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Children's Home high school focuses efforts to assist young adults with autism

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati’s High School for Students with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorders, now in its fourth year of operation, is open for registration.
The alternative education setting offered to students between the ages of 14 and 21 is unique, according to Principal Amanda Tipkemper, in that the placement is geared specifically toward the young adult population—a population, she says, that is not often the focus of autism-related programs.
“There are a lot of early intervention and school-age services, and not a lot of services out there for teens,” says Tipkemper, who came into her role as principal after having run some social groups and “teen night out” programs where individuals with Asperger’s would go on fun outings with one another.
“The people who were running the high school, when it first began, would call me, and we’d collaborate and talk about the population we were serving,” Tipkemper says. “So now, in this role, I’m focused on this specific population, and it’s nice because I get to focus my energy.”
In the mornings, students receive grade-level instruction, but in the afternoons, students are divided into upper- and lower-classmen and focus on foundational skills like advocacy, self-regulation and transitioning into adulthood.
“The goal of the program is to not only support the student, but to support the family in transitioning to adulthood and get them prepared and as independent as they can possibly be,” Tipkemper says.
“What I tell families is that the goal is for you not to be doing this for your kids. You shouldn’t have to advocate for them or regulate when they’re overwhelmed or under-stimulated. We need to teach them these tools so they can go into adulthood and start doing it for themselves, and that’s really empowering for the kids.” 

Do Good:

•    Learn about the high school, and consider enrollment. 

•    Support The Children's Home of Cincinnati by donating.

•    Contact Amanda Tipkemper if you'd like to get involved by volunteering. From pizza parties and community outings with the kids, to gardening clubs and engineering programs, there are various ways to help out, depending on your interests. 

Top female chefs, local creatives join forces to benefit YWCA

Frannie Kroner’s longtime dream has been to host a collaborative dinner with Greater Cincinnati’s top female chefs, and this Sunday, she’ll have that opportunity.
“There really aren’t that many in comparison to male chefs, and I’ve always really admired the lineup we’ve had in this city,” Kroner says. “And I wanted to be more of a part of that community and try to bring everyone together, because this doesn’t happen very often.”
Kroner serves as executive chef at Sleepy Bee Café, where the event Showcase: Dinner for a Cause, which will benefit the YWCA’s Battered Women’s Shelter, will take place.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind to try to do more philanthropic things with food, because on a day-to-day basis, in a restaurant setting, you’re usually catering to people that can afford to come to the restaurant,” Kroner says. “So it’s nice to feel like you can give back to the community in a way that it’s still done through your craft.”
Ten chefs will collaborate on Sunday’s multi-course dinner, while female performing artists will provide entertainment. The evening’s table centerpieces— sculptures created through a collaborative effort with Brazee Street Studios’ C-LINK Presents: Showcase: Female Artists for a Cause—will be auctioned off as well.
Though proceeds from the event will benefit the YWCA, Kroner says she is looking forward to the event because it won’t necessarily feel like a fundraiser so much as it will be a celebration of the local talent that female creatives have to offer.
“Just bringing the female creative force all in one room—that’s always been something that in theory sounds super inspirational—and I can’t wait to be part of that group and feel the energy,” Kroner says. “We’re all going to be orchestrating together in the back as we prepare, and there aren’t that many female chefs, but I think that in general, it’s an underutilized group of people.” 

Do Good:

•    Reserve your spot at Showcase: Dinner for a Cause.

•    Support the YWCA by donating.

•    Volunteer with the YWCA.


Women's Crisis Center calls on community's help in Purple Purse Challenge

The Women's Crisis Center is one of 200 agencies nationwide competing for a $100,000 grant in the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Challenge.
“Purple is the color for domestic violence, and the purse represents a financial domain,” says Victoria Parks, WCC development director. “And for somebody coming out of shelter, they don’t have anything. In order to stay out of an abusive situation, you need a sense of security.”
For five weeks, beginning September 2, the WCC will aim to raise as much money as possible, and if it is the winning agency at the culmination of the contest, it will receive the $100,000 grant.
“We happen to live in one of the most generous communities in this country, and I’m confident that the community will support us,” Parks says.
According to Parks, the grant money, in addition to the weekly prize money given out for things like being the first agency to raise $5,000, would allow the nonprofit to shelter more women and finance programs like Fresh Starts for many years to come.
“These women come to us with only the clothes on their back because they’re fleeing from their lives, so when they come out of shelter, we are able to help them with an apartment down payment, a deposit for their utilities, help them with gas—that kind of thing,” Parks says. “This is one of my favorite programs, and it is so relevant.”
The reason so many women are trapped in abusive situations, according to Parks, is due to a lack of funds; so if the agency receives assistance through the Purple Purse Challenge, it will be able to extend its reach and further its mission of leading our community “in the social change needed to end domestic violence, sexual assault and rape.” 

Do Good:

•    Beginning September 2, support the WCC by donating through the Purple Purse Challenge Crowdrise site. 

•    Fundraise for the WCC by setting up your own Crowdrise account during the contest.

•    Volunteer with the WCC by contacting Kelly Rose.

FNC recognizes Champions for Change, calls for community effort

The Family Nurturing Center will celebrate 20 years of August Affairs this Friday as the organization will raise awareness and funds for child abuse treatment, prevention and education.
In Northern Kentucky and Hamilton County alone, there are more than 10,000 reports of child abuse or neglect each year—a statistic FNC is working to change.
“Child abuse is not a topic that most folks want to talk about,” says Tracy Fuchs, FNC’s director of marketing and special events.
It’s uncomfortable for many, but unless others start acknowledging the issue, learning and talking about it, and advocating for a change in society’s view and response to the act, change will never occur.
That’s why FNC is honoring 20 Champions for Change at this year’s event. It’s a group composed of 20 individuals, organizations and corporations who are committed to creating “a culture of change for how we react, respond to and prevent child abuse,” Fuchs says.
It’s important to recognize their efforts because, according to the FNC, a community-wide effort is required, and an important piece of the equation is to not be silent regarding the issue.
“It makes us uncomfortable to even say words like ‘sexual abuse,’” Fuchs says. “But sexual abuse thrives in our discomfort in naming it, and the culture of silence gives power to the perpetrators. Ninety percent of children who are sexually abused are done so by someone they know or trust. It’s not stranger danger.”

Do Good:

•    Support FNC by ordering your tickets now for Friday's August Affair. 

•    Consider being a 2014 August Affair corporate sponsor

•    Contact the FNC to learn more about child abuse prevention, treatment and education, and be a champion for change.

Local man leads nation in library service advancements for blind

Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Chris Mundy joins the ranks of individuals like text-to-speech innovator Ray Kurzweil as the 48th recipient of the Francis Joseph Campbell Award.
The award recognizes institutions or individuals who have made “an outstanding contribution to the advancement of library service for the blind and physically handicapped.”
Mundy serves as quality assurance specialist for network-produced recordings at Mutlistate Center East, a division of Clovernook, as he works to improve the quality of—and expand upon the availability of—audio materials available to library patrons who cannot read print.
“My position’s unique, and it’s the only one in the U.S. that works directly with volunteer programs to get the material to a particular quality level,” Mundy says. “And what’s really cool is all the people that get involved—a lot of them are retirees with a background in dramatic arts or broadcasting and are capable of handling really difficult material.”
As Mundy travels around the country to the National Library Service volunteer studios, he assists in the behind-the-scenes production that allows for continuity of sound and quality for the various materials available.
“There’s a revolving door of volunteers—maybe 10 narrators involved in a typical issue of Smithsonian magazine, for example—and the whole key is, over time, the staff and volunteers involved with it are constantly changing,” Mundy says. “Plus, the technology changes. I learn it and impart some of that knowledge to them.”
Mundy says he’s humbled to be a recipient of the award, but he’d like for more individuals to take advantage of the resources he helps make available.
“At any given moment, 900,000-1 million people are currently using it (the Braille and Audio Reading service), but there are 3 million who are eligible for it,” Mundy says. “So roughly 2 million don’t know they can access it with a doctor’s note. There’s just so many people in everyday life who might really benefit from knowing about it.”

Do Good: 

•    Connect with Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired on Facebook.

•    If you know someone who could benefit from services offered through the BARD, help them apply.

•    Support Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Bengals tailgating sparks idea for new nonprofit

Jason Chapman says he remembers tailgating at the Bengals-Steelers Monday Night Football matchup last September like it was yesterday—and not just because it was a Cincinnati win against a top-rival.
He remembers it because it was the start of something bigger and more meaningful than he says he’d ever imagined.
“It just so happened that all day that day, I wound up helping people in small ways—giving money here and there— and I didn’t put two and two together,” Chapman says.
“But before the game, as we were tailgating, we saw onlookers outside the gate, and some people looked like they could have been less fortunate than myself and some of the other partygoers.”
So Chapman and his friends offered food to those who stood outside, and his act of kindness soon became contagious.
The desire to help others spread not only to the other tailgaters that evening, but also to Chapman’s friends and followers across social networks and across the country.
“We had enormous support from friends and followers who were willing to donate the next time we were downtown tailgating—or just anything we were willing to do—they were ready and willing to give,” Chapman says.
So The Midwest Project, a nonprofit for which Chapman is president and co-founder, was born.
The organization works by utilizing social media to raise awareness and funds for things like education, health and wellness, and nonviolence.
“It made me think about how I have a tremendous support team and some influence in my city and community,” Chapman says. “So why don’t we start a nonprofit so we can build on that, and that’s kind of how it started.” 

Do Good:

•    Check out The Midwest Project's website, and tell your friends.

•    Connect with the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.

•    Support The Midwest Project by donating or volunteering.


Bridges Job Readiness program receives $1,500 grant

The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation recently bestowed a $1,500 grant to the Bridges Job Readiness Program at Mercy Health-St. John.
The Bridges program helps those who are struggling with long-term unemployment by teaching them how to use common computer applications and develop professional correspondence skills. Whether it was an illness or family emergency that caused them to leave their jobs, many of them don’t have the marketable skills or experience when they go back to reapply.
“This program gives [students] the skills they need to re-enter the workforce and succeed in landing a job,” says Nannette Bentley, director of public relations. Students will learn based on real-world assignments and master much-needed skills.
But the program doesn’t stop at job readiness and professional development. Students are provided with referrals to the St. John’s medical clinic, vision exams, mental health counseling, food, personal care items, interview-appropriate clothing and transportation.
The 12-week job readiness program is flexible—students can attend classes that work best for them during mornings, afternoons and evenings throughout the spring, summer and winter.
Every student who graduates participates in an internship at a local nonprofit, giving back to the community and giving them some experience back on their resume at the same time. More than 70 percent of Bridges students land work, Bentley says. 

Macy's Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival offers $1 zoo admission

Local residents can enjoy the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden for just $1 during the Macy’s Kids, Cultures, Critters and Crafts Festival this Wednesday. 

The summer festival, hosted by Learning Through Art (LTA), is returning for the ninth year in a row. LTA is an organization committed to increasing community participation in the arts and humanities as well as encouraging multicultural awareness and understanding. 

“We’re celebrating the mosaic beauty of those living in Cincinnati all day long,” says Kathy Wade, LTA co-founder and CEO. “We want to encourage people to meet their neighbors.” 

Performers this year range from DJ Pillo to Jesse Mooney-Bullock (puppeteer), Bing Yang Chinese Performing Arts Center, Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and Robin Lacy and DeZydeco. Some performers, such as the Cincinnati Circus, Anaya Belly Dancing and Mariachi Band Zelaya, will be roaming and not on the main stage. 

LTA also has a new partner this year: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will introduce the Cincinnati Children’s Wellness Zone. The zone will feature hands-on activities and encourage children to experience the importance of health habits. 

Metro is offering 50 cents for a one-way bus trip or $1 round-trip bus fare from anywhere on Route 46, Wade says. 

Do Good:

•    Attend the festival and meet your neighbors. 

•    Check out the all-day event schedule

•    Follow LTA on Twitter for updates. 

I CAN SWIM! teaches swimming lessons, promotes water safety

Local children and adults have been learning the importance of water safety and being able to swim as part of the “I CAN SWIM!” project. 

More than 10 people die every single day from unintentional drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission, along with many city officials, is hoping to lower that number and decrease the number of water-related deaths and injuries through “I CAN SWIM!”

“I CAN SWIM!” started in dedication to Bryce and Cameron Jeff, ages 8 and 10, who drowned in a neighbor's backyard pool in June 2011.

The series of lessons are instructed by The American Red Cross and help swimmers develop and refine their swimming skills as well as teaching them water safety.

Councilmember Yvette Simpson, who never learned to swim, began the second round of this summer’s swim lessons this week at Lincoln Pool. Simpson will continue her lessons on Monday and Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. until the end of the month.

“We’re committed to raising awareness and making people feel comfortable,” Simpson says. “If we can learn to swim together and move the dial on that number, it’s going to feel worth it.”

The “I CAN SWIM!” project concludes the week of July 28, with the last swim lesson on July 30. But Simpson still urges citizens of all ages to make the commitment any time of year and reduce the risk of drowning.

“You never know when you’re going to need it,” Simpson says. “If you don’t understand the fundamentals, you can’t save yourself [or others].”

Do Good: 

•    Follow Yvette’s experience on Twitter using #swimwithsimpson

•    Take a swim lesson at one of the CRC pools.

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities

Cradle Cincinnati receives funding, battles infant mortality

Cradle Cincinnati received more than $1 million in funding in an effort to reduce the infant mortality rate in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  

Cradle Cincinnati, which recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary, is a collective impact collaborative made up of political, hospital, health and community leaders who have a vision that every child born in Hamilton County will live to see his or her first birthday. 

Funding for Cradle Cincinnati came from various organizations in the community: UC Health, Hamilton County, The City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s, TriHealth, The Christ Hospital, Interact for Health, United Way, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Elise Brown Family Foundation and Eat Play Give

Hamilton County lost 543 babies during the past five years, and the city of Cincinnati’s infant mortality rate during these five years was two times higher than the national average. However, Cradle Cincinnati has a plan to reduce that number moving forward by focusing on women’s health in general, in hopes that pregnancy health and infant health will also improve.  

There are many indicators that affect infant mortality, but Cradle Cincinnati has a strategic plan to battle infant mortality through three of them: spacing, smoking and sleep. The collective aims to encourage more spacing time between pregnancies and reduce tobacco use to decrease premature birth while also reminding women about safer sleep practices for infants.

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to infant mortality,” says Elizabeth Kelly, MD, co-founder and physician lead. “These are the three indicators that can have the greatest impact in a shorter amount of time.”

Do Good:
•    Send your love. Write a letter to a mom in the city. 

•    Join in the citywide fight against infant mortality by educating yourself and friends about spacing, smoking and sleep.

•    Share Cradle Cincinnati’s story with a friend. Let them know the state of our community. 

St. Rita School for the Deaf exceeds campaign goal

St. Rita School for the Deaf raised more than $100,000 in its first-ever all-digital Community Challenge this year. 

Every dollar donated to St. Rita goes to tuition assistance — more than 40 percent of its students live below the poverty line, but 100 percent of them need help in some way. 

“We never turn a child away because of a family’s inability to pay,” says Julie O’Meara, director of advancement. “Every child receives the quality education they deserve.”

So the school sought to raise as much money as possible to help students in need and their families. 

Local businessman Rob Hollaender initially donated $32,500, the equivalent of one year’s tuition for one student, to the campaign and asked the community to match his contribution.  

More than $100,000 was collected in response to the school’s campaign. Individual donors contributed a total of $20,902, while an additional $80,000 was received from two anonymous donors, one from the local Cincinnati area and one from out-of-state, for general operating costs. 

St. Rita is one of only a few schools in the country to provide assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing while also offering enhanced educational programs to help children who have communication challenges like Autism, Apraxia and Down Syndrome.

Do Good:

•    Give a gift. Donate money for tuition assistance.

•    Like St. Rita on Facebook.

•    Visit St. Rita School and learn more about what goes on there.

Gold Star Chili continues partnership with The Cure Starts Now

Cans for the Cure originated as a tribute to local 6-year-old Elena Desserich and her fight against brain cancer. The Cure Starts Now, which is in its third year, launched the campaign as a partnership with Gold Star Chili, which donates a portion of canned chili sales to benefit pediatric brain cancer research.

More than $32,000 has been raised through the Cans for the Cure campaign since its inception, and The Cure Starts Now has funded more than $2 million in the past seven years for research and awareness. 

Part of Gold Star’s overall mission is to care about its neighbors and communities, and to actively participate in events and causes that are important to the company. Gold Star Chili plans to donate $18,000 to The Cure Starts Now in the coming weeks to continue the Cans for the Cure campaign. 

The Cure Starts Now has been recognized by Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine, CNN, and Inside Edition for its efforts.

“There are so many different causes to give to,” says Jen Gault, The Cure Starts Now's public relations and marketing coordinator. “But by doing something as little as eating—something you do every day—you can help raise money for cancer research.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a can of chili at any particpating Kroger or Gold Star location.

•    ‘Like’ The Cure Starts now on Facebook. 

•    Inquire about volunteer opportunities with The Cure Starts Now.

Artsy motorcycle helmets benefit charity

Motorcycle helmets are generally purchased for their ability to prevent serious injury or death while riding, with their aesthetic value taking the sidecar. Local artists are changing lanes with that idea, using their creativity to protect skulls and raise funds for charity.

The Biltwell ART & MOTO show is a collection of artistically redesigned motorcycle helmets painted and crafted by independent artists and auctioned off for charity. The exhibit opened May 30 at Article Menswear in Over-the-Rhine and ran through June 7. It benefitted the LifeCenter organ donation network, which coordinates the donation of human tissues and organs transplants. Between $1,500 and $2,500 was expected to be raised by the helmet auction alone.

Biltwell Helmets teamed up with Cincinnati Cafe Racer and Mighty Ohio Scooter Club to organize a rally for Cincinnati's motor enthusiasts, from Segways and mopeds all the way to choppers. The event included a raffle, live music and a group ride.

The helmets, designed by nearly two dozen local artists, are still safe to wear, in most cases.

"Many of the helmets are un-altered in structure and no safety has been compromised," says Timothy Burke of Cincy Cafe Racer. "Others are purely fun art pieces that you could wear but would look pretty silly doing so (such as the wedding cake helmet or the one with spikes added)."

“The idea came from what the guys in Portland did a couple of years ago with the '21 Helmets' show in the fall of 2012,” Burke says, referring to a similarly styled helmet show that gained some attention in the biker and art worlds. “I thought, Cincinnati has a great art community, and I would love to do this locally to combine my love of motorcycles and my love of art. So in 2013, we did our first ART & MOTO show with only seven artists. This year, Biltwell signed on to sponsor and provide helmets which enabled us to get a bigger reach and not pay out of our own pockets to fund the helmets.”

Occupational therapist founds volunteer group for Summit clients

In her four years as an occupational therapist at Summit Behavioral Healthcare, Laura Menze says she’s noticed her clients’ strong desire to be helpful.
“They enjoy working around the unit, whether that’s wiping tables or watering plants, so they have a longing to engage in productive occupations,” Menze says.
Clients are sometimes limited, however, when it comes to engaging in meaningful work outside of the facility.
So Menze started a volunteer group that allows Summit’s clients to work with one another, in a safe environment, for a positive cause.
“Most have been on the receiving end of things for most of their lives and are grateful for the services they receive, but this puts them in the position of the ones who can give, and that’s significant,” Menze says.
The volunteer group meets once a week, and for the past few months, Menze says about 10 males have joined together to do things like plant seed trays for Peaslee Neighborhood Center’s Early Learning Center, make birthday cards for residents at Lydia’s House, craft packets for children at the Ronald McDonald House, and fleece blankets to donate to The Healing Center.
“I think they’ve taken pride in their work,” Menze says. “There’s just a great amount of stigma related to this population of folks; so to be able to hear, ‘Thank you for what you did. That was really meaningful. Someone will be grateful,’—that provides something for their self-esteem, their self-worth.” 

Do Good:

•    Contact Laura Menze if you're a nonprofit interested in a collaborative volunteer opportunity that could be completed on site at Summit. 

•    Volunteer with a local nonprofit.

•    Support a cause you're passionate about.

Fan and air conditioning drive keeps city cool

With the 2014 Farmer's Almanac predicting an oppressively hot summer this year, most people in the city have already turned on their fans and air conditioning. St. Vincent de Paul is ensuring anybody who needs a fan or air conditioning unit has access to one with its annual drive.

If you are interested in receiving a free fan or air conditioning unit, contact a representative at St. Vincent de Paul on the company's website or call 513-562-8841.

"In order to receive an air conditioner, the person in need must have a medical need for the unit, or be over 65 years old," says Elysa Hamlin, senior communications coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul, who is coordinating the drive. "This will be verified by a doctor’s note (for medical need) or an ID (for people over 65)."

Bring a new fan or air conditioning unit for donation at Coney Island Amusement Park between now and September 1 to receive a free rides pass, valued at $12.95.

If you donate to any Greater Cincinnati YMCA location during the month of July, you will be entered to win a $500 prize pack of Gain products and restaurant gift certificates. The winners will be announced on July 24, 2014 at the Salsa on the Square event on Fountain Square. You must be present to win.

Donations are also accepted at any St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Center or Thrift Store and Donation Center, and at the Tedia Company in Fairfield.

"These fans and air conditioners are a critical need in our community," Hamlin says. "During visits to the homes of families in need, our volunteers often find sick and elderly neighbors living in dangerously hot apartments without proper ventilation and no source of relief from the summer heat."
215 Health + Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All
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