by Katherine Newman
15 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY
at 12:54 PM | Permalink
Stones was founded in 1963 as a nonprofit organization to increase
independence, improve lives and promote inclusion for children and adults with
disabilities. There are four campuses in the Greater Cincinnati area serving
close to 1,000 children and adults every year.
organization offers programs for people of all ages with many different
abilities. The Summer Day Camp, Saturday Clubs, Overnight Staycations and
Respites and the Sensory Needs Respite and Support Program are all ways for
Stepping Stones to provide support, opportunity and education and to increase
independence for participants and their families.
participants love to meet new people and the attention they receive from a
volunteer makes them feel important and valued,” says Moira Grainger, marketing, board and community liaison at Stepping Stones. “Volunteers enhance our activities
and programs by providing an added layer of respect, care, concern and
enthusiasm for the daily goals our participants strive for.”
year there are opportunities for volunteers to work on special maintenance
projects, like landscaping and painting. Stepping Stones can use volunteers on
the weekends for the Saturday Kids Club and during Weekend Respites. There are
also frequent fundraising events where a helping hand is always welcome.
Summer Day Camp is a program for children with a range of disabilities; it is
also where the most volunteers are needed. In 2015 the camp served 455 children
and utilized more than 800 volunteers. Summer camp runs Monday-Friday, June 6-Aug.
5. It is not required to be at camp every day of the week, but volunteers must
commit to being there from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on the days they choose. This
opportunity is open to people as young as 13. “We are fortunate to have
compassionate and caring individuals who simply love the involvement with our
participants, regardless of age,” Grainger says.
Clubs are a time to celebrate the abilities of children and young adults that
participate in the program. This weekend activity encourages friendships and
social interaction and is a good opportunity for volunteering. Weekends
Respites are for children with severe sensory needs. Since 2013, Stepping
Stones along with its volunteers has been providing one-on-one attention for
participants helping them learn social skills to take home with them.
that have experience working with people with disabilities or a background in
special education are often placed in leadership roles, where they can share
their experience with less experienced volunteers.
groups are encouraged to volunteer at Stepping Stones. Business groups, boy and
girl scout groups and school leadership programs are just a few types of groups
that have already used the organization to engage in community service. “These
groups will usually tackle a project such as landscaping or building something
needed, sometimes a maintenance project, or setting up for a special event such
as a group dance,” Grainger says. When
corporations visit, a lot of times they will host a special event, like a
picnic, for the participants at Stepping Stones.
become a volunteer, start by filling out the online application. After a
receiving a clean background check there is a training program. “The goal of
the training is to ensure that all events ranging from needing a band aid to
responding to a weather alert can be addressed in a safe and orderly manner,”
Grainger says. During training new volunteers learn how to work with people who
have disabilities, the appropriate terminology to use when communicate about
disabilities and safety procedures.
Stones hopes that all volunteers are willing to make a long-term commitment. “It
makes the experience more rewarding for the participants and the volunteers,”
Stones relies on financial donations to support their programs and activities.
The materials they use change depending on the needs of the programs and
participants. If you can’t donate time to Stepping Stones, the gift of money can
provide financial aid for participants that can’t afford the programs.
a Kroger Plus Card to earn cash rewards for Stepping Stones by enrolling in the
Community Rewards Program, which gives a portion of every purchase to the
chosen organization. Amazon Smile is a similar program that can be used to make
For more information on STEPPING STONES and access to
the online volunteer application, visit steppingstonesohio.org.
by Katherine Newman
25 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY
at 12:36 PM | Permalink
Women is a nonprofit agency serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual
assault and stalking. The organization was founded in 1973 to provide advocacy,
support and safety to survivors. WHW serves around 12,000 people yearly between
the two offices in Hamilton County and Butler County.
counseling, court advocacy, support groups and hospital accompaniment are just
a few of the free services that are available. The education and prevention
team gives presentations to business and community service agencies that focus
on recognizing sexual assault and domestic violence along with how to access
“We rely so much
on our volunteers,” says Ellen Newman, Hamilton County volunteer coordinator.
And for good reason: There are about 40 volunteers right now covering a range of
survivor services from the 24-hour hotline to court room accompaniment.
hotline is mostly operated by volunteers. This is a daytime opportunity to
answer calls from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the office on East Ninth Street. The
hotline is an anonymous support system for survivors who might need someone to
talk to or advice on how to move forward.
advocates are on call anywhere from 11-13 hours per day. If a survivor is at
the hospital and asks for someone to talk to, the on-call volunteer will be
contacted to answer questions and provide support.
attend arraignment court with, and sometimes without, survivors. “They are
there to answer questions and help them in the initial first step,” Newman says.
If a survivor can’t attend the arraignment, the volunteer advocate will make
notes of what happened there. As the trial progresses, advocates continue to
attend and support the survivor.
advocates help with community awareness. Volunteers travel to businesses,
churches, schools and events around the Greater Cincinnati area to provide information
on recognizing and surviving sexual assault and domestic violence. There is
also a Teen Dating Violence Prevention curriculum the travels to area high
schools focusing on preventing violence before it starts. The program helps
teens identify healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships and encourages
them to challenge the social norms that encourage dating violence.
Women will often need volunteers to work a table at an event, talk about the
programs and hand out information. They are also looking for people to help
with Light Up The Night, their annual fundraising event on April 28.
“We are survivor-centric
— that is the first and foremost quality you have to have,” Newman says. To
become a volunteer, you first need to fill out the online application; after it’s
reviewed, there will be an interview to determine if you are a good fit for
“Our name is a
little misleading — we are really searching to add more male volunteers,” Newman
says. The organization is nondiscriminatory and they are hoping to grow in the
number of male volunteers they have available to work with survivors.
program is 40 hours and includes an overview of the programs and services along
with the ethics of the organization. There is information about what to report
and how to work with survivors. They also focus on how to work with specific
populations of people to ensure all survivors feel safe.
must be 18 and have a clean background check. Women Helping Women asks that
volunteers stay with them for at least a year and complete two sessions a month
in any of the programs.
always evolving with the needs of each survivor. Feel free to contact the
organization to find out what is in immediate need. Some things that can always
be used are feminine hygiene products, new clothes and bus passes for survivors
to get home, to court and to the doctor’s office.
For more information on WOMEN HELPING WOMEN and to
access the volunteer application visit womenhelpingwomen.org.
by Katherine Newman
38 days ago
Voices is a nonprofit organization operating in Northside. The purpose of V+V
is to provide space and opportunity for artists with disabilities to thrive,
giving exhibition opportunities, studio space, supplies and support to more
than 125 artists with disabilities.
“Our mission is
to provide artists with professional, creative, and cultural opportunities,”
says Hannah Leow, volunteer coordinator at V+V. The artists were creating before
they come to V+V so they just keep doing their own thing. “They keep their
vision and their style, we just support them,” Leow says.
Voices achieves its mission in three ways, the first being the studio program
where artists can come and spend time working on their art. The exhibition
program gives opportunities for them to show their work with five exhibits a
year in the Northside gallery. The final piece is the Teaching Artist Program,
which allows artists to go into the community and teach their style of
Volunteer: Volunteers are needed Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and occasionally on evenings and weekends. The biggest need
is for people in the creative field who are interested in making art and want
to work collaboratively with artists. “The biggest need I’ve seen is creative
folks, or folks who aren't creative and are interested in learning about
creativity, being in the studio working with the artists,” Leow says.
days at V+V are great for high school groups. They can come in and do
organizational tasks for a little while, which is very helpful to the organization.
Then they have the chance to work with the artists and combine their creative
outside of creative work include organizational projects, cleaning and
providing technical support.
volunteers at V+V who come frequently and have been there for a long time, but there
are also volunteers who don't come so often. There really isn’t a requirement
for the type of commitment you need to make. Anyone
interested in volunteering can reach out online. Before starting as a volunteer,
expect a short introductory session with a tour of the studio and general
information about the organization and its goals, a questionnaire and background
check. “It’s a pretty quick process,” Leow says.
Some of the
resources available to volunteers include articles about working with adults
with disabilities. This isn’t really focused on during the brief training
because Leow believes it’s something you learn as you go. “The biggest thing
for me is that it’s an experience based training,” Leow says.
There is no real
precursor to being a good fit at V+V. Decisions are made on a case-by-case
basis “We feel it out with each person,” Leow says. It is about connecting and
accepting the artist. They have a wide variety of volunteers from many
different creative backgrounds.
Donations: Art supplies are in high demand at
V+V. You can find a list online detailing what is needed. Some of the items include
permanent markers, ink pads, buttons, sewing needles and glitter.
program promotes giving the gift of stocks. Consider donating stocks that have
already been acquired and increased in value. Financial advisors are able to
transfer stocks from private parties to Visionaries + Voices. In return, the
organization will issue an acknowledgement of the gift.
For more information on VISIONARIES + VOICES visit
by Katherine Newman
45 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY
at 11:25 AM | Permalink
Squash Academy is an urban squash program operating out of the Emmanuel
Community Center in Over-the-Rhine where there are three brand new courts and a
learning center. “We are aiming to blend squash and academics into one cohesive
unit,” says Austin Schiff, executive director of CSA. The goal is to use squash
as a motivation tool to keep kids accelerating their education.
Since the second
grade, Schiff has played squash, a racket sport that has been around for more
than 100 years. The game is played on a four-walled court with two or four
players and a hollow rubber ball. CSA is the only urban squash program in
Cincinnati and recruits from four low-income schools: Robert A. Taft
Information Technology High School, Hays-Porter Elementary, Cincinnati Hills
Christian Academy’s Otto Armleder School and St. Joseph School.
go into the school and do a presentation,” Schiff explains. “They sign up if
they're interested and then they can come and try-out.” Try-outs can take four
to seven months. Students begin at the bronze level to see if they fit well
with the program; at silver they begin to track attendance and do a home visit
to ensure the family is supportive and sees a future for their child in the
program. Once a student reaches the gold level, they are fully enrolled in CSA
and have complete access to all the resources, trips and the summer program.
Try-outs are so extensive because it is very important that each accepted student
succeeds in the program. “We want to be selective of the kids and families that
we choose, knowing that this isn’t just a six-month fad,” Schiff says. He wants
to find kids that are committed to staying in the program through high school.
CSA puts a major
focus on school success along with learning squash. Kids come three times a
week and their time is divided. Half the day is spent on the court and the
other half is in the learning center working on homework and special projects.
Rachel Parker, the academic director, works hard to help the students find
their personal interests through different classroom projects and field trips.
They have taken trips to the Cincinnati Art Museum and practiced gardening on
Earth Day. “At
heart we are an education program,” Schiff says “To the public we are squash, but
it’s really much more than that.”
The main goal is
not to train world-renowned squash players, but simply to provide education and
motivation and to make sure the kids make it to college. They start preparing
kids freshman year or earlier for college by exploring resume building, the application
understanding financial aid. CSA took a group to Boston last year for an urban
squash competition at Harvard University. When they weren’t playing, the students
toured Harvard's campus. “A year ago, to them, squash was a vegetable or what you do to a
roach on the family rug,” Schiff says. “Now they are on the all-glass show
court at Harvard University playing a very traditionally high-class, high-brow
has 20-30 volunteers. Volunteers help on the court every day at practice.
Experienced squash volunteers — the more skilled, the better — are invited to
come and teach kids the meticulous technique that is so important to the game. You
can do this during the school year or come for the 4-week summer program.
They need tutors
in the classrooms and to chaperone trips. Schiff is looking for people who care
and can connect with the kids. Volunteers as young as 12 can help in the
learning center. “We want people who just love being with kids and want to push
them to succeed,” Schiff says.
must pass a background check.
There is a big CSA
fundraiser happening in April. Corporate sponsors are needed to provide squash
supplies. Because all the athletic equipment is donated, rackets, goggles,
shoes and squash balls are always in demand.
supplies like paper, pencils, dry-erase markers and a lot of disinfecting wipes
are helpful in the learning center. CSA provides snacks for the students but
haven’t had any luck getting a grant for fresh fruit and vegetables. Healthy
snacks would be a great donation, but be mindful of students with allergies to
peanuts and red dye.
has its offices, referred to as the bunker, in the basement of the Emmanuel
Community Center. The bunker is safe from nuclear fallout, but unfortunately is
not very home-like. Schiff is looking for plants and art to spruce the place
up. The office could also use a working copy machine because theirs recently
For more information on CINCINNATI SQUASH ACADEMY,
by Katherine Newman
73 days ago
at 01:41 PM | Permalink
Matthew 25: Ministries is a nonprofit organization based in Blue
Ash dedicated to international humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Since its
inception in 1991, the nonprofit has been able to go from carrying suitcases
of medical supplies to small villages in Nicaragua to now distribution 15
million pounds of product each year that reaches 20 million people worldwide.
“Give items, give financially, or give time. It’s not right for
me to tell someone how they should serve, it’s up to them to decide how they
should serve.” says CEO Tim Mettey. Basically anything someone has to offer is
accepted here. Mettey stresses that there is no effort too little to make a
difference to someone in need.
Matthew 25: Ministries is looking for volunteers of all ages with
any range of abilities to help with sorting and repackaging the tons of donated
items. Walking through the 168,000-square-foot facility between shifts, it’s
obvioushow huge the place actually is. The warehouse organization is so
efficient with pallets of donations stacked to the ceiling, it’s like walking
through an altruistic Costco.
Matthew 25: Ministries could be considered low-maintenance
volunteering — they just ask people to drop in when they have time; there are
no commitments or an extensive training before you start. “Every thing we have
we can teach anyone to do in 5 minutes.” Mettey says.
Volunteers can help by sorting through cans of latex paint for
their Rainbow Paint Reblending Program. The program takes paint that would
normally go to waste, opens it all up, combines like colors and repackages the
paint which is then donated to housing projects around the world.
Or help build personal care kits that are sent to people in need,
either living in an area without access or having lost everything in a
disaster. This station is designed for younger volunteers. Shampoo, toothpaste,
deodorant, mouthwash and other hygiene products are separated into bins and
arranged in a circle. This makes it a simple task to grab a plastic bag and
pick one product from each bin to fill it.
If you don’t have a ton of extra time in the day, think about
cleaning out a closet or the pantry to find items for donation. Any consumable
item you can donate is a gift to someone facing the aftermath of a disaster or
living in a developing country. Medical supplies, clothing, hygiene products,
non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies and toys are just some of the items
that Matthew 25: Ministries is always accepting.
The organization collects empty pill bottles as part of the Recycling Program.
Donated pill bottles, clean with the labels removed and the lids on, can be
reused. If a lid is lost or you don't feel like cleaning the bottles, they can
be shredded and turned in for cash that is put back into the organization.
About a dozen giant bins of donated pill bottles, that would most likely be in
a landfill otherwise, are processed every day for recycling.
Monetary donations are appreciated. “If someone writes us a check
for disaster relief, 100-percent of that will go to the disaster relief.” Mettey
says. Because there is only one facility, Matthew 25: Ministries is able to
keep its overhead cost very low, allowing 99 percent of the cash donations to
go directly into service programs.
Just by stepping foot in the facility it was evident that Matthew
25: Ministries is dedicated to what it is doing. The organization began with
one man’s compassionate idea to deliver medical supplies to a small village in
Central America. Today, it celebrates 25 years of providing humanitarian aid to
more than 60 countries.
Donations are accepted at the Matthew 25: Ministries Warehouse: 11060 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. To learn more about Matthew 25: Ministries, visit m25m.org.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This week, The Dish is on a mission to make sure local families have food for Thanksgiving. Because of the flailing economy and lost jobs, local food banks are experiencing severe shortages, and some of our neighbors might be without Thanksgiving dinner this year.