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Philanthropy Features

Frederick Douglass Elementary garden club

On the Ground: Green tide sweeps across Walnut Hills

Renewed placemaking efforts in Walnut Hills include a growing number of pocket parks, community gardens and other outdoor spaces, many of which were once places of vacancy and blight.

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Innovative philanthropy focus of Dec. 8 IDEALAB

On Dec. 8, leaders from three national foundations that are revolutionizing philanthropy through innovative initiatives are coming to Cincinnati to participate in Issue Media Group's IDEALAB.

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IDEALAB to showcase Cincinnati's talent and innovation

On Dec. 8, the Haile Foundation, People's Liberty, Issue Media Group and Soapbox will host IDEALAB. The event will focus on funding talent-led initiatives, and some of Cincinnati's most innovative projects.

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Crowdsourcing Cincinnati's Child Poverty Challenge

Over 700 gathered at Duke Convention Center Oct. 29 to brainstorm community solutions and initiatives to the childhood poverty dilemma. Cincinnati has the sixth highest rate of child poverty in the nation.

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Right/Smart: How a collective approach to diversity and inclusion boosts the region's talent pool

A Collective Impact report exploring the ways Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Diverse by Design™ initiative is working to attract, develop and retain diverse, high-potential talent and move Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky toward full inclusion.  
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Philanthropy Videos

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Inclusion that's worth working for

Starfire is celebrating another year of building better lives for people living with disabilities with two events this week, the Breakfast Fundraiser June 16 and the Story Soiree June 17, both at 20th Century Theater in Oakley.

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Pop up umbrella dancing as creative placemaking

Placemaking efforts bring artists together with residents and developers to build community, including nearly 200 people who created a surprise dance video with umbrellas at a LISC/ArtsWave luncheon.

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A fundraising video of reckless optimism

Cincinnati native Chelsea Koglmeier combines her experience in entrepreneurship and her passion for social good to launch Bikes of Reckless Optimism this week via an Indiegogo campaign.

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Ellen Katz leads The Greater Cincinnati Foundation into a bright future

Greater Cincinnati Foundation President/CEO Ellen Katz, who recently announced the foundation had been entrusted with a record-breaking $100 million in gifts in 2015, looks to a bright future for Cincinnati's philanthropic work.

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Creative Enterprise: Resources to help you start your business

Six ArtWorks youth apprentices worked with teaching artists and professional videographers this summer to create three videos showcasing the resources and support for creative entrepreneurs in Cincinnati.
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Philanthropy

Katy Samuels, co-founder of Memories of Loved Ones

Katy Samuels, co-founder of Memories of Loved Ones

City: Western Hills
How did you start your business?  
My brother Scott and I are the co-founders of Memories of Loved Ones, or MoLo. We started our business with loans from our family after a mutual friend of ours, Keith Noble, passed away.  At Keith’s funeral there were many poster boards on display with original photographs.  Several years passed and the poster boards were eventually taken apart.

We started talking about how frustrating it was that Keith’s poster boards didn’t exist anymore and it got us to thinking – what do most families do with their pictures when they plan a funeral?  We found out that there are no good solutions available to families who want to preserve precious photos and memories of a loved one.

Once we had come up with our concept we decided to test our idea by offering our service for free to a friend that had lost his father.  We got great feedback and it confirmed that we had come up with a great idea.   

How did you come up the idea for your business?  
We couldn’t find any company that provided a service like this for a funeral.   There are tons of companies that can help you after a funeral but we are the first that helps you during that painful time. So, between Scott’s and my IT background, my background with Creative Memories [a program that helps convert physical photos and the like to digital images], and many other talents in our family, we were able to come up with a process that allowed us to provide this service to families very much in need of it.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Everyone that works with us is either a family member or close enough they are like family.  We are lucky to be part of a large family with many talents so we have done the majority of the work in house using as much “free help” as we can get.  Without the many talents in our family we would not be where we are today.  

To be honest, I can’t say we utilized many local resources initially.  We are now involved in groups like Bad Girl Ventures, and we’ll be meeting with a SCORE counselor next week.  I am part of a local business networking group called the Westside Referral Organization, and we’re also a part of the Delhi Business Association.

What does a typical day in your business look like?   
Our headquarters is located in my home, where we converted one side of my basement into our office.  When we’re working on projects, we’re usually here.  

Life can be a bit crazy for us!  Since we deal with funerals, our schedule is constantly changing.  When we are meeting a family onsite, we can be found in the “MoLo Mobile,” a bright purple and green, 35-foot RV (it was wrapped by our friends at Advertising Vehicles) – you can’t miss us driving down the street!  

Inside the RV, we have scanners and cameras that allow us to convert everything from photographs and keepsakes to digital onsite while meeting with a family.  

The RV is fun and casual as well – just like us!  There is plenty of diet coke, M&M’s and other junk food all on hand; we try to make the family feel as welcome and at ease as possible.

What’s next for you and your company?
We are still a small business just working toward that “break even” goal, yet the business seems to evolve every day and we’ve come so far in just two years.  We see significant growth potential with our business, and have considered pitching our idea to angel investors and VC firms with the goal of expanding and offering our service nationwide.  

If I had a dollar for every person who has told us this is the best idea they’ve heard of in years, or said, “You need to franchise this fast,” I’d be a rich person!

For now, we are happy to continue spreading the word, growing our local market and helping to make one more family’s life a little easier every day.   
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