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Your Guide to Life in Greater Cincinnati
 

The Rules of Engagement

Community involvement goes a long way to help transplants feel at home.

As an IT manager in global business services at Procter & Gamble, Braxton Washington is passionate about what he does. That's why he got involved with several groups that would allow him to bring more awareness to careers in information technology when he moved to Cincinnati from Little Rock, Ark., two years ago.

"This city provides young professionals that want to be active a great opportunity to contribute and make an impact," says Washington, who serves on the board of directors for the BDPA Cincinnati, an organization for IT professionals, and also volunteers with the YMCA's Black & Latino Achievers program. "My organizations allow me to make contributions that I feel will increase the awareness of the opportunities in the city."

African-Americans in Cincinnati are actively involved in the local and regional communities, which boast more than 50 active chapters of fraternal, professional and social clubs dedicated to the support of people of African descent. 
 
Miyohnna Packer, a prevention specialist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, works with the People of Color Wellness Alliance, a coalition of agencies within Cincinnati, including the police department, Cincinnati Public Schools, and the Central Community Health Board of Hamilton County. The mission is to reduce drug abuse among youth and young adults in Over-the-Rhine.
 
"It gives me a chance to get outside of the four walls of my job," she says. "Doing community work, I'm able to see the different views of the people in the neighborhood and how they want to improve their neighborhoods. It gives me a good perspective and helps me build relationships outside of work."
 
Many newcomers use company-sponsored events to get out into the community. Last year, Kroger sponsored four houses for "Paint the Town" and Sterling Wright, an operations analyst, joined members of the company's young professionals associate resource group to help paint houses during the event.
 
"It's made of mostly young professionals so it's a way to meet new people," she says of Give Back Cincinnati, the organization that coordinates "Paint the Town."
 
When she first moved to town, Packer also participated in activities arranged by Children's affinity group, the African-American Professional Advisory Council.
 
"This gave me a wonderful chance to meet professionals around my age at the time," she notes. "It gave us a chance to mingle, hang out and form other relationships outside of the job."
 
Whether you're participating in work-related community service initiatives, events through your church or breaking out on your own to find an organization that fits your needs, community involvement can help you create a bond with your newfound city in the most important ways.
 
"Community involvement has played a really important role in making the city feel like there are opportunities for me to contribute, have fun, and make a living," Washington says.

Your Guide to Life in Greater Cincinnati
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Kia Beckford
Human Resources Manager
Procter & Gamble

What community organizations/events are you involved in? What do you do for them?
I'm on the livable communities committee for Mayor Mark Mallory's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet (YPKC). The purpose of the committee is to help make Cincinnati a more livable city for residents by engaging them in their surroundings. An event called Streetcar Saturdays is the first summer event that will help residents and visitors get acclimated to the streetcar's future route. In 2012, I started volunteering with Crossroads Community Church's CityLink, which bundles support services to help people in our community overcome poverty.

Why did you pick those organizations/events with which to spend your free time?
As a downtown resident, I wanted to help Cincinnati see its potential. The city has a lot to offer, but if you don't know the right people, it's very hard to find these things. YPKC was also a way to meet new people. As for CityLink, I grew up helping the less fortunate with my family through our church and The Salvation Army, so it's always been a passion of mine. Now with a professional background in Human Resources, I feel that I can volunteer in a more substantial way and truly make a difference in the lives of people in my community.
 
Did getting involved in the community help you create a greater bond to the city?
Yes, definitely. I have a vested interest in seeing this city experience positive growth and get recognition for all of the great things that are going on. It is honestly an exciting time to live here. I didn't feel the same two years ago when I first moved here, so I'm extremely grateful to be a part of this.

If you could tell new residents one thing about getting involved in Cincinnati, what would it be? 
I would love for people to come here and think of the possibilities. This is a really diverse town and there are lots of things to do. Don't buy into the rumors.