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Local employer teams up with Starfire, builds inclusive workplace environment


Catherine Bennett and Craig Ihlendorf have worked closely with one another since September 2015, which is when Ihlendorf started working at Kinetic Vision.

Prior to his work at the engineering consulting firm in Evendale, Ihlendorf was unfulfilled by his job.

“It was okay,” Ihlendorf said. “But I didn't really care about what I did. I didn't get to work on anything that was important to me.”

Now that’s all changed, and the impact can be seen in a variety of capacities. 

On Oct. 18, Kinetic Vision received the 2016 Ohio Employer of the Year Award from the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities, and Ihlendorf feels valued. The organization was recognized for its inclusive workplace environment for people with disabilities.

“When I go to work, I get to be around other people who like the same things I do,” Ihlendorf said. “When I suggest something, they really listen and encourage me.”

The pairing was made possible by Starfire — a local nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities discover their talents through relationship building, then places them in communities where they can thrive. Working with one person and their family at a time, Starfire connects people to relationships and uncovers a person's talents and passions so they can thrive in their communities alongside their neighbors.

Kinetic Vision wasn’t concerned with Ihlendorf’s disability. Instead, they saw his passion and ability to work with computers, and as a result, both the company and the individual are seeing positive results.

Do Good: 

•    Want to help Starfire build a more inclusive community? Connect with the nonprofit.

•    Like Starfire on Facebook.

•    Learn more about Kinetic Vision, and connect on LinkedIn.
 

United Way raises $62.1 million


“You turned my life around,” said Debbie Williams, a young mom who said she’d “battled for her life” fighting stage three cancer. Williams was the keynote speaker at Friday’s Oct. 28 United Way campaign finale at the Duke Energy Convention Center, which raised $62.1 million. Williams thanked the crowd of 650 for supporting the Northern Kentucky Scholar House where she lives with her two-year-old daughter while she attends Cincinnati State Community and Technical College.

“I was working two jobs and never saw my baby,” said Williams. “I am greatly appreciative.” The Scholar House provides low cost housing, on-site child care and support programs for full time parent students.

Helping young moms succeed was a theme of not only the United Way campaign finale on Friday, but also the Child Poverty Summit on Saturday, underscoring that Williams’ story of the working impoverished is not unusual.

Of the 33,069 Cincinnati children living in poverty, 67 percent live in a home headed by working single mothers. Nearly 40 percent of Cincinnati’s children live in poverty — Cincinnati has the sixth highest rate of childhood poverty in the nation (in households with incomes of $19, 073 or less).

“You turned a whole family’s life around,” Williams concluded, noting that the low-cost housing for student parents with support programs for parenting and academic coaching had made all the difference in her educational success.

Cheryl Rose, senior vice president of Hawthorn Family Wealth, underscored the need for quality child care for all as she presented the award for leadership in education to Randy Dunham. “Twenty years ago I was a desperate, young, single mom trying to find quality preschool for my child,” she said. “Issue 44 is a moral imperative that pays off,” she urged, championing the property tax levy to fund greater access to preschool.  

Dunham, a retired district manager for Northwest airlines who worked to ensure all children succeed in achieving academic excellence. He raised more than $50,000 to support scholarships and academic success programs Rose explained to the crowd of 650 at the Duke Convention Center.

Campaign chair Ted Torbeck, CEO of Cincinnati Bell, announced that giving was up this year by over $1 million at Cincinnati Bell, which pledged $1.8 million, while Procter & Gamble held onto its top spot at $10 million pledged.
 
 

Community Child Poverty Summit Saturday


Nearly half of all children living in the city of Cincinnati live in impoverished families. Over 33,000 children in Cincinnati and nearly 55,000 children in Hamilton County live in households with income below the federal poverty line.
 
On Saturday, Oct. 29 Cincinnatians will gather for the Child Poverty Collaborative's second community summit to better understand poverty in the community and co-create community commitments for action.

All members of the community are invited to the free event from 8:30am to noon at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Cincinnati.
 
The Child Poverty Collaborative has held more than 75 conversations across the city, in places of worship, around picnic tables and in board rooms.  In addition local data collected by Rand, the Urban League, Community Action Agency, Partners for a Competi
tive workforce and others have been studied.
 

Surprising study findings


At the October summit, key learnings from the community conversations and the data studies will be shared with all. Some of the data, including some unique challenges faced by Cincinnati families, may be a surprise.
 
"We promised to listen to the community and we have,” said Lynn Marmer, CPC Executive Director, "Now it is time to gather together again, to learn and to co-create some pathways forward."
 
A combination of commitments by the Child Poverty Collaborative and recommendations for community action will be shared. "Poverty is a complex system and families in poverty have to navigate many challenges, including inadequate transportation, inflexible and expensive child care, and jobs that do not provide upward mobility in wages," explained Marmer. "It will take everyone inthe community, working together to break down the barriers that hold back families.
 
The doors open at 8:15 a.m.. Free breakfast and child care will be provided and parking will be validated in designated garages adjacent to the Convention Center. The Child Poverty Collaborative website has a map.
 
Register free  online.

About the Child Poverty Collaborative:
The Child Poverty Collaborative is broad based community effort by leaders from government, business, civil society, faith-based organizations, and concerned citizens who are committed to co-creating solutions that significantly reduce the number of children living in poverty in our community. The Collaborative’s goal is to move 5,000 families and 10,000 children out of poverty in five years.
 

 

Clovernook Center: 113 years of creating jobs for disabled Cincinnatians


For 113 years Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has created jobs both on-site and within the community. Last year, the Clovernook Center placed 65 blind or visually impaired persons in competitive jobs and 45 individuals in positions on Clovernook’s campus. Some of their work includes the production of Braille materials, in addition to biodegradable cups for the United States Navy. 
 
“Sales of our products and services allow us to employ people who are blind, increasing their financial and social independence,” said Chris Faust, Clovernook Center CEO. “Our employees are committed to continually delivering high quality products and services. The success of our agency demonstrates the value they bring to the workplace.”

Diversifying the workplace not only allows individuals with visual impairments to engage in meaningful tasks that provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, but it also allows those without disabilities to recognize and remember the various abilities and unique talents we all possess.

October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month. "National Disability Employment Awareness Month recognizes one of the most important issues faced by people who are blind or visually impaired,” Faust said. “Clovernook Center is dedicated to helping people find and retain jobs and to helping employers recognize the outstanding potential of individuals with disabilities.”

Do Good: 

•    Support the work of Clovernook Center employees by purchasing their products

•    Celebrate difference, and take a moment to appreciate and recognize diversity in the workplace. 

•    Connect with Clovernook Center on Facebook.
 

Neighbors helping neighbors, ReSource celebrates 30 years


 
Since its founding in 1986 ReSource has helped more than 1,800 local organizations, saving them more than $40 million.

How it works: corporate surplus — everything from office supplies to furniture — is collected, then made available to ReSource’s member nonprofits, which helps those organizations achieve their missions, and eliminates waste by keeping useful items out of landfills.
 
According to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation's board member and ReSource's founder Robert Castellini, ReSource has evolved into something greater than was ever imagined.
 
"In 1986, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation resolved to help neighborhood community councils become more effective,” Castellini said. “One of the offshoots of this effort became the Neighborhood Resource Bank, now ReSource.”
 
The nonprofit has since helped nonprofits like the Talbert House furnish drug and alcohol treatment centers.
 
In addition to providing items to nonprofits for a fraction of what they would otherwise cost, ReSource also equips more than 250 organizations with training, support and access to event décor, which nonprofits can rent rather than buy, so they don’t have to spend funds from their budgets on decorations and centerpieces for fundraisers and galas.
 
“ReSource is helping neighborhoods invest in themselves," Castellini said. 

Do Good: 

•    If you're a nonprofit interested in connecting with ReSource, consider a membership.

•    If you're a corporation with unneeded items, donate them to ReSource, which will pick them up for free. Learn more here.

•    Support ReSource's work by donating or volunteering.
 

Local artists team up, support Pets in Need


Calling all pet lovers: Pets in Need of Greater Cincinnati will host its third annual fundraiser, Petcasso, on Nov. 19, at The Carnegie Center of Columbia Tusculum.
 
New this year is the “Painted Pets” auction of unique artwork by Mara McCalmont, local artist and creator of the “Peter Max” Painted Pet, and other artists who are donating their work.

“Ninety-nine percent of my work features animals,” said McCalmont. “It’s hard to put my love for animals into words — it’s unconditional — it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad day. They don’t care what you look like. They’re like children that never grow up; they just stay your sweet little baby.”
 
The organization, which provides food and low-cost veterinary care for pets in homes of those living at 150 percent below poverty level, currently serves 1,800 households.
 
“I’ve seen first-hand how Pets In Need helps people keep their pets, when it would have otherwise been impossible,” McCalmont said. “Their work is so important because pets are just such a big part of our lives.”
 
The nonprofit’s function stretches far beyond providing food and low-cost veterinary care for board member and volunteer Lexie Stevenson.
 
When one client’s canine companion, Beowulf, was euthanized, her niece requested memories of Beowulf from better times.
 
“She told me later how much it meant to her aunt to have those pictures,” Stevenson said. “At Pets In Need, we provide amazing low-cost veterinary care, but we also provide something intangible: respect, compassion and dignity to people who are often worn down by poverty, illness or age. It means almost as much to me as it does to them to be able to provide a memento of their dear companion.”  

Do Good: 

•    Register now for Petcasso, Nov. 19 from 7-10 p.m., $85, 3738 Eastern Ave., 45226, includes open bar, live entertainment, cocktail buffet.

•    Can't attend Petcasso? Support Pets in Need by donating.

•    Connect with Pets in Need on Facebook.
 

Uptown house hunters could score $1,500 grant to buy a home


Thanks to Uptown ConsortiumThe Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati and participating lenders, first-time homebuyers are in luck, particularly if they’re house hunting in Uptown.
 
Aspiring homeowners in Mt. Auburn, Clifton, Corryville, Avondale or Clifton Heights/University Heights/Fairview Hights can apply for a $1,500 grant.
 
“Uptown Cincinnati is built on partnerships that move the needle,” said Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium's president and CEO. She hopes to bring people and businesses to Uptown so it is a sustainable, energetic, vibrant and diverse community that thrives for years to come.
 
Connecting more than 50 prospective homeowners with the “Live Uptown” Down Payment Assistance Program provides incentive to those who have not owned a Cincinnati home in the past three years.
 
Grants can be applied not only to down payments, but also to closing and other out-of-pocket costs. It requires that grantees live in the home for five years as an owner-occupant.
 
The program connects new home buyers to five historic neighborhoods located near some of the largest employers in the city explained Rick Williams, ceo of the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati.

Do Good: 

•    Contact The Home Ownership Center at 513-961-2800 to learn more about the down payment assistance program and how to apply.

•    Tell your friends about the opportunity if they're searching for a home in Uptown. 

•    Connect with Uptown Consortium and The Home Ownership Center on Facebook.
 

Celebrate Make a Difference Day Oct. 22 in Covington


National Make a Difference Day is Oct. 22, and Covington residents can choose from three organized neighborhood projects.
 
Pitch in to landscape, weed and mulch, or paint at Latonia’s Barb Cook Park or head over to the Goebel Pool Paint Party — the continued work of Make Goebel Great.
 
On Covington’s Westside 18 trees along Holman Avenue that were vandalized in July will be replanted, along with 50 new trees, throughout the neighborhood. A city arborist will join community members in Orchard Park to demonstrate urban environment techniques.
 
Across the nation, thousands of projects will take place on what is one of the largest single days of service.
 
“Covington’s residents want to see the city thrive,” said Shannon Ratterman, program manager for community development at The Center for Great Neighborhoods. “And these projects are one way to make that happen. It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community and meet neighbors in the process.”
 
Do Good: 

•    Want to help Perk Up The Park in Latonia? Sign up here.

•    Make Goebel Great by helping paint. Invite your friends, and learn more here.

•    Help beautify Covington's Westside, and learn to properly plant trees in urban areas. Learn more here.

Stroke survivor shows the way to independence


The Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center at Cincinnati State provides students with a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity — students can try out interactive demonstrations of the experiences of those with disabilities and those who choose to age in place.
 
And it’s all thanks to Eileen Berke, whom the OT Center is named after, who donated the home after spending two years under the care of Claudia Miller, Cincinnati State’s occupational therapy assistant program chair, while Berke was recovering from a stroke.
 
“I wasn’t able to talk, I wasn’t able to walk," Berke said. "I wasn’t able to use my right hand, and therapy helped. It turned my life around."
 
Since the stroke 11 years ago, Berke has visited Miller's class to engage students in mock scenarios and answer questions.
 
“I pretended to fall on the steps,” Berke said. “The students have to know how to pick someone up.”
 
The OT Center —  which sits directly across from Cincinnati State’s Clifton campus — is equipped with a sensory room that's designed to assist those with processing disorders and autism, modified rooms and equipment, and a hands-free environmental control system.
 
“They have all the things you need,” Berke said. “They have a computer that talks, bathroom facilities — they made it really usable for anyone who wants to stay in their homes.”
 
In addition to serving as a space for lab and lectures, the vision for the OT Center is to open it to the community so caregivers and their loved ones can see and experience the various technologies and assistive devices to provide a sense of independence.
 
“I had a nurse with me everywhere for two years," Berke said. "I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took therapy and told my children I could do it. And now I drive everywhere by myself."

Do Good: 

•    Contact the Cincinnati State Foundation if you would like to help expand the work of the OT Center by making a financial contribution.

•    Learn more about Cincinnati State's Occupational Therapy Assistant program. 

•    Keep up with all the latest Cincinnati State news by following its Facebook page.
 

Walnut Hills High School host CSO chamber concert Oct. 18 to benefit refugees


A Walnut Hills High School (WHHS) student-led group is doing its part to educate themselves and others about refugees and their needs, while offering a helping hand and system of support.
 
Students Together Assisting Refugees (STAR), founded in 2015, will host a benefit chamber concert featuring Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) principal musicians Oct. 18.
 
The intimate concert experience will allow STAR, in collaboration with the Junior League of Cincinnati’s project RefugeeConnect, to fund scholarships for student refugees.
 
“We live comfortably in Ohio, far away from most of the international conflict, but there are refugee teens in Cincinnati who struggle with very difficult lives,” said Adam Sella, STAR president and WHHS senior. “We hope to raise enough money from the concert to offer more than one scholarship to Cincinnati Public Schools’ students.”
 
It’s important to Sella and other STAR members to reach out to their fellow student body as well. German Consul General Herbert Quelle, who will attend next week’s concert, will also speak to WHHS students about the German response to the refugee crisis.  It’s just one of many opportunities for both learning and engagement STAR makes possible.
 
“Last year when two Bhutanese youths spoke, the WHHS students were shocked to learn their stories of hardship and asked questions about what it is like to be a refugee,” Sella said. “It is important for everyone to understand the refugee crisis.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support WHHS's STAR in its effort to raise funds for student refugees' education by attending next Tuesday's concert.

•    Even if you can't attend the October 18 event, consider donating to the scholarship fund.

•    Want to do more? Learn more about RefugeeConnect and how you can get involved.
 

Brand Old Productions, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful collaborate to launch PSA


In an imperfect world with a multitude of causes worth advocating for and working to remedy, it’s sometimes difficult for a nonprofit to relay its message in an effective and concise way — most importantly — in a way that prompts collective action.
 
That’s why Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (KCB) is doing its part to launch a new public awareness and fundraising campaign. Thanks to the talent and volunteer work of Brand Old Productions, KCB has a new public service announcement that speaks to something we all have in common — the desire to live in a neighborhood, and in a city, that’s free of blight and vacancy.
 
“In order to engage people to volunteer or donate, the message needs to be short,” said Brand Old Productions’ Sahil Sharma, who directed the PSA titled "The Philanthrop". “KCB does so much; the challenge was, ‘How do we capture it all in two minutes?’”
 
Throughout Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, KCB’s efforts are trifold — educational outreach, urban revitalization, and its annual Great American Cleanup, which occurs every weekend from March through November.
 
The results? A decrease in crime by up to 13 percent, a decrease in blight by 15 percent, and an increase in economic development by 27 percent.
 
“You could easily do an hour documentary with all they do,” Sharma said.
 
The goal of the PSA, which premiered this past week, is to encourage individuals to do something — whether it’s spreading the word by raising awareness, volunteering, or donating money to make a difference — so we can all live in a clean, safe community that thrives.

The PSA launch comes in conjunction with a 10-day, 10 for $10 challenge in which participants are encouraged to donate at least $10 to KCB, then post a photo or video to social media, encouraging 10 friends to do the same. 
 
“It’s been a real privilege doing this for KCB because we’ve learned so much about just what it takes to keep a city clean,” Sharma said. 

Do Good: 

•    Check out "The Philanthrop," and share a link to the video with your friends. 

•    Help KCB take its 10 for $10 campaign, which runs through October 17, viral. Take a photo or video with a sign that says "I'm a 10...#KCB4US," then challenge your friends to do the same. 

•    Get a group of friends together, and participate in the Great American Cleanup
 

OTRCH celebrates inclusive community, provides residents with support and opportunity for growth


Nearly 300 individuals will gather together Oct. 20 to honor friends, residents, and supporters of Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) at its annual fundraiser “Celebrating Our Beloved Community.”
 
OTRCH, which provides safe, affordable, and supportive housing for residents, will use proceeds from the event “to deepen its impact,” according to Katherine Cunningham, fund development manager for the nonprofit.
 
The nonprofit’s reach is already significant.
 
“We are proud to have given 797 residents access to affordable housing, this year,” Cunningham said. “We believe that housing is a basic right and should be available to all.”
 
In addition to expanding and developing housing opportunities for all, OTRCH plans to ramp up its youth development programs, while advocating for low-income residents.
 
Whether someone is new to the neighborhood or has lived there for years, it’s important to OTRCH that its residents feel welcome.
 
“One of our organization’s values is that all relationships must be shaped by justice, community, and inclusion,” said Cunningham, who is excited for “Celebrating Our Beloved Community” because it gives the public a chance to gain a sense of the organization’s value within OTR.
 
Take Angie Merritt, for example — an OTRCH resident who lived on the streets of OTR for nine years prior to accessing the nonprofit’s affordable housing options in addition to its addiction recovery programs and other valuable resources. She’s now a coordinator of the OTRCH women’s support group and a valued community member who feels like she belongs.
 
“Angie has become an advocate for the vulnerable residents of Over-the-Rhine carrying forward our commitment to community and care,” Cunningham said. “‘Celebrating Our Beloved Community’ is an opportunity to continue connecting and building relationships with people in our community.”

Do Good: 

•    Support OTRCH by purchasing tickets to attend "Celebrating Our Beloved Community." 

•    Curious about the future of OTRCH? Check out its vision for future developments.

•    Connect with OTRCH on Facebook.
 

Women craft brewers host beer tasting to benefit Women Helping Women


Amelia BEERhart: Celebrating Women in the Craft Beer Industry — the brainchild of Ei8ht Ball Brewing — presents an opportunity to not only honor strong women who brew beer, but also to honor strong women who have survived domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
 
Women Helping Women will receive a portion of the proceeds from the Oct. 14 celebration.
 
“The nonprofit is local, like all of our breweries, and through programs, it gives strength to women who have lost their voice,” said Holli Redmond, who manages Ei8ht Ball Brewing’s taproom in addition to outside sales within its distribution area.
 
A portion of sales from each fli8ht special, in addition to proceeds from a silent art auction in which local females have depicted what it means to be a strong woman will go to the nonprofit, as will diapers — a much needed item, according to Women Helping Women — which are being collected all week, and throughout the night of the event.
 
According to Redmond, the decision to give back came out of the gratefulness women within the craft beer industry possess with regard to their experiences and expertise.
 
“As a female in the craft beer industry, I know there are other women, but our paths don’t always cross, and it can seem like you are surrounded by men,” Redmond said. “We thought it would be a great to invite women interested and working in craft beer to an event that celebrates them and gives them a chance to see that in a sea of male craft beer fans — who are equally as awesome — they are not alone, and that’s a very cool thing.”
 
Ei8ht Ball Brewing has teamed up with more than 8 other local breweries to present the event, which takes place at Ei8ht Ball’s taproom, which houses 42 different beers.
 
“The event is open to everyone, but we wanted to specifically invite women who are interested in, or who work in the industry,” Redmond said. “We have teamed up with other local breweries who not only have female employees, but whose female employees are taking on leadership roles and breaking the mold in the industry. It takes a strong, confident women to be in this field.” 

Do Good: 

•    Male or female, it matters not. Make plans to attend Friday's event from 5-8 p.m. at Ei8ht Ball's taproom.

•    Donate diapers to support Women Helping Women. Each Ei8ht Ball guest donating a pack of diapers will receive a glass of non barrel-aged Ei8ht Ball Beer for the price of a taster. Visit the taproom, and bring your donation by any day this week. 

•    Support Women Helping Women by getting involved
 

Art Academy receives AED for neighborhood

 Realtors With Heart will present a new AED to the people of Over-the-Rhine 10:30 a.m.Thursday morning, Oct.13 on the corner of 12th and Jackson Streets at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

More than 300,000 folks die every year from sudden cardiac arrest. Four times as many Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest than die of breast cancer, prostate cancer, house fires and car accidents combined.

An automated external defibrillator, AED, is used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. The portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.

Realtors With Heart will present a new AED to be housed at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.  Accepting the device on behalf of Over-the-Rhine will be Emilie Johnson, president of the OTR Chamber of Commerce; Martha Good, president of the OTR Community Council; and Dick Friedman, chairman of the board of trustees for the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

 “One person can save a life. sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone at any time," explains Laurie Nippert Leonard, founder and chair emeritus, of Realtors With Heart."Teaching as many people as possible how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and the availability of AEDs can help prevent unnecessary deaths. 

The group has placed seven AEDs in Cincinnati at: The Aronoff Center, Findlay Market, Krohn Conservatory, Carol Ann’s Carousel in Smale Riverfront Park and The Gibson House.

The AED will be kept near the front door entrance of The Art Academy for easy access. "We make it available to any and all of our neighbors. AAC is an anchor in Over-the-Rhine and strives to be a good resource for OTR residents and businesses,” said Dick Friedman, chairman of the board of trustees for the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

“Imagine if you or one of your loved ones was the person in need. The ideal situation is to quickly dart to the Art Academy for the AED. It can save lives.” offered Martha Good, president of the OTR Community Council who lost her brother to a heart attack.

The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors (CABR) is the home of Realtors With Heart, whose mission is to make the Greater Cincinnati region more heart-safe through CPR training/ AED placement & advocacy.

 

DO GOOD

Apply for a FREE defibrilator for your neighborhood. Contact CABR at 513-761-8800  www.cabr.org

Take CPR training. Learn how to save lives. Contact CABR at 513-761-8800

www.cabr.org

 
Visit the Art Academy. Their galleries are filled with vibrant art year round.  Free,  1212 Jackson Street.  Exhibition and Reception on Final Friday.

Raising awareness, reducing stigma surrounding mental illness in urban communities


One in five individuals is affected by mental illness, according to Gloria Walker, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness.
 
“African Americans are no exception,” Walker says.
 
It wasn’t until one of Walker’s loved ones began exhibiting symptoms of what was later diagnosed as a mental illness that she says she came to understand the ways in which mental illness is addressed within the African American community.
 
“I was introduced to the Alliance for the Mentally Ill — People of Color [Support Group] of Greater Cincinnati, and through that involvement, I recognized how devastating stigma and ignorance, lack of information and hopelessness about these illnesses impacted the African American community,” Walker says. “Stigma, perpetrated by jokes people tell and the names people are called keep people from getting the help they need early when recovery outcomes are better.”
 
She went from knowing nothing, she says — researching a mental illness on her own, joining a support group and asking questions  — to running a nonprofit that’s aimed at raising awareness and providing much needed resources to the urban community so they can lead fulfilled and productive lives.
 
Oct. 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and one way that the UGCNOMI is doing its part in raising awareness is through a partnership with ReelAbilities Cincinnati Film Festival.
 
Patrick’s Day, a love story between a man living with schizophrenia and a female flight attendant who is suicidal, will premiere at the Esquire Theatre on Oct. 6. It will be preceded by the debut of an art exhibit at Sitwell’s Coffee House, which will feature the work of those within Greater Cincinnati who are experiencing or living with someone who is experiencing the effects of mental illness.
 
Deb Pinger, director of ReelAbilities, says she’s eager to partner with the UGCNOMI and bring Patrick’s Day to the community.
 
“It’s a powerful film, and we are excited to premiere it in Cincinnati as yet another example of the stories we believe need to be shared in the community to celebrate the lives of people who experience disabilities,” Pinger says.
 
For Walker, the film premiere and art opening are ways to honor the UGCNOMI’s current campaign — “Bringing Mental Illness Out of the Shadows."
 
“People with mental illnesses are human with human feelings," she says. "They deserve respect and understanding. We hope this will get and keep the conversation going. We want people to leave wanting to learn more and feel comfortable reaching out to us for help if they need it.” 

Do Good: 

•    For more information about NAMI's Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness, contact 513-238-7788.

•    Check out ReelAbilities' website to learn more and to purchase tickets for Thursday's premiere screening of Patrick's Day. Tickets are also available at the door. The showing begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $10.

•    Stop by Sitwell's to check out the art exhibit prior to the showing. It debuts at 5:30 p.m. and will remain on display for the next month. 
 
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