Emerging Leaders Society gives Newport kids new place to play

A project to transform the Newport branch of the Salvation Army has been voted the Best Project in the United Way of Greater Cincinnati's "Extreme Agency Makeover".

The competition was sponsored by United Way Emerging Leaders' Society (ELS) as part of Community Care Week, which encourages companies and groups to perform volunteer projects at agencies around the region.

Projects were required to be completed over a 10-week period and had to address education, one of United Way's focuses for the building blocks of good life.

Each team received $500 in seed money and was expected to obtain other donations and resources to complete its projects.

The Newport Salvation Army has afterschool programs for kids, but had nowhere for them to play.

To help out, ELS volunteers built an elaborate playground, complete with extensive landscaping.

"We were surprised with how well the project turned out," says Aric Hassel, team co-chair and vice president of commercial lending for Integra Bank.  "We knew it was a great opportunity and were so pleased with the results."

Volunteers made improvements to two other youth centers as part of the competition.

Finishing second was the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati for their work to design, decorate and stock South Avondale School's incentive store, and a third group of volunteers worked on a project for the St. Joseph Orphanage.

The orphanage project was eliminated from the competition due to a missed deadline, but all was not lost.

"The Salvation Army team announced at the reveal that they would be donating their $500 prize to help the third team finish their project for St. Joseph’s Orphanage," says Treva Brinkley, senior associate of ELS.  "Amazing!"

ELS is a young professionals organization for people ages 21 to 40 who are committed to voluntarism and leadership development.

Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: Treva Brinkley, senior associate, United Way Emerging Leaders' Society; Cheryl Besl, senior account manager, Strata-G Communications
Photography by Scott Beseler
Group photo provided by Strata-G
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