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Bluegrass for Babies benefit concert returns to Sawyer Point


Enjoy live bluegrass music and favorite local foods Sept. 19 at Bluegrass for Babies, an annual concert that benefits Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The family-friendly event is presented by the Healthy Roots Foundation as a fundraiser for infant and child health in the community.

Nearly $130,000 has been raised since the first Bluegrass for Babies concert in 2009, says Anne Schneider, founder of Healthy Roots.

“This year we're going to support new research through the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth,” Schneider says. “We really want to take a new look at environment impact on prenatal care and what that looks like, what the influences are.”

Healthy Roots was established in 2009 by Anne and her husband when their youngest son, Nicholas, was born with a life-threatening birth defect. The organization aims to provide tools and resources to parents and help educate them on how to raise healthy children.

The family-friendly bluegrass concert will feature craft beer; food by Green BEAN Delivery, Eli’s Barbeque, Mazunte and Dewey’s Pizza; and live bluegrass music by Cabinet, Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Hickory Robot and Jennifer Ellis Music. There will also be interactive games and activities for children.

Adults tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.
 
Do Good:

Purchase tickets online to Babies for Bluegrass 3-9 p.m. Sept. 19 at Sawyer Point downtown.

Donate to Healthy Roots Foundation.

• Healthy Roots is 100 percent volunteer based, so donate your time as a volunteer
 

Hoxworth, Gold Star partner for summer blood drive tour


Gold Star Chili is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year by partnering with Hoxworth Blood Center for the sixth annual summer blood drive tour, which will stop at 23 locations throughout the month of August.

The summer months have a critical need for blood donations due to a decrease in donors and a higher blood usage from accidents and traumas, says Alecia Lipton, community relations manager at Hoxworth.

The donation process itself takes less than an hour. Approximately 45 minutes pass between the minute a donor checks in and fills out paperwork to the physical blood donation and a light snack afterward.
 
Participants will need meet certain criteria in order to be eligible to donate. All donors will receive a gift card for two free cheese coneys at any Gold Star location and a limited edition T-shirt.
 
Blood donation can save up to three lives. Donations are sent to 32 hospitals in the Tristate area, where they're given to patients with a variety of medical needs.

“At end of the day, not many people can say that they saved a life,” Lipton says. 

Do Good:

• Become a donor. Make an appointment at any of the locations on the tour.

• “Like” Hoxworth Blood Center on Facebook to stay up-to-date on events.

• If you can’t donate blood, donate your time. Hoxworth is always looking for volunteers.
 

Price Hill Health Center under renovation as part of "Happy to Wait" initiative


Hand-painted messages like “You are worth it,” “You are perfect” and “You are loved” adorn the walls of exam rooms at the Price Hill Health Center.
 
The center has been getting a facelift over the past few months. Volunteers have been scrubbing baseboards, cleaning tile and de-cluttering and organizing years of files and papers. Doors and walls are changing from clinical taupe to bold colors like orange, green, aqua blue and salmon.
 
These renovations are part of Cradle Cincinnati’s newest initiative, Happy to Wait, to make health centers more welcoming environments — a place mothers and their families would be happy to return to for support and encouragement.

The project, led by UC’s school of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) professor Ryan Mulligan and his students, will transform local health centers into a place where women can receive the care they really need. 

“These are our moms, and this is our city,” Mulligan says. “I’m dedicated to doing this, to dreaming up ways for artists to give back, to helping families feel loved and to help women feel like the city cares about them — not just the baby — during and after pregnancy.”
 
Donations to renovate the facility have come from across the region, including River City Furniture, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Health Department, Valspar, Sherwin Williams, School Outfitters and RJE Business Interiors.
 
“If we can make the health centers truly feel like centers of health, imagine the kind of city this could be,” Mulligan says.
 
The Happy to Wait initiative plans to have 20 local health facilities finished within the next five years, he says.
 
Do Good:

• Interested in volunteering? Join the Happy to Wait team by contacting Ryan Mulligan

• See more photos of students and volunteers working at Price Hill Health Center here.

• Follow their progress on Facebook.

• Write a letter of encouragement to a pregnant woman in the city. 
 

Rescheduled Paddlefest hosts three float events and downtown festival


The 14th annual Ohio River Paddlefest, whose original June dates were swamped by heavy rain and high river levels, is set for Aug. 2. Online pre-registration is closed, but on-site registration is available both Aug. 1 and 2.
 
According to Brewster Rhoads, Paddlefest Chair and former executive director of Green Umbrella — sponsor of the event — the thrill kayakers will experience on Aug. 2 is the same one that will prompt future generations of people to become invested in the Ohio River and all it has to offer as a natural resource.
 
“Sitting just inches above the water line in a canoe or kayak lets one feel the power of the Ohio as it conveys rainfall from seven upriver states to the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. “If you close your eyes, you can just imagine how Lewis and Clark felt as they made their way downriver in 1803.”

Paddlefest offers three opportunities to get in the water Aug. 2: a five-mile stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race, an 11-mile canoe and kayak race and the 8.2-mile paddle. The races begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by the paddle start. All boats put in at Coney Island and finish at the Public Landing downtown. Shuttle buses will take participants from downtown to Coney Island before the events (6-8 a.m.) and after (10 a.m.-1:45 p.m.).

The Gold Star Chili Finish Line Festival at Yeatman’s Cove will run 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., featuring live music, racer awards, Global Water Dancers, food, beer and exhibitors.
 
Kayaking between the downtown bridges with the Cincinnati skyline as a backdrop will undoubtedly be a unique experience and a scene to be remembered. It’s the largest paddling event in the country and one Rhoads says should not be missed.
 
“It is hard to love something you don't know. That's why Paddlefest is so effective in changing attitudes about the Ohio,” Rhoads says. “By giving 2,000 adults and children each year an opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience with the beauty and majesty of the Ohio, Paddlefest is helping to grow the next generation of environmental stewards.” 

Do Good: 

• Interested in paddling the Ohio? Register on-site at Coney Island Saturday, Aug. 1 (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) or Sunday, Aug. 2 (starting at 6:30 a.m.). Check here for prices and details.

• If you're feeling competitive, join one of the two races Aug. 2.

• Become an environmental steward by getting involved with Green Umbrella and its other initiatives year-round.
 

Local kids to learn basketball skills from NBA star Tayshaun Prince


Local kids will learn the basics of basketball from NBA star Tayshaun Prince at his annual basketball camp hosted by Kicks for Kids.

Prince, a forward for the Detroit Pistons and previously a three-time team MVP at the University of Kentucky, brings his staff of top high school coaches and guest speakers to Thomas More College for a three-day camp beginning Aug. 3.

Participants will learn the basic skills needed to play basketball, including ball-handling, passing, scoring, rebounding and defense. Campers will also learn a valuable asset of being an athlete — how to be competitive but also a good sport — says KFK Executive Director Christine Sebastian.

Each camper will take home a photo with Prince and an instructional DVD featuring coaching tips and different drills that they can review in the future.

“The best part about this camp is that not only is their coach an NBA player but by the end of the camp he knows everyone’s name,” Sebastion says.

The camp will take place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 3-5 at Thomas More’s Connor Convocation Center in Crestview Hills and other local gymnasiums. Transportation between each venue will be provided for campers.

Do Good:

• There is still time to register for Tayshaun Prince’s camp; admission is $100 for each camper.

• For more information on sponsoring a child or program, contact Christine Sebastian.

• Become friends with Kicks for Kids on Facebook
 

Faces Without Places raffling off two All Star Game tix to support its kids programs


If you haven’t yet snagged a ticket strip for the 2015 All Star Game festivities, your odds of finding one for less than $500 at this point are few and far between.
 
Faces Without Places, a nonprofit whose mission is “to empower lives by removing educational barriers and provide enrichment opportunities for children and youth experiencing homelessness,” is giving you a chance at tickets for just $20. 
 
Thanks to a donation from John Burns, local businessman and former president of Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions, Faces Without Places is raffling off a pair of Diamond Seats — just behind home plate — for the July 10-14 events.
 
The tickets are valued at $2,500 apiece and include food along with access to all All Star Game activities, including the game itself, the SiriusXM All Star Futures Game, the All Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the Gatorade All Star Workout Day, which features the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders.
 
“This donation will enable Faces Without Places to continue on our trajectory of expansion,” says Mike Moroski, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We have some new things in store that will enable us to broaden our impact by keeping children experiencing homelessness connected to their education.”
 
Some of the ways the organization has done that thus far are through its annual Yellow Bus Summer Camp (YBSC) and ZooMates, a year-long mentoring program that pairs children from St. Francis de Sales School with students from Xavier University.
 
According to Moroski, 95 percent of children at last summer's YBSC increased or retained their math and/or reading skills, and a large majority of the children involved with ZooMates (87%) planned on attending college after participating in the program.
 
“We have raised a little over $16,000 thus far, and our goal is to reach $20,000 by July 10,” Moroski says. “Mr. Burns' donation of these tickets will help us to expand and grow more comfortably, and we could not be more grateful for his generosity.”

Do Good: 

• Support Faces Without Places by purchasing raffle tickets for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the 2015 All Star Game and related festivities. Entries will be accepted through July 10 at 5:15 p.m., with the drawing to follow at 5:30. Winners will be contacted immediately.

• Attend a free event at the Contemporary Arts Center July 30 at 6 p.m. to introduce Faces Without Places' rebranding campaign and announce what's in store for the future.

Get involved with Faces Without Places by donating, volunteering or attending/hosting an event.
 

St. Rita to celebrate 100 years at upcoming festival


St. Rita School for the Deaf will host its annual festival July 10-12, and it’s a special one, organizers say, as this year marks the school’s 100-year anniversary.
 
Proceeds from the festival — St. Rita’s largest fundraising event of the year — allow for financial aid and scholarships for children and families in need.
 
According to Angie Frith, the school’s associate executive director, parents oftentimes turn to St. Rita “disheartened due to their inability to openly communicate with or understand their children” and, as a result, kids are often frustrated.
 
Take “Joe,” for example, a student who began his education at St. Rita when he was 5.
 
“Joe is deaf, and his parents speak very little English, so he essentially had to start from scratch,” Frith says. “His first week at St. Rita was very difficult. Each day was met with a fit or outburst.”
 
But as he became more comfortable and was able to work with staff to develop his sign language, Frith says he began to flourish.
 
“By the end of the school year Joe could work independently and could comfortably express his wants and needs through signing,” Frith says. “Without the support of the community, St. Rita would not be able to provide the individualized education necessary for these children to succeed, but with the support of the community we can continue to change the lives of these children and their families for another 100 years.”

Do Good: 

• Support St. Rita School for the Deaf by attending the festival July 10-12. Admission is $2.  

• Purchase raffle tickets at the festival or in advance by calling the school at 513-771-7600 for your chance to win $25,000 in cash or a new vehicle. Tickets are $50 each or three for $100.

• If you can't make it to the festival, help the school by giving
 

West Sixth Brewing beer sales give back to Northern Kentucky nonprofits


Lexington-based West Sixth Brewing has made the consumption of craft beer not only tasty but also charitable through its Pay It Forward initiative. With every 6-pack of Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter sold, $1 is contributed to a local charity within its Kentucky distribution areas.
 
Stagnaro Distributing, the brewery’s Northern Kentucky-based distributor, is contributing $.50 of its own from each 6-pack’s sale. Last month, West Sixth Brewing and Stagnaro presented a check of nearly $3,000 to Children Inc., which advances the success of young children by partnering with families, professionals and the community through exemplary services, training, research and advocacy.
 
According to Matthew Fay, Villa Hills native and West Sixth Brewing partner, the vision of West Sixth has always gone beyond the brewing and selling of beer.
 
“Prior to selling a single beer, the mission of West Sixth was to not only brew great beer but to have a positive impact on the communities we are a part of,” he says. “We have put this mission in action through Sixth for a Cause and through numerous sponsorships and staff-organized volunteer days, but the Pay it Forward program provides a really concrete way that we can put this mission to action in all markets that our product is available.”
 
The Cure Starts Now Foundation, which is working toward “curing cancer one child at a time,” is this quarter’s local nonprofit recipient.
 
For Fay, it’s important to give back but particularly exciting to be able to do so in the Greater Cincinnati area.
 
“With the so many close friends and family in the area,” Fay says, “I am really excited to be able to partner with organizations that are doing great work in an area that I have such strong ties and still consider home.”
 
Do Good: 

• Grab a 6-pack of Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter to support The Cure Starts Now Foundation.

Nominate your favorite local nonprofit as a recipient for next quarter's Pay It Forward initiative. 

• Check out West Sixth Brewing's upcoming events in Cincinnati and make plans to attend.
 

World Refugee Day celebrated with companionship, resources and fun


The Junior League of Cincinnati’s RefugeeConnect program, in collaboration with the Red Cross, hosted its second annual World Refugee Day Cup Soccer Tournament recently as a way to welcome our region’s newest neighbors.
 
According to the JLC, there are 12,000-25,000 refugees living in Greater Cincinnati at any given time, so RefugeeConnect works to “unite and engage” the community for the purpose of assisting newcomers with a smooth transition as they get acclimated to a new culture and a new home.
 
“We are a nation of immigrants,” says Robyn Brown, co-chair of RefugeeConnect, which constructs a sustainable system of support for those making their way out of countries in turmoil.
 
About 600 individuals attended the June 13 soccer tournament, which, in addition to fun and gameplay, matched resettling refugees with various resources in the community — everything from free dental screenings on-site to valued connections with job training services. These are the types of connections that RefugeeConnect works to create on a yearly basis.
 
This past Saturday on World Refugee Day, for example, cyclists participated in a charity ride to fund the Dean Razzak RefugeeConnect Scholarship, which provides those entering higher education with a means of “finding meaningful employment as contributory members of our community and adopted country.”
 
And RefugeeConnect makes education a priority, as ESOL training courses are offered throughout the summer as a way to mitigate the language barrier.
 
“While many of our ancestors came to America generations ago,” Brown says, “others arrived more recently to seek a better life in this country,” and it’s RefugeeConnect’s mission to assist them in doing so. 

Do Good: 

• Support the educational and career goals of young refugees by contributing to the Dean Razzak RefugeeConnect Scholarship.

• Learn more about how to help refugees adjust to a new community by attending the next Refugee Empowerment Initiative meeting, July 17 at 3 p.m. at Xavier University's Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.

• Connect with the Junior League of Cincinnati on Facebook.
 

Final contributions needed to support Homeless to Homes Shelter Collaborative


Strategies to End Homelessness, which leads a coordinated system of 30 nonprofit partners working toward better care for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, launched its Bring It Home campaign earlier this month in an effort to secure final fundraising dollars for the Homeless to Homes Shelter Collaborative.
 
An integral piece of the Homeless to Homes plan is improving local emergency shelters through the incorporation of five “service-enriched facilities.”
 
Four of the five new shelters are now operational, and the David and Rebecca Barron Center for men — formerly part of the Drop Inn Center — is scheduled to open its doors in September.
 
The Homeless to Homes Shelter Collaborative has raised $39 million of the $42 million goal set, but $2.7 million is still required so that the five shelters can fully assist individuals move away from and beyond their current situations.
 
One highlight of the improved shelter system offers daytime services like drug and alcohol treatment, medical and mental health care, job searching and training for residents.
 
According to Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness, the facilities and added resources will lead to an improved quality of life for all Cincinnatians.
 
“The collective impact of these facilities will be to complete the transformation of our shelter system from one which once kept people safe in homelessness,” he says, “to a system that rapidly helps people out of homelessness.”

Do Good: 

Contribute to the Bring It Home campaign.

Volunteer with one of Strategies to End Homelessness' 30 partner agencies.

• Connect with Strategies to End Homelessness on Facebook.
 

SVDP seeks donations for families without air conditioning


St. Vincent de Paul of Cincinnati will distribute fans to 100 families in need on Wednesday, June 17. The distribution is part of a summer-long initiative to provide relief from the heat to the sick, elderly and those with young children.
 
According to Kristen Klein, SVDP’s director of development, the recent heat has been particularly difficult for some.
 
“Many do not have air conditioning,” she says. “This goes beyond being simply sweaty and uncomfortable. Food in a pantry starts to spoil when left in hot, humid conditions. Sleep is difficult at best.”
 
SVDP is partnering with with Huntington Bank, Braun Heating & Air Conditioning and Tedia to collect 700 fans and 400 air conditioning units, but they need your help.
 
“For families where every dollar is allocated, buying a fan or air conditioner would mean going without food for dinner or not having enough to pay the rent,” Klein says. “They can only hope that the heat wave doesn’t last too long. A $20 donation will buy an air conditioner for a family bringing a baby home from the hospital to a stuffy, second-floor apartment. A $100 donation will buy a window AC unit for a grandmother with COPD who struggles to breathe in the muggy air.”

Do Good:

• If you or a family you know is struggling to stay cool this summer, redeem a fan at 8:30 a.m. June 17 at the Liz Carter Outreach Center in the West End, 1125 Bank St. Fans will be distributed to the first 100 families in line. A photo ID is required, and there is a limit of one fan per household. If you can't make it that day, contact SVDP for assistance.

• Make a financial gift by phone at 513-421-HOPE (4673), online or at any Greater Cincinnati Huntington Bank location. $20 will provide a fan and $100 will provide an air conditioner. The fan and air conditioner drive continues through Aug. 31.

• Donate a new fan or air conditioner at St. Vincent de Paul’s Liz Carter Outreach Center or any one of the seven Thrift Stores.
 

Anonymous grant enables 15 vets to graduate debt-free from Union Institute


Union Institute & University has launched the Veterans in Union program to assist underemployed or low-income Pell-eligible military vets complete college or further their education with a master’s or doctoral degree, thanks to an anonymous grant of $293,000. The grant will allow for 15 initial recipients to receive a three-term $7,500 stipend for living expenses, though university officials say they hope to reach more vets in the near future.
 
For Geri Maples, program coordinator and wife of a disabled veteran, the program is particularly special because it’s a way to give back to those who have already given of themselves.
 
“When I think about the sacrifice our vets make, I think mainly of the fact that for the most part they’re putting their lives on hold,” Maples says. “The pursuit of their dreams is another sacrifice made. One of the biggest reasons soldiers join the Armed Forces is not only to serve their country but also to receive the educational benefits. These benefits make the pursuit of their dreams possible.”
 
Walnut Hills-based Union Institute offers both online and low-residency programs to enable students to pursue education without interrupting other obligations like careers and family. Veterans in Union will offer a seven-step approach aimed at making sure individualized needs are met educationally, emotionally and socially.
 
“The ultimate goal is to provide personal academic and career coaching services along with employment opportunities,” Maples says. “In addition, we want these students to have all the tools necessary to be successful beyond graduation. We personalize the process for each veteran from the initial response to their interest inquiries, admission and enrollment, tutoring, wellness seminars for healthy lifestyle success, career coaching and employment exploration.”

Do Good: 

• Veterans in Union grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Apply by July 1 for consideration.

• Check out other Union Institute & University scholarship opportunities for veterans and active duty military.

• Support the university and its students by giving.
 

Shriners Hospital committed to physical, mental and emotional healing


When he was just 7 months old, Kaj was involved in a car accident that resulted in third-degree burns covering 30 percent of his body. He was life-flighted to Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati, which specializes in burn care and cleft lip and palate.
 
Shriners is committed to “Care beyond cost,” as no family is ever turned down because of finances, and it’s this sort of generosity that extends into all measures of a patient’s life when in the hospital’s care.
 
“What stood out to me the most was the genuine compassion of our social worker,” says Amanda Shrode, Kaj’s mother. “Immediately she helped me cope with what had just happened to my son, in the most comprehensive and sensitive way. She provided our family with everything we needed and answered questions I hadn't even thought to ask. For the rest of my life, I will never be able to express how much this meant to me, and still does.”
 
Kaj is now a healthy 3-year-old boy, though he will most likely require follow-up surgeries  — as do most burn victims — to ensure his future ease of mobility. And Shriners will provide services to him until adulthood.
 
At Shriners, however, services consist of more than quality medical treatment. Staffers are committed to nurturing the physical, mental and emotional healing of individuals and their families.
 
Camp Ytiliba (Ability spelled backwards), for example, is a three-night camping trip sponsored by the hospital to inspire confidence and connection among children with similar medical issues. Children return from the 26th annual outing Wednesday, June 3.
 
For Shrode, the care provided from Shriners is meaningful, as the staff works to create a warm atmosphere by building relationships.
 
“The staff at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital feels like family to me and Kaj,” Shrode says. “It’s about making sure your kids feel comfortable in their own skin.”

Do Good: 

• Support Shriners Hospitals for Children by donating.

Volunteer at Shriners.

• Connect with the Shriners Cincinnati on Facebook, where you can see photos of kids enjoying Camp Ytiliba.
 

People Working Cooperatively volunteers make 33rd annual Repair Affair a success


Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, People Working Cooperatively recently completed its 33rd annual Repair Affair by fixing 40 homes for individuals who were unable to either afford or complete the repairs themselves.
 
Roofing, carpentry, electrical work and plumbing comprised the skill sets of more than 300 volunteers who came together to make this year’s outing a success. Porches were rebuilt, doorbells fixed and ramps installed — projects ranging widely in size and scope — in order to make more livable, safer homes for elderly individuals, individuals with disabilities and individuals struggling to make ends meet.
 
According to Kim Sullivan, PWC’s marketing and communications manager, the repairs offered were “life-saving.”
 
“From ramps to handrails to replaced porches, they (volunteers) kept our clients safe and independent in their homes,” Sullivan says.
 
Repair Affair, presented by the city of Cincinnati and The Home Depot, is just one of the many initiatives offered by PWC and its volunteer base, which works year-round to repair homes, to conserve energy through weatherization and to modify aspects within the home's interior and exterior to allow for increased mobility.
 
“We always need donations to support these services,” Sullivan says. “We need volunteers year-round.” 

Do Good:

• Support the work of People Working Cooperatively by donating.

• If you're interested in volunteering with PWC, contact Aaron Grant at 513-351-7921.

• Connect with PWC on Facebook.
 

Public Library preps student readers for All-Star summer


For more than 40 years, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has engaged the community in its Summer Reading program. The tradition continues June 1 - July 31, as individuals of all ages can participate — with prizes as incentive — to become All-Star Readers.
 
Not sure what to read? The library has prepared a list of reading recommendations in addition to a reading tracker and a list of available prizes.
 
“Research has shown for decades that children are susceptible to losing ground academically over the summer months,” says Diane Smiley, Youth Services and Program Coordinator. “Children from low-income homes can lose up to two months or more of reading and math skills unless they keep those skills sharp.”
 
The program is part of a comprehensive Summer Learning program that includes Brain Camps, Summer Lunches and Summer Camp Reading, a six-week one-on-one tutoring program for upcoming third-graders labeled “at risk” by their district.
 
“I saw an excitement for reading developing especially from some of the reluctant readers,” says Denise Bentley, Cincinnati Public Schools intervention specialist who worked with Summer Camp Reading last year. “They will just blossom with their reading skills and their love of reading.” 

Do Good: 

• Learn how to become an All-Star Reader.

• Feed your body and your brain at Summer Lunches, which are available for students 18 and under.

• Connect with the Public Library on Facebook.
 
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