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Celebrate National Night Out by strengthening police-community relations on Aug. 2

Over-the-Rhine Community Council is teaming up with the Cincinnati Police, Fire and Sheriff’s departments to host National Night Out — an annual event intended to build police-community partnerships so our neighborhoods can ultimately become safer and more positive places to live.
“It’s so important for our community to foster and strengthen positive partnerships with our public safety personnel — and vice versa,” says Peter Hames, former OTRCC president. “Additionally, this event provides a great educational opportunity for kids of all ages to connect with our public servants and learn about how they protect our community.”
This year’s event will take place tonight from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Findlay Market. Youth can engage with public servants by checking out some of their gear, including fire trucks, motorcycles and Segways. A K-9 unit will also be on-hand to interact with the public.
Staff from PreventionFIRST will be on site, and there will be opportunities for teens to connect with professionals who can offer resources regarding substance abuse and mental health services.
For those looking to relax, there will be live music and food, as Ollie’s Trolley and Sweets ‘N Eats will provide hot dogs and ice cream, and Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute will have fresh fruit.
“We’re proud to be one of the Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods that participates in this annual national event,” Hames says. “It couldn’t be done without the support of CPD.” 

Do Good: 

•    Attend National Night Out tonight 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Findlay Market. 

•    Like National Night Out's Facebook page, and let friends know where to celebrate locally.

•    Make an effort to learn more about your neighbors and those who work to keep your community safe. 

Annabelle's Place to provide housing, safety and support to female veterans

North College Hill will soon become home to Annabelle's Place, a new affordable housing community for female veterans. Plans were announced for the project last week.
Construction for Annabelle’s Place, which will consist of 12 fully furnished, efficiency apartments — some of which will be specially designed to accommodate female veterans with children — will begin this fall, with an expected completion date of next summer.
“We are grateful for the community and the City of North College Hill for their shared belief that every veteran deserves a place to call home,” says Dennis Kresak, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.
As a national nonprofit, Volunteers of America serves nearly two million individuals, and in Greater Ohio alone, the organization serves more than 12,000.
Annabelle’s Place will be situated within walking distance of a grocery store, pharmacy, various employment opportunities, and a bus line.
An array of resources and services — case management; support groups like “Military Sexual Trauma” and “Domestic Violence and Moral Injury;” and access to medical professionals — will be provided for women living on the premises, but also to other female veterans living in the area.
According to Kresak, female veterans face unique challenges — challenges that differ from those of their male counterparts — upon returning home.
“Annabelle’s Place will help to better serve women veterans in the Cincinnati area who are at a greater risk of becoming homeless," Kresak says. "By providing a safe and secure environment where they can live independently while learning to recover and reach their full potential.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio by giving. 

•    Learn about ways you can get involved with Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.

•    Remain connected by signing up to receive stories and updates from Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.


4th annual Taste of OTR returns to Washington Park on Aug. 26

This year, anyone who enjoys Washington Park during the summer can enjoy the Taste of OTR for two days instead of just one. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend the event on Aug. 26 and 27.
The charitable event, which is returning for its fourth year, is hosted by Tender Mercies, one of Cincinnati’s nonprofit organizations that helps homeless adults with mental illnesses.

“The Taste of OTR was created as a way to celebrate growth in Over-the-Rhine,” says Jackie Baumgartner, Tender Mercies development director. “We really wanted to provide a way for the community to come together and enjoy our beautiful Washington Park with the backdrop of Music Hall.”
Attendees can enjoy music from Junior Brown and Maps and Atlases, local craft beer, and food from local restaurants and food trucks. 
The Taste of OTR is presented by Elm & Iron, and is sponsored by various organizations in the community. 
The two-day event will also feature more family-friendly activities than ever before, such as a kid zone with face painting, balloon animals and a coloring contest.
“There is an incredible amount of energy on the lawn," Baumgartner says. "It really speaks to Over-the-Rhine and Cincinnati, especially because it attracts people from different walks of life. It’s everyone. That’s the best way to describe it. It’s a great way for people to experience all that our area has to offer.”
Do Good: 

•   Attend the Taste of OTR, Friday, Aug. 26 from 5 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Washington Park. Admission is free.

•    If you're interested in volunteering, contact Jackie Baumgartner at 513-639-7021 or by emailing jbaumgartner@tendermerciesinc.org.

•    Learn more about Tender Mercies and its mission.

Taking Root puts grant money back into Make a Difference Day

Every October, thousands of volunteers across the country participate in Make a Difference Day. In the Queen City, hundreds of volunteers intend to plant as many trees as possible as part of a project called Taking Root

Taking Root launched in September 2013 in an effort to raise awareness of the region's tree canopy crisis. Its message is simply to educate people on the value and need for trees and how to care for them.

The goal is to plant two million trees in the region by 2020.

The project was one of 10 in the country to receive a $10,000 grant from the Make a Difference Day Foundation for its efforts in 2015. 

Taking Root's team plans to use the grant money to continue its mission — by reforesting the area.

"We're putting it right back into working with the community and doing more tree planting on Make a Difference Day," says Matt Stenger, Taking Root's executive director.

The Greater Cincinnati area has experienced a loss in its tree canopy due to pests like the Emerald Ash Borer and invasive plants. 

"We're losing a lot of trees in such a short amount of time," Stenger says. "Which is why this has become such a big crisis — not just for our region, but for the whole Eastern half of the United States."

Planting trees will go farther than just cosmetic value. The mere presence of trees can positively affect crime rates, mitigate storm water, sequester carbon, affect property values, and create habitats for wildlife.

Do Good: 

•   Attend the free, pre-Make a Difference Day workshop on Aug. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Civic Garden Center, 2715 Reading Rd.

•    Volunteer in your community on Make a Difference Day, which is Oct. 22.

•    Learn more about Taking Root and its campaign to reforest the region.

Art Academy of Cincinnati professor enjoys second fellowship at Lloyd Library

This summer, Ken Henson has spent his time in the stacks of Lloyd Library preparing a classic novel, Etidorpha, for republication as part of the Curtis G. Lloyd Fellowship.

Henson, an associate professor and the head of illustration at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, received his master's degree in painting from the University of Cincinnati

Henson is no stranger to the Curtis G. Lloyd Fellowship. When he first became a fellow during the 2013-14 academic year, he studied the Renaissance alchemy and magic books at the Lloyd Library, which helped him write and illustrate his book, Alchemy and Astral Projection: Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition.

This time around, Henson is preparing a new edition of John Uri Lloyd's novel Etidorpha, which was originally published in 1895. The new edition is set to be published this fall by Bootstrap Press, which is located in Oakland.

Etidorpha is considered one of the first psychedelic novels, and has commonly fallen into the genre of science fiction. Henson has been combing through the archives of the Lloyd Library, where he has been scanning and transcribing previously unpublished material and writing a new introduction for the book.

"I've been reading letters to Lloyd from several famous 19th century occultists, which have helped me piece together his beliefs, and will help form the introduction I'm writing for this new edition of Etidorpha," Henson says.

Henson has examined all of the editions of the book — as well as the original manuscript — to prepare for piecing together the new edition. In doing so, he has discovered an unpublished chapter that was cut due to its horrifying nature.

The new edition will also include scanned original drawings and paintings done by former AAC student and professor John Augustus Knapp — some of which are owned by Lloyd Library and others made available by Knapp's surviving family. 

"It sort of brings the story full circle," Henson says. "I'm working on this project not just because of my interests in magic and mysticism, but also because Knapp taught at the same school, and I want to keep his memory alive."

Do Good: 

•   Visit the Lloyd Library, 917 Plum St., downtown.

•    Learn more about the Lloyd Library on its website.

•    Donate to help support the Lloyd Library and its programs.

United Way launches pilot program for preparing young children for school

Born Learning Communities, a pilot program from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky, focuses on parents' involvement in preparing their young children for critical academic milestones before they start kindergarten.

Born Learning Communities is based off of the United Way's Born Learning Academy, an initiative that empowers parents as their childrens' first teachers. There are currently 161 academies in the state of Kentucky; nine are located in Northern Kentucky. 

The Born Learning Academy was so popular that the United Way received several requests from churches and childcare centers to bring the programming to their communities. Born Learning Communities are not as intensive as the school-based academy, but thy still focus on the importance of early learning. 

Amanda Greenwell, director of the United Way's Success by 6 program in Northern Kentucky, applied for a grant through the United Way Worldwide. After receiving the grant, the United Way partnered with Covington Independent Public Schools and Covington Housing Resource Group and Headstart to launch the pilot program in City Heights.

“Born Learning Communities serves as a prelude to the school-based Born Learning Academies by meeting families where they live, while connecting parents and creating a support system,” Greenwell says.

Sessions have been focused on why early learning is important, the impact of everyday teachable moments, and early literacy. The fourth and final session, which will take place July 26, will focus on available community resources. Each session includes a meal for each family and opportunities for parents to practice the lessons they learned with their children.

“United Way Worldwide is very excited about the success of the pilot, and is interested in the next step,” Greenwell says. "This is a program that uses everyday moments to teach your children. Whether you're at the grocery store or sorting laundry, there's an opportunity to speak to your child."

Do Good: 

•    Attend the next session at 5:30 p.m. on July 26 at 2500 Todd Ct., Covington.

•    Learn more about Born Learning Academy.

•    For more information on the United Way, visit its website


12th annual Art Off Pike seeking local artists to showcase their work

For the past 11 years, people from all across the region have gathered along Seventh Street in Covington, between Madison and Washington streets, to browse the diverse work of local artists.
The annual festival, which is hosted by Renaissance Covington, is known as Art Off Pike, and its main focus is on local emerging artists. Event organizers are currently looking for artist submissions for this year's event. Interested artists are suggested to submit a selection of photos, a description of their work, and a link to their website (or Facebook page).
Sept. 25 will mark Art Off Pike's 12th year of turning the streets of Covington into a colorful canvas of art and culture.
“For many years, people questioned why Art Off Pike was located in downtown Covington, where progress was slow and storefronts were vacant,” says Katie Meyer, Renaissance Covington’s executive director. “I believe that the event's resiliency and the vision of past event organizers influenced the progress that we've seen in downtown.”
This year, the festival will continue its tradition and be on the street, but it will also be integrated into Braxton Brewing. Attendees will be able to enjoy more than just performance art, art installations, local food and drink, and live music. Photography, ceramics, paintings, sculpture and jewelry will also be for sale.
Art Off Pike is also looking for interactive installations — sculptures, murals, sound, performance — for the festival. Four artists will be selected and given $500 to create their installations. Submissions are due July 31, and winners be will notified Aug. 6.
“Art Off Pike continues to focus on urban and emerging arts,” Meyer says. “Our goal is to create a curated experience alongside the art vendors, including performance art, installations and music.”

Do Good: 

•    Are you an artist who is interested in having your work presented at Art Off Pike? Registration is $60 for a booth and guarantees a spot in the show. Submissions for booths and installations should be emailed to artoffpike@rcov.org.

•    Art Off Pike is a free event. Mark your calendars for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 25.

•    To learn more about Art Off Pike, visit its website

Books by the Banks celebrates 10 years of reading and writing with 10 pre-festival events

Books by the Banks, Cincinnati’s annual regional book festival, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with 10 pre-festival events. The day-long event is Oct. 15 at the Duke Energy Convention Center.
Books by the Banks was founded with the intent to entertain and enrich the lives of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky residents by promoting authors, and celebrating reading and writing.
"For 10 years, Books by the Banks has brought blockbuster literary names to the region, and we are delighted to be able to grow the festival to include lead-up programming throughout the year," says Cari Hillman, co-chair of the marketing team for Books by the Banks.
Some of the pre-festival events during the summer and early fall include a writing contest for teenagers and adults; writing programs with Women Writing for (a) Change, the University of Cincinnati and WordPlay; panel discussions; and book giveaways.
More than 100 national, regional and local authors and illustrators are expected to be at Books by the Banks, which is free and open to the public. Attendees can enjoy book signings, panel discussions and family-friendly activities.
“Our mission is to enrich the lives of people in the area through reading and writing, and we’re taking that joy and excitement beyond our annual festival,” says Greg Edwards, president of Books by the Banks. “Expect to see Books by the Banks out in the community at a variety of events all year long.”
Do Good: 

•    Take a look at the full lineup of pre-festival events.

•    Meet some of your favorite authors and buy a few new books. Mark your calendars for Books by the Banks, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 15, Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., downtown. Admission is free. 

•    Become a Book Festival Friend and donate to help support the annual festival.

Local martial artist shares knowledge, talents to instruct others in self-defense

For Daryl Tate, martial arts is not only a passion — it’s a way of life.  
He began taking Tae Kwon Do and Tang So Do at the age of 9 (he has black belts in both), and was later introduced to Muay Thai, which Tate says he “fell in love with,” so he became an instructor.
“I have trained boxers, Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts fighters, and have trained countless police officers and civilians in self-defense,” Tate says.
And he’s done so for more than 20 years.
His level of engagement in martial arts as a hobby extends to Guided Chaos, which is a close-combat form of self-defense where the goal is to train the body and mind to survive in real-world situations. Tate is one of the few first-degree black belts in Guided Chaos who lives outside of New York.
But Tate’s engagement in martial arts is far more than a hobby. He has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement — serving as everything from a member of the Mayor’s Executive Protection Unit in Atlanta to Defense Tactics and Use of Force Coordinator for the state of Oregon.
Now he’s finding ways to involve himself in the community so others can learn the principles of what has both influenced and guided his life up to this point.
“I believe everyone should be equipped with the basic knowledge and skill to prevent any harm that may come to them through the hands of another,” Tate says. “It's unfortunate — but true — that we are living in times when terrible incidents can happen at any moment.”
Tate and his family experienced the unexpected, as they were victims of a home invasion last year.
“Thank God we were not injured in the assault, but I'm convinced that the reason we came out fine was because we were prepared,” Tate says. “Believe it or not, even my daughter, who was 6 years old at the time, was amazing during this scary incident.”
Preparedness, which Tate says requires a basic level of knowledge and skill, is key; and that’s what he hopes to instill among those he instructs.
“Self defense is taking the first opportunity you have to leave a dangerous situation,” Tate says. “Once your counter strike starts, and you're able to stop the attacker, you put as much distance as possible between you.”

Tate will be teaching a Communiversity class through the University of Cincinnati entitled "Personal Safety and Survival: What's Your Plan?" Classes begin July 16.

Do Good: 

•    Sign up for Tate's class online, or by calling 513-556-6932.

•    Can't attend Communiversity's upcoming session of classes? Contact Tate if you have questions or are interested in pursuing individual learning or training opportunities. 

•    Keep up with Tate on Facebook by connecting and liking his page.

MotherLOVE to host Lucy Hone during workshop for grieving parents

MotherLOVE, an organization created for bereaved mothers by bereaved mothers, will host its main workshop of the year, Resilient Grieving for Health Living, on July 16. The workshop is open to any grieving mother or father who has lost a child.

Guest speaker Lucy Hone, a teacher and medical practitioner from New Zealand, will teach attendees simple, evidence-based practices that have been shown to help bereaved parents make healthier choices while grieving the loss of their child. Hone lost her own 12-year-old daughter during a family mountain biking trip in 2014.

“In keeping with our mission, all of MotherLOVE’s 2016 programs provide tools, techniques and methodologies for moving beyond survival to living well after the death of a child,” says Marcie Warrington, founder and president of MotherLOVE. “Paramount to moving beyond survival — in fact, one of the foundational building blocks — is healthy grieving. Not a term much used, or even found in typical bereavement literature. What Lucy brings to the table is her background as a researcher and practitioner in the techniques from resilience science, which for the first time, to my knowledge and hers, are being applied specifically to grief."

MotherLOVE empowers mothers to increase meaning, joy and purpose in their lives after the loss of a child. Warrington began the process of building the organization in June 2015 after finding no organized groups — beyond grief support groups — that focus primarily on helping grieving parents move forward.

MotherLOVE hosted its very first workshop in January.

“Through a generous grant from the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, MotherLOVE is honored and excited to bring this unique offering to the Greater Cincinnati area — free of charge — with the hope of helping as many bereaved parents as possible on this arduous and heroic journey of living well, one that for most bereaved parents includes varying degrees of grief throughout their lives," Warrington says.

Do Good:

•    If you're a grieving parent or know someone who is, register to attend the July 16 workshop, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Mayerson Academy, 2650 Highland Ave., Cincinnati, 45219.

•    To learn more about MotherLOVE, visit its website.

•    Make a donation to help support MotherLOVE's mission. 

Art Academy of Cincinnati hosts Helms Trust Traveling Art Exhibit

Students from the Art Academy of Cincinnati are getting well-deserved attention all around the city, thanks to the Helms Trust Traveling Art Exhibit

This year's traveling exhibit includes pieces acquired from 2007 to 2015 by the Helms Trust Collection, which awards scholarships to the students whose artwork is purchased. To maximize the visibility of the curated student artwork collection, the exhibit will travel to seven different venues across Cincinnati during the next seven months.

“I don’t think anyone realizes how much of a difference this makes,” says Joan Kaup, AAC’s vice president of institutional advancement. “For many of these students, it’s the first time anyone outside of the school has seen their work and affirmed that it’s valued.”

While the scholarships help student artists pay for their tuition or personal expenses, the traveling exhibit also gives them the chance to truly get noticed — the most important moment in any artist's career.

"The day I won the Helms showed me that there are people out there who understand and see the time, sacrifice, effort and experience that goes into making art," says Katelyn Dobson McBroom, AAC ’14. “The AAC left a mark on me and my path in life, and it was humbling knowing that I would be leaving my mark within its walls as well.”

Do Good:

•    Visit the next stop for the traveling exhibit, which is at the Sharonville Arts Center on August 5.

•    Become an artist. Take a class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

•    Support the next Picasso. Donate to the AAC's scholarship fund.

Stages for Youth helps teens find their voice through filmmaking program

Many creative students don’t get the chance to express themselves and their talent in a traditional classroom environment, but Frank O'Farrell wants to change that.

So he started Stages for Youth, a program that focuses on teaching kids video production. But more importantly, he's teaching them skills they'll need to know once they graduate. 

“I think the question to ask is, ‘Are we preparing our kids for the world of work after they graduate from high school and college?’" O'Farrell says. "The short answer is no, absolutely not. There isn’t an environment where they get to develop these 21st century skills, which are crucial to success in the workplace. That’s really what Stages for Youth stands for — using the film discipline to prepare our young people for the workforce, particularly in the creative economy.”

O’Farrell’s son, who is now 18, struggled in a traditional school environment. While he was intelligent and creative, he wasn’t given the opportunity to express his talent in the classroom. His frustration led to O'Farrell creating an alternative avenue for success — Stages for Youth.

During the film camp, teenagers ages 12-19 are invited to create films. There are 15 students in each of the three sessions that take place throughout the summer. Within each session, students are broken up into three groups of five. Each group comes up with an idea they are passionate about, and decides how that idea can be made into film.

And in just two weeks, O’Farrell says everything changes.

“Magic happens. They sit down as complete strangers on day one, then create teams and go through the process of ideation, debates, negotiations and collaborations. Every single time, we are blown away by them throughout the incredible process.”

O’Farrell brings in professional mentors from the industry — production teams, screenwriters, photographers, editors, animators and more. 

“One of the things we’re trying to do is provide a roadmap for these kids by showing them there are possibilities in the creative economy, and how to get there,” O’Farrell says.

That roadmap seems to be working pretty well.

Many of the films produced during the camp have received recognition. One film won an honorable mention at the White House Student Film Festival last year. Another won an $8,000 scholarship to Watkins School of Design in Nashville.

“These are real, tangible results,” O’Farrell says. “These are solid outcomes they can add to their portfolio, increase their self-esteem, and help that belief that they can be successful.” 

Even though the biggest focus is on being creative and focusing on video production, O’Farrell wants kids to take away the skills that will help them succeed in the workplace.

“Kids don’t get the opportunity to collaborate and learn communication, critical thinking, problem solving, project management and time management skills. These things have been removed from our education system. They won’t be successful in the workplace if they don’t cultivate these skills.”

Do Good:

•    Register your child for the third session of Stages for Youth's summer camp, which begins July 25. Registration is $300 per child.

•    Connect with Stages for Youth on Facebook

•    Donate to help support Stages for Youth's mission. 

Promote local tourism by taking a staycation this summer

In May, Greater Cincinnati joined forces with a multitude of cities to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week to propel its year-long initiative “Travel ’16,” which encourages people to explore, have fun, and engage with one’s surroundings throughout the remainder of the year.

Even if your summer getaway is already booked, or perhaps your vacation days for the year have been exhausted — the good news is, Cincinnati makes for an ideal “staycation.” 

“I don’t think locals realize how massive tourism is here,” says Debbie Pappadakes, senior communications manager with CincinnatiUSA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Visitors to Cincinnati spend an average of $4.4 billion a year.

And what makes that number even more impactful (aside from the economic benefit to the region) is the fact that many of the establishments that visitors frequent — establishments composing some of Cincinnati’s finest — make it a priority to give back. 

Orchids at Palm Court — the only AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant in the state, and 1 of just 63 restaurants in the country with the highly sought-after designation — is one of those establishments. 

With its 1930s French Art Deco interior and its commitment to the highest quality ingredients, Orchids is at the top of travelers’ lists of must-visit places. 

On a quarterly basis, the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, which the restaurant calls home, engages in community outreach. But one thing Orchids concentrates on specifically is its partnership with La Soupe, a nonprofit that takes recovered food from local kitchens and turns it into healthy and delicious meals for families who are facing food insecurity.

“We also make weekly donations of recovered food to the Freestore Foodbank,” says Orchids’ Executive Chef Todd Kelly. “We want to make sure we’re doing our part to better the community where possible — not only by volunteering — but by supporting local vendors, farmers and artisans.” 

Another venue making its mark on the city is Maverick Chocolate, a place that’s put Cincinnati on the map when it comes to craft chocolate. 

Not only do they go from bean to bar in-house at their Findlay Market shop, but Maverick also pays anywhere from $500-2,000 above market price to ensure cacao beans are being sourced ethically from the farmers and co-op managers that they work directly with. 

According to Paul Picton, co-owner of Maverick, Peruvian communities are particularly excited to see chocolate makers arrive, as farming communities are trying to transition from coca, which is used to make cocaine, to cacao. 

“They had been under pressure from the terrorist groups to provide drugs that funded the Shining Path in Peru, and you can’t just tell people to stop what they’re doing — it’s their livelihood. But we’ve done a good job here in the USA of providing an alternative, and that’s chocolate.”

Do Good: 

•    Be an advocate for the region. Use the hashtag #summerincincy to showcase the best the region has to offer. 

•    Take a staycation and explore your community's gems. 

•    Become a certified tourism ambassador for the city. Contact CincinnatiUSA Convention & Visitors Bureau to learn more. 


Organizations strive to make Cincinnati area more walkable and bike-friendly

Green Umbrella’s Tri-State Trails Initiative and the OKI Regional Council of Governments have collaborated to put bicyclists and pedestrians at the forefront of the region’s transportation policy.
With an update to its 2040 Plan, OKI and its board of directors recently voted to unanimously increase the number of prioritized bike and pedestrian-related projects from just 3 to 17.
What was once a $2.5 million project has now become a $191 million project, which Frank Henson, chair of Tri-State Trails and president of Queen City Bike, says is well worth it, as it will help elevate the region as a more walkable and bike-friendly city.

“We applaud OKI for their leadership to include the voice of bicyclists and pedestrians in the 2040 Plan update,” Henson says.  “The Tri-State needs a comprehensive, active transportation network to remain economically competitive with peer regions.”
While the new plan is significantly more expensive, the cost of implementing new trails, protected bike lanes, and even sidewalks, pales in comparison to the cost of a highway, and it serves a more inclusive population.
“Our region needs more active transportation infrastructure to encourage new users to commute by walking or biking,” says Kristin Weiss, executive director at Green Umbrella. “Collectively, this can have a profound impact on air quality, congestion and public health.”

Interact for Health, which also weighed in on the matter, is excited to see the updated plan as well, as public health and the drive to make Greater Cincinnati one of the healthiest regions in the country is of prime focus.

“Physical activity is a key factor in a person’s overall health, and having access to a safe, robust trail system enables people to incorporate exercise into their daily routines,” says Megan Folkerth, program officer at Interact for Health. “Incorporating the trails system into OKI’s 2040 Plan paves the way for a healthier community for all of us in the future.”

Do Good:

• Go for a walk or bike ride to increase your activity level and overall health. 

• Support or join organizations like Green Umbrella that work to advocate for active transportation options.

• Connect with the organizations on Facebook: Green Umbrella, OKI, Interact for Health.

Local nonprofits work with housing needs for the disabled

For the past 20 years, Jim Steffey has worked to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
It’s an important mission for him, he says, because he’s met so many people over the years who have experienced life within large, institutional settings.
“Abuse, neglect and isolation were common, heartbreaking themes,” Steffey says. “Often, they didn’t have the staff to help them get out and do things they wanted to do, and I saw the effect — low self esteem, not feeling safe, a lack of a sense of belonging.”
Now Steffey has made it his goal to help individuals find safety and comfort through a sense of place — a place where they’re able to feel empowered and independent. A place that reminds them of their vital presence within a neighborhood as part of a community.
“That’s what we do at the Housing Network of Hamilton County and Partnerships for Housing,” Steffey says. “We help people find a place they can call home.”
Steffey currently serves as executive director for both nonprofits. While the Housing Network services Hamilton County, Partnerships for Housing services Butler County, where the organization functions as property manager, ensuring its clients have access to safe, accessible and affordable homes.

The most rewarding aspect of the position?
“The smile on someone’s face the day they move into their new home, or after we complete a big renovation and they see their new bathroom or kitchen for the first time,” Steffey says. “Seeing them take pride in their home is the best part of my job.”
Do Good:

• The two nonprofits just joined social media. Welcome them to Facebook by liking their new pages: Housing Network of Hamilton County, Partnerships for Housing.

Contact Jim Steffey if you would like to support either organization by volunteering to do landscape work and other home-oriented tasks.  
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