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Health + Wellness : For Good

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Band of Helping Hands enables children to pursue life goals

Chelsea Piper, who works at a mental health agency that services children with special needs and who are in need of foster care, saw a need for more activities and extracurricular opportunities in the lives of those she encounters on a daily basis.   

So she and a co-worker founded Band of Helping Hands.

“We realized how many of the kids don’t have access to services like dancing or computers or art lessons or karate—stuff that a lot of kids get to do but they don’t,” Piper says. “So we started it as a way to find activities for them.”

Band of Helping Hands is now in its second year of operation, and since last August, the nonprofit has helped about 75 young individuals further explore their passions.

“There are a few kids we’ve had that just have such a talent for art but who haven’t had a chance to express themselves,” Piper says. “They didn’t have supplies at home or anything, so we’ve given supplies, and kids have entered them in contests because they want to grow up to be artists. And we’ve had some phenomenal dancers who haven’t had lessons from a professional, but it gives them an outlet and something to look forward to in a safe place."

The nonprofit has also purchased a computer for the children to use to complete homework and conduct job searches, and has set up a space with equipment like a pool table and a basketball hoop for students to utilize.

“I have a letter from one little boy who wanted to play baseball, but he didn’t have a glove or uniform, so we purchased him a baseball and bat and glove to practice with, and he wrote us just the sweetest letter thanking us and telling how he was able to play in his first game,” Piper says. “And I was in tears—he was just so appreciative and excited to be able to do something he hasn’t been able to do for 12 years.”

Do Good:

• Support Band of Helping Hands by donating.

Contact the organization if you'd like to volunteer teaching a class or extracurricular activity.

• Connect with the nonprofit on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

OVRS executive director's reach extends beyond one nonprofit

For more than 20 years, Jamie Steele has worked to provide residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities; but his passion and drive to help others reach their full potential has been strong since the age of 4.
“My little brother Andy was born with developmental disabilities—he could never walk or talk throughout his life—and he passed away at age 30,” Steele says. “He and I were close in age and pretty good friends, and all the activities he went to, I then would go to, too, and volunteer, then become staff, so he was definitely the most influential person on me.”
Steele has now accepted the role of executive director of Ohio Valley Residential Services, a nonprofit that differs from other residential service providers in that it allows individuals to engage in independent living, as opposed to the group home model.
“They can be in their apartment and thus feel more independent,” Steele says. “A number of people with disabilities are like you and me. They want to have their own space and participate in activities of daily living—bathing, dressing cooking—so it’s our job environmentally to provide an atmosphere where they can reach their individual potential.”
In addition to heading a nonprofit, Steele makes it a priority to help other organizations fulfill their own missions. As an avid music lover, he’s formed a rock band called The Code, which donates its proceeds back to the nonprofit community.
“It’s always been engrained in me that this is a community,” Steele says. “And if I want to ask the general community to accept people with disabilities, then I have to be willing to also give back.”  

Do Good: 

• Connect with Ohio Valley Residential Services on Facebook.

• Support OVRS by donating.

• Contact OVRS if you are interested in becoming a board member.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Price Hill Will introduces new model for community gardening

Part of Price Hill Will’s mission is to improve the neighborhood through community engagement, and the organization has found an innovative new way of doing so—by shifting the traditional model of community gardening.
“Not everyone’s going to be able to come out to a community garden, so we wanted to diversify our green program so that we can help people in their own places and really meet everybody’s needs where their needs are,” says Pamela Taylor, Price Hill Will’s community outreach coordinator.
So the nonprofit created a program called Grow It Forward.
“We come to your home, install garden beds and get you started with planting free of charge,” says Chris Smyth, sustainability coordinator at Price Hill Will. “All we ask in return is that you help with three more garden installs.”
So a community member requests a garden setup, which is customized depending on how much space is available and what an individual wants to grow. Then they volunteer their time by interacting with their neighbors to help them do the same.
“It’s kind of a decentralized model of community gardening by bringing people together to help with each others’ gardens,” Taylor says. “Or people can share seeds or sprouts, plants, or even produce later on.”
In addition to receiving a garden setup and the motivation to meet your neighbors while offering a helping hand, Taylor says there are a multitude of other benefits the program offers.
“It’s fun to be out in the back yard gardening in the sun. It’s healthy growing fresh fruits and vegetables, and it’s much cheaper to grow your own foods and supplement nutrition than it is to go out and buy produce at the grocery store or the farmer’s market where it might be even more expensive,” Taylor says.
“And if people have difficult work schedules or transportation issues getting to a community garden, it’s a lot more accessible for them. There are also a lot of barriers people have—but there’s a source of knowledge we can share about what goes together well, what types of plants will grow when, and things like that.”

Do Good:
• Contact Chris Smyth if you'd like a garden set up, or if you're interested in volunteering your gardening skills and knowledge.

• Support Price Hill Will by donating. 

• Sign up for Price Hill Will's weekly newsletter.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Charlie's Kids Foundation emphasizes safe sleep for infants

Born in April 2010, Charlie Hanke was everything his parents could have asked for in a newborn.
“He was a beautiful baby boy, and just perfect in every way,” says Sam Hanke, Charlie’s father. “And we were a very normal family for three weeks—doing all the normal things parents do—and we got so much joy and love from this little baby.”
But on April 27, 2010, Hanke says Charlie was “fussy” and was having a difficult time getting to sleep.
“I was holding him and sat down on the couch and fell asleep. And when I woke up, Charlie didn’t,” Hanke says. “And it’s been a beginning of a new life for my wife and I and for my friends and family who’ve helped to kind of get us to move forward from that night.”
One way Sam and his wife Maura have moved forward is through the creation of the Charlie’s Kids Foundation to raise awareness about the issue of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the importance of safe sleep.
“Safe sleep practices have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS significantly, and we know families aren’t doing it. As a result, too many babies are dying,” Hanke says. “Cincinnati has over two times the national average for infant mortality rates, and some areas within the city have mortality rates that are on average the same as in Iraq and developing countries, and that’s unacceptable and embarrassing.”
In hopes of preventing other families from going through a loss similar to the one they experienced, the Hankes want to do all they can to educate others about the dos and don’ts of infant sleeping habits. Their latest venture is commissioning a children’s book, "Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug;" the profits will help the nonprofit further its mission.
“It’s really just a gentle book written by a local doctor and pediatrician friend of mine—John Hutton,” Hanke says. “And the interest and excitement around this book has just been humbling. We released it in June and presented it in a couple different venues and have already sold 100,000 copies in the last three months.” 

Do Good:
• Purchase a copy of "Sleep Baby, Safe and Snug" online, or at local booksellers like The Villager or Blue Manatee. Copies will soon be available at Joseph-Beth Booksellers as well.

• Support Charlie's Kids by donating.

• Like Charlie's Kids on Facebook, and share safe sleep dos and don'ts with others.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Melrose YMCA avoids closure and celebrates diverse community

For nearly 70 years, the Melrose YMCA has served as a unique and diverse gathering spot within the Walnut Hills community.
“It has been very inclusive,” says Connie Springer, YMCA member and volunteer. “We call it one of the most diverse Ys in the city, because for people of all socioeconomic levels and colors, it’s very welcoming, incredibly friendly, and a lot of people have been members for like 40 years.”
There’s a history at the Melrose YMCA, and that’s why Springer says she joined together with other Y members to host Community Day Celebration last month.
For Springer, celebrating the Melrose YMCA is important because earlier in the year, its place in the community was in danger.
“It was part of a nationwide plan to close Ys, and we were on the chopping block,” Springer says.
Notifications were sent to members that hours of operation were soon to be shortened, but for Springer and other faithful members, reduced hours were not an option.
“I was part of a committee of six working to make people aware of how important the Y is and what a community asset it is in Walnut Hills,” Springer says. “And we just persevered. The six of us, and eventually others who felt strongly about keeping the Y together—half a dozen or so other people—we just worked really hard to have the hours extended and to tell the community about the Y.”
Springer’s work, however, is not done. The ultimate goal, she says, is to continue to increase awareness through events like last month’s Community Day Celebration so that more people can engage with members of their communities in a safe and vibrant location.
“People have raised their families at the Y, different generations have learned to swim there. It’s been a really important part of people’s lives,” Springer says. “And the people are so friendly—it’s really unusual I think. You really develop friendships and a sense of community when you go there. On a day-to-day basis, you just feel welcome, and there’s camaraderie.”

Do Good: 

• Learn about memberships, and consider supporting the YMCA by joining. 

• Support the Melrose YMCA by utilizing the space and participating in the programs offered. 

• Volunteer at the YMCA.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Purple Light Walk will raise awareness for domestic violence

One in every three women is beaten, forced into sex or abused in their lifetime; one out of every six is a survivor of rape or attempted rape; and one in 12 will be stalked within one’s lifetime, according to Ellen Newman, law enforcement advocate at Women Helping Women.
“Domestic violence is an everyday issue, and it happens to everybody. It can happen to the poorest person on the block; it can happen to a millionaire—it knows no gender or race or class or any sort of stereotype,” Newman says. “It’s definitely something we deal with on an everyday basis here at Women Helping Women, but it’s a big problem in our community every single day.”
To raise awareness within the community, the nonprofit, in conjunction with the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Police Department will host its first-ever Purple Light Walk October 11 in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Even if just one person sees the purple lights and asks why we’re walking and we can explain to them, that’ll be a success in my mind,” Newman says of the organization whose mission is to empower survivors by providing advocacy, support and safety while prompting the community as a whole to create social change.

Newman sasy that very few women are aware that services are out there for them, so it’s important to get the word out.
“We are a non-shelter agency. In the state of Ohio, 92 percent of domestic violence survivors seeking services will not go to a shelter, which speaks to the need of crisis intervention services as opposed to shelter services,” Newman says. “And on an everyday basis, I talk with survivors who don’t know there’s services or help out there. I’ve been to court with people on multiple occasions who’ve told me that if they didn’t have an advocate there, they wouldn’t have known what to do, what questions to ask or had any idea what was even going on.” 

Do Good: 

• Register for the Purple Light Walk.

• Get involved and volunteer, or contact Ellen Newman.

• Connect with Women Helping Women on Facebook

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Greater Cincinnati Foundation celebrates 50 years with Big Idea Challenge

To honor 50 years of contributions and volunteers who enable The Greater Cincinnati Foundation to support nonprofits in the region, the organization decided to launch the Big Idea Challenge

“We’re a permanent community institution and plan to be here for at least 50 more years,” says Elizabeth Reiter Benson, GCF’s vice president of communications and marketing. “So we thought about people in the community who aren’t familiar with the foundation or who haven’t been part of our work in the past, and thought about what sort of project or gift to the community we could give that would get more people involved.” 

Inspired by a similar challenge in Minnesota, the Big Idea Challenge highlights submissions for potential projects that would make our city better, and allows people living within the community to vote on which idea they would most like to see come to fruition. 

Seven different segments of community life are represented in the ideas—everything from cultural vibrancy and education to the environment and health and wellness. 

“The category we call Strong Communities received a lot of entries, because a lot of people—when thinking about making the community better—center on community engagement or getting particular groups of people together,” Reiter Benson says. “But I think what was impressive to me in the finalists’ results was really the breadth of ideas. They had things from very specific parts of neighborhoods, all the way to trying to bring the whole region together—almost neighborhood Olympics.” 

Voting is open through Sept. 27, and winners will be announced in October, when local nonprofits will be matched up with winning ideas and will receive the funds needed to pilot a project and get the ball rolling. 

“We had a goal of about 1,000 votes and already have 3,000, so the community is clearly excited about the opportunity that they get to pick the winner,” Reiter Benson says. “We didn’t know what the response would be, so to have this many people involved in something is really a great fiftieth anniversary gift to us.” 

Do Good: 

• Read all ideas and vote for your favorite.

• Like the Big Idea Challenge on Facebook, and share the page with your friends. Encourage them to vote.

• Continue to check the site even after winners have been chosen so that you can help keep the ideas in motion. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Cincinnati Fondo brings cyclists together in support of Freestore Foodbank

The second annual Cincinnati Fondo takes place September 22 when cyclists will come together to ride one of two courses—a 57-mile Fondo or a 114-mile Gran Fondo—along the roads of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s countryside to raise money for the Freestore Foodbank.
For novice cyclist Ramon Rodriguez, who serves as vice president at Fifth Third Bank and as a board member of the FSFB, the race is a way to enjoy beautiful scenery while also supporting a great cause.
Rodriguez joined the board of the FSFB about six years ago at a time in his life when he says his scope of understanding with regard to the organization’s goals was limited.
“Like many people here in Cincinnati, we see the lines that form in front of our Liberty distribution center, come Christmas and come Thanksgiving, where families go and get their boxes for holiday meals,” Rodriguez says. “But the scope of services and the reach that the Freestore has was something that was totally new to me.”
The organization’s reach is far more apparent to Rodriguez at this point in time, and while he’s inspired by all of the programs offered by the FSFB, he says he has a particular affinity toward the Power Pack Program.
“These are packages of food that are assembled for the benefit of children that have food insecurity when they come home after school. So, either they pick it up on Friday, and they have food for the weekend, or once there’s longer breaks from school, they’re able to have some form of food security available to them,” Rodriguez says. “And we provide that, and it takes only four dollars to create one power pack for a child every week.”
Registering for the Cincinnati Fondo, Rodriguez says, will provide the funds necessary to help the FSFB with programs like the Power Pack, and in this case, would be enough to provide a child with enough packs for an entire month.  
“We have major corporations based here in Cincinnati, but you still see a large number of children that still come home to empty pantries,” Rodriguez says. “That’s been a big driver. I have a 7- and 9-year-old at home, and thinking of them going without—it’s unimaginable.”

Do Good: 

• Register for the Cincinnati Fondo.

• Support the Freestore Foodbank by making a donation.
 • Volunteer with the Freestore Foodbank.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

United Cerebal Palsy aims to expand, provide transitional support

Janet Gora, who serves as acting executive director at United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati, says she fell into her current line of work by accident. 

“My degree is in recreation management—I played a lot of sports and thought I’d run a YMCA or something like that,” Gora says. “I was hired as a recreation specialist back in 1988 for people with pretty severe disabilities, and I’ve been in the field ever since.” 

Gora says she stayed in the field because of the genuineness of the people with whom she serves. 

“They’re funny and they’re very—they don’t play games. What you see is what you get,” Gora says. “They have no filter, and I like working with people like that. I see a chance to kind of advocate for people who have been put on the back burner for many years.” 

UCP provides individuals in their post-high school years with access to academies that allow them to hone skills and explore their various interests, but Gora’s vision for the nonprofit is that it becomes a place in Cincinnati that fills a void in assisting families with children approaching adulthood. 

“We’re really looking at how to help students in that transitional age—14 and above—to help families figure out, ‘When this kid’s 21, what’s going to happen?’ Gora says. “There’s a whole new set of rules, so families need a lot of help and support during this transition, and that’s our future looking forward.” 

Do Good: 

• Make a six-month committment to serve as a mentor within UCP's Academy of Literacy. 

• Sign up to volunteer with UCP.

• Support UCP by donating

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Wesley Community Services supports diabetic health with Meals4You

Wesley Community Services is on track to distribute more than 400,000 meals on wheels this year, and as part of the nonprofit’s efforts, it’s incorporated Meals4You, which are meals available to individuals of any age. 

Meals4You is a program designed to cater to the needs of individuals with diabetes, but according to Tracy Carres, who serves as account executive for Diabetic Home Delivered Meals, anyone is welcome to participate in the program. “We don’t ask any questions,” Carres says.

There are currently 28 different meals available—breakfast, lunch and dinner—and at five dollars each, the meals ensure value and nutrition, which is important in anyone’s life. “We have a nutritionist advisory board in place—registered dieticians from UC and Christ Hospital, so they make our menu,” Carres says.

“It’s humbling, to be quite honest with you, because we’re the only company who has these therapeutic meals in the area, which is good for us,” Carres says. “But it’s also bad because no one knows it exists, and it’s such a huge population that I’m barely touching a percentage of it.” 

Since diabetes is considered an epidemic, Carres says it’s necessary to do something to help people manage the disease. 

“About three months ago, we did interviews with consistent customers, and we had success stories where A1C levels had dropped, insulin was lower, they lost weight—but the biggest thing is compliance by the individual,” Carres says. “Some people had ordered once and never ordered again, and a lot of people said, 'I like going to Waffle House or Golden Corral,' which is fine, but it doesn’t help manage your diabetes.” 

To remedy some of the issues surrounding healthy eating, Carres says that rather than adding salt to season vegetables, a Mrs. Dash packet is now included with every meal, as to not alter nutritional values but still add spice and flavor. 

“Everyone seems to know someone with diabetes,” Carres says. “It’s a matter of just letting those people know that we’re here.” 

Do Good: 

• Order meals through Meals4You if you are diabetic or simply in need of a delivered and healthy eating option. 

• Call (513) 244-5488 if you have a community group interested in hearing about Meals4You.  

• Support Wesley Community Services by making a charitable donation.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Susan G. Komen staffer engages young professionals in supporting breast cancer awareness

Julie Oberschmidt has experienced the pain that comes from watching a loved one have to deal with breast cancer. 

“I had a grandmother who passed away and had breast cancer,” Oberschmidt says. “And I think it’s very important that we’re raising the money to fund research.” 

Oberschmidt works in development and communications for Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati, but she’s also leading the charge with a new young professionals committee.

“While there are young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s more common in older women, but I wanted to make sure we were getting the young community in Cincinnati involved,” Oberschmidt says. “Letting them know who we are and what we do in the community at a younger age, versus if they just came across us at an older age when family or friends are coming in contact with this disease.” 

She just started the organization about three months ago, but Oberschmidt says her group of about 20 volunteers is ready for its first major event, Dine Out for the Cure, in which eateries throughout the city will donate up to 50 percent of their profits for the evening of September 11, while individuals gather to enjoy dinner and fund an important cause. 

“Seventy-five percent of funds raised stay in the Cincinnati community to fund no-cost mammograms, screening treatment and support services for those who can’t afford it,” Oberschmidt says. “One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer, so it’s a pretty common disease, and we can’t turn our back on those who need our service.”

Do Good: 

• Support Komen Cincinnati at Dine Out for the Cure.

• Sign up for the 16th annual Race for the Cure.

• Support Komen Cincinnati by making a donation.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Dorin family funds Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired student interns

Natalie Centers, a graduate student at Xavier University, began her internship this summer at Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, thanks to the establishment of the Dorin Fund, which was set up through the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty to help improve the quality of life for those who are blind or visually impaired.
“George and Marion Dorin are just wonderful people,” Centers says. “I asked Mr. Dorin why he decided to do this, and he said, ‘I look out my window every day and am just so grateful that I’m able to see how beautiful the world is, and I want to help other people do that.’”
As a result, Centers is able to apply theory and skills from her occupational therapy coursework to assist a population of individuals who are not only blind or visually impaired, but who also have multiple disabilities.
“It’s not what I thought of when I thought of working at the Center for the Blind, so it adds another challenge to their lives and a lot more adversity,” Centers says. “But it’s amazing to see that despite that, they’re the most pleasant, friendliest, welcoming people in the entire world despite all the difficulties they face on a daily basis.”
The most meaningful part of the experience for Centers is the time she spends communicating with individuals in the Adult Day Program, she says, because it allows her to take time to really listen and get to know the people on a more intimate level than most.
“I’m purely there to interact and be with the consumers, and it’s played a big role for them to have someone who has the time to listen,” Centers says. “It’s been most rewarding for me to get to ask the deeper questions and find out more about their lives and the things that make you feel like you are who you are, but you don’t necessarily share when you first meet someone. And those are the things that get looked over in a population like this—what is your favorite movie, what do you do on the weekends, asking about their brothers and parents—it’s just been really neat, and it encourages them to be more social with employees and with each other.”
Through talking and engaging in activities with individuals at Clovernook, Centers says she’s learned that her concept of quality of life doesn’t necessarily have to equate to someone else’s.
“It’s all about being able to do what you can do and enjoying the things you enjoy, and it doesn’t necessarily matter what your ability level is of doing that,” Centers says. “But everybody—whether you’re verbal, not verbal, can see, can’t see, can hear, can’t hear—everyone has a purpose, and it’s really about helping them to fulfill that purpose and reach their fullest potential.” 

Do Good: 

• Support the Clovernook Center by making a donation.

• Get involved by becoming a volunteer.

• Like the Clovernook Center on Facebook.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Village Life Founder brings hope, strengthens Tanzanian ties

When Chris Lewis made a solo trip to Tanzania as part of his residency at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2003, it was his first visit of what would become many.
“I was working in a local hospital—I use the term 'hospital' fairly loosely,” Lewis says. “They sometimes have running water, sometimes have electricity, sometimes have medicine. What they all the time do a good job of is using whatever resources they have to save lives.”
At the time, that hospital was one of two Tanzania facilities that served half a million people, Lewis says, and the need for more accessible assistance was critical.
“Pretty much on a daily basis, I saw people carried in to the hospital that had already died on the road trying to walk six, eight hours,” Lewis says. “One of them was a lady who was pregnant and hemorrhaged to death while in labor, and that sort of stuck with me. I came back home to Cincinnati and then had the urge to go back.”
Rather than return to the same hospital, however, Lewis saw the need to assist those in the outlying regions who couldn’t make it to the hospital in time, so the idea for Village Life Outreach Project was born.
“After our first group trip in 2004, people received us very warmly but were skeptical we’d return. There had been other groups from the U.S. and other European countries that had traveled there and made promises to work with people and maybe dropped off supplies or money and never heard from them again, but our approach was different,” Lewis says. “We don’t just give handouts—we develop relationships with the community so we can work long-term to identify and solve problems the folks there face.”
After Village Life returned for a second, third, fourth and eventually eighteenth group trip, Lewis says the people came to understand the nonprofit’s dedication.
Lewis says Village Life has established strong relationships in the communities the organization serves, including a sister organization on the ground that manages the group’s projects on a daily basis, the region’s first-ever permanent health center, a school, and programs providing everything from nutrition, water filtration and mosquito nets to help prevent malaria.
“The main goal centers on our mission statement, which is to unite communities to promote life, self and education," Lewish says. "So that whole concept of global unity and trying to play a part is our long-term goal—just bringing people together, helping them understand each other. Understanding people different than you makes you better understand yourself, so we’ve been thankful to have so much help from the Cincinnati community. It’s all about that idea of promoting love across continents throughout the world to people who are fellow human beings.”

Do Good: 

• Support Village Life by attending Night on the Serengeti 2013.

• Support Village Life by making a donation.

• Contact Village Life if you're interested in volunteering.
By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Bluegrass for Babies helps infants get critical medical treatment

When Anne Schneider’s youngest son was born in 2008, he was immediately transported to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he underwent surgery for a digestive disorder less than 24 hours after birth.
“They were able to repair it, and we had this amazing experience, and basically, if he didn’t have this surgery—with the new technology and everything—he wouldn’t have survived,” Schneider says.  
To express gratitude for her son’s lifesaving procedure, Schneider, along with her husband, co-founded Bluegrass for Babies—a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s health by ensuring they get the best start possible.
“My husband and I just really love bluegrass music, and it’s this music that really transcends generations,” Schneider says. “It’s this pure form of music that takes you back to traditional values, so it’s really resonating with people as the roots of American music and this pure form of traditionalism and family values.”
Schneider says it’s important to have people take a step back and realize what the most important things are in life, and to start to recognize basic needs while understanding how to “preserve and care for them.”
Prior to their first son’s birth, the Schneiders hosted a backyard bluegrass party each year, but in 2009 when they began Bluegrass for Babies, they decided to move the party from their backyard to a larger venue where they could raise money to support children’s health initiatives.
The organization’s fifth annual bluegrass concert will take place Sept. 21 at Sawyer Point and will benefit the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s.
“It’s the division that manages all the babies—not just at Cincinnati Children’s—but any birth that happens within the Greater Cincinnati area, and also up in Dayton,” Schneider says. “So they have this wide ranging reach, and then within that, actually this year, we’re donating to the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth.
As of last year, the organization was able to raise about $80,000 dollars, which Schneider says she hopes to build upon so that other families don’t have to go through the anxiety that hers did during the birth of their son.
“They don’t know what caused my son’s disorder. It was caused by something that happened very early on in his life—during the pregnancy,” Schneider says. “But when I was going through the experience—just that anxiety that any parent goes through in that situation—it’s really hard emotionally and as a family. So anything that we can do to prevent that in terms of improving children’s health, that’s what we’re really sort of trying to do.”

Do Good: 

• Attend the Bluegrass for Babies benefit concert Sept. 21.

• Attend Bluegrass for Babies' outreach events.

• Volunteer at the benefit concert next month.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

CASS provides meals, enables seniors to stay at home

When senior citizens are able to stay in their homes, they’re better off, says Claudia Harrod, Cincinnati Area Senior Services’ development manager.
“They can be more active, and they’re less depressed,” she says. “And it’s also more economical for seniors to be able to stay at home than be in a facility.”
In order for seniors to stay at home, they need to be able to maintain their independence while having various needs of daily living met. Since 1967, CASS has worked to meet some of those needs, and has helped seniors with everything from nutrition and transportation to financial assistance and guardianship.
“When you think about seniors, sometimes even opening a jar can be difficult,” Harrod says.
Each week, CASS delivers about 2,000 meals to homebound individuals in Hamilton County, which helps provide healthy options to those who are unable to cook or visit the grocery store regularly, if even at all.
“Nutrition is very important for everyone, but particularly for seniors, and these meals are balanced and meet one third of the daily recommended requirements for seniors,” Harrod says. “A lot of them have no way to get to the grocery store, and even if they could, they have to go up stairs and can’t carry the groceries, and some aren’t able to stand at the stove and cook, so this way, they always have one meal that’s easy for them to fix.”
A few years ago, CASS started its Savory Selects program, a food delivery program that provides enough meals for the week, plus bread and milk. Area seniors choose from 31 different catered entrees and side items, and instead of receiving a frozen meal once a day, they receive all of their meals at the beginning of each week.
“It’s nice for them because they can eat what they want that day and when they want it,” Harrod says. “Usually they would wait for the meal to arrive each day, and then it would have to be heated up, so it gives the seniors some dignity in being able to select what they eat.” 

Do Good: 

• Keep an eye out for CASS' new website, and look for ways you can get involved and help out. 

• Call CASS at 513-721-4330 if you are a senior or know of a senior in need of assistance. Needs are not based on one's financial capabilities, so do not hesitate to seek help. 

• Call CASS to make a donation. 

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.
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