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Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic returns with another star-studded collection of chefs


Washington Park becomes one big kitchen for the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic throughout the weekend of Sept. 11-13, the event's second year of hosting the best food and beverage flavors in the Midwest. Locals can enjoy culinary demonstrations, chef competitions and wine, beer and spirit tastings right on the park's event lawn across from Music Hall.

Not only will you be able to sample incredible food and drink, but CF+WC is partnering with Findlay Market and Freestore FoodBank to provide more than 14,000 meals to locals in need.

Cincinnati was recently called out as the next big food city in the U.S. by Keith Pandolfi, a Cincinnati native and freelance writer for Saveur magazine. Pandolfi — who served as a judge last year for CF+WC's Pork Chopped competition — shined a light on the restaurant scene in Cincinnati and the Midwest with good reason.

“This is the kind of thing we want to stand for,” says Courtney Tsitouris, CF+WC co-founder. “Never again and never before have you seen this particular collection of talent together. We've pulled people from the Midwest and all over the country.”

Do Good:

Register for tickets to the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic Sept. 11-13 at Washington Park. Ticket packages are available for each day as well as for the full weekend.

• Lend a hand and volunteer your time for the weekend.

• Check out the full list of this year’s participating culinary talent.
 

Party like a rock star at Music Resource Center fundraiser


The Music Resource Center (MRC) in Walnut Hills is hosting its annual Party Like a Rockstar fundraiser Aug. 29 to raise funds to support the after-school program, which hosts kids learning to play guitar, singing opera, rapping and playing jazz under one roof.

The benefit will feature a performance from MRC students, a silent auction and an open bar featuring craft beer, draft beer, liquor and wine, says Executive Director Karen D'Agostino.

The MRC provides recording and performing equipment to local teens between the grades of 7 and 12 for $2 a month. Kids can take private lessons, train in rehearsal rooms and record music in the multi-track recording studio.

MRC recently launched a low-frequency radio station, 95.7-FM, that features original content recorded at the studio, ranging from music to talk shows and public service announcements.

But the organization is more than just about recording music and performing arts. Mentors use life skills to create a sense of empowerment for the kids who spend their afternoons at the MRC.

“Some of them have very low confidence and struggle at school,” D’Agostino says. “But that kid who can’t concentrate comes in and sits in a studio for three hours straight. He’s found a passion he hasn’t had the opportunity to explore elsewhere.”

Do Good:

• Register to attend the Party Like a Rockstar benefit event on Saturday, Aug. 29 at The Redmoor in Mt. Lookout. Tickets are $65 for one person and $120 for two.

• The Music Resource Center depends on volunteer teachers, so please donate your time for a good cause.

• For more information about MRC’s radio station, 95.7, visit their website. 
 

Metro, CincyYP collaborate to host Saturday night entertainment bus for new riders


For those looking for a fun way to socialize and navigate city streets via public transportation, Cincinnati Metro and CincyYP are collaborating to once again host “Take a TrYP on the Metro” from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29.
 
The entertainment bus will travel along a special route through downtown, Over-the-Rhine, East Walnut Hills, O’Bryonville, Oakley, Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout, stopping at nearly 20 different bars and restaurants along the way. According to Metro’s Outreach and Sustainability Manager Kim Lahman, the event is a fun way to introduce young professionals to Metro’s services.

“I believe most participants will feel more comfortable giving Metro a try after they experience just how easy and convenient public transit can be,” she says.

Each of the participating venues along the route will offer special promotions to riders, and they’ll learn trip-planning logistics like reading a schedule and making use of Metro’s real-time apps along the way.

“National trends are telling us that millennials value and want access to robust public transportation (and) want to live in a community where owning a car is optional,” says Brandy Jones, Metro’s public relations manager. “Metro is working to better understand and meet the transit needs of our future riders, as events like this one help us engage with potential riders and discover just how Metro can be what they need and want it to be as we work to reinvent our service.”

Do Good: 

• Purchase a single rider pass for just $7 or gather your friends and purchase a four-rider pass for $20 here.

• Take a look at the bars and restaurants participating in Saturday's promotion and contact Kaitlyn Kappesser if you're a restaurant or bar owner who'd like to join the fun.

• Watch this quick video to see how riding the Metro works.
 

Clovernook Center's manufacturing prowess featured on "Home Factory" TV show


More than 5 million biodegradable and compostable cups were produced last year right here in Cincinnati at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Two million of those cups went to the U.S. Navy, and the remaining 3 million were sold through third party sales at local stores like Target, Party City and Whole Foods.  
 
Clovernook was recently featured on an episode of "Home Factory," an FYI Network TV show that tours production facilities in North America and reveals how everyday household objects are made.
 
The cups are available in 10 oz. or 16 oz. sizes in various patterns and colors and can be custom printed.

“People have seen these cups and don’t even realize they were made right here in North College Hill,” says Coral Dill, manager of communications & development.  

Clovernook, whose mission is to provide life-enriching opportunities to people who are blind and visually impaired, employed approximately 70 blind or visually impaired employees last year.

“A lot of people underestimate the power of people who are blind or visually impaired,” Dill says, “but the sense of community here is the most fulfilling. There’s such a sense of comraderie and self-empowerment.”

Clovernook is also one of the top two largest braille printing houses in the U.S., producing 40 million pages on an annual basis.

Do Good:

• Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is always looking for volunteers.

• Help support Clovernook's mission by giving.

• “Like” Clovernook on Facebook and stay up to date on fundraisers and events. 
 

Local glassworkers join forces to celebrate National Bead Challenge Day


Beads of Courage has worked for the past 10 years to provide a unique and innovative approach to help children who are dealing with serious illnesses find ways to cope.
 
To back the organization in its mission of providing arts-in-medicine programming, Tristate artists will gather at Brazee Street Studios Sept. 19 for National Bead Challenge Day. The event — hosted at 20 art studios across the country — is intended to encourage artists to produce one-of-a-kind designs that children who are coping with cancer and blood disorders, cardiac conditions, burn injuries and chronic illness, in addition to families with children in neonatal intensive care, can add to their collections.
 
“We’re proud to host this event each year and to know that the beads created make a difference to children undergoing difficult medical treatments and bring a smile to their faces,” says Chelsea Borgman, Brazee’s gallery coordinator.
 
The Beads of Courage program begins when a child receives a string in addition to alphabet beads to spell out his or her first name and continues as health care providers give him or her colorful new beads to mark treatment milestones.
 
Beads crafted at National Bead Challenge Day serve as particularly special additions to children’s beaded creations, as they’re reminders of their courage and perseverance throughout the coping process.
 
“These beads mean the world to children who receive them,” Borgman says. “It’s a way for these kids to show their strength and say to the world and themselves, ‘I did it!’”

Do Good: 

• Support Beads of Courage by donating.

• Attend National Bead Challenge Day at Brazee Street Studios in Oakley 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 19. There will be activities for children in addition to opportunities to write letters to children in the Beads of Courage program. 

• Connect with Beads of Courage on Facebook.
 

Union Institute aims to educate public about human trafficking in our own backyards


Last month, Union Institute & University Professor Eric Higgins and Enrollment Counselor Sarah Kolks presented “From Victim to Offender: The Response to Human Trafficking in Probation and Parole” at the American Probation and Parole Association’s 40th Anniversary Training Institute in Los Angeles.
 
As subject matter experts, Higgins and Kolks are certainly knowledgeable about the issue of human trafficking, but they’re also passionate about getting word out — not just nationally but also locally.
 
“When the majority of people think about human trafficking, it is what they see from mainstream media like the scenario in the movie Taken, where a young woman gets kidnapped, drugged, taken to a faraway place and put on display for wealthy men to bid on,” says Higgins, who also serves as a detective in the Covington Police Department.  “But the grim reality is human trafficking is happening everywhere.”
 
According to Higgins, sex trafficking is an estimated $87 million a day business, and 3,000 youth from Ohio and Northern Kentucky are at risk of being exploited each year.
 
“It is happening everywhere. These victims are afraid to speak to us,” Higgins says. “They don’t want to approach law enforcement or someone who the rest of the community believes would be able to help them. They’ve been conditioned to believe that we are the bad guys and we are only going to throw them in jail. They’re also afraid that their trafficker will kill them or maybe their family.”
 
Victims typically begin getting trafficked between the ages of 11 and 13, Higgins says, and while the victims are mostly women, it happens to young boys and men as well.  
 
“Education is key,” Higgins says. “Community members, criminal justice agencies, and public policy makers should never be afraid to ask the important questions and address cultural and peer pressures that might influence the acceptance of treating our women and children as a commodity.” 

Do Good: 

• Call the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Hotline at 513-800-1863 to report a situation, connect with referrals or if you’re in need of crisis intervention. If you are outside of the immediate area, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888. 

• Pay attention to your surroundings and learn to recognize the behavior of victims: anxiousness, lack of eye contact, etc. Educate yourself further about the issue by visiting the End Slavery Cincinnati website for resources. 

• Connect with End Slavery Cincinnati on Twitter and Facebook for important updates and resources.
 

Arts Center ready to "Raise the Heights" with grand opening of new space


Currently the Kennedy Heights Arts Center serves about 5,000 people a year, but according to Ellen Muse-Lindeman, the nonprofit’s executive director, that number is expected to double with the grand opening of its Lindner Annex.
 
The new space, which allows the Center to quadruple in size, is already home to local artists — including the Ohio Valley Woodturners Guild — who are using studio space to develop their craft. It will soon play host to a variety of performing arts, public and private events and classes ranging in subject matter — everything from photography to graphic design in its new state-of-the-art Scripps Howard Media Center.
 
“We find that digital art forms are really popular,” Muse-Lindeman says, “Kids and young adults have lots of interests, so we want to help harness that activity and provide ways for young people to learn how to develop their own content and develop their own voices through that content.”
 
The Center, as it’s done for years, will continue its inclusion policy, so classes will be accessible to all.
 
“We don’t turn anyone away for inability to pay,” Muse-Lindeman says. “We have a sliding scale for tuition, so people pay what they’re able to afford. We have a real core concentration of participants from the area.”
 
And the hope is for that core to continue to expand, bringing more children, teens and adults — novices and already-established artists — into a space that fosters creativity and collaboration, while enhancing the region as a whole.
 
“There are so many benefits to bringing more artists to urban communities,” Muse-Lindeman says. “It brings more vitality and excitement, and when artists invest their time and their talents in this neighborhood, it attracts more types of activity and leads to positive revitalization.” 

Do Good: 

• Help celebrate the grand opening of the new space by attending Raise the Heights, an art parade and festival 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 29. The official ribbon cutting is planned for 10 a.m. Aug. 28. 

•  The Lindner Annex, in addition to the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center, make up what will now be known as the  Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus, but they're looking for a third partner to move in and complete the campus. The partner can be either a nonprofit or for-profit venture but should align with the education/arts theme. Contact Ellen Muse-Lindeman if you’re interested. 

• Connect with the Kennedy Heights Arts Center on Facebook, and stay tuned for information on events, space rental and fall programming, which begins enrollment in September.
 

Businesses, residents, community groups transform vacant Walnut Hills lot into community garden


Keep Cincinnati Beautiful kicked off a transformative project last week to turn a vacant Walnut Hills lot into a community garden, thanks to help from more than 20 Lowe’s Heroes and volunteers from the Health & Wellness Walnut Hills initiative.
 
The endeavor includes plans for raised vegetable beds, an art and journaling area and a walking meditation pathway and will be completed in three to four weeks, with measures in place to ensure sustainability for years to come.
 
“We are continuing to build a strong team of dedicated neighborhood volunteers,” says Gary Dangel, community activist and co-founder of Elevate Walnut Hills. “With the ongoing support of local businesses and organizations such as Lowe’s and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, we will create a fun, interactive place that encourages kids to explore and discover the wonders of nature.”
 
Dangel led the creative process for the garden’s design on Park Avenue, just one project in the neighborhood’s push for community health and wellness.

Longtime residents like Cecil Evans, who has lived in Walnut Hills for nearly 40 years, are excited to witness the transformation and to put the renovated space to use.
 
“It’s been a nuisance. I can’t understand why people litter the Earth,” Evans says. “I lived off a farm most of my life and plan to grow vegetables here next year.”

Do Good:

• Support Keep Cincinnati Beautiful by donating.

• Learn about ways you can get involved with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful by volunteering.

• Join Keep Cincinnati Beautiful as the organization launches a crowdfunding campaign for Over-the-Rhine's Grant Park at the Christian Moerlein Brewery Taproom 5-7 p.m. Aug. 19.
 

Duke Energy and United Way team up to promote heat relief, good health


While July offered a break from the heat with uncharacteristic amounts of rain and mild temperatures, August weather is living up to its end-of-summer expectations as near 90-degree temperatures are again the norm.
 
Some individuals and families are still seeking relief while living without air conditioning and in some cases even without a fan.
 
So Duke Energy and United Way of Greater Cincinnati are teaming up to make sure those in need don’t go unnoticed throughout the final weeks of summer.
 
“United Way of Greater Cincinnati is in touch with people who need the help and can quickly get fans to them as summer temperatures become unbearable,” says Jim Henning, president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.
 
Duke has provided a $25,000 grant to United Way, which will use the funds to purchase fans for local nonprofits that work with individuals who are considered low-income, who have disabilities or who are older and more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
 
Fans will be available to those in need, as the United Way’s 24-hour, 7-day-a-week health and social services information and referral helpline will serve community members as a fan distribution resource.
 
“This donation supports our efforts to ensure that all in our community have good health, the key to maintaining financial stability and, later in life, independence,” says Rob Reifsnyder, United Way president. “Education, income and health — it’s all interconnected.”
 
Do Good: 

• If you’re in need or someone you know is in need of a fan, call the UWGC's helpline at 2-1-1 to connect to services. 

• Support the United Way of Greater Cincinnati by giving.

Volunteer through the United Way.
 

Celebrating National Health Center Week to increase access to quality health care for all


It’s National Health Center Week, and communities — both at the local and national level — are celebrating in a variety of ways.
 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the health center movement, so there’s a heightened awareness and focus on wellness and care that is accessible, affordable and high quality via kids’ health fairs, block parties, community health center open houses and other events.
 
“It’s a big deal,” says Lauren Husein, office manager at the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, a Columbus-based nonprofit that represents Ohio’s 44 federally qualified health centers. “Many people do not know what community health centers (CHCs) are or what they do, so it’s important to get this information out. They’re federally funded sites that serve populations consisting of migrant workers, children and individuals who are homeless or low-income. No one will ever be turned away for service, regardless of income or insurance status.”
 
Husein, a Cincinnati native, is attending events across the state this week but says she’s particularly excited to return to her hometown, where she’ll participate in the GE Developing Health Back-to-School Kid’s Health Fair at the Lincoln Heights Health Center, which began in 1967 as Ohio’s first CHC.
 
The Lincoln Heights Health Center and similar facilities in Mt. Healthy and Forest Park make up what is now referred to as The Health Care Connection.
 
“Fun fact: One of their sites is at an old elementary school on Waycross Road, where I used to take dance lessons,” Husein says. “And their CEO actually used to attend my church.”
 
The issue hits close to home for Husein, who will serve as a community health care advocate throughout the week’s festivities.
 
“It’s just so important that the community comes together for health and wellness,” she says. “Everyone deserves equal access to high quality health care. So many individuals in our community are underserved due to economic or social status, and it’s important that people know there are options out there.” 

Do Good: 

• Attend the sixth annual GE Developing Health Back-to-School Kid's Health Fair 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15. The event will offer fun fitness activities and free blood pressure checks for all in attendance. 

• Find a National Health Center Week event near you, and attend. 

• Connect with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers on Facebook.
 

Stepping Stones' end-of-summer "Bloom" garden party to raise programming funds


Stepping Stones provides educational and recreational programs for more than 1,000 local children and adults with developmental disabilities each year. Bloom, an annual event to raise money to support its mission and programs, returns for its 11th year Sept. 12 and is bringing in sponsors from all across the Greater Cincinnati area. 

The outdoor garden party will feature live music, food from 20 different local restaurants and caterers and a silent auction. Partygoers will be able to bid on a vacation to England to see a Manchester United soccer match, four nights in a Parisian apartment, signed sports memorabilia and other prizes.
 
Through the help of Bloom co-chairs and owner of Towne Properties Neil and Susie Bortz, a financial assistance program has been established to help make Stepping Stones' programs more accessible for low-income children, teens and adults with disabilities: No Person Left Behind.
 
“Our hope is this fund continues and is the wind beneath the wings of these people who need a little help to attend our programs,” says Peggy Kreimer, communication and grants director.

The Bloom committee has designated 15 percent of each sponsorship to go to No Person Left Behind.

Do Good:

Register to attend the Sept. 12 garden party, presented by PNC Bank, on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Greenacres Arts Center in Indian Hill. Tickets are $150.

• Can't make it to the party? Donate to No Person Left Behind.

Be a buddy to a child with a disability. Stepping Stones has an ongoing need for volunteers 13 years and older.
 

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
 

84.51 employees make personal impact on community through Degrees of Giving campaign


Whether they’re tutoring students, helping out at the Freestore Foodbank or raising money through a silent auction, employees of 84.51° want to give back to the community. They recently raised $31,000 to benefit eight local nonprofit organizations.

Their volunteer efforts are a part of Degrees of Giving, a employee-led community support program at the downtown market research firm. The program is a year-round initiative for employees to give back to the community.

“There is a lot of passion in the people who work here,” says company spokesperson Ann Keeling. “Getting involved in the community really reflects that. It gives them an opportunity to interact with the community and each other and do something they enjoy.”

Degrees of Giving was inspired by a similar initiative, Helping Hands, when employees operated under Dunnhumby USA before the Cincinnati division was sold to Kroger Co. and became 84.51°.

Each year, employees will nominate local nonprofit organizations they’d like to help and vote on the candidates. Eight are chosen, and from there employees develop the fund and give back in the way that makes sense for each organization.

Although 84.51° itself is only four months old, employees already have events scheduled throughout the rest of the year.

Do Good:

• Follow what 84.51° is up to on Facebook or visit their website.

• Make a difference and volunteer in your own community. 
 

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.
 

Comedy benefit honors women living with breast cancer


Most breast cancer foundations focus on raising money for research or to help cover medical bills, but one is dedicated to putting fun back into the lives of women living with the disease.
 
The Karen Wellington Foundation for Women wants women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, along with their families, to enjoy their lives by taking a break from the exhausting day-to-day struggles of doctor’s appointments, scans and chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The foundation provides these women with miniature vacations, spa visits, dinners and concert tickets.

Sticking with the theme of “Fun Now!” the foundation is hosting a comedy showcase Aug. 11 to raise money to send more women on vacations and allow them to live in the moment.
 
Six top local comedians will take the stage to address the sensitive issue doing what they do best: Andy Gasper, Faith Mueller, Laura Sanders, Mark Chalifoux, Gabe Kea and Chris Weir.
 
“Comedy and humor are such a huge part of the healing process,” says Michael Holder, host, board member and local comedian. “There is tension we can destroy with comedy. Think of it is a way of laughing in the face of cancer.”
 
The foundation was founded eight years ago in honor of Wellington, a young mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 and passed away 10 years later. 
 
The benefit will take place 8-11 p.m. Aug. 11 at Go Bananas Comedy Club in Montgomery. All ticket proceeds go to the foundation and its mission.

Do Good:

• Plan to buy tickets and attend Fun Now!; admission is $15.

• Learn more about the Karen Wellington Foundation for Women at its website.

Lend your vacation home, condo or timeshare to the foundation to provide a fun break for a woman with breast cancer and her family.
 
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