News & Event
In honor of the giving season, we asked our co-workers to share stories of the best gifts they’ve ever received — or given:
“Dancing with the Stars has been my mom’s favorite since its inception. We have watched the show together for the past 28 seasons! The first year that they had a live show that traveled from city to city, I bought my mom and I tickets for her Christmas present. (I’ve since taken her many times.) I put together a whole packet that she opened on Christmas. Pictures of the cast, poem I wrote, a scroll with the announcement. She was overwhelmed. She was crying she was so happy. And when we attended, it was one of the best evenings ever!” — Lori Beiler, Senior Grants Manager
“The best gift I ever got was a metal yardstick. This was back when I was a residence hall director at Miami. Jason and I had been dating a few months at the time. I had gotten a free wooden yard stick from a hardware store but I had left it in Michigan. I mentioned something off-handed while I was talking to Jason on the phone about wishing I had my yard stick so I could measure the paper I needed for the bulletin board. That weekend, Jason showed up with a really nice, metal, cork-backed yardstick. I still have it! I use it all the time. It really is the best gift I ever got, because it showed he was paying attention to me and put some effort into picking out a really nice one.” — Christine Mulvin, HealthPath Senior Program Officer
“The best gift I ever gave was to my dad for his birthday in 2018. My parents finally bought their dream home and my dad got the bar he always wanted in the basement. I bought him a sign that says “Coyt’s Bar” and it was the first thing he hung in the basement. I still hear him tell his friends and our family that I bought the gift for him. My dad isn’t one to rave about gifts and he’s not easy to shop for but I can tell this is something he really liked.” — Paige Goodin, Marketing Coordinator
“The best gift I ever received was my childhood dog, Annabelle. Santa brought her a couple of days before Christmas and left her on my front porch. She was the best dog and throughout my childhood, she was always there when I needed her! She lived for 13 years before she passed away, but she is such a special member of our family.” — Samantha Molony, Women’s Fund Applied Research Manager
“The best gift I received was for my 40th birthday from my wife. She asked people in my life (past and present) to write down one word to describe me. She then created a word cloud and framed it. It’s displayed proudly in my office. The top three words are: Loyal, Genuine and Authentic.” — Phillip P. Lanham, Vice President, Donor and Private Foundation Services
“I received the Barbie Dreamhouse. It had three levels and an elevator that you pulled up and down using strings. Another gift that stands out was my Cricket Doll. She had a cassette tape that went in her back. I played with her and did her hair so much, she was bald by the time I was done with her!!!” — Adrienne Taylor, Women’s Fund Senior Development Officer
“My best gift was a letter from my son, which he hand wrote to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. In it he talked about how I had influenced him and what he saw of me in himself ... as I read it I realized that he had written me a love letter.” — Ellen M. Katz, President/CEO
“I am an obsessive vacuumer. Last Christmas, my wife finally gifted me a fancy new Dyson that I had wanted (was waiting for my old vacuum cleaners to die but they just wouldn’t). Upon opening the gift box, my eyes watered and I hugged the Dyson like it was a long-lost relative!” — Harold Brown, Vice President, Community Strategies
“The best gift I’ve ever received was my charm bracelet. It is a tradition passed down for generations. My grandmother and my mother both shared their stories with me and when I was 10 years old I received my very own that I have treasured since. It is a representation of the experiences in my life, with charms symbolizing big moments to celebrate and challenging times. It has captured my world travels. I have a charm that represents the moment I became a wife and a mom. What I love most about it is how it creates an intentional focus to find the absolutely perfect charm to capture each experience. I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters and I cannot wait to carry on the tradition with them, create memories together, and keep the tradition alive.” — Jaclyn Sablosky, Director, Marketing
“Flying Lessons! On my 30th birthday my wife put me in the car blindfolded. Drove me somewhere (ended up being the airport), I had my first flying lesson that day! Went on to solo and become a private pilot.” — Eric DeWald, HealthPath Executive Director and President
“The best gift that I ever received was the birth of my daughter two weeks before my mom passed away, so she got to meet her first grandchild.” — Will Woodward, Chief Financial Officer
“My best Christmas gift came on Christmas Eve, and it was her due date (my daughter, Micha).” — Mary R. Pitcairn, Philanthropic Advisor
“My all-time favorite gift was a stuffed Curious George monkey, which I received when I was 8 years old. I was surprised and delighted to receive this monkey – I had never indicated (or even thought) I wanted him, but once I held him — he was a perfect, cuddly friend. Actually, and this is where things get weird, he became my pretend baby. My little sister Maurine received a Honey Bunch doll that year, that became her pretend baby (a whole lot more believable than Curious George, but you work with what you have). Maurine also received a four-foot-tall standing Smokey the Bear, who promptly became her ‘husband,’ who she set outside our bedroom door every morning to go to work. She let him back in our room after ‘work.’ Apparently, I was a single mother. However, Maurine and I and our babies had thousands of hours of fun, while her ‘husband’ worked fighting fires. I still have Curious George.” — Lisa Davis Roberts, Senior Program Officer, Private Foundation Services
“My parents were young and on a tight budget, and my dad was putting himself through night school to get an accounting degree. At 7, I was oblivious to financial pressures, and had asked for a Barbie Dream House (the original cardboard version!). My dad received an unexpected bonus and, without telling my mom, bought the Dream House for me, a battery-operated dog for my little brother and a necklace for my mom — no one was more surprised than she was, and I think he had her half believing in Santa Claus! The best part of that gift was to hear the story of his ‘Secret Santa’ exploit when I was old enough to appreciate it.” — Connie Yeager Winternitz, Copywriter
“My husband isn’t a planner, to say the very least. So when it comes to our day-to-day lives or fun family activities I am usually the one who plans and organizes things. Last year at Christmas it was my turn to open up my present. When I unwrapped it, I was blown away. It was a window box with a picture of the sunset as the background that I took in Clearwater Beach on the Pirate Cruise from a previous vacation. The box had sand laid out like the beach and sea shells scattered along the sand from our trip that year as well. On the back of the window box was a postcard from Clearwater Beach that said, “Can’t wait to see you next year!” with the dates of our next vacation planned. My husband knows this is where I find peace each year and planned the entire trip and made the window box on his own. It was absolutely the most thoughtful gift I have received.” — Angie Williams, Senior HR Manager
“I was given a second chance at life after going into cardiac arrest here at work on July 12, 2019. My best gift yet.” — Venita Turner, Administrative Associate
Our team invests the time to get to know you so we can support your goals, and we have the right tools and connections to amplify the impact of every gift you make. Today, we’re leading the charge toward a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati for everyone – now, and for generations to come. Contact us at 513-241-2880 to discuss how creating or giving to your fund can prepare you to make a greater difference in your community, regardless of what tomorrow brings.
Visit our website for more information on year-end giving with GCF, including the Charitable IRA Rollover.
*GCF cannot provide legal or tax advice. Please contact your tax or financial advisor to discuss how charitable giving will affect your personal circumstances.
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.
The outdoor area had become a favorite spot among students and birds. Students were upset and they asked Celine what they could do to help. She suggested they all work together to find a solution.
The next day, a little girl handed Celine the business card of a general contractor – her own grandfather.
“I called him and he said, ‘I graduated from Lincoln Heights and I’ll be there in 10 minutes to help,’” Celine said. “He brought his crew and they fixed the bird house and sanctuary.”
“The seed money [The Greater Cincinnati Foundation] gave us really influenced our school and reinforced a piece that is not always there – community involvement,” she added. “It’s amazing. These kids don’t have access to nature. I just want to say thank you again. You gave the money and good things happened here.”
Learning Links and Summertime Kids grants are made possible by the generosity of donors of the past and present who have entrusted charitable dollars to The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
I want to take a moment to thank you for being such an important part of The Women’s Fund family. I’m tremendously honored to lead this organization comprising so many passionate donors and volunteers.
I have been with The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation for more than four years and, quite simply, I live and breathe this work. Investing in women and their families is the strongest, most effective way to make our community more prosperous.
My vision is to make women’s self-sufficiency a community imperative—an issue that is discussed in back yards and board rooms and carried out through a dynamic plan of action.
Thanks to your support, the trajectory of The Women’s Fund has been exceptional. We are changing the conversation about women and girls in Greater Cincinnati.
I am grateful that you understand and appreciate the importance of the systemic work that we do. It makes all the difference.
Although I know many of you already, I look forward to reconnecting over the next few months and discussing your hopes for The Women’s Fund in the years to come.
We have so much more to accomplish together and I’m eager to hear your ideas. You can reach me anytime at email@example.com or 513-768-6144.
Thank you for your generosity and your confidence in our work.
The Women's Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation leads our community in ensuring the economic self-sufficiency of women in our region. cincinnatiwomensfund.org
As you enjoy your favorite holiday meals, pastimes and customs, Greater Cincinnati Foundation staff members share a few of our own festive rituals — from the reverent to the ridiculous, the sentimental to the sassy — which add delight to the season.
Terri Masur: The Masur clan gathered together with friends and family on Christmas evening in Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Norb’s basement, and Uncle Norb would lead the group in singing the carols on the Mitch Miller’s Christmas album. Over the years this event grew and evolved: Norb’s children built a podium and his conductor baton hung on a plaque on the basement wall. To embarrass any newcomer (usually one of the kids’ dates), Norb would invite him or her to join him in conducting or singing a solo. The grandkids created dances or skits to go with the songs and clothespin/pretend microphones and song sheets were distributed. Uncle Norb is long gone but this tradition continues. We gather at the house of Norb’s son, take turns with the baton at the podium leading songs, drag the newbies up in front of the crowd and sing into our clothespins.
Evie Epifano: My mom, sister and I have a Christmas Eve tradition of going to get Chinese food for dinner and then watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Chinese food tradition comes from this parody music video called “Chinese Food On Christmas” about all of the things Jewish people do on Christmas Day while most businesses are closed. Because our family celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas, this was a running joke in our house.
Colleen McCarthy Blair: My family —parents and siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandchildren —gathers at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve, and every year we sing the same Christmas carols to each other, complete with songbooks! Because I previously worked on an Indian reservation, at one point I taught them how to sing “Jingle Bells” in Lakota, and that’s now part of the annual repertoire. Our finale is Maria Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and everybody dances.
When I was a child, my parents would record us sitting at the top of the stairs as we sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus before we could come down to see if Santa had left us presents.
Connie Yeager Winternitz: When my daughters Katie and Abby were young, we decided to extend the giving — and receiving — of Christmas by celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with small daily small stocking stuffers through Twelfth Night. It was fun to have that wake-up-in-the-morning surprise extend beyond December 25, and we’d cap it with a “Three Kings Party” on January 6 (Epiphany).
Joelle Tunning: One tradition we have is giving a donation to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. This is an organization associated with our church that fights for human rights internationally and directly assists refugees – a nonsectarian organization advancing human rights together with an international community of grassroots partners and advocates.
The Holiday donation process is called Guest at Your Table. We keep a cardboard box on our dining room table. Each meal, we give coins that directly match the things we have in our lives that many others living in refugee camps or facing deportation might not have. A dime for every window in our home. A quarter for every door. A dollar for every toilet. A nickel for every coat we own. And on and on until at the end of the month we have a sizable amount of money in the box. On Christmas Eve, members all bring their boxes and place them under the Christmas tree; the collective funds are sent to UUSC.
Jamie Lydenberg: After growing up on the East Coast, we acquired the tradition of having “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” on Christmas Eve. A typically Italian American tradition, it is a meal comprised of seven fish (seafood) dishes. My mother is the cook of the family, she prepares the meal and we bring the wine.
Jaclyn Sablosky: Each year, Snowflake (Santa’s elf) comes back with St. Nick to watch over our children — Emma, 6; Kate, 15 months; and Baby on the way — and make sure they are being good. Snowflake is magical, so you can’t touch her or she will lose her magic and can’t fly back to Santa.
Snowflake magically decorates Emma’s bathroom to get her in the holiday spirit. Each night she flies to the North Pole to report back to Santa on how good Emma was and therefore returns to a new landing spot every morning. Emma is always excited to find Snowflake and see what kind of trouble she may have gotten into overnight — Snowflake always does something she’s not supposed to do while we are all sleeping!
Eric DeWald: When our daughters Olivia and Sophie were little we would talk about Santa and how he would land on the roof of our house. Inevitably, they would start to listen for any kind of sound they thought might be Santa. We would have a friend or family member sneak up into the attic and walk around with slow, heavy steps. The girls would get really excited and run into bed, knowing that nothing would be delivered until they were asleep. Then we would leave footprints and half-eaten cookies around the tree.
The best part is that I continue to do some version of this tradition. I only do it to get the “eye rolls” from Liv and Soph, and all of the whispering comments back-and-forth between them about “when will Dad stop doing this?”; “he knows we don’t believe in Santa, right?”; “Now we’re going to have to make cookies for him to leave out for Santa”; “Dad, we know you ate those cookies and they weren’t low-carb.” They have fun telling me that they know how I made the footprints (flour on the bottom of my boots) and “we’re not helping you clean that mess up.”
Dora Anim: One tradition we have is to allow our four children to open one gift on Christmas Eve, which is always cozy pajamas and socks. They then put them on and we stay up late watching Christmas specials, eating snacks and playing board games. Even though we do it every year, it never fails — they still get excited about the gift they can open on Christmas Eve and even act surprised when they open the cozy pajamas.
Robert Killins Jr.: My family has made a tradition of participating in a Kwanzaa celebration every year. It is a seven-day African American cultural holiday that runs from December 26 to January 1. One way that we celebrate Kwanzaa is at our church. We often host a half-day program where we celebrate seven elders for their service in our community, one for each of the daily traditions honored by Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith). My youngest daughter, Nia Imani, is named in honor of two of those traditions. Kwanzaa, as a cultural holiday, is a great complement to our Christmas celebration that we focus on as more of a religious observance.
Angie Williams: My kids leave beer and wings out for Santa in addition to some cookies. They know he needs real food on his belly and not just sweets.
Laura Menge: I hang my stocking by my chimney with care … and call it a day!
As we wrap up 2019, we look back at our very impactful year of moving forward on many fronts! As your community foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) is grateful for the support of and partnerships with our donors, nonprofit partners and community stakeholders to bring about a more equitable future for everyone in our region.