Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati & Mercedes-Benz of West Chester: Supporting Others to Help the Community
Photography by Catie Viox
Boys Hope Girls Hope Cincinnati
Twelve days before Debbie Bowman turned 4, her distressed mother drowned her 7-year-old brother in the bathtub in their Covington home. The remainder of her childhood and early adolescence smacked of overwhelming sadness and poverty, as well as physical, emotional and mental abuse. A relentless sense of shame and survivor guilt haunted her. Nevertheless, Bowman persisted. When life screamed, “Give up!” hope whispered, “Keep going!”
Thankfully, Bowman ignored the scream and, with sheer grit and determination, she followed the whisper instead. As president of the Cincinnati chapter of Boys Hope Girls Hope International (BHGH) for the past four years, she helps good kids living in difficult situations overcome academic obstacles, become BHGH scholars and lead happy, productive adult lives.
“I am so fortunate to get to lead this organization after the life I came from,” says Bowman, the former CFO and COO at the Cincinnati Art Museum. “It’s God’s perfect plan to do what I get to do today. I asked my whole life, what is the plan for me? It could have been very easy for me to be murdered that morning, too. I had survivor’s guilt, so I know what it feels like for some of our kids to think, ‘Why did I survive? There had to be a reason.’ And here it is. This is my reason. It’s been the greatest four years of my life just to watch these kids grow, to nurture them, to see them go from a very tough place to a very happy place.”
BHGH Cincinnati focuses on cultivating youth through education and holistic support, including providing need- and merit-based scholarships to talented and academically motivated youth. The organization partners with local schools and universities, and provides family-like homes for participants.
Boys Hope Girls Hope Cincinnati is located at 1725 Riverside Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.721.3380 or visit www.bhghcincinnati.org.
Fore Kids Charity Golf Tournament
A local golf pro once told Ralph O. Lee, Jr., that either the last Monday in September or the first Monday in October are guaranteed beautiful days, perfect for a golf outing. Lee, vice president of human resources for Total Quality Logistics (TQL) and one of four co-founders of the annual Fore Kids Charity Golf Tournament, decided to trust that advice.
The fundraiser, which benefits Greater Cincinnati inner-city youth organizations, is held the last Monday in September at Wetherington Golf & Country Club. And the weather has cooperated for six years to help the event raise $65,000.
“We’ve had horrible storms the day before, and last year it rained the day of the tournament until 12:45 p.m.,” just 15 minutes before they were scheduled to begin, Lee says. “Then, boom, the good Lord blessed us.”
The rain stopped, the tournament started and $11,000 was raised for Most Valuable Kids. The organization is committed to combating juvenile delinquency, promoting an appreciation of athletics and culture, and fostering academic and social achievement.
Other organizations that have benefitted from the tournament since 2011 include Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates and Lighthouse Youth Services ($5,000 each); Avondale Youth Council ($10,000); Beech Acres ($10,000); ProKids ($10,000); and Literacy Network ($12,500, plus a $1,500 donation of the total split-the-pot proceeds for a total of $14,000).
In addition to Lee, co-founders of the event include Stanford T. Williams, Jr., vice president and chief inclusion and diversity officer, Messer Construction; Janelle M. Lee, director, International Business Development, REDI Cincinnati; and Kristi Clement Williams, managing partner, Clement Williams Consulting.
“We started with 86 golfers our first year, had 100 the next year, and it’s grown ever since,” says Lee. “It’s a great time, a great meal, for a great cause.”
And don’t forget the great weather. Here’s lookin’ at you, September 25, 2017.
For more information about the Fore Kids Charitable Golf Tournament, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.forekidscharity.com.
Inner City Youth Opportuinities
Larry Cameron, Jr., creative director for BlaCk OWned Outerwear in Cincinnati, knows firsthand the positive impact a nonprofit organization like Inner City Youth Opportunities makes in people’s lives. He spent seven years in ICYO, graduated from Miami University and now serves on the organization’s board of directors.
He says in his testimonial on the ICYO website that Jeanne and Philip Bell decided to give back to the community when they founded ICYO in 1993, and that he is a “snapshot of how powerful giving back can be.”
“It was all need-based driven by what I saw happening in the inner city,” Jeanne Bell says, noting ICYO’s original mission remains today: to help inner city children experiencing family problems and struggling to become better students, academically and socially. The Bells’ goal was and continues to be to help youth learn how to resist negative peer pressure and increase the skills needed to realize their academic dreams.
ICYO initially revolved around a summer tennis program because the Bells had observed that tennis programs successfully blended sports and character-building activities. However, a tennis aficionado herself, Jeanne soon realized it would take more than tennis to keep academic success on the children’s horizons.
“We realized a lot of these kids don’t get the opportunity to see the world beyond their neighborhoods,” she says. “If you are going to strive for something bigger than yourself, you have to experience the world firsthand.”
Jeanne has since expanded the scope of the program to include an Academic Intervention program with an emphasis on early childhood literacy for grades K-4 during the school year, and the year-round ICYO Youth Development Program that offers educational, social and sports-related field trips and summer camps.
Inner City Youth Opportunities is located at 1821 Summit Road, Suite 210, Cincinnati, OH 45237. For more information, call 513.731.7312, email email@example.com or visit www.icyocincinnati.org.
Women Walking West
Since January 2015, Women Walking West (W3) has provided mentoring, tutoring, career advice and financial support for more than 40 legally documented foreign-born women living in the United States. Currently, 65 volunteer mentors – selected by level of education, academic or industrial experience – are helping W3 participants from across the globe with academics. W3’s services are made possible through private donations, corporate sponsors, college and university partners and a roster of committed volunteers.
“In a short time we have made a positive impact,” says George H. Sehi, Ph.D, the W3 founder. “It’s a matter of social justice, and it helps with the issue of diversity, which is at the core of our values in this country.” It’s also a matter of positive U.S. workforce development, an integral aspect of W3’s mission. “The more you educate these folks, the more likely they will stay in this country and lead productive lives, and the better off our country will be.”
Sehi, born in Mashhad, Iran, arrived in America in 1975 with $500 and a dream of getting the best education possible. Language, financial and cultural constraints were but some of the detours he navigated before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, followed by his master’s degree in mechanical engineering and doctorate degree, all from Southern Illinois University. He is also a graduate of the Institute for Management and Leadership, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University. During his 30 years in higher education as faculty, department head and dean, he was committed to education as a pillar for economic development and human prosperity. Sehi advised hundreds of students before he left higher education in 2012.
Why Women Walking West? Women are at a greater disadvantage than men when they come to the U.S., Sehi says, especially those coming from Third World countries.
“As someone who has been supported by multiple mentors in my career, I can confidently say that the guidance our mentors provide is invaluable to the women Women Walking West has served,” says Tessa Xuan, W3 board member. “Because of the unique challenges they face in both academia and the workplace, foreign-born women tend to benefit tremendously from any level of support or mentorship. The success of these individuals will benefit not only them, but will have ripple effects on their children, their families and their future contributions to American society.”
For information about Women Walking West, write to P.O. Box 503, Mason, OH 45040, call 513.604.7213, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.womenwalkingwest.org.