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CCC offers free choir program for CPS students

For the past three years, an anonymous donor has provided funds for the Cincinnati Children’s Choir to further its mission of providing “all children the opportunity to experience musical excellence in a creative environment.”
 
This year’s $20,000 donation will again allow the CCC to offer its free Cincinnati Public Schools Honor Choir program, which engages CPS students in fifth- through seventh-grades, in an intense two-day rehearsal program that culminates in a gala performance.
 
“Since so many schools are losing their music programs, this gives the opportunity for them to still get that musical exposure,” says Rachel Breeden, operations associate for the CCC.
 
CPS Honor Choir members will learn a diverse set of choral arrangements under the direction of nationally recognized musicians like Rollo Dilworth, associate professor at Temple University and highly sought-after African American composer, who will lead a day of rehearsals and serve as guest conductor for the students’ concert May 10.
 
“People send hundreds of dollars to do clinics with him, and we’re offering that for free to the community,” Breeden says.
 
The CCC’s resident and most advanced singers from the Bel Canto Choir, led by Robyn Lana, artistic director and program founder, will mentor the CPS Honor Choir throughout the weekend—an experience that Breeden says is invaluable in that it promotes leadership and music education.
 
“We’re creating leaders in our community because they’re learning to teach others these important skills,” Breeden says. “It’s important for us that generations pass on information to others, so we’re creating not only singers, but music educators and people who are passionate about the arts in our community.”

Do Good: 

• Register your child to participate in a Cincinnati Children's Choir program; and if your CPS student is recommended for the CPS Honor Choir, register them by March 7.

• Support students in the CPS Honor Choir by attending their free performance May 10 at 3 p.m. inside Corbett Auditorium.

• Like the CCC on Facebook to keep up with programming and events.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Local United Way leads nation in measuring social, emotional skills in youth

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati is leading the country in an effort to measure social and emotional skills through the implementation of the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA)-mini.
 
The United Way partnered with Philadelphia-based nonprofit Devereux—an organization that supports behavioral health around the country—to create the system, which is a nationally standardized assessment and the first of its kind.
 
After the first year of data collection, more than 4,000 students from kindergarten through eighth-grade at 21 of the UWGC’s partner agencies, like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati, have completed the assessment and will continue to use it to measure and adjust programming to better serve youth.
 
“Programs that promote social and emotional skills result in children doing better academically. They’re also the same skills in many cases that employers are looking for,” says Paul LeBuffe, director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children.
 
According to LeBuffe, the ability of a child in school or an adult in the workforce to do things like “cooperate with their peers, make good decisions, manage their emotions and act ethically” are necessary skills that need to be taught so that one can succeed in life.
 
Social and emotional competencies come as a result of learning concepts like self-awareness and responsible decision-making during childhood, and LeBuffe says the UWGC is creating a model to show the nation how measuring soft skills can better communities.
 
One way these skills can be taught is evidenced by Chicago-based nonprofit Collaborative on Academic, Social and Emotional Learning's (CASEL) program, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS), which teaches first- and second-grade children “the turtle technique”.
 
“What they do is have a story about this turtle, and one of its strengths is it has a shell, and when a turtle has a problem to solve, they go inside their shell, and first they think of what the problem is, then think of different solutions, then think about what will happen if they try one of the solutions,” LeBuffe says.
 
“And then they pick one. So the kids will get down on the ground and pretend they’re a turtle, but what they’re doing is learning how to solve problems in a responsible fashion.” 

Do Good:

• Find volunteer opportunities through the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

• If you're a parent, pay just as much attention to your child's social and emotional skills as you do for their academic skills.

• Advocate that schools implement programs to promote children's social and emotional well being.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


NKY woman makes strides against nutritional poverty

When Monica Remmy settled on a place to live and made the decision to purchase a house, she found herself drawn to Northern Kentucky—more specifically Newport—because of its walkability and amenities.
 
“There’s a family-run butcher, two small theaters in walking distance—there’s a lot around here,” Remmy says.
 
The area is one Remmy appreciates, but she also understands the various needs of her community.
 
She lives just down the street from the Henry Hosea House—a nonprofit that serves those in need. And it’s the only Northern Kentucky facility that serves a hot evening meal seven days a week.
 
A few Christmases ago when Remmy couldn’t travel to Tennessee to visit her mother—who Remmy says grew up in Appalachia and knew what it was like to live in poverty—she took the money she would have spent on presents and instead bought items for the Hosea House.
 
“I dropped everything off and told them I have skills in graphic design and would like to help if I can,” Remmy says.
 
She later found herself putting together a fresh food drive for the organization, and spent most of 2011 helping the Hosea House apply for—and receive—a $30,000 grant to combat nutritional poverty.
 
“As part of the three things we wanted to do around nutritional poverty, I led a project on Hosea House’s behalf and put together a garden,” says Remmy, who now serves as volunteer manager for the garden, where she works to plant and harvest fresh produce for use in the soup kitchen.  
 
From non-GMO Roma tomatoes donated from someone in the neighborhood to plants offered from the individual on the other side of the neighboring fence, the backyard plot of land has transformed into a focal point in the community.
 
“Everyone who walked by stopped to say how beautiful it was or how impressed they were with how tall things were getting, and it really brought a nice little bright spot,” Remmy says. “And all of the produce that isn’t used in the kitchen to prepare the meals is given out to the guests. It wasn’t even definite we’d get it off the ground that first year, but we did, and it’s been amazing.”  

Do Good:

Support the Hosea House. Remmy's goal is to restore funding for educational programs with local school children at the garden. 

Contact Remmy if you would like to volunteer with the garden. 

• Support the Hosea House by donating needed items.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Handbags for Hope celebrates literacy, honors committed learners

The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati will host its third Handbags for Hope event Thursday, January 30 to celebrate literacy and those who help the organization achieve its mission of providing hope to the more than 280,000 individuals in Cincinnati labeled as functionally illiterate.
 
Designer handbags and vacations will be auctioned off throughout the evening, but the highlight of the event will be the presentation of the 2014 Hope Award.
 
The past two recipients were adult students who demonstrated determination and earnestness for learning to improve their abilities to read. 
 
Mary, the first Hope Award recipient, was a volunteer crossing guard at her local school district, who was later offered an office position at the school upon completing classes at the Literacy Network and receiving her GED. Herman, a man in his sixties who was the 2013 Hope Award recipient, decided it’s never too late to learn to read.
 
“His life goal was always to be able to teach the Bible to his 15 grandkids,” says Kim McDermott, director of communications at the Literacy Network. “So he slowly began to learn how to read, and it’s always a fighting battle for people who struggle with symptoms of dyslexia, but he’s gotten so much better.”
 
This year’s recipient will be the family of an individual who is a student in the Children’s Basic Reading Program.
 
“That program works with students who struggle with symptoms of dyslexia, who usually would have to go to Children’s Hospital to be diagnosed and pay high prices for special education classes,” McDermott says. “But we’re able to screen them—not diagnose them—to see what level of reading they’re at and if the classes might help them.”
 
The recipients will accept their award at the event, where they’ll share the impact literacy has had on their family.
 
“You really don’t know what these people struggle with until they stand up and tell their own story,” McDermott says. “It’s touching and becomes so real.” 

Do Good:

• Call the LNGC at (513) 621-READ to purchase a Handbags for Hope ticket. 

Volunteer with the LNGC.

Support the LNGC by donating.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

World Affairs Council fundraiser at 21c to promote global education

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council will host its first annual fundraiser for global education with its ONE mind — ONE World — ONE Night event at 21c Museum Hotel Saturday, February 8.
 
Promoting global awareness throughout the Greater Cincinnati community is part of the nonprofit’s mission, so raising awareness about the educational programs it offers is a top priority.
 
The fundraiser itself, which is a cocktail reception, dinner and team-based competition branded as an international challenge where “Jeopardy! meets Where in the World is Carmen San Diego,” is based on a model of one of its high school education programs, called Academic WorldQuest.
 
“It’s a game of global wit,” says executive director Michelle Harpenau. “We’re trying to see which team has the highest global IQ, so everyone attending is a player in the game.”
 
Some of the organization’s other educational offerings include initiatives like Global Classrooms, in which international students from local universities prepare a presentation on their home country, then share it with local elementary schools.
 
Harpenau says the international students love it because it helps them get over their homesickness.
 
“They find that a lot of the time, they do a lot of things on campus but never get to actually go into the community to share their culture and their home,” Harpenau says. “And the grade school students are so excited to meet someone from abroad firsthand and have that international experience.” 

Do Good:

• Support the GCWAC by purchasing a ticket to ONE Mind — ONE World — ONE Night.

• Support the GCWAC by becoming a member.

• Like the GCWAC on Facebook, keep up with events, and choose one to attend. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Interact for Health brings Cook for America to three local school districts

Three local school districts are participating in Cook for America’s three-phase program so they can offer healthy eating options and scratch cooking in their cafeterias next school year.
 
Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, is funding this $150,000 initiative for the Erlanger-Elsmere, Milford and Norwood School Districts.
 
When combined, these districts serve more than 16,000 area students.
 
“We’re looking at how to create healthy environments so people really can have healthy food and physical activity at their disposal so they can become healthier,” says Jaime Love, Interact for Health’s program officer for healthy eating and active living.
 
Participating schools are currently in the first phase of the program, which involves food assessment—looking at the schools’ kitchens, what is being served within them, how food is being prepared, and what districts can do to budget for healthier options and food preparation techniques. 
 
“We’re trying to focus on how to make it affordable and also effective, because they’re short on staff and short on time,” Love says.
 
The second phase of the program kicks off this summer when participating districts send their culinary staff members to Cook for America’s five-day Lunch Teachers Culinary Boot Camp.
 
“They’ll go through training about food prep, food safety, creating menus, and literally learning how they can do scratch cooking in schools and make it taste good and be affordable and within their budgets,” Love says.
 
Cook for America chefs will then do follow-up visits at each school’s kitchen to provide assistance in implementing the changes, which will begin to take place during the 2014-15 school year.
 
“Schools have a huge impact on our students and the food that they eat, which in turn also impacts students as learners,” Love says. “We really want schools to be a place where kids can get healthy foods and really receive the nourishment that they need, and we want schools to believe that they can do this.”

Do Good:

• Contact your local district's superintendent or food service director, and encourage healthier options in your schools.

• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and aim for physical activity 3-5 days a week. 
 
• Like Interact for Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Cincinnati Zoo event aims to help restore region's tree canopy

Editor's Note: This event has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 1.

If restoring the region’s tree canopy and preparing it for the future is a cause for which you’re passionate, you’re invited to take part in the Taking Root campaign’s Great Tree Summit 2014.
 
The Great Tree Summit, which takes place at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Saturday, January 25, is a way for community members to brainstorm and form strategies to help Taking Root reach its goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020.
 
“We don’t want to just pump information toward people. We want them to now really get involved,” says Jody Grundy, environmental activist and campaign leader.
 
Saturday’s Summit will consist of breakout sessions where individuals form teams based on specific actions, like educating or communicating with others about Taking Root’s efforts, in addition to discussing how particular areas within the campaign’s eight-county, three-state region, can join together to organize specific plans of action within one’s community.
 
“Large trees and native trees are very important to stabilize the whole environment and all the species that are dependent on them,” Grundy says. “We want to bring to people’s attention the importance of trees and to communicate that we should not take for granted a resource we all depend on. We all need to be players in this.”

Do Good:

Register to attend the Great Tree Summit 2014 Saturday, January 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

• Plant a tree and register it to count toward the 2 million-tree goal. 

• Like and share Taking Root's Facebook page.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Memories in the Making empowers individuals with dementia

The Alzheimer’s Association launched its Memories in the Making program in 1986 when Selly Jenny, an artist living in Orange County, Calif. began to explore the ways patients with dementia could express themselves through art.
 
“Her father had dementia, and as his verbal skills were declining and she’d go for visits, she realized it was harder to communicate,” says Joan Hock, Memories in the Making and social engagement coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati. “So they started painting together, and she found that he really became very engaged and showed a lot of pleasure in painting.”
 
At the local chapter of this national nonprofit, 13 residential facilities in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky participate in the program, while two open community sites host this free program for individuals in the early stages of dementia.
 
“We also have what’s called Time for Caregivers—it’s a place where family members receive support,” Hock says. “We want it to be a wellness model—talk with them about various things they can do for themselves and also give them a break.”
 
About eight individuals participate in each MIM session, which is hosted by an artist facilitator while caregivers engage in enrichment activities and supportive fellowship at the same time.
 
Hock says the greatest successes for individuals in the program are that they’re able to engage in an activity that creates normalcy during an otherwise turbulent time, and they’re also able to create artwork—sometimes expressing a memory—that they can share with the world.
 
“People use very bright, very vibrant colors as they’re making choices,” Hock says. “And you’re nurturing yourself as you go through that.”  

Do Good: 

Purchase tickets for the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati's spring benefit The Art of Making Memories at Horseshoe Casino. While there, say hello to MIM artists and bid on the artwork they've created. 

• Support the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati and its Memories in the Making program by purchasing MIM notecards.

• Learn about the Memories in the Museum program, and attend a session. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.


Cincinnati Bengals provide grant for head injury detection in high school athletes

Thanks to a grant from the Cincinnati Bengals, Mercy Health is now able to provide funds to its 28 partner high schools for Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.
 
“It’s all over the news—the danger in returning kids or adults back to play, or back to the classroom before their brain is healthy,” says Pamela Scott, athletic director of Anderson High School.
 
Because head injuries have been so widely publicized as of late, Scott says student athletes are starting to become more aware of the issues an early return to play presents; but with ImPACT testing, an early return is no longer a possibility.
 
Prior to the start of the school year, all student athletes involved in contact sports will undergo initial baseline testing, which measures various cognitive skills.
 
“Then after a head injury occurs, they go back and take the test and compare results to the baseline test and post-test, and that way they can safely determine if the athlete’s ready to come back.” Scott says.
 
Anderson High School has used ImPACT testing since 2010, but many schools are not fortunate enough to be able to afford the testing materials and technology it requires. With the recent grant, however, student athletes in Mercy’s network will now be much safer than in years past.
 
“They’re playing in front of their home crowd, get hit in the head, want to get back in—so there’s a tendency to not be accurate when the trainer’s asking them questions—because they want to go back in,” Scott says. “So even if they have a headache and are dizzy, they might not tell the trainer the truth. Now that’s no longer an option.” 

Do Good: 

Support Mercy Health through its online Giving Store.

• Support athletics in your local school district, and encourage the use of ImPACT testing. 

• Like Mercy Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Sunday Salon series raises funds for domestic violence survivor services

More than 90 percent of domestic violence survivors seeking services in Ohio will not go to a shelter; but at Women Helping Women, non-residential services like court and law enforcement advocacy, in addition to support groups, are provided to more than 12,000 survivors each year.
 
To help fund these services throughout Hamilton and Butler counties, WHW is hosting its Sunday Salon series for the 18th year. 
 
“The salons run from socially conscious to just plain fun,” says Kendall Fisher, Women Helping Women’s executive director. “What’s kind of neat about them is they mirror the way the agency was formed—it’s a small group of community members coming together to make a difference—so you really get a chance to interact with the speaker.”
 
Speakers range in specialty from historians and zoologists to nationally renowned Holocaust educators.
 
“We just hope participants will get some raised awareness and consciousness about what is going on in their own community, and some inspiration on how each individual can make a difference,” Fisher says.
 
Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are issues that Fisher says have, in all likelihood, impacted someone we all know. But they’re also topics, she says, that can be “intimidating” and “a little bit scary” for some people.
 
Sunday Salons, however, are a way for individuals to join together to make a difference in an unintimidating environment.
 
“It’s a simple, fun, engaging and nonthreatening way to make a real difference for survivors in our community,” Fisher says. “And people can get involved in any way they’d like.”

Do Good:

• Check out the Sunday Salon schedule, and call 513-236-2010 to reserve a spot. 

• Check out Women Helping Women's volunteer opportunities, and sign up to get involved.

• Support Women Helping Women by donating.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

UIU receives $500,000 in grants honoring Ruehlmann family

Former Cincinnati Mayor Eugene P. Ruehlmann and his wife Virginia saw public service as more than just an option, but as “an obligation and an honor,” according to their daughter, Ginny Wiltse.
 
“The qualities they both exemplified—a quiet strength and a humility—there was collaboration in the sense that all people are equal in the conversation, and everybody needs a voice at the table,” says Wiltse, volunteer director of Caring Response Madagascar, a local nonprofit that serves the needs of the poor in East Africa.
 
Wiltse also serves as chairperson for the Board of Trustees at Union Institute & University—an institution that Wiltse says was and is an “attractive place” in both the eyes of her parents as well as herself because of the “servant leadership” exuded by UIU President Roger Sublett.
 
UIU is the recent recipient of two $250,000 grants in memory of Wiltse’s parents: The Eugene P. Ruehlmann Public Service Fellowship Program, which comes as an award and tribute from Western & Southern Financial Group, and The Virginia Ruehlmann Women in Union Fellowship, awarded by the Helen Steiner Rice Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
 
“The $250,000 over five years was a tribute to my mother’s decade of service and to the way her life and value of higher education also mirrored the value of higher education of Helen Steiner Rice, the poet,” Wiltse says.
 
According to Wiltse, her mother needed scholarship support to attain her master’s in education, so the recent funds will enable full-time female graduate students at UIU to do the same.
 
The Eugene P. Ruehlmann Public Service Fellowship will be awarded to a UIU doctoral student and will assist individuals in their dissertations, which embody Ruehlmann’s dedication and fervor for community betterment.
 
“My dad served as mayor in the late '60s and early '70s, and he brought this community together by encouraging conversation and collaboration across racial boundaries between businesses and the community, and by bringing people together in a cooperative and collaborative manner,” Wiltse says. “These were his hallmark achievements.” 

Do Good:

• Engage in public service. 

• Support UIU and the Ruehlmann fellowships by giving.

Learn about UIU and consider applying. Know that it's never too late to go back to school, as UIU excels in adult education.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Cincinnati Public Library merges literacy with art

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s annual Teen Drawing Contest is underway.
 
From now until January 31, students between the ages of 12 and 18 are encouraged to create a piece of artwork inspired by a story or book, and submit it for a chance to win art supplies, Chipotle gift cards and a permanent place in the library’s virtual collection.
 
“A lot of teens like to express themselves creatively, and they find inspiration kind of everywhere, like any artist—inspiration’s everywhere,” says Jennifer Korn, TeenSpot manager at the PLCHC’s main branch. “But it seems like the teens find a work of literature, or a comic, or a character that they really connect with, and that becomes a huge inspiration in their art.”
 
For this year’s contest, the library is partnering with Elementz Urban Arts Center to offer four different artist-led workshop sessions for teens.
 
“The artist who’s teaching it—his focus has been street art, graffiti and also comics—but he’s willing to work with the teens regardless of medium and style to provide feedback and tips,” Korn says.
 
Student attendees will receive a sketchpad, drawing pencils and a kneadable eraser to work on their concepts.
 
“When we started this contest, we were hoping to make the connection between literature and creative expression,” Korn says. “Obviously, literature is a creative inspiration because it’s writing, but you can express that through other mediums and also show teens that the library does have books, but we have things beyond books—activities, programs and contests that show we also value their input in the community.” 

Do Good:

• Register your teen to attend one of the drawing sessions

• Encourage a teen to enter the contest and submit their work, as well as an entry form to any PLCHC location by the January 31 deadline. 

• Support the PLCHC and Elementz by donating.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Artist as Activist program offers venue for social change

Arts enthusiast Joi Sears grew up in Cincinnati, where, as a student, she was able to take advantage of offerings like ballet classes at the Cincinnati Ballet, in addition to musical theater and other dance classes at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.
 
After graduating from Walnut Hills High School, however, Sears went away for college and landed in New York City, where she’s lived for the past 10 years. She’s also spent her fair share of time abroad in places like Amsterdam and Brazil—home to Theatre of the Oppressed.
 
Theatre of the Oppressed, a term used to describe interactive, participatory activities that audience members engage in to explore and analyze the realities in which they live, is what Sears is now introducing to the Cincinnati community through her nonprofit Theatre for the Free People.
 
The mission: Using the arts as a vehicle for social change.
 
“Last year, I moved back to Cincinnati, so now I’m here and have been really inspired by the startup community and all the creative things happening here,” Sears says.
 
To engage the creative community with Theatre for the Free People and the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed, Sears is offering the Artist as Activist program, which is a 10-week project that takes place at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, beginning Saturday, January 11 at 12 p.m.
 
“We’ll be doing a workshop which will include games that help us think about our impact—our art and our impact on our community and our world,” Sears says.
 
The second half of each session will include one-on-one time or collaborative opportunities for artists to think critically about their work and create some sort of project to showcase at the end of the 10 weeks.
 
Sears says she envisions everyone from poets, visual artists and even teachers who want to come up with more creative lesson plans—artists of all kinds—joining together to make an impact.
 
“Art is at the forefront of any social justice movement—it’s very central to creating change in the world,” Sears says. “So I really want to empower artists to think about what it is that they do and how they can use that—use their voice to make change.”

Do Good:

Read about the Artist as Activist program, and apply.

Contact Sears if you're an artist interested in collaborating, or if you're interested in attending a session or a couple sessions and would like to work something out. 

• Like Theatre for the Free People on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Save Local Waters and Cincinnati Zoo promote rain barrels through art initiative

Many individuals fail to realize that small changes can make monumental differences when it comes to conservation efforts, says John Nelson, public relations specialist for the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.
 
The HCSWD is part of The Regional Storm Water Collaborative—more commonly known as Save Local Waters—and the organization’s goal is to raise awareness about water quality issues in the Ohio River Valley by educating the public about ways to improve it.
 
“One of the best ways people can conserve water and also help with storm water runoff is to install a rain barrel at their homes,” Nelson says.
 
To encourage more individuals to make use of rain barrels by collecting water that can be reused, as opposed to allowing it to flow quickly while collecting pollutants that end up in our water systems, Save Local Waters has partnered with The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden to host its second Rain Barrel Art Project.
 
“Rain barrels look like trash cans—they’re very plain looking barrels—so we came up with an idea to beautify them, and to take it to the next level,” Nelson says.
 
From now through January 25, individuals can submit proposed artwork to Save Local Waters. If selected for the project, they’ll then have the opportunity to paint a barrel to be displayed in the zoo’s Green Garden during the month of April, with a culminating event April 24 in which barrels will be auctioned during the zoo’s Party for the Planet Earth Day celebration.
 
“Last year, we had about 40 rain barrels entered from people all over the Ohio River Valley, and this year we’re hoping we get more,” Nelson says. “People will take these to their homes and install them, and all the money raised from the auction is used for conservation education.” 

Do Good:

Register with Save Local Waters to paint a barrel.

• Visit the zoo between April 1-24 to view painted barrels, and attend the benefit auction April 24. 

Learn about what you can do to clean up our waters, and contact the organization to get involved by volunteering.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

 

Strategies to End Homelessness seeks winter shelter funds

During the coldest months of the year, like this one, the need for emergency shelters increases, as does the need for funding.
 
“We do this on as much of a shoestring budget as we possibly can,” says Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness—an organization that coordinates services for homeless individuals throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
 
Prior to 2011, finding consistent shelter throughout the winter months was not a possibility. 
 
“Back then, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission would open its Over-the-Rhine facility, but only if the temperature was predicted to go below 10 degrees,” Finn says. “But you can freeze to death when it’s over 10 degrees, and homeless people don’t have a thermometer, nor do they have access to a TV weather forecast.”
 
Increased winter shelter is now available for those who have nowhere else to go from mid-December until the end of February, so long as funding is in place.
 
This year, there was enough funding to increase capacity by adding 60 beds in a portion of the Drop Inn Center, in addition to 40 beds at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, but Finn says additional funding is always needed.
 
“The problem is that in March, it can still be pretty cold,” Finn says. “And any funding we don’t use this winter, we would carry over to next winter. What we already saw this year was the worse case scenario—we had four inches of snow and bitter cold temperatures—but because we didn’t have sufficient money in hand, we couldn’t open the shelter December 1.”

Do Good: 

• Help fund the Winter Shelter by making a donation.

• Volunteer with some of Strategies to End Homelessness' partner agencies to help fight homelessness.

• Connect with Strategies to End Homelessness on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

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