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Parks + Greenspace : For Good

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OTR Foundation launches crowdfunding campaign to support Rothenberg rooftop garden


The Over-the-Rhine Foundation kicks off its crowdfunding campaign for the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden with a happy hour at Goodfellas Pizzeria on Main Street Wednesday, May 20.
 
Tickets for the event are $20, include a slice of pizza and a beer and benefit the garden project, which is in need of everything from workstations and potting benches students can use during garden classes to mixing bowls and salad spinners for lessons on nutrition and food sources.
 
“The Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden is a transformational project that builds community by connecting students in OTR to the values of gardening in their school environment,” says Kevin Pape, president of the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. “The Foundation proudly supports Rothenberg’s students and the realization of the rooftop garden project.”
 
And it has done so loyally, raising more than $300,000 for the garden to date.
 
Nearly 450 students at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy engaged in a multitude of unique, hands-on learning opportunities afforded by the garden during the 2014-15 school year, but needs are ongoing.
 
Even if you’re unable to support the launch of the crowdfunding campaign this week, you can contribute online to help the OTR Foundation and the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden reach its $5,000 goal.
 
For Bryna Bass, rooftop garden program manager, it’s a goal that will allow students the opportunity to further their application of gardening to real-world scenarios.
 
“They learn gardening, but that’s not the mission,” Bass says. “They get to garden — that’s icing on the cake — but it’s deepening their math skills, deepening their science skills, English, language arts, literacy, social studies. We get to use it in just about any curriculum.” 

Do Good: 

Contribute to the crowdfunding campaign and attend the May 20 happy hour launch.

• Connect with the Rooftop School Garden on Facebook.

• Share your time and materials as a volunteer. Contact Bryna Bass if you're available to help. 
 

Starfire members explore passions, engage with community


For Starfire members like Matt Weisshaar, working on a community project is an important responsibility prompted by passion and accompanied by the development of leadership skills and relationship building.
 
Starfire is focused on decreasing the social isolation felt by people with disabilities. The Madisonville-based nonprofit is a conduit to relationships for those with disabilities, family members and community residents looking to get involved, and its approach is “one family, one person at a time,” says Rachel Almendinger, director of donor relations.

“We have a brainstorming night for each member to discuss what they’re interested in, and we get people there that are interested in the same thing to help us connect, network and ideate,” she says. “Then they start a project, so Starfire facilitates it but it’s really about Matt.”
 
Weisshaar, whom Almendinger says “loves science, loves nature, loves animals,” is currently working with Cincinnati Nature Center to put together a Citizen’s Science Day, when community members will join together to bond over bird-watching and compete in a nature-related activity.
 
“Our hope with that is Matt will be able to find some more long-term friends and create deeper relationships, not based on his disability but based on his interests and passions,” Almendinger says.
 
It’s work like this that Starfire will showcase at its Annual Celebration, which for the first time will comprise not only the Evening Celebration but also a Breakfast Celebration for business professionals unable to attend the nighttime happenings.
 
“At first it was a way to celebrate members, but people started loving the stories so much that more and more started coming who wanted to live a more inclusive life,” Almendinger says. “It’s meant to inspire that. Our goal is to help people make friends.” 

Do Good: 

• Kick off the work day by supporting Starfire and purchasing seats for the Breakfast Celebration, June 24 at 7:30 a.m. at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley.

• Celebrate the work and passions of Starfire members at the Evening Celebration June 24 at 6:30 p.m., also at the 20th Century Theater. This event is free and open to the public.

Contact Starfire if you're interested in partnering with the organization. Members would love to visit your business and explore potential opportunities and career paths. 
 

Derby party to benefit Special Olympics equestrian training program


Gather your fancy clothes, find your big hat and prepare your palette for a Kentucky Hot Brown and, of course, some Mint Juleps.
 
Derby Day is upon us, and Parkers Blue Ash Tavern is hosting a party for the second year to benefit the Winton Woods Riding Center (WWRC) Special Olympics Hamilton County equestrian training program.

Admission to the party is just $10 and includes finger foods and derby staples like pimento cheese and cucumber sandwiches, specially-priced Mint Juleps in commemorative Derby glasses and a variety of prize opportunities. The grand prize, a limited edition framed print commemorating the 141st Kentucky Derby (pictured above), will be awarded at 7 p.m.
 
Last year’s event generated about $1,000 for the Special Olympics Equestrian Team, which Rachel Neumann, manager of the WWRC, says enabled the team to pay its entry fees for both the Ohio and Kentucky State Equestrian Competitions.
 
Neumann, who also coaches six of the WWRC’s Special Olympics Equestrian competitors, says the program instills confidence and independence in its riders.
 
“Some of my athletes have been training with us for 10-plus years, and we’ve watched them grow up and learn independence on horseback,” she says. “One of my riders rode for five years without being able to handle without his dad being more than 10 feet away at any time, because of his anxiety. He is now riding independently at our highest level of competition. Such an achievement!”
 
Neumann’s goal, however, is to see that sort of impact in more riders. But more volunteers are required for that to occur.
 
“Our therapeutic riding program (Special Riders’ Program), which feeds into our Special Olympics program, has a waiting list several years long,” Neumann says. “We are only limited by the number of volunteers willing to be trained and make a weekly commitment. New volunteers would allow us to bring new riders into the program who have been waiting three, four, five, sometimes six years.” 

Do Good: 

Contact the Winton Woods Riding Center if you're interested in volunteering. No experience required. 

• Attend the Kentucky Derby Party at Parkers Blue Ash Tavern 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2. Tickets must be purchased in person, either in advance or on the day of the event. The Kentucky Derby itself is run at 6:24 p.m.

Support the WWRC by donating to the Great Parks Foundation. 
 

Pedaling 4 Paddy to generate support, awareness for Wasson Way


Pedaling 4 Paddy has become an annual tradition since it kicked off in 2011 when bike enthusiast Maggie Brennan told a group of friends they should initiate a community ride in March to celebrate community, cycling and one of her favorite holidays,  St. Patrick’s Day.
 
“I wanted to keep it grassroots,” Brennan says. “Ride your bike and have drinks and food after.”

The 2015 event happens Saturday, March 21, starting at Fifty West Brewing Company and offers trail options for cyclists and non-cyclists alike — hop-on and hop-off options for the leisurely in addition to a 52-mile trek to Morrow and back for the more avid riders.
 
The event is free, though participants are encouraged to donate $20 to benefit Wasson Way, a project Brennan learned about just prior to the inaugural Pedaling 4 Paddy.
 
“I had just learned of their volunteer efforts to build a bike trail connecting several neighborhoods in the city,” Brennan says “It’s a 7.6-mile trail starting at Victory Parkway near Walnut Hills High School and eventually connecting to the Little Miami Bike Trail in Mariemont and is going to be a huge asset for the community — especially students from Xavier, UC, Withrow and Walnut Hills.”
 
A dedicated team of volunteers, like Brennan, hope to take their vision for Wasson Way and make it a reality, but they need support to make it happen.
 
“We're looking forward to the day when we can have Pedaling 4 Paddy on the Wasson Way,” Brennan says. “It’s a fun event, bringing together cyclists and non-cyclists to raise money for it.”  

Do Good:

• Learn about how you can get involved with Wasson Way.

• Support Wasson Way by donating.

• Join the fun by participating in Pedaling 4 Paddy on Saturday, March 21.

• Read about Wasson Way as one of Soapbox's top 10 transportation stories to follow in 2015.
 

Devou Park to gain 2,700 trees in reforestation effort


The Northern Kentucky Urban & Community Forestry Council’s annual Reforest Northern Kentucky program seeks volunteers who can assist in planting about 2,700 native tree seedlings across 2.8 acres of land in Covington’s Devou Park.

Over the past eight years, more than 2,000 volunteers have joined together to cover 30 acres worth of previously mowed property in an effort to restore Kentucky’s native woodlands.

According to Tara Sturgill, Reforest NKY secretary and chair of public relations subcommittee, the greatest impact of the event — aside from the planting of thousands of native trees — is the knowledge gained by those dedicating their time. 

“Volunteers learn proper planting of a tree, the multiple benefits to our communities of healthy native forests, selecting the most appropriate tree species for a specific location, and current impacts effecting our native forests,” Sturgill says. “And (they also gain) a general appreciation and yearning to be a steward of our natural woodland areas.”

In addition to planting trees at the event itself, 900 “take home” seedlings will be distributed to volunteers who can then apply their knowledge following the morning’s activity. 

For Sturgill, it’s important to cultivate “a spirit of stewardship for our native forests,” as the benefits of reforestation stretch far into the future. 

“Native woodlands provide improved air quality, storm water reduction, a habitat for various types of wildlife, increased property value, and natural spaces for education and recreation,” Sturgill says. “Reforestation is more than just planting trees and recreating a natural forested landscape. The value added by a woodland has advantages that cannot be measured by monetary means to our communities, and to us as individuals." 

Do Good: 

•    Register for Reforest Northern Kentucky on Saturday, March 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

•    Plant a tree at home or in your community and empower yourself with the knowledge of proper planting and care of your selected tree.

•    Support organizations and businesses that recognize the importance and value of trees.
 

Urban mushroom farming project launches on Kickstarter


For Alan Susarret, owner and operator of Probasco Farm on West McMicken Avenue, urban farming is officially underway. He's been growing oyster mushrooms for two urban farmers markets and some local restaurants for the past couple of years, and now he’s ready to expand production.
 
Susarret is passionate about his work and deeply rooted in sharing his passions with the community. In October he provided a free workshop at the Village Green Foundation in Northside, and in April he’ll share his knowledge about growing mushrooms on straw at Garden Station in Dayton.
 
He’s now asking for the community’s help in an effort to jumpstart his endeavor. Susarret recently launched his urban agriculture project on Kickstarter, and in just nine days he reached his $719 goal — yet the project is ongoing, as costs from farming continuously add up.
 
“A promo I’m doing for the Kickstarter will involve donating mushrooms to Cincinnati Food Not Bombs,” Susarret says. “They get together, cook vegan dishes and share the food at Piatt Park on Saturday afternoons.”
 
Susarret has volunteered with the organization in years past and says the mushrooms — which differ from conventional farmed mushrooms in that they're both preservative- and pesticide-free — will most likely be used in a casserole or stir-fry dish for sharing.
 
“The greatest part about the sharing, being across the street from the downtown library, is we'll get a few suits, some down-and-out folks that may or may not know to look for us, and everyone in between,” Susarret says. “Lots of people stop to ask, ‘What is this?’ We respond, and regardless of class or ethnic origin some will turn up their nose and keep walking, while others will stop for food and/or conversation.

“That's the ultimate goal, community building, and providing a safe public space for meaningful interaction.”

Do Good:

•    Check out the promos and consider pledging to support Susarret's urban agriculture project.

•    Connect with Probasco Farm on Facebook. Beginning Feb. 4, if you "share" the project an added basket will be donated. 

•    If you're interested in volunteering with or learning more about Cincinnati Food Not Bombs, contact the organization. 
 

DAAP students lead hands-on effort to fix vacant lots


Students from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning have spent the past two years working with the City of Cincinnati, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Building Value to propose sustainable ideas to neighborhoods about what can be done with vacant lots.
 
“It’s a major land use issue, it’s a planning issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s a social issue, it’s a cultural issue,” says Virginia Russell, facilitator of the Vacant Lots: Occupied project at DAAP.
 
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful approached Russell, director of DAAP's horticulture program, to come up with a plant-based response as opposed to “turf and mowing.”
 
So Russell recruited Ryan Geismar, adjunct professor and landscape architect with Human Nature Inc., to get students together for a charrette — an intensive class that met for an entire weekend — and periodically reconvened throughout the course to meet with community stakeholders to discuss ideas.
 
“It was an academic way to get students of architecture, planning and horticulture together to imagine what those lots could be,” Russell says. “Because they can’t all be community gardens, they can’t all be pop up micro pubs, they can’t all be this one cool thing.”
 
In the first iteration of the class, DAAP students created the pattern book Vacant Lots: Occupied, which is meant to serve as a resource for neighborhoods when determining what they can or should do with their newly deconstructed properties.
 
“Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is working with citizens groups to say, ‘Here’s the pattern book. This is what we recommend that you do,’” Russell says. “So you’re thinking about doing a community garden? Here are some things you need to think about before you do that move. You want to do a pop up cinema? Here are the patterns you need to view.”
 
The project is a win-win for all parties involved, and the students are certainly benefitting. The horticulture capstone class received 2014 Honor Awards — the highest honors — for their work from both the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Cincinnati Design Awards.
 
“Any time the students get to work directly with the people who benefit from their work, it’s all good,” Russell says. “The students really enjoy the work, and we had two students who were born and raised in Price Hill [the neighborhood served in this fall’s capstone course], so that was really helpful. But we’ve had students from all over the world working on these projects — three students from France in the fall class — and they just had this image of what they see on the news, the bombed out neighborhoods like Detroit and things like that, so they learned a lot about the truth of the vacant lot problem.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the work Keep Cincinnati Beautiful does by donating.

•    Do your part in keeping Cincinnati beautiful by volunteering.

•    Connect with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful on Facebook.
 

Permaganic Co.'s Eco Garden provides youth with purposeful engagement in OTR

Permaganic Co.’s youth internship program, in which inner city youth between the ages of 12 and 18 engage in the “maintenance, sales and planning” of the nonprofit’s Eco Garden in Over-the-Rhine, is invaluable, according to Bryna Bass, friend of the garden.
 
Bass has volunteered with the program and served as Permaganic Co.’s board chair; and the Eco Garden—aside from being a “beautiful place,” she says—holds value for young people in that it merges job readiness, financial literacy, art, science, service learning and agriculture all into one.
 
“Not only do the kids come in and work, but they’re also learning. There’s a lot of soft skills that are being embedded and learned at the same time,” Bass says. “And the kids come from different neighborhoods—some of them know each other, some don’t—but they’ve got to figure out how to work together.”
 
Bass currently serves as program manager for Rothenberg Preparatory Academy’s rooftop school garden, so students—many whom are also familiar with Permaganic Co.’s Eco Garden because of its proximity to home and school—are constantly sharing their enthusiasm.
 
“I hear from them all the time just how excited they are that someday they could possibly work there,” Bass says. “So when they’re 10 and 11, they want to be able to work in the Eco Garden. It’s a place that they articulate and are able to say they feel safe and good about themselves in, and they feel productive there.” 

Do Good:

•    Support youth interns' work by becoming a Permaganic Co. customer

•    Volunteer with Permaganic Co. 

•    Support Permaganic Co. by donating. 
 

First Impact Covington Day hailed a success

More than 200 volunteers came together last Saturday on Make a Difference Day—a national day of giving—to better the City of Covington.
 
It was the first of six Impact Covington days, which COV200—the group tasked with planning the city’s Bicentennial Celebration—initiated.
 
“We want to instill pride in the community,” says Amanda Greenwell, vice chair for the bicentennial. “And we think the best way to do that is for people to actually take part and make it a better place.”
 
The committee is now accepting applications for the second Impact Day, which will take place December 13.
 
“If an organization wants to do whatever—beautification, public art, social services—we have a database of volunteers and a pretty big network of people who say they want to get involved and give back,” Greenwell says.
 
This past weekend, volunteers did everything from painting to landscaping, but the next Impact Covington Day will deal specifically with work completed at social service organizations throughout the city.
 
“These events are great opportunities to actually meet your neighbors and get engaged with your community,” Greenwell says.
 
“Today with the digital age we’re in, people are really disconnected with our neighbors, so through the Bicentennial and all the events, we’re hoping to bring the community together as one to meet their neighbors and understand more about the city and the organizations that make it a better place.”
 
Do Good:

•    Submit your Impact Covington Day application by November 10 if you're a nonprofit in need. 

•    Attend one of the hundreds of events planned for Covington's Bicentennial Celebration.

•    Sign up to volunteer with COV200.


 

Zip-lining, canoeing, river swimming among free Great Outdoor Weekend events

The 11th annual Great Outdoor Weekend is upon us, and with 125 free events and programs at 42 locations in eight counties spanning the Tri-State, it’s an event that Brewster Rhoads, executive director of Green Umbrella, says is not to be missed.
 
“Cincinnati was ranked No. 1 in America by the Academy of Sports Medicine this past spring when it comes to outdoor recreational infrastructure—trails, parks, campgrounds, rivers—but the health condition of our citizenry was No. 38 out of 50,” Rhoads says.
 
“So part of what we’re about is connecting our citizens in the region to the recreational opportunities we have.”
 
The weekend’s events, taking place September 27-28, will feature opportunities for all. Zip-lining across our region’s tree canopy, canoeing, kayaking and even swimming across the Ohio River are just a few of the options offered.
 
“It has become one of the largest—if not the largest—outdoor education and recreation samplers in the country,” Rhoads says. “It’s a way to introduce people—parents with kids, millennials and others—to the critical recreational and nature education opportunities in the region.”
 
According to Rhoads, Greater Cincinnati’s vibrant outdoor culture is a benefit to all who inhabit the area, and it’s an asset to our city, in that it's an attractor of young talent.
 
“You don’t have to live in Portland to bike to work, for example,” Rhoads says.
 
And according to Rhoads, that’s evidenced by the fact that Cincinnati was listed, for the first-time ever, as one of the top-50 bike-friendly cities in America.
 
“We don’t claim that we make all this happen,” Rhoads says. “But we play a role in being a facilitator as a promoter of collaboration to move this area forward.” 

Do Good:

•    Attend one, or multiple events at Great Outdoor Weekend.

•    If you can't make it out to Great Outdoor Weekend, check out Meet Me Outdoors! for a listing of free outdoor activities to engage in on a more frequent basis.

•    Get involved with Green Umbrella.
 

Healthy Roots Foundation continues Bluegrass for Babies, rebrands to expand education and outreach

The Healthy Roots Foundation, formerly Bluegrass for Babies, will host its sixth annual benefit concert Saturday to support Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Perinatal Institute.
 
The nonprofit rebranded itself this year in an effort to better reflect its focus on educational outreach for familial health education.
 
“[The name] Bluegrass for Babies no longer made sense for everything we’re doing,” says Anne Schneider, who founded the organization with her husband, Matt, in 2009. “It made sense for one of our events. So basically, it’s grown so much—we thought that the Healthy Roots Foundation was a name that represents the true essence of trying to create healthy families and improve children’s health.”
 
Since 2009, Bluegrass for Babies has raised nearly $100,000 for Cincinnati Children’s, which Schneider says she’s “incredibly humbled and thrilled” to have accomplished, because the concert—now hosted at Sawyer Point—initially began as a backyard party.
 
As the event has grown, so has the nonprofit’s goals and outreach.
 
“We’ve realized there’s a big gap in education for families—health education in general—and people really aren’t getting the knowledge they need to make good decisions,” Schneider says.
 
So at this year’s concert, six interactive experiences—all aimed at empowering families with healthy decision-making capabilities—will complement the festivities.
 
The activities are similar in nature to some of the play-based activities the nonprofit has hosted at the Cincinnati Museum Center, for example.
 
“We have a make-your-own pizza garden, so it’s a gardening activity where kids learn how it’s made,” Schneider says. “And then once it’s made or taken home and planted, we give them basil seeds, and we give them recipes to make their own pizza with it—so they’re looking at where it’s coming from, how it’s made, and then that’s your food—so it impacts your nutrition and healthy choices.” 

Do Good:

•    Support the organization in its efforts to raise funds for Cincinnati Children's Perinatal Institute by purchasing a ticket to attend Bluegrass for Babies. One-hundred percent of proceeds from food purchased at the event, from both Green BEAN Delivery and Mama Mimi's, will also benefit the Perinatal Institute. 

•    Support the Healthy Roots Foundation by giving.

•    Connect with the nonprofit on Facebook.
 

Taking Root offers $5 trees to home and land owners

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD) has sold more than 43,000 trees to Hamilton County residents as a result of joining a local campaign, Taking Root.

Taking Root, which kicked off in September 2013, is a collaborative effort of eight counties in the tri-state area working to raise citizens’ awareness of our region’s tree canopy crisis. The campaign is educating the public on the value and need for trees and how to care for them with a goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020—one tree for each resident in the tri-state region. 

The program allows homeowners and landowners to purchase a tree for $5 in an effort to reduce the threat of the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle and bush honeysuckle as well as many other tree-destroying culprits. American Elm, Ohio Buckeye, Allegheny Serviceberry, Hardy Pecan, Black Gum and Swamp White Oak are the trees available to be purchased and planted.

The deadline to order trees is Sept. 25, 2014; trees will be available for pick-up in October. The district is also asking residents to send in a photo to make sure the trees are planted correctly and maintained. 

But it doesn’t stop with just buying and planting trees. John Nelson, HCSWCD public relations specialist, says there are also ways citizens can protect and maintain existing trees.

“It’s very important to make sure you’re not a victim of these invasive species,” Nelson says. “Inspecting your existing trees is a great way to prevent and control the problem before it worsens.”

Do Good:

•    Buy a tree from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.

•    Sign the Taking Root pledge

•    Maintain existing trees in the community. 

Occupational therapist founds volunteer group for Summit clients

In her four years as an occupational therapist at Summit Behavioral Healthcare, Laura Menze says she’s noticed her clients’ strong desire to be helpful.
 
“They enjoy working around the unit, whether that’s wiping tables or watering plants, so they have a longing to engage in productive occupations,” Menze says.
 
Clients are sometimes limited, however, when it comes to engaging in meaningful work outside of the facility.
 
So Menze started a volunteer group that allows Summit’s clients to work with one another, in a safe environment, for a positive cause.
 
“Most have been on the receiving end of things for most of their lives and are grateful for the services they receive, but this puts them in the position of the ones who can give, and that’s significant,” Menze says.
 
The volunteer group meets once a week, and for the past few months, Menze says about 10 males have joined together to do things like plant seed trays for Peaslee Neighborhood Center’s Early Learning Center, make birthday cards for residents at Lydia’s House, craft packets for children at the Ronald McDonald House, and fleece blankets to donate to The Healing Center.
 
“I think they’ve taken pride in their work,” Menze says. “There’s just a great amount of stigma related to this population of folks; so to be able to hear, ‘Thank you for what you did. That was really meaningful. Someone will be grateful,’—that provides something for their self-esteem, their self-worth.” 

Do Good:

•    Contact Laura Menze if you're a nonprofit interested in a collaborative volunteer opportunity that could be completed on site at Summit. 

•    Volunteer with a local nonprofit.

•    Support a cause you're passionate about.

The Kentucky Project shares beauty, betters lives of others

Chris Egan founded The Kentucky Project this past November in an effort to share the state’s beauty and culture, while also enriching the lives of those who inhabit it—all for the purpose of creating positive change.
 
Though the organization is still, as Egan calls it, “a baby,” the most recent added component is the launch of the photo sales website.
 
For each purchase of a print showcasing the beauty Kentucky has to offer, the organization will donate 25 percent of the profits to a local nonprofit.
 
The Healthy Newborns Project, which is the collaborative effort of Transitions Inc. and The Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2014, is The Kentucky Project’s photo sales program’s first recipient.
 
According to Transitions, Inc., the number of drug addicted babies born in the state of Kentucky between 2000-2009 increased 2,400 percent.
 
To help mitigate the rising number of unhealthy births, The Healthy Newborns Project aims to provide a safe place for women who are recovering from drug addiction so they can “deliver a healthy, drug-free baby.”
 
Women continue to receive support in the transitional home for up to four months after giving birth.
 
For Egan, it’s important to donate 25 percent of the photo sales profits because the basis of The Kentucky Project is to help others.
 
“We share photos of Kentucky to show its beauty and do what we can to help Kentucky organizations and individuals spread their message,” Egan says. “We've already been a small part of many important issues, and we hope to be more helpful and become a bigger soundboard in the future.” 

Do Good: 

•    Support The Kentucky Project and The Healthy Newborns Project by purchasing prints.

•    Connect with The Kentucky Project on Facebook.

•    Contact The Kentucky Project if there is an important issue you're concerned about.

GO Cincinnati helps communities through massive volunteer blitz

This Saturday, GO Cincinnati will draw thousands of volunteers to help improve our region through a one-day volunteer blitz. The annual city-wide volunteer event is organized by Crossroads Community Church. Volunteers are grouped into teams that travel as far north as Middletown and as far south as Burlington, Ky., to serve schools, churches, neighborhoods, social agencies and nonprofit organizations.

“For the organizations and communities that we serve, often this day is the only volunteer help that they get all year long,” says Jennifer Sperry, a Crossroads representative. “For the volunteers, it builds lifelong relationships with other volunteers and with the people they are serving, in addition to giving a glimpse of what it's like to give up your time for others.”

As many as 8,000 people divided into 450 groups are expected to participate in GO Cincinnati’s ninth year of service May 17. Sperry says volunteers will provide an array of services, including artistic painting, construction, gardening, landscaping, organizing and cleaning, praying, serving meals, working with children and working with the elderly.

“Some of the projects, like tutoring kids for example, are ongoing,” Sperry says.
“Logistically, a lot of work goes into bringing thousands of people together to make this day a success. Coming out of this one-day blitz, many feel a greater sense of purpose within the church, and use it as a kick-off to commit to more regularly serving in their communities. We coordinate lots of opportunities to serve people and great organizations in our city that happen all year long.“

Leaders of volunteer groups can be identified by their red GO Cincinnati T-shirts, while volunteers themselves will wear white T-shirts with red GO Cincinnati stickers. Each project has specific age group suggestions, but kids ages 2 and up can participate.

"‘Go be the church’ is something we say and do around [Crossroads]. On this day, we put our faith into action to be a blessing to hundreds of schools, neighborhoods, social agencies, churches and nonprofits that give so much to our community,” Sperry says. “The impact of this day on everyone far surpasses words—it's a feeling and sense of purpose from God that's so powerful that thousands of people come back year after year to experience.”

Find out more at www.crossroads.net/reachout.
 
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