Thursday, October 30, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Cory Curry - Paying It Forward

Cory Curry with Tashiba and her children, Dejarah and Jordan

Being surrounded by a loving family and having access to life's opportunities are the dreams of many children.  Cory Curry is fortunate that he has both and felt that it was his responsibility to pay it forward.  In 2012, Cory was in search of such an opportunity and he was introduced to Faces without Places.  His first volunteer effort was to be a representative at the annual Rusty Ball, where he worked with his mother in the coat check-in.  Shortly thereafter, Cory joined the FwP Board of Trustees. He now serves as Vice President on the board and participates on the Executive and Internal Committees.

As a Portfolio Specialist with Robert W. Baird & Co., Cory was able to raise money over the summer through "Jeans Day" donations.  Part of the funds were donated directly to FwP and the other part were used to host the October Birthday Club party at the Women's Crisis Center in Northern Kentucky.  With help from Mike Bullock and Jennifer Breedwell, Cory served up pizza and salad for dinner, and a Halloween cake and cookies.  Cory brought presents for the little ones and gift cards for the teenagers.  The three year olds were so excited with the Doodle Pads! Dejarah thoroughly loved the bracelet kit that she received, and the mom's appreciated the gift cards to Target.  Overheard from one of the moms, "Wow! I can't believe this party is for us! That is so nice."

On November 23rd, Cory will also be hosting the 7th Annual Crosstown Chili Cook-Off at the new location, Fifty West Brewing Company.  This will be the third year that he will host the event and he is really looking forward to the increased participation of FwP supporters!  What makes this event so much fun is the atmosphere and friendly competitions.  The cooks go all out to bring their best recipe!  This year the Xavier University Cheerleaders and Mascot will be volunteering at this location (whereas University of Cincinnati students will be volunteering at the Northside location), there will be a Bengal's Bus in the parking lot, courtesy of Bryan Vielhauer of Decal Impressions.  Of course there will be some great auction items to win and activities for the kids.  Cory is really dedicated to making this event successful and fun!

"Seeing the smiles on the children when we are creating a positive memory for them and hearing the success stories when one of the kids graduates and is accepted into college...this is why I volunteer for Faces without Places."  - Cory Curry

Monday, September 29, 2014

Supporter Spotlight: Anita Minturn - Family & Friends

A volunteer’s pathway to Faces without Places (FwP) comes from many directions, whether it is on a friend’s recommendation, through an employer, or hearing about FwP on the radio.  Anita Minturn came to us through her membership with The Cincinnati Woman’s Club, whose focus is on philanthropy and education.  Anita was selected this year to participate in the Philanthropy Group.  The panel selects ten non-profit organizations to learn more about, engage with, and sponsor at the annual meeting that will select a winner of a $10,000 donation.  Anita selected Faces without Places because she is very passionate about children and her desire to serve disadvantaged youth.  Anita attended FwP’s Yellow Bus Summer Camp and came away with a better understanding of the programming, as well as the positive impact on the children. “It was very heartwarming and educational for me to attend the camp.  I was impressed with how the volunteers and staff go out of their way to help the children,” stated Anita. 

In July Anita invited several of her friends to attend the Summer Celebration at the Contemporary Arts Center on July 31st. After seeing all the artwork from Summer Camp, listening to the program, and watching the videos, Anita just fell in love with FwP. 

With her first-hand experience, Anita was hooked and wanted to do more so she volunteered to host a “Birthday Club” at one of the shelters.  Anita brought her son Zac and her friends Sharon Gill, Margery Ward, and Carol Thoman.  Anita and her group arrived at the InterFaith Hospitality Network shelter armed with party supplies, a pumpkin craft project, a piñata, snacks, and amazing cupcakes baked by Margery.  The shelter had seven families with sixteen children, ages ranging from infant to fourteen.  The team got right to work setting the right party atmosphere.  With the aid of one of the 4 year old boys, Zac blew up the balloons, the tables were set, and the children were ready to celebrate.  There was a rousing game of duck, duck, goose.  The piñata was a huge success and the cupcakes were devoured.  One of the mothers stated “Those cupcakes are homemade!” You could just hear the appreciation in her voice.  When families are homeless, the opportunity to celebrate a birthday is often non-existent.  Anita, with her son and friends, were able to provide a moment in their lives that otherwise would have been looked over.  Anita stated, “We came away with full hearts and grateful that all the children enjoyed it!” 

Thank you Anita for hosting the Birthday Club and bringing your awesome friends and your son.  You all did a fantastic job, and we are extremely grateful for all your support!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Supporter Spotlight: Sue Schofield and Fifth Third Bank

Sue Schofield has been a longtime supporter of Faces without Places.  This month, she took her involvement to the next level by coordinating a tremendously successful back-to-school drive at her workplace, Fifth Third Bank.  The drive, a true team-effort at Fifth Third, resulted in over 120 backpacks and 15 boxes of school and personal-hygiene supplies!  This massive donation was extremely valuable to Faces without Places and will make an enormous difference for local children experiencing homelessness as they return to school.  Here is more information about the drive and the team at Fifth Third Bank that put it together!

Fifth Third Bank’s Corporate Services Community Involvement Team (CIT) was created several years ago to strengthen employee engagement while giving back to the community.   The CIT represents one of the many community services teams at the Bank engaging in worthwhile community activities.  The CIT’s primary responsibility is to identify and coordinate quarterly employee engagement service activities for Compliance Risk Management (CRM), Legal and Government Relations staff that improve the well-being of underserved consumers and communities within our region. 

Each quarter the Community Involvement Team (CIT) solicits suggestions from team members on potential partnering organizations focused on targeted populations (our 3rd Quarter target population was LMI students).  Since team member Sue Schofield personally has volunteered in the past for GoettaFest, Mt Adams Events, and attended the Chili Cook-off and the Yellow Bus Ball and has been a strong supporter of the work of Faces without Places she was thrilled to present the FwP partnering opportunity to the team.

The Corporate Service Community Involvement Team in partnership with a few other areas of the Bank hosted a robust Backpack and Supply Drive in early August prior to the beginning of the school year.  Over 120 backpacks and 15 boxes of school and personal-hygiene supplies were collected during this 10 day effort. 

Employees were determined and committed to making sure that children experiencing homelessness had the necessary supplies to help them succeed in school.  Many made heartfelt donations of several items while other made financial donations.  Volunteer personal shoppers used the money collected to purchase additional supplies.  It really was a team effort.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Supporter Spotlight: Julie Schwanekamp

Julie Schwanekamp is one of our longest-standing and most dedicated volunteers.  Julie has been volunteering at the Yellow Bus Summer Camp for about six years now.  This past summer, she volunteered the vast majority of the days at Camp, focusing on Group 1 (the 5-7 year-old campers). 

Julie has proved to be an invaluable volunteer.  She is knowledgeable, passionate, and responsible, and she always knows the right way to relate to and work with children in a given situation.  She helps out in the classroom and on field trips in several ways and is happy to do whatever the staff needs. 

When asked about her interest and dedication to the Camp, Julie said that she loves working with the kids.  “They are fun to be around, and I love to see them grow,”  Julie said.  She also emphasized the importance of the Camp in providing “a fun and safe” place for children experiencing homelessness. 

Thank you so much to Julie and the other fantastic volunteers that made our Camp possible this year!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Supporter Spotlight: Julie Sunderland of the Cincinnati Ballet

Picture from of Julie Sunderland with kids from one of Cincinnati Ballet’s Outreach Programs.
  Last Monday, I was able to be there for the very first day of the 2014 Faces without Places Yellow Bus Summer Camp and I stood off to the side as the campers got off the bus. I saw many nervous faces and closed off body language, some heads down and scuffling feet. I tried to draw out some smiles with silly antics and high fives as we lined up in the playground, getting ready for Movin’ It, but to little avail. Movin’ It is the first things the kids do every day when they get to camp, learning dance moves or exercise routines from a volunteer to get their hearts pumping and to clear their minds. So the nervous kids and staff in bright yellow shirts lined up with their eyes on Julie Sunderland with the Cincinnati Ballet. Her energy and sunshine that morning seeped into the kids and I saw their eyes brightening as she led them through some fun dance moves to the song “Happy” by Pharrell. While trying to keep up with Julie and the kids, my eyes scanned the group and I felt so happy to see the nervousness melting away. The kids threw themselves into spinning, twirling, leaping and dancing, forgetting their worries and breaking into smiles and laughter. Julie has the amazing ability of helping kids (and adults!) to dance and be silly and let loose, while still learning and following directions. The point of Movin’ It is to teach kids who may be going through a lot of transition that movement and exercise is necessary to our health and ability to do well in school and life, but it is also fun! We would like to share our appreciation for Julie for being a wonderful example of this for the kids, some of whom are still practicing the dance at local family shelters and have definitely caught the dance bug from her. Thank you Julie!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Supporter Spotlight of a Shelter's Child Enrichment Coordinator: Esther Kilian

Faces without Places works with many shelters and service providers, and one that we work with often is Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati (IHNGC). One of our main contacts there is Esther Kilian, who does a wonderful job as their Child Enrichment Coordinator. She will be leaving her position soon to return to her home country of Germany and we wanted to make sure to do a Supporter Spotlight on her before she leaves, so everyone will know how important she has been to us this year, and how much she will be missed!

Here are a few words from Esther:
“I am the Child Enrichment Coordinator at IHNGCand I create the kids' program for everyday of the week. Bringing volunteers to help with the program, doing developmental screenings for children under the age of 5 and welcoming new families to the shelter are the biggest parts of what I do. As I am part of the Brethren Volunteer Service, I will be going back to Germany after serving at IHNGC for a year and living in a community house in Walnut Hills.  

 Faces without Places has been a big support throughout my work here. From supporting developmental screenings and connecting us with 4C for Children's Parenting workshops, to providing gift cards and educational supplies, organizing Birthday Parties and bringing Santa for Christmas.

 The biggest and most consistent support I feel is through the program “My Little Library." Every single Tuesday, Faces without Places manages to bring awesome volunteers with books and activities for the kids. It has been so much fun working with Megan on creating activities that work well for our kids whether it be sock puppets, crayon-adventures, animal masks or popsicle stick flowers. The kids always have so much fun and are super proud when they get to choose their very own book at the end of every session. Since I am leaving, I simply hope and wish for Faces without Places to continue their good work and their relationship with IHNGC.”

 Thank you, Esther, for your kind words and for everything you have done for children experiencing homelessness. From face painting marathons, building bookshelves and working with the kids in the garden, it has been a joy and inspiration to watch how hard you have worked at IHNGC. There are many children who have benefited from your kind and patient ways. Best wishes on your future endeavors from your friends at Faces without Places! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Supporter Spotlight: James Canfield

    Dr. James Canfield is a supporter of Faces without Places in a very unique capacity. He supports us through his research into the education of children experiencing homelessness. He has helped to create surveys for the children in our ZooMates and Summer Camp programs in order to evaluate the impact of their experiences in our programs. Recently, he was interviewed on camera for our Awareness Film that will premiere this Summer and provided some fascinating insights into the educational barriers faced by children experiencing homelessness. James is a wealth of knowledge on the subject of children in transition and we hope to keep learning from and with him long into the future.

     When asked to reflect on his relationship with Faces without Places, James shared the following:

"I am the primary investigator for the evaluation of Faces without Places programming, which means I help Faces without Places determine whether their programs are meeting their goals. This past summer, we were able to show that campers at the Yellow Bus Summer Camp improved their self-esteem, educational empowerment, locus of educational control, and hope. We also showed that the vast majority of campers felt good about themselves (over 90%!) and healthy after participating in the camp. Importantly, we also showed that the Yellow Bus Summer Camp significantly increased the number of life experiences for the children. These findings show that Faces without Places programming is an important factor in the lives of the children they serve and places them at the forefront in creating an evidence-based best practices program their evaluation efforts.

While I’ve lent a hand at the Yellow Bus Summer Camp several times, I am actually most proud of what I get to witness behind the scenes. The dedicated staff at Faces without Places is one of the most hard-working and compassionate group of people I have met. It has been a privilege to have been a part of helping the fantastic work this program does on a daily basis and could not be done without the fantastic work done by Ramin, Shelley, Beth, and Megan. I am very excited to see Faces without Places continue to make a difference in the lives of Cincinnati’s youth."