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Health + Wellness : For Good

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Derby party to benefit Special Olympics equestrian training program


Gather your fancy clothes, find your big hat and prepare your palette for a Kentucky Hot Brown and, of course, some Mint Juleps.
 
Derby Day is upon us, and Parkers Blue Ash Tavern is hosting a party for the second year to benefit the Winton Woods Riding Center (WWRC) Special Olympics Hamilton County equestrian training program.

Admission to the party is just $10 and includes finger foods and derby staples like pimento cheese and cucumber sandwiches, specially-priced Mint Juleps in commemorative Derby glasses and a variety of prize opportunities. The grand prize, a limited edition framed print commemorating the 141st Kentucky Derby (pictured above), will be awarded at 7 p.m.
 
Last year’s event generated about $1,000 for the Special Olympics Equestrian Team, which Rachel Neumann, manager of the WWRC, says enabled the team to pay its entry fees for both the Ohio and Kentucky State Equestrian Competitions.
 
Neumann, who also coaches six of the WWRC’s Special Olympics Equestrian competitors, says the program instills confidence and independence in its riders.
 
“Some of my athletes have been training with us for 10-plus years, and we’ve watched them grow up and learn independence on horseback,” she says. “One of my riders rode for five years without being able to handle without his dad being more than 10 feet away at any time, because of his anxiety. He is now riding independently at our highest level of competition. Such an achievement!”
 
Neumann’s goal, however, is to see that sort of impact in more riders. But more volunteers are required for that to occur.
 
“Our therapeutic riding program (Special Riders’ Program), which feeds into our Special Olympics program, has a waiting list several years long,” Neumann says. “We are only limited by the number of volunteers willing to be trained and make a weekly commitment. New volunteers would allow us to bring new riders into the program who have been waiting three, four, five, sometimes six years.” 

Do Good: 

Contact the Winton Woods Riding Center if you're interested in volunteering. No experience required. 

• Attend the Kentucky Derby Party at Parkers Blue Ash Tavern 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Tickets must be purchased in person, either in advance or on the day of the event. The Kentucky Derby itself is run at 6:24 p.m.

Support the WWRC by donating to the Great Parks Foundation. 
 

Warm-weather health and safety tips for Flying Pig participants


Runners, walkers, supporters, sponsors and nonprofits will join together Sunday, May 3 for one of the biggest events in town, the 2015 Flying Pig Marathon. Individuals have been training for months, but with weekend weather forecasts nearing the 80-degree mark this year’s race has the potential to be one of the warmest in years.
 
For Flying Pig Assistant Medical Director Matthew Daggy, who also serves as medical director of sports medicine for McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital and team doctor for the University of Cincinnati’s track & field and cross country programs, increased temperatures require increased precautions and care.
 
“The weather this upcoming week will be cooler than expected on race day, so runners won't have very much time to acclimate to the warmer weather,” Daggy says. “A critical issue this weekend will be hydration. Runners need to add 2-4 more liters of fluid daily this week in order to be sure that they’re well hydrated prior to starting the race.”
 
It’s incredibly important, according to Daggy, because participants shouldn’t drink so much fluid during the race if they’re unaccustomed to doing so otherwise.
 
“The weather this weekend will provide the perfect storm for exercise  — induced hyponatremia — and if a runner overdrinks on the course the result will not only be a loss of fun, it could be fatal,” Daggy says. “Runners should be advised to follow the drinking patterns they used during their training.”
 
So long as participants are aware of health and safety tips prior to running the race, Daggy says it should be a fruitful and fulfilling experience. It certainly has been for him through his 10 years of involvement with the Flying Pig, as running is a passion, he says, making this a perfect way for Daggy to give back to the community.
 
For those not participating in Sunday’s festivities, you can and should make physical activity a priority, as it’s important to our general health, preventing heart disease and a variety of other conditions such as diabetes.
 
“The American College of sports medicine recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week,” Daggy says. “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.”  

Do Good: 

• Participate in one of this weekend’s many activities under the Flying Pig Marathon umbrella; find details and registration deadlines here.

• Support a Flying Pig partner charity by adopting a pig in the PIGGEST Raffle Ever.

• Take proper precautions prior to your involvement in the weekend's festivities so you can maintain your health and safety. 

• Drink added amounts of water this week to prepare for the added intake needed this weekend. Sports drinks containing electrolytes are preferred forms of hydration in warm weather and endurance-testing activities. 
 

St. Joseph Orphanage celebrates 185 years of community support, stability for children


Cincinnati’s oldest social services agency, St. Joseph Orphanage, will celebrate its 185th anniversary April 30 at its Spring for the Stars Gala.
 
The organization’s longevity, according to Executive Director Eric Cummins, can be attributed to its ability to adapt to the changing needs of the community.
 
“We started as a traditional orphanage that took care of kids when their parents died,” Cummins says. “And then in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, we worked with families when they could not take care of their kids and helped get them back on their feet so the kids could go home.”
 
During that time, Cummins says the nonprofit also helped children find their “forever homes,” as the orphanage began morphing into more of a residential facility that provided a home for older adolescents with nowhere to go.
 
“St Joseph’s role is vital in that we truly embrace working with those who have nowhere else to turn,” he says. “We’re one of the only local agencies that continues to serve youth after they turn 18 years old, as we believe they are still too young to be out on their own.”
 
St. Joseph Orphanage began operating as a mental health residential treatment facility in the 1980s, and since that time it’s grown into a “community-based mental health, education and foster care provider,” Cummins says, with a recently developed special education class geared toward helping children with autism.

“We strive to continuously grow and adapt to meet the needs of those we serve today and into the future,” he says.
 
It’s an important mission, according to Cummins, because St. Joseph Orphanage provides critical services to the most at-risk youth in the community.
 
Though it’s hard to choose just one impactful moment, Cummins says something that stuck with him this past year is an e-mail he received from one of the Orphanage’s case managers.
 
“She emailed me just to say how thankful she is to work for St Joe’s, as we — through the generous donations of the community — make sure every child has a Christmas gift,” he says. “She went on to tell me that these siblings — 12, 11, 9 and 8 (years-old) — had never before opened a Christmas gift and this was the first time in their life that they had been able to celebrate Christmas.”
 
Prior to their first Christmas, the children had spent their time living with severe trauma, locked in a room with a bucket to tend to personal needs.
 
“They are now living in and being loved in a St. Joseph Orphanage foster home, getting case management and therapy services,” Cummins says. “I was truly thankful that not only could we make sure they had a Christmas present one day a year but that St. Joseph is there to help them every week of the year going forward.”

Do Good: 

• Support St. Joseph Orphanage by registering for the Spring Gala, which takes place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel downtown.

• If you can't attend Thursday's celebration, you can still donate here

• If you're unable to financially support St. Joseph, contact the organization to share your time and talents as a volunteer.
 

Male joins lots of women leading girls to develop confidence through running


Steve Brandstetter was never much of a runner, but he discovered his passion for it about 15 years ago with a bit of help from his brother-in-law, a marathon runner who assisted Steve in preparing for his first-ever distance run.
 
So when traveling to Michigan, where his brother-in-law lives, it came as no surprise to Brandstetter that running would occupy at least a portion of the visit.
 
“That, coupled with a closeness to my nieces who shared a love of soccer and now this running thing which I had become enamored with, made for some great visits between our families,” Brandstetter says. “My daughters, about 13 and 17 at the time, had shared these loves to different degrees as well.”

At one point during the trip, Brandstetter says his niece mentioned Girls on the Run, an organization whose mission is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”
 
Brandstetter was sold. As someone who had coached soccer for years and who had recently found his own love for running, it was something he wanted his girls — his daughters as well as the girls on his team — to experience.
 
Upon returning home he looked around for information regarding the nonprofit but got busy with life, deciding Girls on the Run was simply something he wouldn't realistically be able to pursue at that point in his life.
 
“Then, some months later, as I'm devouring Bob Roncker’s Running Spot quarterly publication of ‘All Things Running,’ I happened upon this blurb on the back cover of the paper that, much to my disbelief, was calling for volunteers for this program, strangely enough called Girls on the Run,” Brandstetter says. “I had found it.”
 
Brandstetter has now been involved with the organization as a volunteer for 10 years. He can’t serve as a head coach, as that role is reserved for females who serve as role models for the girls, but says he’s valued every moment of time spent with the organization serving in various capacities — everything from assistant coaching to planning the two yearly 5k runs (the Spring run is May 9).
 
“Nearly every single young girl in that program just gravitated toward me, the only male in the coaching program at the time,” Brandstetter says. “They seemed so hungry for the love and attention that only a father can give. I got notes, pictures and thank yous from many of the families, and I did nothing more than be a guy who was there and present to deserve that.
 
“But the real impact comes from the consistent implementation and delivery of the message, values and beliefs of Girls on the Run delivered by caring and engaging women who understand the value of the program, who passionately bring that experience to each girl.”

Do Good:

• Join the team of Girls on the Run volunteers.

Register your girl for the program. The Spring 5k is scheduled for May 9.

• Help make the program possible for all girls by donating
 

The Women's Fund hosts Lisa Ling appearance to fund 2015 grants


It’s not too late to purchase tickets to The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s “A Conversation with Lisa Ling” Wednesday, March 25 at Memorial Hall.
 
The evening commences at 5:30 p.m. with drinks and appetizers, followed by Ling’s speech. Tickets are $40, and proceeds enable the organization to add to the $1 million it’s granted since 2004 to nonprofits supporting female self sufficiency and empowerment.

Ling is executive producer and host of This Is Life on CNN and previously hosted Our America on the Oprah Winfrey Network and co-hosted ABC's hit show The View. She is also an author and co-founder of the website SecretSocietyofWomen.com.
 
“Lisa often tells the stories of people whose lives are often misunderstood or overlooked and finds not only the beauty but also the hope that lies within them,” says Vanessa Freytag, executive director of The Women’s Fund. “What a beautiful lens for our community to adopt as we learn about women and their families who are struggling right here at home.”
 
In addition to awarding grants to nonprofits and offering events that spark community dialogue, The Women’s Fund also commissions research.
 
In its most recent Pulse report, “2020 Jobs and Gender Outlook,” findings indicate that by 2020 four out of every seven jobs held by females will not provide enough income for her to cover the basic needs of herself and one child.
 
“When you take that in context with the fact that two-thirds of children in poverty are in female-headed households, you start to see why it is important for the entire community to work on strategies that can help hard working moms reach self-sufficiency,” Freytag says. “There is no more important challenge to creating a thriving region than addressing this issue.”

Do Good: 

Buy tickets for "A Conversation with Lisa Ling."

• Support The Women's Fund by giving.

• Learn about The Women's Fund 2015 grant cycle and consider applying for a mini-grant or signing up as a volunteer to review them. 
 

Talbert House celebrates 50 years, honors top employees


The Talbert House has worked to “improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth” for its clients since 1965. Now, in its 50th anniversary year, the organization is looking ahead to see how it can continue delivering quality care and support to the tens of thousands of adults and children it reaches in a given year.
 
One thing is certain: Quality employees lead to quality services. And to celebrate 50 years in the community, the nonprofit recently honored the key players who work day-in and day-out to uphold standards of excellence.
 
Michael Allen, resident of Westwood and clinical supervisor for the Talbert House, was honored as Employee of the Year.
 
“I am privileged to work for Talbert House, where I can do what I love every day,” Allen says. “I am passionate about my work because I want to be a part of a team making an impact in a person’s life.”
 
Allen says he arrives at work each day with the mindset that he can positively impact someone’s quality of life through his words and his actions. As an individual who works with a population of adults with severe mental illness, his optimism is key.
 
“I want the clients I work with to feel valued and to know their needs are important to me and our staff,” Allen says. “It’s important for clients to know someone is listening.”
 
And his clients appreciate that approach, like one whom he was working with biweekly for the purpose of addressing appropriate forms of social interaction within the community.
 
“He would repeatedly introduce me to complete strangers as his case manager when we were in the community together, and he would plan his entire week around those two scheduled weekly appointments,” Allen says. “And over a period of time he became more confident in his ability to live independently and reconnect with family and friends. I genuinely care about the clients I connect with on a daily basis and want to see them win in a very tangible way.” 

Do Good: 

Volunteer with the Talbert House.

• Support the Talbert House by making a gift.

• Connect with the Talbert House on Facebook.
 

OSU Extension seeks community input from "future leaders"


If you’re between the ages of 14 and 30, Ohio State University Extension of Hamilton County wants your input on the concept of a perfect community and what that might look like. 

As a land-grant university, OSU Extension aims to bring “the knowledge of the university” to all Ohioans by “engaging people to strengthen their lives and communities.” 

“OSU Extension works with people of all ages and all walks of life. We hear from professionals and adults on a regular basis,” says Anthony Staubach, Interim County Extension Director. “But it’s important to hear from the 14- to 30-year-old population because they are our emerging leaders and will make key decisions in the future.” 

OSU Extension will conduct the “Community Reconsidered" focus group Saturday, driven by these questions: “What will be the most challenging trends and issues for Ohioans by the year 2035, and what are the best opportunities to leverage the strengths of the University and the OSU Extension to address those issues?”

It’s part of a national dialogue called “Extension Reconsidered.” 

For the past 100 years, OSU Extension has worked to better the lives of individuals all across the state, and Staubach says the goal is to now look 20 years into the future to figure out “what assets our generation will bring to the community, what opportunities exist for building a stronger community” and, finally, what role Extension will fulfill in a changing culture and a changing community. 

“We would like to hear from 30-60 residents in Hamilton County,” Staubach says. “We would like to get their honest and open opinion of the future and start to identify how OSU Extension can fit into that future.”

Do Good: 

• Share a meal and your ideas with other community members at Saturday's focus group, which begins at 6 p.m. March 14 at 5093 Colerain Ave. Register here.

• Join the Facebook event and share it with your friends. 

• Connect with Hamilton County Extension on Facebook.
 

National Kidney Foundation to offer free screenings March 12


More than 26 million Americans have kidney disease and many are completely unaware, which is why Perry Malloy, community outreach manager for the National Kidney Foundation, says it’s a “silent killer.”
 
In an effort to promote awareness and prevention, the NKF’s KEEP Healthy Program is offering free screenings throughout the month of March — National Kidney Month — one of which takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, March 12 at Tri-County Mall.
 
“One in three people is at risk for kidney disease,” Malloy says. “Risk factors include but aren't limited to diabetes, high blood pressure, (being) over the age of 60, African American, Pacific Islander or (having a) family history of chronic kidney disease. But you can slow the progression of kidney disease if you find out early.”
 
Anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the free screening, in which health professionals will measure participants’ Body Mass Index and blood pressure levels and evaluate samples from ACR tests which can identify protein present in the urine — often the first sign of kidney disease.
 
Malloy says participants should not be fearful, as there are no needles involved. Instead, it’s a way to engage in free preventative care and consult with medical professionals who can address any questions participants may have.
 
“With the statistics the way they are today, chances are you know someone with kidney disease,” Malloy says. “It affects more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer. It's the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. Awareness is key, and if people will spend 15 minutes getting their kidneys screened they would learn how to prevent or slow the progression.” 

Do Good: 

•    Contact the National Kidney Foundation at 513-961-8105 to pre-register for Thursday's event. Walk-ins are also welcome. 

•    Spread the word to your friends and encourage them to get screened. 

•    Support the NKF by donating.
 

"Voices from the Heart" to benefit women recovering from prostitution


Voices from the HeartCincinnati Union Bethel’s largest fundraising event in support of the nonprofit’s Off the Streets program — takes place Friday, Feb. 13, but if you reserve your spot prior to Wednesday at noon and post a photo of yourself on the nonprofit's Facebook page you’ll receive $10 worth of free raffle tickets at the door.
 
The Off the Streets program empowers women who are involved in prostitution to break the cycle and move toward a life of safety and fulfillment.
 
According to Cincinnati Police, drugs and prostitution are the two most common crimes reported. And it’s a dangerous lifestyle, according to Tracy Megison, Cincinnati Union Bethel’s development administrative associate.
 
“We have clients who have been shot, stabbed and thrown out of cars,” Megison says. “Prostituted women have experienced significant life trauma.”
 
The program provides a safe place for women to receive support and mentorship, as each individual involved is paired with a peer facilitator — a woman who once knew a life of prostitution but has since recovered.
 
“The peer-driven approach helps to reduce the shame and stigma around prostitution, thus making women more likely to engage in services,” Megison says. “This model provides the women with positive role models and demonstrates that change is possible. One client actually knew the facilitators on the streets, and seeing them clean and healthy inspired her to stay in the program.”
 
By attending Voices from the Heart, the program will be able to continue assisting women like Tonya, for example, better their lives and recover from the cycle of addiction and prostitution.
 
“Tonya attended Miami University, where she became an alcoholic. She dropped out and hooked up with a drug user,” Megison says. “She says, ‘The only time I had any relief was when I was high, but even then I couldn’t take away the knowledge of everything I had done to the ones I loved and myself and the sense of impending doom, knowing I would die or end up in jail.’ Today, Tonya has two children and runs her own business. She is active in AA, sponsoring other women.”

Do Good:

•    Register for Voices from the Heart to support the Off the Streets program, starting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center downtown.

•    Post your photo to Cincinnati Union Bethel's Facebook page to get $10 worth of raffle tickets at Friday's event.

•    Support Cincinnati Union Bethel by donating, and educate yourself and others about issues like human trafficking, as it's more common than you might think.
 

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. 
 

OTR's Our Daily Bread celebrates 30 years


Our Daily Bread marked its 30th birthday recently by celebrating with community members, volunteers, staff and the organization’s founder, Ruth “Cookie” Vogelpohl, who was inspired to open the facility in 1985 after seeing a man digging through the trash to find a bag of half-eaten hamburgers for his next meal.
 
Since the launch of Our Daily Bread, the organization has served as a place of stability in the Over-the-Rhine community by welcoming visitors each weekday morning with coffee and baked goods, followed by a three-course meal and time for fellowship.
 
“By noon, the meal service has ended, and from 12-2:30 p.m. it’s mostly just an open time for people to hang out,” says Melissa Shaver, director of communications for Our Daily Bread. “So people play cards or chess or just talk a lot. Two times a month we do a Bingo game that’s totally volunteer-run, with prizes — dish soap, toilet paper, the occasional clothing item — that have been donated.”
 
The organization serves 400-500 meals each week and totaled 99,255 meals served for 2014. And through its Lunch on Legs delivery service, Our Daily Bread also serves those in the community who are unable to make it to the facility but who are still in need of a meal.
 
It’s ultimately the sense of community, however, that Our Daily Bread provides to individuals that keeps them coming back, Shaver says.
 
The nonprofit offers Kid’s Club programming and even engages volunteers in its Birthday Angels program, in which birthday cakes are baked for and given to community members who might not otherwise have the means of attaining a cake and celebrating with others.
 
“A couple days ago, our furnace went out, generating a lot of questions like ‘Where will they go?’ because there are other places people can get free meals pretty much any day a week, but a lot aren’t necessarily open after the mealtime,” Shaver says. “Some don’t have indoor space for people, and in the cold it reminds you, ‘Oh, some people really don’t have somewhere to go.’ Even people who have apartments, they’re usually isolated one-bedroom apartments, so a sense of community is important.

“Regardless of your economic status, you should have some place where you’re not considered loitering or considered a blight on the community. I think that’s what Our Daily Bread tries to do for people.” 

Do Good: 

•    If you have a skill or talent you're able to share with the organization, reach out to Our Daily Bread and consider volunteering

•    Organize a canned food drive for Our Daily Bread.

•    Become a mentor, reading buddy or dedicated volunteer for the Kid's Club. Contact the Kid's Club if you're interested in helping.
 

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. 
 

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. 
 

Lauren Hill exceeds fundraising goal, enables more collaborative research


Lauren Hill met and exceeded her fundraising goal of $1 million for The Cure Starts Now Foundation by raising nearly $1.3 million for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) research.
 
“Lauren has truly captured the nation’s heart with her dedication and persistence in the face of adversity,” says Brooke Desserich, executive director of The Cure Starts Now. “The fact that she has decided to spend her precious few months left on this earth to make sure that no other children face the same fate is incredible.”
 
With DIPG, which makes up 10-15 percent of all brain tumors in children, comes a grim outlook.
 
According to Desserich, fewer than 10 percent of children with DIPG survive two years from diagnosis, and, unlike other pediatric cancers, little progress has occurred in improving treatments and cure rates throughout the past few decades.
 
“Currently, The Cure Starts Now has been responsible for funding over $2.8 million in (DIPG) research,” Desserich says. “Much of this research is cutting-edge research that isn’t being funded.”
 
And it’s all going toward doctors who, Desserich says, “have the heart to leave their egos at the door” and share their findings with others. 
 
“(They) share their data and outcomes and set forth to work with other institutions not because it will further their career but because it furthers the odds of survival for these kids and finding a cure,” Desserich says. “At the end of the day, the tools and gadgets will only supplement what truly advances science — and that is heart. Our funding is not exclusive to the latest strategy, hospital or researcher. Instead, it's about these children and about the cure.”

Do Good: 

•    Support The Cure Starts Now Foundation by donating.

•    If you and your family or someone you know is in need of support, reach out.

•    Connect with The Cure Starts Now Foundation on Facebook.
 
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