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Health + Wellness : For Good

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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.
 

NKCAC serves as community resource to empower individuals and families


For individuals like James who face adverse conditions in life but still prevail, the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission serves as a resource — and has been for the past 47 years.
 
James, like many 16-year-olds, had made a decision that he later regretted, and he ended up in jail as a result. So he enrolled in the nonprofit’s YouthBuild program, which services young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 by assisting them with education and career-based goals and preparations.
 
“We were able to help him get his GED and get job skills for him, and now he is working in the food service industry, where before he couldn’t keep a job for more than a few weeks at a time and was couch-surfing,” says Florence Tandy, NKCAC’s executive director. “He credits YouthBuild with making that transformation, but I credit him for being ready for that transformation, because he’s just the neatest young man you’ll ever meet and he’s going to go far once he gets behind his convictions.”
 
According to Tandy, the nonprofit sees about 10,000 families in a year’s time, which translates to about 25,000 individuals.
 
Whether it’s through the organization’s early childhood education, financial assistance or career preparation services, the mission is to help “hard-working families realize and reinvest in their future.”
 
“We have neighborhood centers in each of our eight counties to provide crisis assistance for families who find themselves struggling to pay all their bills,” Tandy says, “and we have a former client of one of those centers who applied for a job when we had an opening and who had struggled with drug addiction in the past but was clean and sober when she came to us.
 
“So we gave her a temporary position during our busiest season, and that temporary position turned into a permanent position and now she’s a manager of that center and has just shown remarkable promise and resiliency and dedication to her clients and her staff that she now supervises. I don’t know if there’s too many businesses or organizations that would have given her a chance, but we did.” 

Do Good: 

•    NKCAC is looking for AmeriCorps members to join its team. The nonprofit is currently accepting applications.

•    Contact NKCAC if you're interested in employing its clients who go through career readiness preparations.

•    If you're interested in mentoring a student in the YouthBuild program, volunteer.
 

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


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

Do Good:

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

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

•    Connect with Healthy Visions on Facebook.
 

Cincy ReelAbilities to showcase individuals, films that inspire


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

Do Good:

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

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

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

May We Help volunteers change lives with custom-built devices for individuals with disabilities


May We Help has been serving individuals with disabilities for the past 12 years, helping clients fulfill their passions and accomplish tasks that aren't considered necessities while also dispelling myths about impossibility.
 
“We’re changing lives on a very individual basis, but I want to see May We Help push the bar and continue to be legitimately disruptive,” says Chris Kubik, the nonprofit’s project director. "There are currently more organizations doing more good than ever, but at the same exact time, there are still massive mountains in the disability scene that make life financially, socially, and emotionally an endless uphill struggle.”

But according to Kubik nothing should be assumed and nothing should be considered outside the realm of possibility.
 
The organization assists clients by tapping into its network of volunteers to create custom-made assistance devices — everything from an adjustable harmonica holder mounted on a wheelchair so clients like Justin can switch harmonicas easily and keep up with the other members of his blues band — to physical therapy scooters.
 
“One I thought was pretty amazing we did this last year was Logan’s walker,” Kubik says. "He’s a young boy adopted from Ukraine, and he was born missing some limbs — not entirely — but with limb differences, so he had two different leg prostheses, one longer than the other, and he was learning to walk for the first time."
 
May We Help worked with Logan’s physical therapist so volunteers working on Logan’s design would have a contact point, because the goal, Kubik says, is to always work do something that’s a net positive.
 
“We realized that Logan was in a strange in-between place — rolling around on the ground successfully and getting where he needed to be, but crawling — and that was the entirety of his mobility and what he was, what he knew,” Kubik says. “And it was a constant moving target, because his parents were determined to push Logan to the limits of his ability, and he was able to dish it right back and was progressing.”
 
So May We Help volunteers started by taking a donated reverse-K walker and created an area Kubik says looked like arm rests but was actually a place for Logan to hang his shoulders. Volunteers cut holes so he could steer and balance with his residual limbs, which allowed for his posture to start becoming more erect.
 
“We then moved to a socket approach where we were using end caps from PVC fittings — putting them in there like sockets — and he’d steer with that,” Kubik says. “Then his posture became so good we got a phone call about three months after starting development, which was basically, ‘Hey, we don’t need the walker anymore. Logan’s walking independently.’”
 
According to Kubik, no one thought Logan could walk period.
 
“The parents usually are the first ones who don't believe, and challenge that kind of limiting diagnosis,” Kubik says. “Kids don’t know what they can’t do or what’s off limits. We’ve seen raw determination, and we get to be their hands and feet.” 

Do Good: 

•    If you or someone you know of is in need of a device from May We Help, request one here.

•    Support May We Help by donating.

•    If you have skills to offer and want to get involved, volunteer with May We Help, whose office is in Mariemont.
 

Ameritas employees log thousands of volunteer hours, invest in community giving


Cincinnati’s office of Ameritas, a financial services company, is committed to giving back to the community to further improve the areas in which its employees “live, work and play.” To showcase that ideal, the company recently launched The Hours Project.
 
To date, Ameritas employees nationwide have donated 16,369 total hours. Its Cincinnati employees are heavily involved in the project and have engaged in everything from serving meals at the Ronald McDonald House and the Over-the-Rhine Kitchen to providing educational assistance at local elementary schools and landscaping for the elderly.
 
“Being able to give back to the community makes me proud to work for Ameritas,” says Jennifer Mueller, disability claims examiner and member of Ameritas’ Community Involvement Council. “I know that we care about helping others. Part of our mission is about ‘fulfilling life,’ and we really do that.”
 
Mueller led more than 20 employees at this past year's annual Community Care Day, where she says she and her coworkers engaged in activity like trimming, power washing, removing dead trees from Mercy Community at Winton Woods' senior living facility's property and cleaning up flower beds.
 
“Fulfilling life” is something Ameritas employees are doing on a daily basis by helping clients to protect what's most important to them, but for Mueller it’s gratifying to be able to extend that reach beyond the company’s typical clientele.
 
“We not only give of our time, but we also give monetarily each year to worthy causes, like the arts in Cincinnati,” Mueller says. “It’s so important that my company gives back to the community. It shows that we are invested in Cincinnati and especially Forest Park, where we are located.”  

Do Good:

•    If you're a local business, initiate an activity or activities to give back to your community. 

•    Contact The Hours Project if you have an idea to share.

•    Support local nonprofits by giving monetarily. 
 

Life Learning Center supports clients to ensure success


Covington’s Life Learning Center, which relocated and received a makeover in 2014, is prepped and ready for 2015.
 
In addition to added classrooms, a new computer lab, a kids corner and a cafeteria — all of which were already in use as 2014 neared its end — the center also added a fitness center as part of its renovation. And according to the nonprofit’s president, Karen Ellis, clients are “chomping at the bit” to incorporate the fitness center into their 2015 daily regimens. 
 
“Many of our urban areas don’t have accessible fitness centers, and a lot of our population we service don’t have the available funds to join a fitness center,” Ellis says. “So the physical well being is an area they lack — they just don’t have that extra income to devote to being healthy — so that’s a huge benefit.”
 
The fitness center is state-of-the-art, with treadmills, step machines, an array of training equipment and an entire aerobics area, which Ellis says can be used for “yoga, Pilates and CrossFit-type activities.”
 
The Life Learning Center assists “at risk” clients in virtually all aspects of life, pairing them with a life coach. The curriculum shifts from week-long intensive sessions with a cohort to less time-intensive weeks, intended for things like job searching and interview preparation.
 
And the program is a success. According to Ellis, “87 percent of our candidates are employed, and then at the six-month mark 68 percent of them have maintained that employment (and) at the 12-month mark 63 percent have retained employment, so that’s pretty remarkable.”
 
It’s because of the lifelong support the organization provides, in addition to the added components that promote health and wellness, Ellis says, that the Life Learning Center is able to serve as a unique community organization and ensure success for its clients.
 
“Once you’ve gone through the program, you’re a member for life, so at any point they need support again — job change happens more than one time in your life — if they need help reorganizing a resume, if they need life coaching and come across a crossroads in their life and need help from someone with better guidance or insight, they’re welcome to come back as alumni, welcome to use the fitness center for the rest of their life,” Ellis says. “We want to make sure we’re offering the complete transition, not just the 15 weeks where it was great having you here. We want to be a solution for life.” 

Do Good:

•    The Life Learning Center is always open to referrals for clients in need of assistance. Contact the organization if you know of someone who could benefit from its services. 

•    Contact the center if you're a local business interested in partnering to provide employment opportunities to its clients.

•    If you're interested in being a mentor, contact the Life Learning Center, as the organization is always in need of individuals to serve as helpful and positive role models for clients. 
 

Calling all volunteers: SVDP seeks help year-round

Society of St. Vincent de Paul Cincinnati clients, many who live paycheck to paycheck, wouldn’t be celebrating the holidays without the help of SVDP volunteers who provide things like gifts and food baskets to make it all possible.
 
“While the holidays are a time of joy and celebration for many, for families living in poverty the holidays can sometimes be a season of hopelessness and despair,” says Kristen Klein, Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Director of Development.
 
All parents want the best for their children, Klein says, and volunteers are able to provide a much-needed ray of hope for families “who are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table.”
 
According to Klein, volunteers contribute more than 25,000 hours of service during the last three months of each year alone, but the need for their service doesn't stop once the holidays have passed.
 
“Each day, volunteers in our neighborhood volunteer groups visit homes of people in need,” Klein says. “With grace and humility, they strive to find out how they can help someone who is struggling.”
 
Some donate their time by visiting homes of individuals in need, answering phones at the West End Outreach Center and working at the food pantry, while others donate items — everything from food and clothing to furniture and vehicles.
 
“St. Vincent de Paul was founded as a volunteer organization, and volunteers remain as the lifeblood of the organization to this day,” Klein says. “We are incredibly grateful for all of the support we receive from so many. We simply wouldn’t exist without our volunteers.”

Do Good:

•    Support the Society of St. Vincent de Paul clients by donating.

•    Volunteer with SVDP.

•    Donate items throughout the year. 
 

Brighton Center food pantry a candidate for $20,000 grant

Vote this week for the Brighton Center to be named one of 75 food pantries across the country to receive a $20,000 grant from Walmart.
 
More than 150 food pantries are competing to win a share of $1.5 million being distributed this season through the Food Pantry Holiday Makeover campaign.
 
“It’s for an infrastructure-type makeover, which is not typically funded,” says Deana Sowders, marketing and communications specialist for Brighton Center. “We will use the investment to enhance our two food pantry locations through equipment, technology and transportation in Campbell and Boone counties.”
 
The Newport-based nonprofit’s Choice Food Pantry served 4,500 families last year, and Sowders says that many of them include income-earning individuals coming in for emergency assistance because they're unable to make ends meet.
 
“Hunger is a very real issue facing our families as they often are faced with tough choices and very limited budgets,” Sowders says. “Families are constantly balancing issues like keeping the heat on during the winter, having proper clothing for their growing children, transportation, childcare and putting food on the table — all while trying to maintain employment or further their education.”
 
Individuals served by the Brighton Center are working toward self-sufficiency and, according to Sowders, deserve a community of supporters who are there to help them “tackle immediate basic needs.”
 
“Being able to provide families with basic necessities such as food is the first step in getting them on the path toward a stable, self-sufficient future,” she says. “Even today, around 43 percent of those who come in have never asked for assistance before.” 

Do Good: 

•    Vote for your favorite food pantry to win a $20,000 grant; deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12.

•    Support Brighton Center by donating.

•    Volunteer with the Center. 
 

PGS seeks volunteers to provide companionship, brighten clients' lives

For the nearly 300 clients of Personal Guardianship Services (PGS), life can be lonely. The ability to make important decisions regarding your health and housing situation is out of one’s hands, and the presence of family and friends is sometimes nonexistent.
 
“I think there are so many people who don’t know a guardian or who have never ran into guardianship, who don’t know what we do,” says Wanda Bevington, CEO of the nonprofit that pairs clients with court-appointed guardians who make decisions “necessary (for individuals) to maintain a safe and secure lifestyle.”
 
In addition to being decision-makers, guardians are friendly faces — individuals who show clients they care.
 
“Nobody wants to have a guardian, although I will tell you when we’re at a particular nursing home and we see lots of the same people at the same time — even if they’re not our clients — we often have people say, ‘Will you be my guardian?’ ” Bevington says. “It’s that visit factor, so that someone’s coming to see them, so that every day is not the same.”
 
Currently PGS has six individuals on staff, but for 289 clients time is of the essence, so the nonprofit is seeking volunteers who can give of themselves and make someone’s day brighter simply through company or conversation.
 
“It would mean so much to our clients who do not have anyone,” Bevington says. “If they had someone who just came to the facility, if it’s somebody coming to see them or just sit with them and play a game or whatever they may choose to do, it’s somebody coming specifically for them.”

Do Good:

•   Check out a short video that shows the impact you could have in the lives of PGS clients. 

•   If you would like to become a PGS volunteer, contact Wanda Bevington.

•   Connect with PGS on Facebook.
 

The Christ Hospital to provide free surgeries to individuals in need

Four local residents will be the beneficiaries of free joint replacements Saturday, as The Christ Hospital is participating in Operation Walk USA for the second straight year.
 
“Two of our physicians came to us and said, ‘We ought to be giving back to our community like we do when we go across internationally,’ ” says Herb Caillouet, executive director of musculoskeletal services at The Christ Hospital. "They had been a part of Operation Walk International and had gone to other countries to do the same procedures there. So since it had never been done here in Cincinnati and as a market share leader in joint replacement surgery in Cincinnati, we wanted to be able to give something back to the city and to the citizens of the Tristate area.”
 
So far, one hip and three knee replacements are slated for Saturday’s efforts, in which everyone from surgeons and nurses to food service staffers will give of their time to provide quality care that's completely free of charge, throughout both the surgery and recovery processes.
 
“It’s a way for everybody to share their skills and talents with the community, to share our commitment with them and to them,” Caillouet says.
 
The recipients are more than grateful. Last year, for example, a man lost his job because of psoriatic arthritis and hip problems he was having.
 
“He couldn’t continue to work as a trucker, so they moved him into a warehouse role to continue, but he couldn’t continue it and he actually dropped out of the job market,” Caillouet says.
 
But after his joint replacement surgery, his walking improved, and he's now back in the workforce.
 
“He’s come back to the hospital and spoken, literally thanked the entire leadership group for the difference that their giving of their time has made in his personal life," Caillouet says. "The goal here is to find somebody who otherwise can’t afford it, that if it were done for them, they could reenter productive life, work-life, being a family member, a parent, a spouse, and to do so in a very productive way. These are life-changing events.” 

Do Good:

•    If you're a patient in need and who qualifies for a joint or hip replacement, sign up here. The 2015 Operation Walk USA application will be available beginning in January. 

•    If you're a vendor and would like to become involved with Operation Walk USA, contact Herb to discuss how your products might be of use to recipients throughout the process.  

•    Contact Herb if you're interested in volunteering with the aftercare process. For example, patients may require assistance cleaning their homes and securing transportation to and from therapy or follow-up visits. 
 
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