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Philanthropy Features

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Rethinking Philanthropy: People's Liberty invests in people, place

A new philanthropic lab is granting money and resources directly to civic-minded individuals who have innovative ideas to help accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati.

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Cincinnati Opera is going mobile

The Cincinnati Opera has embarked on an innovative outreach project called the Opera Express, which could bring a fully staged opera to a shopping center or festival near you.

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Quality preschool key to lifelong success

Studies show that two years in a quality preschool can have an enormous impact on a child’s life trajectory — more than interventions at any other stage — but few families can afford it. Preschool Promise is a program aimed at closing that gap, and a new pilot program shows how universal access to quality preschool can work.

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Speaking for the trees: Campaign aims to avert canopy-loss crisis

The Taking Root campaign is an eight-county effort to educate the community about the crises affecting our trees. The end goal is to restore our tree canopy by 2020 by planting 2 million trees.

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#GivingTuesday: How to join in today's national celebration locally

There were more days than ever to kick off the holiday shopping season this year, but there’s another movement at work—#GivingTuesday—which encourages individuals to take the same fervor they have for Black Friday, and apply it to giving.  
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Philanthropy Videos

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Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic: David Falk

Boca and Sotto's David Falk shares his insights on the Cincinnati restaurant boom. Falk will participate in the inaugural Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic September 12-13 in Washington Park.

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CDF celebrates 25 years with renewed grant program

In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Cincinnati Development Fund has restarted its Enhancement Fund grant program, which was used in 2011 as a one-time way to help the community and projects it funded "get a little something extra" that wasn't previously in their budget.

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Covington's Shotgun Row Rehab

The Center for Great Neighborhoods continues building on 38 years of creative placemaking in Covington through its newest development called Shotgun Row. Check out this new video by local filmmaker C. Jacqueline Wood to find out more about the project.

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Introducing Random Snacks of Kindness

Learn more about this season's limited-edition Random Snacks of Kindness and the partnership among Cincinnati culinary entrepreneurs that's giving back to the community through Artworks.

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OneSight Vision Center provides help for students with vision deficits

The OneSight Vision Center at Oyler School in Lower Price Hill is an example of a new whole-child approach to education in Cincinnati Public Schools.
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Philanthropy

Katy Samuels, co-founder of Memories of Loved Ones

Katy Samuels, co-founder of Memories of Loved Ones

City: Western Hills

How did you start your business?  
My brother Scott and I are the co-founders of Memories of Loved Ones, or MoLo. We started our business with loans from our family after a mutual friend of ours, Keith Noble, passed away.  At Keith’s funeral there were many poster boards on display with original photographs.  Several years passed and the poster boards were eventually taken apart.

We started talking about how frustrating it was that Keith’s poster boards didn’t exist anymore and it got us to thinking – what do most families do with their pictures when they plan a funeral?  We found out that there are no good solutions available to families who want to preserve precious photos and memories of a loved one.

Once we had come up with our concept we decided to test our idea by offering our service for free to a friend that had lost his father.  We got great feedback and it confirmed that we had come up with a great idea.   

How did you come up the idea for your business?  
We couldn’t find any company that provided a service like this for a funeral.   There are tons of companies that can help you after a funeral but we are the first that helps you during that painful time. So, between Scott’s and my IT background, my background with Creative Memories [a program that helps convert physical photos and the like to digital images], and many other talents in our family, we were able to come up with a process that allowed us to provide this service to families very much in need of it.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Everyone that works with us is either a family member or close enough they are like family.  We are lucky to be part of a large family with many talents so we have done the majority of the work in house using as much “free help” as we can get.  Without the many talents in our family we would not be where we are today.  

To be honest, I can’t say we utilized many local resources initially.  We are now involved in groups like Bad Girl Ventures, and we’ll be meeting with a SCORE counselor next week.  I am part of a local business networking group called the Westside Referral Organization, and we’re also a part of the Delhi Business Association.

What does a typical day in your business look like?   
Our headquarters is located in my home, where we converted one side of my basement into our office.  When we’re working on projects, we’re usually here.  

Life can be a bit crazy for us!  Since we deal with funerals, our schedule is constantly changing.  When we are meeting a family onsite, we can be found in the “MoLo Mobile,” a bright purple and green, 35-foot RV (it was wrapped by our friends at Advertising Vehicles) – you can’t miss us driving down the street!  

Inside the RV, we have scanners and cameras that allow us to convert everything from photographs and keepsakes to digital onsite while meeting with a family.  

The RV is fun and casual as well – just like us!  There is plenty of diet coke, M&M’s and other junk food all on hand; we try to make the family feel as welcome and at ease as possible.

What’s next for you and your company?
We are still a small business just working toward that “break even” goal, yet the business seems to evolve every day and we’ve come so far in just two years.  We see significant growth potential with our business, and have considered pitching our idea to angel investors and VC firms with the goal of expanding and offering our service nationwide.  

If I had a dollar for every person who has told us this is the best idea they’ve heard of in years, or said, “You need to franchise this fast,” I’d be a rich person!

For now, we are happy to continue spreading the word, growing our local market and helping to make one more family’s life a little easier every day.   

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