Our Stories

Greater Cincinnati has a lot to give!

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is collecting stories of our generous community. Be inspired by these stories of both donors and grants recipients who are making the most of this giving spirit.

Investing in Homes Together

Investing in Homes Together

Every month on her way to work, Doris Simmons of Evanston stops by The Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati to drop off her mortgage check.

Championing a Legacy Together

Championing a Legacy Together

Andrea Cornett and Ginny Wiltse joke that after raising eight children, Helen Steiner Rice was their mother’s ninth child.

Saving Babies Together

Saving Babies Together

Justus Scott was three pounds, 12 ounces at birth. Born at eight months, he endured surgeries, a feeding tube, transfusions, and a colostomy bag.

Building Legacies Together

Building Legacies Together

What do a couple from Michigan and a woman from Lexington, Kentucky have in common? These young transplants are so in love with their adopted home, they practically gush as they compare notes.

Together for Education

Together for Education

When Julie Geisen Scheper and Chuck Scheper talk about proud moments in their lives, both mention children. Chuck also cites statistics.

Leading Together

Leading Together

By definition, a community foundation cannot be effective working alone or in isolation. Together with donors, volunteers, professional advisors, nonprofit organizations, and civic leaders, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation contributes significantly to making our region a more thriving and vibrant place.

Greater Legacy

Greater Legacy

We’re not the only ones turning 50. GCF and Stepping Stones were born the same year and you could say we have the same parents.

Doing the Right Thing

Doing the Right Thing

Strong is only one of the words friends and colleagues used to describe Gerri Johnson. Dignity, compassion and courage were a few others.

A Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath of Fresh Air

For 64 years, The Fresh Air and Convalescent Aid Society operated a Fresh Air Farm which brought mothers and their children out of the crowded tenement areas during the hottest months of the summer for two weeks of good food, comfortable living, and planned recreation in the country.

She Saves Horses

She Saves Horses

If you ask Linda Pavey to tell why she puts her heart and soul into caring for horses, she will tell you about Zodiac.

Her short life made a big impact

Her short life made a big impact

As a high school student, Morgan Judd would give up valuable sleeping time – Saturday mornings – to go teach young girls at her dance studio in Blue Ash. This was simply typical Morgan. She was the girl who was always prepared, never late and was always there for people.

Northern Kentucky Fund Awards Devou Cup

Northern Kentucky Fund Awards Devou Cup

The Northern Kentucky Fund of GCF is delighted to present the 2014 Devou Cup to Frank and Patricia Sommerkamp. The award will be presented at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner on September 18.

Generous Together

Generous Together

When you set a table, the different elements — cutlery, plates, glasses, and, of course, the food — collectively create a welcoming experience. The same is true when you bring people together to make lasting change in our community.

Generous Executive

Generous Executive

Dave Dillon loves small towns because the people are open and gracious. The retired CEO and current chairman of The Kroger Company could be describing himself. Walk into a Kroger store with Dave and he doesn't know a stranger. He remembers personal stories about the people he’s met, says good morning to customers, and tells them to have a good day.

Generous Pair

Generous Pair

They rode the same school bus and attended first through twelfth grade together. Growing up in rural Alabama after the Great Depression, Don and Laura Harrison were academic rivals. Both sharp students dreamed of attending college.

Generous Volunteers

Generous volunteers are the heart of GCF. Governing Board members and other community volunteers contribute their time and expertise on a variety of standing committees and task forces. Volunteers also helped plan and implement our 50th Anniversary and Big Idea Challenge in 2013.

Generous Understanding

Generous Understanding

Randall Stokes and Ana María Paz Gómez just met but already the conversation flows easily. Introductions lead to Ana explaining that in her home country of Colombia, you take your mother’s last name. Both credit this open dialogue to being Diverse by Design volunteers.

Generous Ideas

Generous Ideas

Kelly Birkenhauer works full-time as a geologist, has a young son, and spends more than 16 hours a week working to improve the lives of Greater Cincinnati’s refugees. The chair of the Junior League of Cincinnati’s RefugeeConnect Committee said her motivation is that the refugees themselves are nothing short of amazing.

A Prescription for Self-Sufficiency

A Prescription for Self-Sufficiency

“Mary” first came for help while living in a battered women’s shelter. She was so debilitated by her many ailments that she could barely leave the shelter’s safety. Her conditions included asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis and depression.

Greater Change

Greater Change

Herb Brown is well-versed in change and growth. Involved with GCF for 35 years, he remembers when it had only three paid employees.

Greater Friendship

Greater Friendship

Karen Hoeb and Carolyn McCoy credit GCF as the origin of their relationship. In fact, the Foundation’s former leaders are so simpatico they arrived at this report’s photo shoot dressed in complementary black and white. They swore it wasn’t planned but didn’t seem surprised.

The Mighty Marian

To look at Marian Spencer you'd never guess that she boldly goes where others fear to tread. Now, in her 90s, Mrs. Spencer has a steely determination that belies her diminutive size.

All in the Family

An assignment from her grandparents left teenager Susan Weiss shocked.

Les is more

Les is more

Leslie McNeill had a vision for and unshakeable belief in women’s collective efforts when she founded Cincinnati's Women’s Fund in 1995.

A different kind of hobby

A different kind of hobby

In the last 10 years, Bill Kelleher has been on just two vacations. The single father made the decision some time ago to devote his resources and free time to his hobby – giving back to local nonprofits.

A family’s legacy of ‘corporate good citizenship’ continues

A family’s legacy of ‘corporate good citizenship’ continues

Continuing his father’s legacy of “corporate good citizenship” was important to William Olin Mashburn Jr. (1906 – 1971), when he took over Coca-Cola Bottling Works with his brother John Cromer Mashburn in 1930, following their father’s sudden death.

Connecting People and Places

Connecting People and Places

We sat down with Dr. Monica Mitchell, Thriving People Advisory Committee co-chair, to talk about our new Community Investment framework rolled out in 2012. GCF’s volunteers and Community Investment staff worked closely on its development. Dr. Mitchell works on community engagement and research, program evaluation, and health and wellness promotion at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Dreams Do Come True

Dreams Do Come True

The first time Ruth Dickey saw the Clifton Cultural Arts Center (CCAC), it was “a big empty building that had been vacant for two years, surrounded by dead, scary trees.” But Ruth, “a sucker for big ambitious dreams,” didn’t find it hard to leave Seattle to become the CCAC’s Founding Executive Director.

He's 'ga-ga' for our Region

He's 'ga-ga' for our Region

He’s produced a performance with Lady Gaga and Yoko Ono, lived in Italy and England, and traveled to 66 countries. Knowing this, it may come as a surprise that David Herriman’s favorite topic of conversation is Greater Cincinnati and its arts community.

Getting their Second Wind

Getting their Second Wind

A conversation about sports led to new careers for Gerry and Kate Greene.

Making a Difference on Mondays

Making a Difference on Mondays

Bill Montague loves Monday mornings. This wasn’t always the case, but what changed his mind was when he began tutoring a third grade girl at William Howard Taft Elementary.

Fresh Hope

Fresh Hope

One of Lori C.’s earliest memories is seeing her parents get high.

Investing for Good

Investing for Good

Brooke Ungerbuehler’s boss made her cry. Brooke is an employee of ASAP Event Advertising, a company that provides temporary signage and advertising displays for retail chain stores.

Weathering the Economic Storm: A collaborative response to the economic crisis

Weathering the Economic Storm: A collaborative response to the economic crisis

What began in 2009 as an urgent response to a national economic meltdown grew into a three-year initiative to help the Greater Cincinnati region weather the worst of what was ultimately a cataclysmic economic storm. The Weathering the Economic Storm (WTES) initiative brought together 26 local funders who abandoned their normal application processes and funding procedures in order to quickly identify and provide funding support to a variety of critical community needs.

A Legacy of Land

A Legacy of Land

Russ Simmonds sat back with a sigh. It had been a rough year. He and his sisters had lost both parents in a period of seven months.

An Extraordinary Heart

An Extraordinary Heart

Doris Leonard claims she’s ordinary. A native of Bethel, Ohio, she was an only child raised by Depression-era parents who courted by mail.

Gathering Steam

Gathering Steam

When Jim Landers ventured into the boiler room of his parish, St. Antoninus Church, he was taken aback.

A Perfect Blend

A Perfect Blend

For Jack and Marilyn Osborn, a blind date plus four sons was a winning combination. The couple married and blended their families (two boys each). The age span of 12 years didn’t stop the boys from becoming brothers.

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

It’s not hard to see why Judy Schmitz was selected to be the “sunshine girl” by her Kiwanis group. She’s upbeat, enthusiastic and willing to try new things. In the recent past, she’s fed cheetahs in Africa, learned French, volunteered in Haiti and taught a class at Xavier University.

Closing their Ranks for Kids

Closing their Ranks for Kids

Owen Smith knows what it’s like to grow up without a father. “I think there is a lot of stuff that could have been different if I had a male role model,” he said. “I don’t want my kids to be in the same situation.”

Making Choices

Making Choices

DeMountez, a sophomore at Elder High School, shares that he lives on the “worst street” in Price Hill.

Most Likely to Succeed

Most Likely to Succeed

Sam Hutson considers himself a person from the streets. He became a single parent when his son Dominque was 17 months old. Sam decided he wanted something different for him and looked to the Catholic school system.

Values in Common

Values in Common

“Let’s just say his mother visited my mother in the hospital,” Glenda Schorr said of her husband Roger. “Our mothers played in the same bridge club, went to the same church and our fathers both worked in the local banks."

History, Hard Work and Harmony

History, Hard Work and Harmony

Gibbs MacVeigh recalls the first time he stepped into the barbershop in Williamsburg, Ohio.

Giving Others a Voice

Giving Others a Voice

In her short life, Dr. Erin Talbot McNeill accomplished much for women. As a doctor in reproductive endocrinology, she developed programming, policy and research for women’s health rights around the world.

Proud of His Hometown

“Rather than have a big tombstone and all, I thought it would be better to have a scholarship fund” said Colonel Cecil Himes of Rocky Ridge, Alabama.

Full Circle

Full Circle

Bill Powell remembers his mother talking about visits to the Fresh Air Farm. Little did he know that the Farm’s endowment was used to open GCF’s first fund and that he himself would one day open a fund at GCF.

A Family of Givers

A Family of Givers

Rich Boehne described it as “voluntary redistribution.” He and his wife, Lisa, find it natural to share what they have with their community.” Both of us are from blue-collar families, we’re first-generation college-educated,” he said.

Changing Lives with Art

Changing Lives with Art

During his first week at Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center (CATC), Brandon Briggs stood up at a college fair and asked a tough question. “Can I get into college even though I have a felony on my record?” Brandon is 17 years old and began taking classes at CATC last fall after he was released from juvenile prison.

'I love dirt'

'I love dirt'

Mud, shovels and worms. It’s all part of an afternoon with Riverview East Academy’s Garden Club. The Garden Club, 20 children in grades K-4, tackles the great outdoors with shovels, seeds and a lot of enthusiasm every other week.

Opening Doors

Opening Doors

Dan and Susan Pfau joke that the front doors of their house, bought in St. Louis, were the only sticking point in their marriage.

Changing the Face of GCF

Changing the Face of GCF

Dr. Myrtis Powell is a presence. She’s not shy about sharing her opinions and is quick to laugh and flash her fantastic smile. Her background is impressive — she is the former Vice President of Student Affairs at Miami University, recently retired as the President of Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and was honored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as a Great Living Cincinnatian of 2005.

More than Bedtime Stories

More than Bedtime Stories

Librarian Garrette Smith stood in front of a group of homeless women, many illiterate, to discuss reading with their children. Worried that they would see her as a professional woman talking “at” them not “with” them, she found common ground – motherhood.

A Symbol of Friendship

A Symbol of Friendship

“Never throw out the beet juice.” This homespun wisdom offered by Lawrence Dollman to his neighbors symbolizes his simple lifestyle and the friendships he forged late in life.

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

The day before Thanksgiving Al and Pat Harmann embarked on a family tradition. They gave their three adult children and their spouses a gift.

Big in Children's Lives

Big in Children's Lives

Serving a role in his family's foundation was a natural progression for Andrew MccAoidh Jergens. His late father, Andrew Nicholes Jergens, established The Andrew Jergens Foundation in 1962 and he become involved soon after.

Dorothy - We hardly knew you

Dorothy - We hardly knew you

People on her street remembered Dorothy G. Klasen as a kind and generous neighbor who mowed her own lawn and raked her own leaves until she was no longer able. Her kindness was returned by other neighbors who helped her stay in her own home until just a few weeks before she died.

Lifted by Our Community

Lifted by Our Community

The seeds of Iva Brown and Bertha Lacey Jones' friendship were planted in 1960. Bertha was a young newlywed, new to Cincinnati; Iva a college student at the University of Cincinnati. They met through the Sigma Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha {AKA) Sorority.

Her Bills Exceeded Her Pay

Her Bills Exceeded Her Pay

As a nurse, Mary Ann worked 40 hours a week and overtime whenever she could. She always paid her bills on time and helped to take care of her extended family. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Children Shine at New School

Children Shine at New School

Millvale/South Cumminsville has a high foreclosure rate and widespread poverty. But it also has a beautiful new school, the Ethel M. Taylor Academy, where staff and community members are striving for change with the creation of a community learning center.

Vandalism brings out the best in people

Vandalism brings out the best in people

Celine Quinn was devastated. The elementary school librarian had used a Learning Links grant to build a bird sanctuary at the school. Over spring break, vandals had destroyed the Lincoln Elementary sanctuary.

Almost 100 – With Youth on Her Mind

Almost 100 – With Youth on Her Mind

Maggie Moore’s attorney still gets requests from charities asking to renew his client’s gifts. This isn’t surprising. His memory of his client of 50-some years is, “she was a good soul.”

Feeling Blessed

Feeling Blessed

“God has been good to me my whole life,” Bill Remke said. “I have three wonderful children. I’m so busy with my business, I never had time to volunteer but I could help out financially.”

Summer Is No Picnic in a Women’s Shelter

Imagine you are eight years old and it’s summer time. This usually means no school and months of fun. But what if your family is in crisis? You have to leave your home and your friends. Summer doesn’t look so promising.

A Passion for Nature

Richard and Lucile Durrell were educators and geologists devoted to nature conservation and education. They had a clear vision of what they wanted their charitable legacy to accomplish and set up their estate plan with very specific instructions.

Time to Start Over

Time to Start Over

It was the phone call no one wants. The day after her son graduated from high school, LaGracia Guice-Williams received a call from her employer, a funeral home. She was told not to come in to her job as director the next day.

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

It was the police car outside a school that shook him up. Dick Fencl was visiting an inner-city elementary school as a volunteer with Executive Service Corps. He was there to work on the school’s security system, but what made an impression on him was a police car outside because a sixth grader had been caught selling drugs.

Good Eggs

Good Eggs

Anne Nethercott has lived her life following her mother’s advice — give an egg, knit a sweater.

A Nice Combination

A Nice Combination

Bill and Sue Friedlander get things done. A peek at their resumés reveals an impressive list of professional and volunteer accomplishments and awards. This modest couple downplays their work and contributions.

Investing in Good Stock

Investing in Good Stock

The third time was a charm for Peg Fightmaster. The first time she enrolled in college, she was 19 years old and excited to major in pre-med. But as the oldest of five children, she had to become the family breadwinner when her father lost his job. She quit school and went to work full-time.

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