In a survey conducted in May 2014, after having completed Healthy Visions’ programming 72 percent said they had stopped bullying, 52 percent said they had stopped using or selling drugs, 62 percent got out of an unhealthy relationship and 81 percent said they felt better about themselves.
 
“There isn’t anybody else that reaches people exactly where they are, with someone with their exact situation, and says, ‘We’re going to give you the critical thinking skills and the tools to do exactly what you want to do,'” Adlard says. “It’s the only program I’ve ever known to have lifelong changes for students, and it truly does change lives. I’m absolutely in awe of it.” 

Do Good:

•    Healthy Visions is seeking volunteer mentors. Contact the nonprofit if you or your business is interested in helping.

•    Healthy Visions is launching online programming so course content can reach teens outside of the Tristate. If you have skills to offer with regard to IT, marketing or crowdsourcing, contact Carole Adlard.

•    Connect with Healthy Visions on Facebook.
 

Cincy ReelAbilities to showcase individuals, films that inspire


When Stephen Wampler was 42, he completed the 7,569-foot vertical climb to the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
 
Wampler has cerebral palsy and used his upper body strength and sheer will power to complete the six-day climb in an effort to show children with physical disabilities that they're capable of anything.
 
“In 2002, I had this nagging urge to give back to kids that needed the same experience I had as a child,” Wampler says.
 
So he founded the Wampler Foundation to enable other children to attend wilderness camps, which he says were “life changing” experiences for him as a child.
 
“To get them away from their mom and dad for the first time and to watch them experience the first day and realize, ‘Wow, I’m really out of my comfort zone, I’m really out there,’ changes them forever,” Wampler says. “They experience something that they never thought was possible.”
 
The foundation was at a crossroad in terms of growth in 2008, however, so Wampler wanted to do something big — he chose El Capitan. 
 
“That was my first real climb in my entire life,” Wampler says. “You go from euphoria to sadness to being really, really mad and irritated to happy to wondering why I was there. Every emotion goes through your brain all the time, and it was just really exhausting.”
 
But it was worth it, Wampler says, as his foundation has become more recognized, enabling more children to be inspired and attend camp.
 
It’s these inspiring stories that will be showcased on the big screen at the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival.
 
Wampler, among other notable individuals like Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress Marlee Matlin, will be in attendance for the region’s largest film festival, which is organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled and benefits local nonprofits.
 
Wampler’s Ascent, which draws viewers in to his drive to inspire and show others that nothing is impossible, will be shown March 4 and followed up with a question-and-answer session.
 
“Racing down the stereotype is the bigger picture of why I did it,” Wampler says. “And I think that once people get to know other people, that barrier comes down for them.”

Do Good:

•    Purchase tickets to view Wampler's Ascent on March 4.

•   Check out trailers for other films to be showcased at the festival Feb. 27-March 7 and purchase tickets.   

•    If you're interested in getting involved, sign up to volunteer at the festival.
 
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