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It takes a special group of people to know when it’s time to go out of business.
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.
As times changed, the need for the Fresh Air Farm in Indian Hill became obsolete.
The Society’s board was a very special group of women, and their timely decision to use their resources in another way proved to be just what the fledgling The Greater Cincinnati Foundation needed to get started.
In 1963, just after the Foundation was established, The Society gave its endowment to GCF with the provision that Stepping Stones Center could operate its camp on the property for as long as the Center remained in existence.
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation is grateful to the Fresh Air Society board for its forward-thinking generosity in making this serendipitous gift.
The initial gift of $600,000 is an endowment worth about $2 million today and income has been used for grantmaking for almost 50 years.
Following their fine example, this selfless act of generosity has been repeated many times by many donors throughout the Foundation’s history.
Read about a GCF donor who spent time as a child at the Fresh Air Farm
One of Lori C.’s earliest memories is seeing her parents get high.
When they would send her outside to play, she would stack cement blocks outside their kitchen window.
“I would get scared being outside by myself,” she said. “I would think, ‘I’m going to stand here and if someone grabs me, I’m going to bang on the window.’ I peeked in one day and I see them shooting dope in the kitchen. No sooner than they did that, they called me back in and they were different people. And I could tell they felt good and I said, ‘I can’t wait until I’m old enough to do that. I want to feel good too.’ I couldn’t wait to get high. I couldn’t wait to feel better.”
Two and a half years ago, Lori found herself out of jail, homeless and addicted to drugs. For 20 years she had been in and out of jails and rehabilitation programs.
“On my way to and from the dope house, I’d see WRAP House on the corner and I knew there was hope,” she said.
Women’s Residential Addiction Program (WRAP) House is a chemical dependency program run by Transitions, Inc. The Northern Kentucky agency provides substance abuse treatment and related services to those who cannot afford to go elsewhere. Its services include detoxification, residential substance abuse treatment, outpatient substance abuse treatment, and supportive housing.
“There was no level of freedom whatsoever in being completely irresponsible for my life,” Lori shared. “You would think not having responsibilities would denote some level of freedom and it didn’t. My whole life was being dictated to me by drug dealers and drug addicts and the disease of addiction that is in my mind. I was completely out of control and just could not stop. I knew I had to get help. I knew number one I had to have a safe place to go and that’s where Transitions came in.”
Today, Lori is sober, has a job, attends school and lives in a Transitions, Inc. permanent housing facility with her daughter.
“Based on my experiences with myself previously, I was a little worried about renting an apartment just anywhere, not knowing who my neighbors were going to be, what kind of environment I would be putting myself into, so I felt a lot safer getting into their housing,” she said. “Because I live in income-based housing it’s given me the opportunity to pursue some educational goals.”
Transitions, Inc. Executive Director Mac McArthur said that the “middle ground” of recovery – the time after treatment and before long-term recovery – five years – can be the most challenging.
“The purpose of our housing program is that people don’t have a place to go when they graduate,” he said. “If someone comes in here, they’ve probably lost everything to start with; they’ve lost their job, their family, their car, their bank account, their house, probably their spouse and maybe their kids. So we have to help them rebuild their network after they get clean and sober.”
Help includes safe, affordable housing away from drug and alcohol use. Because low-income housing is often difficult for someone with a reputation as an addict to find, Transitions, Inc. is committed to this vital step of recovery.
“Lori is the perfect example of how this is making a difference in her life and allowing her to further her education, maintain sobriety, be a good mom,” said Jennifer Shofner, a staff member of Transitions, Inc.
And she has something else.
“I have hope,” Lori said. “I never had hope before.”
Printed in the 2011 Annual Report
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.
In 1963, The Fresh Air and Convalescent Aid Society knew its purpose had grown obsolete. The break they provided families by bringing them from inner-city tenements to a “Fresh Air Farm” was needed less with more city parks, pools and air conditioning available. This group of forward-thinking women gave its endowment to GCF with the provision that Stepping Stones could operate its camp on the Indian Hill property for as long as it remained in existence.
For 50 years, both nonprofits have been making greater Cincinnati a better place to live. Stepping Stones helps people with disabilities find pathways to independence. on a day-to-day basis, it’s a hotbed of activity with programs for adults and students. visit in the summer, and the beautiful campus bustles with hundreds of campers and volunteers.
We help our donors reach their charitable goals and make a lasting impact in the community. In true greater Cincinnati fashion, several GCF donors are linked to the Fresh Air Farm. Lou Prince remembers his grandmother, a founder, talking about it at the dinner table. Rita Picton’s mother was also on the Farm’s board and a Stepping Stones board member. Bill Powell attended the camp as “a little tot.” They are making a difference. That’s true greater Cincinnati fashion.
Photo, left to right: Lou Prince: his grandmother was a Fresh Air Farm founder and his wife was a board member. Rita Picton: her mother was on the Fresh Air Farm board. Richard Foreman (Lou’s cousin): his mother was on the Fresh Air Farm board. Bill Powell stayed at the farm as a child. They were photographed at Stepping Stones during the adult day program.
This story appeared in GCF's 2012 Annual Report.
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 The Greater Cincinnati Foundation's first fund and that he himself would one day open a fund at GCF.
The Fresh Air Farm 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. When the Farm became obsolete, its endowment was given to GCF.
“I came from pretty humble beginnings,” Bill shares. “I was a depression-era baby. “
Bill has a photo of himself, his mother and brother at the Farm and says it was probably 1937.
“You know how you remember a few things when you were a little tot?” he said. “I remember the bus ride there. I think we met at the Taft Theatre. The bus was loaded with families. I guess it was a real treat to be able to go away for a week or two and get out of the city.”
Bill, who describes himself as a native son, was raised, educated and ran his businesses (Wilson Art and Lance’s) in the City of Cincinnati.
“I made my living in this community and I’ve always tried to give back as much as I could,” he said. “I’ve been very lucky.”
With GCF’s help, Bill makes a difference in Cincinnati; just like the Fresh Air Farm made a difference to many families.
Find out more about the start of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Serving a role in his family's foundation was a natural progression for Andrew MacAoidh Jergens. His late father, Andrew Nicholas Jergens, established The Andrew Jergens Foundation in 1962 and he become involved soon after.
In contrast, Andrew's wife, Linda Busken Jergens married into the foundation. A former clinical social worker in New York City, she said becoming a trustee provided her an additional means of making a difference in the lives of children.
"There are great needs in this city that have to do with children and here I was being invited to address them from another angle, helping envision and support possibilities,” Linda said.
The Andrew Jergens Foundation focuses on organizations that benefit the health, education, social welfare and cultural experiences of children. It is Andrew and Linda's belief that it is more effective to encourage the development of a child rather than rehabilitate an adult.
"I have a particular interest in supporting the arts for children because so much has been taken away from the public schools," Linda said. "Enhancing creativity helps children realize who they are."
Linda was eager for several reasons to become a trustee in the late 1970s, particularly because there were not many women involved in Cincinnati's nonprofit boards.
"Boards need a balance of males and females," she said. "I noticed the near absence of women's voices on these boards and this angered me."
"It is a privilege and a responsibility to have a voice and make decisions with the other trustees that we hope make a difference in the lives of our community's children," she added.
Several years ago, Andrew began to think about the future of The Andrew Jergens Foundation.
"Provisions for the future had to be made,” he said. "The average age of four of our family trustees is 68 (there are 11 trustees)."
Linda agreed, saying she is committed to the survival of small foundations.
"I feel strongly that in a city like Cincinnati when small foundations go out of business, dissolve, the community loses: a piece of its energy is gone, a part of its life-giving breath is extinguished," she said.
"When the foundation makes possible a roof for a school or a play-safe playground, puppet theatre performances or excursions to a museum, I have to believe a child's life is enhanced."
Beginning in 2004, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation began offering its expertise to family and private foundations.
Private foundations can take advantage of GCF's extensive community knowledge and its grantmaking services. GCF's staff help identify grantmaking priorities, process grant requests and conduct reviews, monitor and evaluate grant recipients and administer all grantmaking activity, including board meeting management.
With GCF's help, The Andrew Jergens Foundation will continue its good work for Cincinnati's children.
"I find it a great relief to have GCF involved," Andrew said. "As the chair of this foundation, I take great comfort in knowing that the good work and the important legacy of The Andrew Jergens Foundation will continue in some manner into the future."
DeMountez, a sophomore at Elder High School, shares that he lives on the “worst street” in Price Hill. He says attending a Catholic school with a small African-American population has cost him friends. This doesn’t deter him from the right choices for himself - making honor roll, playing football, being on student council and looking forward to college. He credits much of his success to a mentor.
Demarco, an honor roll student and freshman at Riverview East Academy echoes the sentiment. Without a mentor, he’s certain he would be in trouble and unable to deal with his anger issues stemming from the fact that he doesn’t know his mother or his father. (He lives with his grandparents.)
Both boys have been mentored for more than 10 years through the LifePoint Solutions Positive Future Youth Program. Children are paired with a paid mentor from first through twelfth grades. These are children who live in decaying neighborhoods and often go home to families where family members have experienced early pregnancy, been involved with the criminal justice system, and are abusing drugs and alcohol. Mentors work with the children on social and academic issues and prepare them for life after high school.
In January 2010, the program became a victim of the recession and lost most of its funding. The five full-time mentors were let go and the program struggled to survive. It was a tough adjustment for the kids who lost someone they depended on.
“I felt lost when my mentor left,” said Demarco. “But as time went on I got used to my new mentor. (Cliff Green) Mr. Green helps me with my problems at home and school. He’s always there for me and I know he always will be. I’m thankful for the program; it’s been a life-changing journey.”
Today, just two part-time mentors run the program that is making a huge difference in lives.
“Mr. Green talks to me about making choices,” DeMountez said. “I have a scholarship to Elder and he made me realize it’s my obligation to hold up my end of the bargain for the people paying my scholarship.”
Alexis, a sophomore at Schroder Paideia High School follows her mentor’s advice and shares it with her friends.
“I tell them what Kristy (Barrows) tells me, ‘you can take my advice or not, it’s up to you.’”
“I want to break the cycle and show everyone it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from you can do well,” adds Demarco.
The Positive Future Youth Program received a Weathering the Economic Storm fund grant in 2010. Funds were used to cover a portion of expenses such as staff salaries and program activities.
Volunteers are needed to help with programming on teen night. Help teens with life skills: how to open a checking account, prepare for a job interview, prepare for the college application process or search for college scholarships. Call 513-354-5619.
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.
When her younger brother was diagnosed with Crohns Disease, she was his biggest supporter. The teenager would run from school to the hospital to dance practice, never missing a beat.
As a freshman at Wake Forest University, Morgan quickly got involved, built strong friendships, made the University dance team and volunteered at a local food pantry during the holidays.
Morgan passed away on December 6, 2011 at age 19 from a blood clot to the brain.
Amid this tragedy, her parents, twin brother and two younger brothers and loved ones found comfort in the knowledge that she would continue to help others after her death. The teenager had made her own decision to become an organ donor and her generosity saved five lives.
“It is amazing the lives that she saved,” said her father Jerry Judd. “That story will be one that unfolds over time, we’re just starting to learn more about the recipients and hope to meet them and hear their stories.”
The lives saved by Morgan include a 37-year-old mother of twin boys needing a heart; a nineteen-year-old teenager who can now go to college thanks to Morgan’s lungs, and a 58-year-old father received her liver.
Morgan’s death also inspired an outpouring of love and support from those who knew and loved the happy and kind young woman. Her friends, unbeknownst to her family, set up a Facebook fundraising site and over 200 people donated more than $10,000. These gifts and others created the Morgan Judd Memorial Fund at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation which to date has received more than $100,000. With these gifts, the Judds were able to endow a scholarship at Ursuline Academy and will continue to support other causes Morgan cared about.
To show support, Morgan’s friends also created a virtual phenomenon through social media. Friends posted photos of her initials written on their hands. Thousands participated and a beautiful video captures the effort.
“I think the thing that is so striking is that she went to school on August 26 and she died on December 6, so she wasn’t even there that long but you can see the impact she had on so many people in a short time,” her mother Leigh said.
Morgan and her three brothers also left their parents with another gift – no regrets. The four teenagers deeply loved each other and were very close.
“I don’t think anyone left anything unsaid; they always told each other they loved each other every time they talked,” Leigh said. ”I have no regrets, if I had to rewind and do it again; there is nothing I would do differently. That gives me a lot of peace.”
Read more about a remarkable young woman at morgansmiracles.com.
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