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For Good

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NKU students help award $83,500 to area nonprofits

Northern Kentucky University is one of the nation’s leaders when it comes to incorporating student philanthropy into the classroom.
And this past semester, 146 students involved in the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project were able to assist area nonprofits in receiving $83,500 worth of funds.
“I did a study that surveyed NKU alumni who participated in the Mayerson project and found that after they left NKU, they were much more likely to volunteer for nonprofits, make donations to them and to serve on boards of directors for nonprofits,” says Julie Olberding, director of NKU’s Master of Public Administration program.
Olberding taught a volunteer management course in the fall, in which her class partnered with Toyota to work as advisors for the company’s funding board.
“Ultimately, it makes them better grant writers and grant seekers, because they’ve been on the other side of the table and have been able to see what works and what doesn’t work,” Olberding says.
The indirect giving model was used in Olberding’s volunteer management course, but in other classes, grants are awarded to the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project so that students can make decisions and directly fund initiatives for nonprofits.
“I love to go to the ceremony at the end of the semester to learn how other classes did it and what new and interesting ways that they have gotten NKU students to engage with the community, and think about giving back and investing in our region,” Olberding says.
“NKU has one of the oldest philanthropy programs in the country, so we’re seen as leaders in the field, and people have looked to us for advice and guidance in starting their own programs.”

Do Good:

• Check out the student philanthropy handbook if interested in starting a similar program at your institution.  

• Support the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project by donating.

• Engage with local nonprofits by volunteering your time or by donating. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Faces without Places bridges educational gap for homeless children

Without stability in education, Ramin Mohajer, executive director of Faces without Places, says homeless children’s chance of eventually breaking the cycle of poverty is virtually nonexistent.
Faces without Places provides educational programming and supplies, in addition to extracurricular opportunities, to the 6,000 children experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky each year.
“The average student experiencing homelessness is two to three years behind in education,” says Mohajer, who recognizes how important it is to work toward closing that gap.
Through programs like ZooMates, for example, children pair up with Xavier University students who provide mentorship and stability for those involved.
“Many children had never been on a college campus, and a few of them didn’t know anyone who had ever even gone to college,” Mohajer says. “So we had the students come up to Xavier University and take different tours. They did a science lab experiment, and that got them really excited about the prospect of going to college.”
In addition to experiencing life on a college campus, students learn science through a hands-on approach, while taking regular field trips to the Cincinnati Zoo.
“That’s been a really successful program for us,” Mohajer says. “It gives positive role models to kids—the kids can’t wait—they’re running up to the mentors, giving them all a hug, and it really ends up as a long-lasting, rich bond.” 

Do Good:

• Support Faces without Places by donating.

• Support Faces without Places by volunteering.

• Like Faces without Places on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Tom+Chee backs small nonprofits

Tom + Chee knows what it’s like to be the underdog.
What was once a food tent at Fountain Square is now a nationally recognized brand under contract to be a more-than-100-store operation in 2014 (see Tom+Chee prepares for rapid growth in 2014). And it’s this rise-from-the-top mentality that Tom + Chee co-founders Jenny Rachford and Jenn Quackenbush say they apply to the company’s involvement in the nonprofit sector as well.
“Of course we’d love to give to everyone doing good work,” Rachford says. “There are a lot of people trying to do good things, but the small groups don’t have a lot of the support the big ones can pull.”
So Tom + Chee created The Grilled Cheese That Cares program this past October when it partnered with The Kentucky Thorough-Breasts—a team of breast cancer survivors and dragon boat racers affiliated with Paddling for Cancer Awareness.
“We developed a campaign which involved the Pink Dragon Fire Donut, which was a glazed donut with cherry mascarpone, graham cracker and jalapeno compote, and donated a dollar from each to their cause,” Rachford says.
Continuing with the trend of supporting small, local nonprofits, T+C  is now collecting gifts for children connected with Autism 4 Families and Puzzling Panthers, in exchange for a free grilled cheese donut.
So for a total of seven families and 27 children, the financial strain of purchasing gifts from each child’s wish list will be removed, as presents will be provided through the Grilled Cheese That Cares initiative.
“Christmas time is special—especially for kids,” Rachford says. “We all have our childhood memories of Christmases, good or bad, but as grownups and even with our business—we’re kid-centered, family-centered and focused, and this is something that genuinely comes from that place. We want to make families happy.” 

Do Good:

• Contact Jenny Rachford or Jenn Quackenbush if you're a local nonprofit who would like to partner up for future Grilled Cheese that Cares efforts.

• Visit a Tom + Chee location, pick up a gift tag with a child's name and request on it, and return the unwrapped item by Dec. 20 for a free grilled cheese donut.  

• Support local nonprofits.

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

UC Economics Center preps school leaders

For Chris Kloesz, lifelong Cincinnati resident and principal at Loveland High School, participation in the Alpaugh Scholars Leadership Program was invaluable.
This five-month program offered through the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center brings local educators and business leaders together to enable school leaders to better understand the connection between communities, schools and the ways the economy impacts both.
“I would say that my favorite session—one that really stands out—was a very in-depth historical tour of the city, where at the beginning of the day, we boarded a charter bus and went to a number of different locations where we received extensive background on how the city developed, going back to over a couple hundred years ago,” Kloesz says.
According to Kloesz, schools function as microcosms of their local community, so having an understanding of “what we are,” “where we’ve come from,” and “what we want to be” is knowledge that can’t be ignored when looking toward future educational visions.
“It’s beneficial to have that perspective as we continue to work to improve education, society, social welfare programming, government structure—all those things that function and work together,” Kloesz says.
“I had no idea from one month to the next, the type of knowledge I’d pick up, nor did I know how I was going to apply that; but here I am a couple years later, on a day-to-day basis, being able to reflect on my experiences and the knowledge I’ve gained and applying it to my vision and understanding for what my responsibilities are.”

Do Good:

• Learn about the Alpaugh Scholars Leadership Program, and contact the Economics Center if you're an educator who is interested in registering.

• Help the Economics Center achieve its mission of sharing financial literacy knowledge by making use of its teaching tools and resources

• Connect with the Economics Center on Facebook.

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

Fifth Third helps fund SU2C's collaborative cancer research efforts

Although Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a national organization, its focus is aimed at collaboration—an effort that Cincinnati-headquartered Fifth Third Bank wants to get behind.
In 2008, nine women, all of whom were profoundly touched by cancer, came together to form SU2C. Two of the founders were in Stage IV of the illness, and they wanted to know why they were receiving the same treatments used 40 years ago.
“So we got some of the best researchers and oncologists in a room and asked them the question, ‘Why haven’t we made more progress? What are the obstacles?’” says Sue Schwartz, SU2C co-founder. “And we learned some interesting things. The scientists weren’t collaborating. They’re working in silos—different scientists on different floors and in different rooms, doing the same thing and not sharing data.”
So SU2C came up with a model to bring researchers, scientist and oncologists together to form “dream teams” so that collaboration would become the focus of cancer research.
“We’re looking to bring everyone in cancer research together to fund this disease,” Schwartz says. “We have over 500 scientists working in 101 institutions that span the country, so we have institutions involved with us virtually everywhere; and by doing that, it allows us to do our clinical trials in multiple sites across the country, which helps people all over."
SU2C solely funds research, so through initiatives like Fifth Third’s Take a Swipe at Cancer, in which a donation is made to the organization each time a client uses their Fifth Third MasterCard,—which in this case is $400,000—the nonprofit is able to sustain its efforts of delivering therapy to patients in clinical research trials.
“One in two men, and one in three women in this country will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime,” Schwartz says. “And there’s no boundaries—anybody can be struck.”

Do Good:

• Use your Fifth Third MasterCard through December 31, and your purchase will help support Stand Up To Cancer's efforts with a donation of $400,000. 

Support Stand Up To Cancer through this holiday season by throwing an ugly sweater party or participating in its sweater-a-thon contest.

• Join the collaborative effort by getting involved with Stand Up To Cancer's grassroots efforts in Greater Cincinnati, and download the SU2C app. 

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


OMA inspires confidence, provides autonomy to individuals with dementia

Opening Minds through Art does more than provide individuals with dementia a creative outlet for expression. It enables them to build confidence by recognizing their abilities, while also building relationships and engaging with volunteers. 

OMA, which is a therapy-based program developed by the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, aims to build “bridges across age and cognitive barriers through art” by pairing students with elderly individuals. 

Twice a week, students facilitate work on art projects with about 35 residents of Cedar Village Retirement Community—all of whom are either dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. 

“It’s been so amazing to see how stark of a contrast it is when they’re doing creative versus noncreative activity,” says Julia Fallon, University of Cincinnati senior and OMA volunteer.

Fallon, who also conducts research with OMA founder Elizabeth Lokon, says enabling individuals to tap into their creative sides prompts responses that might not otherwise come about. “Especially with art and music, there might be memories associated with those things or emotions that might not be elicited by anything else,” she says.

For Miami University senior Josie Rader, who is an OMA student leader and facilitator, autonomy is one of the biggest takeaways of the program. 

“Personal choice is just so big—even choosing the paint they want to use—it’s all chosen by them, so just having that freedom and creating something that they don’t believe they can create is amazing,” Rader says. “Sometimes they get a little concerned and say things like, ‘Oh I’m not an artist,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ but at the end, they see a masterpiece that they never imagined they could do.” 

Do Good:

• Support OMA by donating.

• View residents' artwork, which is on display at Cedar Village in the hallway behind the activity center. The latest project involved the creation of tiles as part of a collaborative effort with Rookwood Pottery.

• Like OMA's Facebook page.

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

Book donations further literacy efforts at LNGC

Book collections play an important role for the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, as the organization works to further its mission of advocating for literacy development in the community—particularly with regard to creating reading opportunities for children.
“A lot of the schools we bring our books to—about 90% and higher—are considered at the economically disadvantaged level,” says Kim McDermott, director of communications and grant writer at the Literacy Network.
Last month, for example, students from Our Lady of the Visitation worked with the Literacy Network to organize a book drive to benefit six local schools and organizations. They collected a total of 2,706 books.
“We talked to librarians and coordinators, and they just said, ‘Often, these kids—it’s the only book they own—or they’re used to library books that are torn up,’ and they don’t have money to replace those things,” McDermott says.
Book collections are just one part of the Literacy Network’s Winners Read program, which pairs students from kindergarten through fourth grade with tutors in an effort to improve reading levels so that everyone is at grade-level.
“Last year alone, we trained and placed 1,012 tutors in the Winners Read program, and this year, we’re looking at around 1,300 or 1,400 tutors trained and placed,” McDermott says. “It’s adding positive influence into students’ lives where they might lack that. And some might have it, but you just can’t get enough support at that age.” 

Do Good:

• Support the Literacy Network by volunteering.

• Support the Literacy Network by donating.

• Connect with the Literacy Network on Facebook.

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


Graeter's helps neighbors in need in local community

Graeter’s raised more than $52,000 for The Cure Starts Now Foundation during its annual Cones for the Cure campaign this fall, when stores gave away free scoops of Elena’s Blueberry Pie ice cream—a flavor that was created out of the ice cream parlor's and nonprofit’s collaborative fundraising efforts.
Chip Graeter, who co-owns Graeter’s, says the partnership started when he wanted to return a favor to Keith Desserich, founder of The Cure Starts Now.
“We were helping a family—a neighbor of ours whose dad was stricken with cancer,” Graeter says. “And Desserich’s business did carpet cleaning and things of the sort, but the house needed work done on it, and he was nice enough to donate some of the work to help this family.”
The two men met prior to the creation of The Cure Starts Now, but Graeter says he told Desserich that if he could ever help him with anything, to let him know.
“Unfortunately in 2006, his daughter [Elena] was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she died less than a year later,” Graeter says. “Hence a foundation was born.”
Desserich contacted Graeter to ask for help with The Cure Starts Now Foundation’s gala and auction, for which Graeter donated a behind-the-scenes experience where an auction winner could create a new flavor of ice cream—Elena’s Blueberry Pie.
Since the initial auction, Graeter’s has continued to raise awareness through its ice cream and coupon books that are given out during each year’s campaign, for which this year’s donations were higher than ever.
“It’s a really great local family that unfortunately experienced a tragedy, and it’s a local organization—but it reaches worldwide,” Graeter says. “Their main goal is to find a cure for [pediatric] brain cancer, which then will open up the doors to finding cures for many cancers, and I’m hopeful that they get to accomplish it.”

Do Good: 

• Support The Cure Starts Now Foundation by donating.

• Reach out to The Cure Starts Now Foundation for support.

• Like Cones for the Cure on Facebook.

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


Cincinnati's Network of Executive Women leads nation in College Outreach

Mallory Malinoski is a testament to Cincinnati’s success in the Network of Executive Women’s College Outreach program. 
NEW Cincinnati, the local chapter for this nonprofit that aims to bring, keep and advance women in the field of consumer products and retail, was recently recognized nationally as “Best of Best” for College Outreach.
“Sometimes students aren’t the best at leveraging the networking power that’s available, but the one-on-one support they get from being paired up with a mentor who can provide you with resources to help you get your foot in the door—that’s valuable,” says Malinoski, former College Outreach student and NEW member.
Malinoski attended Xavier University and began full-time employment at SC Johnson & Son, Inc. after graduating.
She was recently promoted to an account management position, which she says would have never been possible had she not participated in NEW Cincinnati’s College Outreach program.
“They invited me to participate in a networking roundtable,” Malinoski says. “And through the College Outreach program, I interviewed and got an internship during the last semester of my senior year, and then they offered me a full-time position. It got my foot in the door.”
In the six years of NEW Cincinnati’s existence, more than 275 university students like Malinoski have participated in similar networking opportunities, mentorships and internships. 
“A lot of it is word of mouth,” Malnoski says. “A lot of it is behind the scenes—placing students in the right opportunities to get the students in these entry-level positions.” 

Do Good:

• Like NEW Cincinnati on Facebook.

• Learn about NEW benefits, and consider becoming a member.

Get involved with NEW Cincinnati's College Outreach program.

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


Glass for Greater Good merges art with giving

About 13 years ago, River City Works started an event called Friday Night Blows, where glassblowers would come together monthly for a public glassblowing demo, while creating pieces to benefit a local nonprofit.
River City Works is no more, but out of it spawned a collective of artists called Queen City Glass Arts, who wanted to keep the event going.
Now, as a collaborative effort with Brazee Street Studios, the event—rebranded as Glass for Greater Good—returns to a hot shop this Friday from 6-9 p.m at Brazee.
“Glassblowing is so theatrical and so wonderful to watch,” says Sandy Gross, Brazee Street Studios’ owner. “So it’s an opportunity for us to almost do a performance—some theater—and at the same time raise awareness.”
At Glass for Greater Good, which will now take place on the second Friday of each month (Bockfest is in the works for January), the artists will craft toys, which they’ll then donate to St. Vincent de Paul’s Angel Toy program.
The public is encouraged to gather at Brazee, check out local artists’ work, watch the demonstration and bring an unwrapped toy that SVDP volunteers will distribute to children in time for the holidays.
Gross says collaboration is so important and that anytime it becomes a focus, communities improve.
“For me, art is about another language and helping people see beauty, and working together,” Gross says. “And any opportunity where you can do all these things at one time is pretty special.” 

Do Good:

• Support St. Vincent de Paul by donating.

• Attend Glass for Greater Good Friday from 6-9 p.m., and consider bringing a toy to support the Angel Toy program.  

• Like Brazee Street Studios and Queen City Glass Arts on Facebook.

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

Runway hair show returns to The Carnegie

The Carnegie’s biannual exhibition "The Art of Hair" returns this January, in the midst of this Covington-based art venue’s 2013-14 season. 

The exhibition debuted in 2012 when 40 models from 13 Tri-State salons came together to celebrate elaborate hairstyles, costumes and makeup as an art form. 

“The Carnegie’s uniquely positioned to do this—in the region, in Northern Kentucky or Ohio—we’re the only organization that’s a fully functioning gallery, fully functioning theater and an education center,” says Katie Brass, Executive Director. “So we don’t have anyone to compare us to as a whole. We’re multidisciplinary, and we embrace that.” 

For Brass, the “over-the-top models” that storm the runway showcase designs that are “absolutely amazing,” as stylists’ clients completely shift their looks for one day, covered from head to toe with everything from hair spray and makeup to unique styles of dress.

The volunteer models, Brass says, assist The Carnegie in fulfilling its mission of serving as a welcoming venue with the capacity to present creatives’ work through a variety of different mediums. 

“Seven years ago, if I’d go somewhere and say, ’Hey have you ever been to the Carnegie?’ no one would raise their hand,” Brass says. “But now, people see it and think, ‘There’s no way I’m in the middle of Covington.’ People can come and relax and enjoy art in a really great, friendly space; and I want people to walk away and say, ‘Wow, that was pretty amazing, and I can’t believe the Carnegie was able to do that.’” 

Do Good: 

• Attend the Art of Hair runway show at either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. January 12, 2014.

• Like The Carnegie on Facebook

• Check out The Carnegie by visiting the galleries or seeing a production

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

WCC to celebrate women at Feist-Tea

The Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati will gather together to celebrate local, feisty women on December 8 at its annual event, appropriately named Feist-Tea.
“I have fun doing creative little things, so I came up with this idea that we need to celebrate women who get feisty and who get things done,” says Ruth Cronenberg, Woman’s City Club board member. “They’re not necessarily the big donors or in the newspaper—you don’t know what they’re doing—but they are feisty and they’re the kind of women we want to hold up.”
Cronenberg became involved with the WCC prior to retiring from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation in 1998.
“I worked through the era when women had a hard time working—they got half the pay men did,” she says. “But we were some of the working force that made changes for this generation, and now that I’m retired, women like me who have been through that are members of the WWC, and we’d like to continue making changes and help support younger women coming into the workforce and doing things in the community.”
This year, the WCC is honoring women for a variety of reasons—everything from informing members about political issues impacting the area and encouraging inner city literacy efforts, to inspiring artistic efforts among children by creating a life-size giraffe out of duct tape that Cronenberg says “must be about 12 feet tall.”
“This idea started as a fundraising event, but unlike others like it, we don’t charge, so that all people can come,” Cronenberg says. “It works very beautifully and very smoothly. And it’s a festive event, whereas most of our meetings are focused on an issue. But we grab old lace tablecloths from around the house and gloves and hats and anything that looks like a tea event and just spread it through the room— add a little décor.” 

Do Good: 

• Honor local women by attending Feist-Tea.

• Help support your community and get to know other women by becoming a WCC member.

• Support the WCC by donating

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


Local creatives team up to give back

Ornaments designed by the newly formed grassroots group Creativity for a Cause will be auctioned off December 2 to support the Contemporary Arts Center’s involvement with Memories in the Museum—a newly developed art program, intended for individuals dealing with memory loss.
Creativity for a Cause’s “Making Holiday Memories” is the first of what Elizabeth Olson, who helped found the group, hopes to be many efforts aimed at not only giving back to the community, but also providing local designers the chance to become inspired.
“I’m in design at P&G, and am regularly in contact with people who work there and in the at-large community who are creative with timelines, projects and budgets, and that’s their day-to-day vocation and avocation; but what I’ve noticed is, a lot of times, people will say, ‘I’m short on inspiration,’” Olson says. “They get tired or worn out, and I’ve watched what they do to try to get inspired. And what I recognized was that they didn’t want to listen to or watch somebody—they wanted to make stuff.”
So Olson, who also serves as a board member for the CAC, came up with the idea to engage designers across the Tri-State in a way that would allow them to apply their craft in a new way.
“Designers—the really good ones—are motivated by empathy,” Olson says. “And they want to help people. They want the things they create, even in these commercial products, to make a difference in peoples' lives.”
About 14 designers are involved in the group’s first project, and because the group is so individualized and organic, Olson says she expects a variety of ornaments, created through different mediums.
“I like to work with textiles. There’s some industrial designers who might decide to do 3D printing,” Olson says. “It’s intentionally left open so people can bring whatever they want to explore or feel proficient at.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend the CAC's event One Night, One Craft and support Memories in the Museum by bidding on Creativity for a Cause's ornaments in the silent auction.

• Contact Erica Camp if you're a designer or creative interested in participating in Creativity for a Cause's future efforts.

• Like the Contemporary Arts Center on Facebook.

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


Celebrate community, gratitude at ninth annual Fall Feast

Six thousand meals will be served this Thanksgiving as the community joins together at this year’s Fall Feast to celebrate Cincinnati and the individuals who call the city home.
“Anyone can come to this event—we’ve built it on the idea of incorporating all walks of life at one table to share a meal,” says Erin Klotzbach, Fall Feast coordinator. “I wanted this to be an event where there were no demographics—there were no visual signs of ‘I’m from an upper echelon, you’re from the lower monetary demographic,’—I just wanted it to be more of an experience where you’d go to an event.”
Klotzbach got involved with Give Back Cincinnati five years ago when she attended Fall Feast and was a member of the planning committee. After one year of involvement, Klotzbach adopted the role of chairperson, and she’s served in that capacity for four years now, while working to transform the gathering into what it is today.
“The first year I chaired the event, we asked City Gospel Mission to join as a partner, and along with that came a few extra things they would do at their Thanksgiving dinner—coats and haircuts—because it was something they offered their guests,” Klotzbach says. “So we built that into our dinner, and it kind of evolved from a dinner to a dinner and resource day.”
The Duke Energy Convention Center will serve as the venue for the 3,500 guests who come to dine together, while 2,500 meals will be served to-go at various locations throughout the city. In addition to food, free haircuts and a coat giveaway, the event will also include free health screenings, pediatric and dental checkups, a children’s play area, live music and a big-screen television for community members to enjoy the national staples of Thanksgiving Day: parades and football.
“What makes Cincinnati great is its community—it’s a very giving culture—there’s lots of different resources for people in need,” Klotzbach says. “And it’s really an opportunity for different people to sit down at a table and interact with people they might not necessarily interact with. It’s bridging the gap in a situation where it might normally be uncomfortable, or you might not know how to engage that way, but because you’re sitting at the same table and you don’t see those lines, it’s very clear that we’re all there for each other.”

Do Good:

• Make Fall Feast part of your family's Thanksgiving Day tradition by attending the event. Meals are served between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Doors open at 9 a.m.

• Donate new or gently used coats and other winter accessories to be given away at Fall Feast. 

• Like Give Back Cincinnati and City Gospel Mission on Facebook.

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


UIU employees team up to support women in transition

Sophie Stanford doesn’t take anything for granted. Instead, she says she understands and appreciates life’s basic necessities.
“I myself had been homeless at one point years ago—in transition from a bad relationship,” Stanford says. “So I know how important it is to have organizations like the Tom Geiger Guest House in a community, and what it does for a person’s self-esteem and helping them get back to where they need to be.”
Stanford, who works as Records Maintenance and Transcript Specialist at Union Institute & University’s Office of the Registrar, also serves as co-coordinator for the school’s partnership with the Geiger House.
Each month, she helps organize and collect supplies from other UIU employees who want to help support women and their children living in affordable housing offered by the Geiger House.
“Once they get a new family in, they provide them with a welcome bag which includes toilet paper, garbage bags, soap, paper towels, dish liquids, bleach, general cleaning supplies, gift cards for Kroger—things to just get them started in their own apartment,” Stanford says.
“They go there and take advantage of the support services to either stay there as long as they need to or transitionally—they’ll link them with educational services and all different types of things until they’re self-sufficient and can move out. But in the meantime, Geiger House helps them by providing those basic necessities that they need, and this is what we collect on a monthly basis.”
While providing supplies for daily living is important, Stanford says she and others at UIU also hope to provide a sense of empowerment to other women in the community.
“Part of our mission and vision statement is to be a beacon of hope for people—just to be there and try to bridge that gap,” Stanford says. “That’s what makes a community a community. Hopefully, this will take that family far, empower them to go to the next step, whether it’s education, housing or employment. But the smallest things make the biggest difference in a person’s life.”

Do Good:

• Support the Tom Geiger Guest House by donating. 

• Contact the Tom Geiger Guest House if you'd like to donate items for Welcome Bags. 

• Connect with Union Institute & University on Facebook.

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

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