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Library's Homework Help program plans to expand thanks to donation

Homework Help, a program providing free after-school assistance for students K-8 at various Cincinnati Public Library locations, will be able to expand thanks to a large donation from the Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation.

The donation was announced at the Library Foundation’s recent annual donor recognition event. It will help expand and support the library's after-school program and its growing number of students. Per the donor’s request, the amount of the donation will not be released.

The Homework Help program started at the William Hueneke Homework Center at the main downtown branch in 2008 and continued to grow after successful pilots at other branches. The program provides assistance mostly between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Last year, there were more than 15,000 student interactions, a 14 percent increase from the previous year, says Education and Homework Support Manager Keith Armour.

Homework Help mentors come from a variety of backgrounds — high school students, college students and retired teachers. Each mentor is trained and dedicated to helping students K-8 with homework assistance and tutoring.

“It’s a really great program for them,” Armour says. “The kids are happy there is someone there to help them.”

Do Good:

• See a list of all the locations offering Homework Help.

• Apply to be a Homework Help mentor.

• For more information about the program, email Keith Armour.  

Next round of Creative Community Grants are available for Covington projects

Anyone with a creative solution to challenges in Covington can receive up to $5,000 through the Creative Community Grant program.

The program, funded through the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington (CGN), debuted last year. Throughout the next three years, officials hope to accomplish six rounds of grant funding for several creative projects. Each round will address a different issue identified by surveys, focus groups and community groups.

The second round, focusing on celebrating the bicentennial, is winding down and will close sometime in December. The third round is now open to interested applicants and will focus on inclusion in any shape or form, ranging from accessibility and disability to racial and social inclusion.

“These projects have allowed us to tackle things in a different way than what we would traditionally do,” says CGN Program Manager of Community Development Kate Esarey. “These are unique strategies that we, as a community development corporation, might not even think of.”

The solution doesn’t have to be art in the traditional sense but instead can be a mural, performance or even culinary art. Some of the applicants don’t have a background in art but found a way to creatively engage the community.

Once the project proposals are submitted, a panel and community members choose which projects they would like to see move forward.
Applicants can be individuals, a group or a businesses. The only caveat is that the project does have to take place in Covington.
The grant money can be used to compensate the artists themselves, or they can use some of it to invite the community to celebrate their finished product.
“A lot of these artists are seeing the value of coordinating with the community and doing things that fit in the social fabric of Covington,” Esarey says.

Do Good:

• Take a look at previous projects that have won Creative Community Grants.

• The deadline to apply for the next round is Nov. 16.

• For more information on the Center for Great Neighborhoods, visit its website.

Newport barber gives back to the community with free haircuts for the homeless

When Sean Caudill isn’t cutting men’s hair in his Newport barbershop, he’s venturing through the city in search of those in need who would appreciate it for free.

Caudill, better known as Spanky, has been a licensed barber and cosmetologist since 2010. His nickname came from an uncanny resemblance to Spanky from The Little Rascals as a child and was an easy choice when naming his barbershop, Spanky and Co., which he opened earlier this year at 439 W. 12th St.

The Union, Ky. native loves what he does for a living and strongly supports giving back to the community, specifically the homeless. 

“The homeless has always held a special place in my heart,” Caudill says. “Some of these people just need someone to talk to. It makes their day and gives them hope for tomorrow.”

His inspiration for cutting the homeless’ hair came from stylist Mark Bustos, who cuts hair of the homeless for free every Sunday. Bustos is currently on a national tour that started in New York and will end in Los Angeles.

Caudill will approach people on the street and offer to cut their hair. Afterward, he shows them before and after photos so they can see the difference. He has plans to team up with a close friend and local photographer to bring a mobile printer to provide a hard-copy photo they can hold onto.

Caudill encourages everyone to help the homeless in their own way by giving some of what they do for a living back to the homeless community. But most of all, he wants to show others that everyone deserves to be treated equally.

“It’s a lot harder for some people to bounce back after a tough time,” he says. “Talk to them, ask them how they’re doing, hug them.”

Do Good:

• Help the homeless in your community in your own way.

• See some of Spanky's work on Instagram.

• Visit Spanky and Co.’s Facebook page.

ReSource, Phillips Edison launch "On the Rise" initiative to connect YPs with nonprofits

When ReSource isn’t helping area nonprofit organizations by distributing corporate donated furniture and office supplies, it's connecting them with talented young professionals.

ReSource’s new YP program, On the Rise, is the product of a partnership with Phillips Edison real estate investors.

Maybe a nonprofit needs help setting up its website or taking a closer look at its finances. Maybe it need someone who knows a little about marketing or event planning. On the Rise will pair those non-profit organizations with Cincinnati area young professionals who have experience in relevant subjects.

“This allows young professionals to help nonprofits in a meaningful way beyond just volunteering,” says ReSource Executive Director Christie Brown. “They might not have money early in their careers to support a cause, but they do have talents and skills.”

ReSource plans to host a series of networking events designed to pair its nonprofit members and their business needs with skilled young professionals, essentially playing matchmaker.

“We are excited about this partnership because it allows us to impact multiple organizations at the same time while also accessing a key talent base in the Cincinnati area that we will need to engage in order to support our growth as a company,” says Phillips Edison COO Bob Myers.

Do Good:

• Like ReSource on Facebook to learn more about how they serve the nonprofit community in Cincinnati.

• For more information about the On the Rise initiative, contact Christie Brown.

• ReSource is always looking for gently used donations to redistribute to nonprofits in need.

Greenhouse Rock! fundraiser supports musicians with developmental disabilities

Melodic Connections hosts its annual Greenhouse Rock! event Oct. 10 at Krohn Conservatory to support its music therapy services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The fundraiser will feature food, raffle baskets, a silent auction and performances by local bands SwampthangJody Stapleton and Chris Comer Trio.

The fundraiser will also feature performances from Melodic Connections’ own student musicians.

“This is a night where we celebrate them and highlight their abilities as musicians,” says Communications Manager Lynn Migliara. “It’s a place where they finally get to play for all their friends and family.”

Students chose their own songs to perform and have been rehearsing every day. 

The fundraiser is a great time for the students as well as for their parents.

“Most of these parents have spent a lifetime advocating for their child with a developmental disability and always wonder what adulthood is going to be like,” Migliara says. “They are so grateful that they get to see them up on stage with confidence. A lot of them never thought this would happen for their kids.”

Greenhouse Rock! will take place at 6:30-10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Dr. 

Do Good:

Purchase tickets to attend Greenhouse Rock! at Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park. Tickets are $75 each.

• Melodic Connections is still looking for event sponsors.

• To learn more about Melodic Connections, visit its website.

Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition raising money for Earth Day 2016

The Cincinnati Earth Day Celebration isn’t typically celebrated until April, but the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition (GCEC) is raising money now for next year’s event. The fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 9 at City Barbeque locations in Blue Ash and Florence.

Not only will 25 percent of purchases go toward the April event, but customers will be educated on what Earth Day is really about and how to have a better impact on the environment.

“There are different approaches to ‘being green,'” says event chair Standish Fortin. “We want to educate people on what they can do to be a better steward for the Earth. They can come and learn about what they can do and what others are doing.”

Do Good:

• Visit City Barbeque in Blue Ash (10375 Kenwood Road) or Florence (8026 Burlington Pike) on Friday, Oct. 9 and help raise money for Earth Day 2016.

• Check out the Greater Cincinnati Earth Coalition’s Facebook page to learn more about how you can help the environment.  

• The 2016 Earth Day event is looking for sponsors. There are a few different levels of sponsorship to choose from. 

Mt. Healthy studio teaches dance, life skills

When Kelli Harmon-Dobson formed the Highsteppers Studio 16 years ago, she had no idea how much of an effect it would have on young girls in the community. The structured program uses dance and drill to form positive self-esteem, interpersonal skills and help girls ages 3-18 uncover their leadership abilities.

There’s no doubt the dance teams are talented — they’re state, regional and national champions in the high kick, pom and hip hop categories. Still, Harmon-Dobson doesn’t want dance competitions to be strictly about winning.  

“Competition or not, we don’t tell them to be better than another team,” she says. “We tell them to do an amazing job and be better than the team they were the day before.”
The structured program is a little underhanded, as most of the girls don’t realize what the program is really about until they graduate.

“We want them to have a different outlook on themselves and what they’re doing,” Harmon-Dobson says. "We try to have our girls become leaders and express themselves better. We want them to better respect themselves, each other and the community.”
The Mt. Healthy studio goes far beyond just dance, drill and building leadership skills. After spending hours together after school each week, the girls form a close bond, much like sisters do.  

“We’re more than just a dance team,” Harmon-Dobson says. “We’re family. The studio is our home.”

And the girls treat is as such. They keep a tight schedule between practicing, studio chores ad doing their schoolwork. The program requires a minimum required grade point average of 2.0.
Many of the girls participate in the bridge program, the Highsteppers Sisterhood, once they graduate high school and make the transition to college or the workforce. They come back to the studio as mentors.

The Highsteppers’ next performance is Oct. 10 at Tri-County Mall, where they’ve been performing since 2007. Their performance will incorporate breast cancer awareness, something that touches many lives of the girls and their families.
“They could be doing plenty of other things, but they're doing this,” Harmon-Dodson says. “They're choosing to be positive.”

Do Good:

• Attend the Highsteppers performance on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Tri-County Mall, 11700 Princeton Pike. Performances will take place at 2 and 5 p.m. and last approximately one hour each.

• Like Highsteppers on Facebook.

• For more information, email Director Kelli Harmon-Dobson.

CityLink partners with Red Bike, offers member passes for $5

CityLink is able to provide annual bike sharing passes at a discount to its members thanks to a recent partnership with Red Bike.

Red Bike memberships typically sell for $80, but the partnership allows passes to be sold to CityLink for $20. From there, CityLink is selling passes to its members who are in good standing and actively working on their goals for just $5. 

The new bike sharing station, which sits on the corner of Linn and Banks streets right in front of the center in the West End, was built with grant money from Interact for Health.

“Bike sharing is something that is really taking the country by storm,” says CityLink’s Director of Development and Communications Marissa Abernathy. “But historically across the country bike sharing hasn’t been very successful in engaging low-income communities.”

CityLink recently piloted the bike sharing project with 15 of its members. Each member received bike safety training from Riding Forward and instruction from Red Bike on how to use their new membership card.

Transportation is just one of the issues that many individuals face that prevent them from reaching their full potential.

“Our hope is that the CityLink Station and partnership with Red Bike could serve as a catalyst for creating a model to cultivate new physical activity habits and overcome transportation barriers for our clients,” CityLink Executive Director Johnmark Oudersluys says. “This program promotes the spirit of health equity when health disparities are at record highs right here in our own city.”

Instead of taking the bus, members can now ride a bike to Findlay Market for fresh food or to the library to use a computer. Having quick access to a bike can also help them when looking for a job.

Red Bike Executive Director Jason Barron agrees.

“We want as many people benefiting from Red Bike as possible,” he says. “CityLink is a perfect partner to test this collaborative new approach. This is a great example of how Red Bike can help connect people to job training, then job interviews and ultimately actual jobs.” 
Do Good:

• Become a friend of CityLink on Facebook.

• Help support CityLink’s mission by donating.

• Learn more about Red Bike at its website

COV200 seeks input for what to put inside Covington bicentennial's time capsule

Covington residents, business owners and friends recently voted to determine the winning Covington Bourbon Barrel design for a time capsule they’re creating in commemoration of Covington’s bicentennial. Now COV200 — the volunteers behind the year-long celebration of all things Covington, who aim to showcase the city’s rich 200-year history, culture and potential — is working with the community to determine the time capsule’s contents.
“We have received quite a few ideas from the community, including 2015 mint coins, menus from all Covington restaurants, the Covingtonopoly game, photos of families, letters from kids to future kids, list of top music in 2015, the COV200 book and much more,” says Kate Esarey, COV200 Project Manager and Community Development Specialist at The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington.
The time capsule itself, designed by local maker Steven Sander, will be created from the reclaimed floor of a home on Scott Street. Once filled, it will be preserved in a glass case and put on display in the new Hellman Creative Center next summer, where it will remain until 2115.
“I think a time capsule is a great way for our community to reflect on Covington’s 200th year and explore what makes our community special,” Esarey says. “I hope folks in 2115 will really enjoy understanding how we perceived Covington in 2015 and what made it unique 100 years prior.”

Do Good: 

• Contribute your ideas for the content within the time capsule by contacting Kate Esarey.

• Connect with COV200 on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events. 

Support The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington.

Purple Light Walk raises domestic violence awareness

The Purple Light Walk asks the community to talk about something that's really difficult to discuss: domestic violence. A countless number of women are forced into sex and/or beaten and abused throughout their lifetimes, and that number is rising every day. 

This year’s Purple Light Walk will take place Oct. 2 at Washington Park beginning at 7 p.m. and will loop through downtown Cincinnati. The annual event, which takes place every October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is returning for its third year.

“The Purple Light Walk is one of many ways that Women Helping Women strives to support survivors of abuse,” says event co-chair and Women Helping Women law enforcement advocate Ellen Newman.

The walk was created by Women Helping Women to help raise awareness and empower domestic violence survivors. The organization provides crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The Purple Light Walk is a collaboration between Women Helping Women, YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati Police Department, KeyBank and Zonta Club of Cincinnati.

There will be a raffle, food and music prior to the walk as well as a program beginning at 6:30 p.m. emceed by Officer Princess Davis, who coordinates Citizens on Patrol at Cincinnati Police District 1.

Registration for the Purple Light Walk is free. The first 250 participants will receive a free 2015 Purple Light Walk event T-shirt, and everyone who walks will receive a purple glow stick to carry during the walk, Newman says.

Do Good:

• Walk for someone you know or a stranger who has been a victim of domestic violence. Registration is free.

• Follow the Purple Light Walk page on Facebook.

Contact Ellen Newman for more information. 

Clovernook Center aims to tackle problem of illiteracy among blind and visually impaired

Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has operated its Braille Printing House since 1914 and has been consistently recognized as an industry leader, producing more than 30 million pages each year.
According to Clovernook, though, only 10 percent of individuals who are blind or visually impaired are able to read braille. More than 50 percent of students who are blind end up dropping out of high school, and 70 percent of adults within the community are unemployed.
“They lack the skills necessary for most jobs and many everyday situations,” says Christopher Faust, President and CEO of Clovernook Center. “We want to stem that and focus on promoting literacy for all.”
To target the problem of illiteracy specifically, the Center recently launched braille literacy classes in which participants meet four times each week to gain needed skills. Clovernook also has plans in the works for a book club, set to launch in late fall, in which participants will have the chance to apply their knowledge in a practical and enjoyable way through literature.
“Many people don't realize that a person who is blind and unable to read braille is similar to a sighted person who is unable to read print,” Faust says. “Our goal is to empower each individual we serve so they can be self-sufficient and participate fully in their community.”

Do Good: 

• Spread the word about braille literacy classes. For more information, contact Debbie Albert, who teaches 4-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, at 513-728-6247. Classes are free and open to the public.

Support Clovernook Center.

• Make a difference in the lives of the blind and visually impaired by getting involved as a volunteer.

OTR children and parents petition to "Keep Our Courts"

A public park sits at the corner of Main and Schiller streets across from Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine, with a few basketball courts where neighborhood children play after school and a nonprofit-operated community eco-garden that offers organic produce. Behind and surrounding the courts and garden are affordable apartment buildings owned by Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH).
The area has become a space of interest for Northpointe Group, which wants to buy the land and establish Rothenberg Row, a group of 21 single-family homes costing between $400,000 and $600,000 each. This new construction would mean the destruction of the basketball courts, housing developments and half the community garden.
Northpointe’s proposal has struck a chord with parents in the community, raising concerns for the rapidly changing neighborhood and their children who are growing up in it.
In collaboration with Children's Creative Corner at OTRCH, Peaslee Neighborhood Center and the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, residents have written a petition asking Northpointe for three things: keep the basketball courts in place for public use, leave the eco-garden remains untouched and cater plans for residential development to affordable housing that meets the needs of the community.
“We can’t afford to sacrifice access to safe play, healthy foods, green community space and enrichment opportunities for more private profit,” a group letter to Cincinnati City Council and Cincinnati Recreation Commission says. “Let’s instead commit our efforts to working toward good neighbor development with community need at heart!’”
More than 400 supporters have signed the petition, but it’s not just the adults who are rallying for the area.
Recently, some of the neighborhood kids silently dribbled basketballs in front of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council in protest of the proposal. They started circulating petition postcards at the park and created a stop-motion animation video to show what they value about their community. They even created “Keep Our Courts” campaign buttons at the library’s Maker Space.
Those same kids joined their parents at the Neighborhoods Committee meeting at City Hall this week, showing their unified support of protecting the park where they play.
Do Good:

• “Like” Keep Our Courts on Facebook to stay up to date on current events.  

Sign the petition to protect the basketball courts and eco-garden.

• Watch the YouTube video the kids made to show what they value about their community.

Park + Vine paying it forward to help those in need

Customers can pay it forward at Over-the-Rhine shop Park + Vine by pre-purchasing meals for those in need, specifically the homeless.

Owner Danny Korman was inspired this summer while visiting one of his favorite restaurants, Rosetta’s Kitchen, in Asheville, N.C., and noticing they offered a similar program.
Here’s how it works at Park + Vine: Customers order something off the menu for themselves and add any dollar amount to their ticket, then fill out a post-it note with that dollar amount and tape it on the wall next to the lunch counter. Each note can be redeemed by someone who really needs it, regardless of his or her financial situation.
“One thing I love is that for a moment in time it removes our own ego,” Korman says. “We get so caught in our own head and worries that it separates us from what’s happening around us and with others.”
Tabs can pay for a beans-and-rice dish priced on a sliding scale of $2 to $7, but customers can purchase any menu item for a stranger in need.
The act of kindness movement at Park + Vine is only two weeks old, but it’s already resonating with customers.
“Last week, we had a woman who was having lunch with some folks take two of the tabs on the wall to put toward her purchase,” Korman says. “She charged the remaining amount on her card and then added $3 to pay it forward to someone else.”
The contagious pay-it-forward movement is happening all across the country. A recent NPR segment highlighted a pizza shop in Philadelphia, where 10 percent of sales come from paying it forward by the slice.
The Park + Vine lunch counter is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday for brunch.
Do Good:

• Buy a meal for a stranger at the lunch/brunch counter at Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine.

• Follow owner Danny Korman's blog on Park + Vine's website.

• Find ways to pay it forward within your own community.

Cincy Care to Share returns to offer free dental, health care to community

One in five U.S. adults needs dental or medical care but foregoes treatment due to lack of sufficient funds, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In recognition of the fact that 20 percent of individuals are in need and potentially in pain, Cincy Care to Share returns Friday, Sept. 25 to provide free dental care and health services to the community. Advance Dentistry and Sea of Smiles, which provides pediatric dental care to participants below the age of 18, will offer free cleanings, extractions and fillings on a first-come, first-served basis.
Advance Dentistry treated more than 250 adults at last year’s event, and the practice is excited to reach even more participants this year by partnering with Sea of Smiles and other health providers.
“Participation has increased this year,” says Nicole Bond, Advance Dentistry’s marketing director. “We have also added hearing screenings to our list of services offered this year, so dental services, vision and hearing screens, flu shots and blood pressure tests.”
Health screenings and services will take place at Advance Dentistry in Fairfax, which will service clients 7 a.m.-4 p.m., while pediatric care at Sea of Smiles will occur 7 a.m.-1 p.m. by appointment only at its Anderson Township office.
“We had an overwhelming reaction from participants last year,” Bond says. “We had people who were beyond grateful and even several thank-you cards mailed in after the event. It's extremely rewarding.” 

Do Good: 

• If you're an adult age 18 or older, visit Advance Dentistry at 5823 Wooster Pike 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday for a free cleaning, extraction or filling, in addition to a variety of other health screenings. 

• Call Sea of Smiles at 513-474-6777 to make an appointment for your teen or child 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday. 

• Check out Cincy Care to Share's other participating providers and be proactive about your health by taking advantage of the day's free services. 

Grateful Grahams' founder coordinates A Grateful Plate to honor NKY's female farmers, producers

Nearly four years ago, Rachel DesRochers launched her culinary dream job, Grateful Grahams, in which she prepares and sells handmade, vegan graham cracker treats while promoting gratefulness among her customers.
Now she’s coordinating A Grateful Plate so the community can express its gratitude for Northern Kentucky’s base of female farmers, producers and chefs.
“My goal with both my personal life and my business is to spread gratitude, and this event is a wonderful opportunity to do just that,” DesRochers says.
A portion of proceeds from the farm-to-table, dinner-by-the-bite event — which takes place Sunday, Sept. 27 at New Riff Distillery — will benefit the Community Farm Alliance, a Kentucky-based nonprofit that promotes farmers and the idea of bringing a public voice to policy makers.
All food served at Sunday’s event uses ingredients exclusively sourced from Northern Kentucky’s female farmers. One of the sample offerings features a biscuit bar with goat gravy and gooseberry jam from The Delish Dish, with pork shoulder and hominy by Nectar.
“The women farmers, chefs and producers joining us for the evening are all amazing at what they do,” DesRochers says. “And as a community, Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati are so lucky to have these women and their talents.”

Do Good: 

• Learn how you can help the Community Farm Alliance by getting involved.

• Learn more about A Grateful Plate and buy tickets here.

• “Like” Grateful Grahams on Facebook.
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