Tag Archives: Ohio

NeighborLink Network

NeighborLink Network

A couple weeks ago, after a series of rainy days, my husband was attempting to mow the lawn.  He was struggling because the grass had grown so much since the last mowing.  The neighbor stopped by and asked if he could help.  He has a riding lawnmower that easily cuts even long grass.  We accepted his offer and plan to pay him back with an invitation to dinner.  Today’s organization is enabling neighbors to help other neighbors even if they cannot directly witness the need.

In 2003, John Barce and Doug Crane participated in a competition called Leadership Fort Wayne.  Their idea to create a web platform to connect volunteers with people in need received second place in the competition and the NeighborLink model was born.  Since 2003, similar platforms have been created in nine other cities using the same model.

NeighborLink uses a web platform to connect vulnerable homeowners including the aging, people with disabilities, and low income single parents, with volunteers who would like to help.  The volunteers typically help with home repair or yard work projects.  In addition, they encourage volunteers to build relationships with the recipients of their help.  NeighborLink’s goal is not only completion of the projects, but also developing a sustainable solution for community development by connecting neighbors.

NeighborLink is a Christian, faith-based organization with a mission of “practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love.”  They frequently work with churches but appreciate and welcome volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.  They are currently in nine locations: Fort Wayne, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; DeKalb County, Indiana; Porter County, Indiana; Liberty County, Georgia; Van Wert County, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana.

One NeighborLink volunteer named Andrew volunteered, along with a small group, to help Jean paint her house one summer.  During that project, Andrew was made aware that she also needed assistance with other projects from a long list of code violations.  He was able to raise funds to make repairs to her porch.  Just before Christmas, Andrew stopped by with a basket of food and learned that Jean’s son had just passed away.  Andrew continued to show Jean love and support by mowing her lawn and helping with other tasks in the years that followed.  This relationship encouraged Andrew’s involvement with NeighborLink and he eventually became the organization’s Executive Director.  This willingness to continue helping and desire to get to know her better instead of just completing the project at hand is the type of relationship that NeighborLink strives for.

How can you help?

Any individual in the cities that NeighborLink exists in can get involved.  Individuals simply register to be a volunteer on the NeighborLink website for their city.  You can find the current cities on their affiliate and non-affiliate pages.  Once registered, volunteers can look through current projects and choose one.  There are also opportunities for groups to do projects together.

You can also make a monetary donation through any of the specific city NeighborLink websites.

You can learn more about NeighborLink by visiting their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Bake Me Home

Bake Me Home

Baking is a hobby of mine.  I love to find and try recipes for cakes, cookies and other desserts.  Today’s organization turned baking into a way to give back and help others.

Alison Bushman, a stay-at-home mom, and her 7 year old twin daughters, Amy and Emma had a desire to do something more for the homeless family shelter where they had volunteered together for three years.  They had begun volunteering with the shelter by collecting items at the twins’ birthday party each year.  Instead of gifts, the girls asked for items such as books, infant toys, and snacks for those staying at the local homeless family shelter.  When they delivered the donations, they also prepared a homemade pancake breakfast for the families.  The girls’ favorite part was always staying to play with the other kids at the shelter after breakfast.

After watching Teen Kids News coverage of the Young Entrepreneurs Convention, Emma asked if kids could really start their own business.  Amy’s love of cooking took the girls to “Camp Cuisine” where they learned about food as gifts and brought home their own mason jar of cookie mix.  Meanwhile, their mom was inspired by stories of wonderful philanthropic projects at a YA Connect Conference, but was not sure who would watch her kids if she was building houses in Mexico.  That is when the idea hit.  A simple jar of cookie mix for families leaving the shelter was a great way to give other mothers and children the experience of baking together that they loved so much.  After a lot of hard work and taste testing, Alison, Amy and Emma perfected their original Bake Me Home Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, applied for tax-exempt status with the IRS, and established the Bake Me Home organization in 2008.

Bake Me Home

Photo by Neysa Ruhl Photography

Bake Me Home is dedicated to promoting volunteerism and providing disadvantaged moms and kids with direct services that encourage shared family experiences.  They are based in Cincinnati, Ohio and depend on over 200 volunteers to help run their organization.  In February they moved into their own building after working out of a storage unit and their family home for almost five years.

They have four programs:

  • The Tote Bag Program helps families leaving shelters celebrate the beginning of a new life in a new home.  Each sturdy tote bag contains a jar of homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, a mixing bowl, spoon, cookie sheet, pot holder, spatula, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a $20 gift card to a grocery store for the essential butter, eggs, and a few other groceries.  This program helps over 350 families per year from 14 agencies.
  • The Family Portrait Program provides 5×7 framed portraits to shelter families.  This program started when photographer Annette Bryant wanted to do something for those who could not afford photos of their kids.  Over 400 families have received portraits with this program!
  • The Bake Me BACK Home Program sends two dozen homemade cookies to members of the military for a donation of $30.  Approximately half of each donation supports their Tote Bag and Family Portrait Programs.  Over 6,000 cookies have been sent to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Bake It Forward Program allows children entering grades 2 through 9 an opportunity to apply for a grant of $100 for the charity of their choice serving children in Ohio.  Each applicant must perform a summer service project for the charity which helps further the Bake Me Home organization’s mission of promoting volunteerism.

Alison shared a couple quotes about their impact on the families they have helped.  One mother of four, after receiving a family portrait from Bake Me Home at a battered women’s shelter cried and said, “Thank you for this.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  I will always look at this and remember our turning point.  I am free.”  Another mother, after baking her cookies, said, “We made our cookies!  It was wonderful!  It made me feel like I accomplished something.  We had everything we needed.  I’ve used the pan lots of times for other things too.”

BMH Food Pantry

How can you help?

Bake Me Home has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities.

  • Help fill jars of their homemade cookie mix and tote bags.  Assembly events are posted on Facebook and sent out via e-mail.  You can sign up using the volunteer form on their website or by e-mailing
  • You can volunteer to deliver Tote Bags to agencies.  You can sign up using the volunteer form on their website or by e-mailing
  • Knit, crochet, or quilt pot holders to include in their tote bags.  You can find a free pattern here.
  • Donate new or gently used 5×7 photo frames for the Family Portrait Program.
  • Volunteers are also needed to assist with the Family Portrait photo shoots.  You can sign up using the volunteer form on their website or by e-mailing
  • Bake Me Home also holds an annual silent auction and accepts donated items.
  • They also need volunteers to assist with various administrative, fundraising, and graphic design projects.  Please contact them with your specific expertise.
  • They also accept monetary donations on their website.

To learn more about the Bake Me Home organization, visit their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Bake Me Home

Related Posts:Family-To-Family and Cookie Cart 


Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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Melodic Connections

Melodic Connections

If you have been reading for a while, you have heard me mention that I was a band geek when I was young.  While I stopped playing music with a band after graduation, I still enjoy music and sharing music with my family.  Today’s organization sees the power of music in enhancing lives. 

In August 2003, Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh left a private music therapy practice to accept a position teaching music and music therapy in Cincinnati Public Schools.  She worked with many students with special needs but one student in particular moved her.  Latron was an autistic boy who did not speak except to echo back words spoken to him.  He was different in the music room.  He showed signs that he had perfect pitch.  In December 2005, he learned a simple blues progression on the piano and when he returned after winter break in January, he sat at the piano and played the beginning of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata after just listening to it on a recording each day.  Through music therapy, Latron found his voice, a way to communicate. 

A music therapist works to achieve musical and non-musical goals such as improvement in communication, academics, and motor skills.  Other families were inspired by Latron’s improvement and expressed interest in lessons.  Unfortunately, the cost of private music therapy is hard to fit into a budget already stretched by the expenses of occupational, physical, speech, and other therapies. 

Like-minded people around the Greater Cincinnati area were willing to donate their time and resources toward the cause.  A board of directors was formed including area writers, business people, teachers, therapists, and parents who had seen the benefits of music therapy first hand.  Space was donated by the successful Starfire Council non-profit and other community members were willing to donate instruments to the cause.  In April of 2009, Melodic Connections anticipated the possibility of 16 students receiving services from two music therapists.  Over 40 individuals expressed an interest in participating. 

The mission of Melodic Connections is to empower special learners through therapeutic group and individual music education and performance experiences. Melodic Connections also works to enhance the lives of Greater Cincinnati community members through the enjoyment of performance based musical art created by exceptional persons.

In 2010 the organization already needed to expand due to the growing interest and wait lists for their programs.  They moved into a new location dedicated solely for their lessons.  Since opening their new location in October 2010, they have expanded their adult conservatory day program from 3 members to 20.  After school classes have doubled in number as well.  They are proud to offer their programs at low or no cost to those who can benefit from the music therapy. 

In addition to their in studio adult daytime and youth after-school programs, they go to several local schools to offer music therapy.  They also offer summer social skills camps for kids ages 5 to 15. 

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Melodic Connections has a variety of ways you can help them further their mission. 

  • One way to help is hands on with the music and musicians.  They need regular volunteers to assist with their classes.  Every class is led by a board certified music therapist and you will receive instruction in how to best help the students.
  • They also need help spreading the word about the organization and helping them grow.  They need assistance with social media, their website, as well as other marketing and public relations tasks. 
  • They could also use event planning assistance for their concerts and fundraisers. 
  • They can also use monetary donations to help them continue to offer low and no cost music therapy to students in the Greater Cincinnati area.  You can find a PayPay donate button on their website or contact Betsey directly.  

You can learn more about Melodic Connections on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter

Related Posts:
Ear Candy Charity and Making Music Matters

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Adopt A Book

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Books have always been an important part of my life.  I always had at least one shelf full of books in my room and my kids are the same, but not all kids have easy access to books.  Several years ago, I read a story about a teacher who asked her students to bring a book in to class.  Several students brought in a phone book because that was the only book they had in the house.  Today’s organization is working to get books into the hands of more children. 

 Adopt A Book

Adopt a Book is an organization based in Loveland, Ohio with a mission to provide new and gently used books to under privileged kids.  It was founded in November 2011 after eight year old twins Hannah and Alex.  They learned of schools in the inner city of Cincinnati losing the funding necessary to provide new books to their students and were shocked.  The twins are avid readers and could not imagine life without a book and asked their parents if they could start a “business” that helped provide books for kids to keep.  Their parents agreed and setup a 501c3 organization.  So far they have collected and donated over 7,000 books to organizations that work directly with foster and adoptive children, homeless children, and families involved in at-risk programs. 

How can you help?

The biggest need the organization has is books for preschool to elementary school children.  They will take donations of new or gently used books.    

You can connect with the organization via e-mail at or on Facebook.  You can also learn more in this newspaper article on the Adopt a Book organization.

Related Post: Read Indeed

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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Graham’s Foundation

According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely in the United States.  About 50,000 babies are micro-preemies or babies born at less than 29 weeks’ gestation and weighing less than three pounds.  Today’s organization provides support for the parents of micro-preemie babies.

Graham’s Foundation was founded in 2009 by Jennifer and Nick Hall in memory of their son, Graham.  Jennifer and Nick understand firsthand the joys and heartaches of having micro-preemies.  On Thanksgiving Day in 2006, their son Graham and daughter Reece were born at 25 weeks gestation.  Graham was with them for just 45 days while Reece spent four long months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before coming home.  Their experiences in the NICU and beyond that inspired them to begin helping others going through similar experiences.

The organization’s mission is to offer both practical and emotional support to parents of micro-preemie babies.  The support offered takes the form of free care packages to parents during their infant’s stay in the NICU as well as a website and Facebook page where parents can share stories and find support.  In addition, the organization provides care packages for parents who have lost a micro-preemie and they are in the process of developing a care package for moms and dads who are making the exciting and scary transition from the NICU to home with their baby.

Graham’s Foundation is based in Perrysburg, Ohio, but they serve parents all across the United States.  They have even sent care packages internationally as well.  Since their founding in 2009, they have sent almost 1300 care packages to 428 NICUs.

There are ways you can help!  The organization keeps an updated list of opportunities on the “Support Our Mission” page of their website.  Some ways you can help are:

  • Donate your Pampers Gifts To Grow Points to Graham’s Foundation
  • Donate products such as hand sanitizer, blankets, preemie hats, snacks, single use cameras and more for the care packages.
  • Become a NICU ambassador to help connect Graham’s Foundation with a NICU in your area.  You can learn more about the ambassador program here.
  • Make a monetary donation through the Graham’s Foundation website.

Graham’s Foundation is not just about providing support, it is also about awareness of micro-preemies.  They provided me with some facts to share with you about premature babies.

  • Globally, preterm birth accounts for over 9.5% of all births, which means that more than 13 million babies are born too early each year.
  • A micro-preemie is technically defined as any baby born at a birth weight of 1 ¾ pounds or less and before 26 weeks gestation, but this definition has been expanded to include babies weighing less than 3 pounds and delivered at less than 29 weeks gestation.
  • Every day a micro-preemie baby spends inside the womb increases her chances of survival, and every week that goes by pushes the survival percentage even higher.  Survival statistics for micro-preemies can range from 2% to over 80%, depending on gestational age at birth.
  • In the 1970s, fewer than 25% of micro-preemies survived; in the present, almost 90% are able to go home.
  • Very few micro-preemies born at 22 weeks survive, with research reporting rates of between 2% and 15%.  At 23 weeks gestation, reported survival rates fall between 15% and 40%, and at 25 weeks gestation, those rates rise to 55-70%. Survival rates for babies born at 26 to 28 weeks gestation fall between 75% and 85%.
  • Some of the medical intervention used in NICUs to stabilize and sustain micro-preemies includes isolettes, biliblankets, blood pressure and cardiac monitors, endotracheal tubes, IVs, nasal CPAPs and gastric tubes, oxyhoods and oxygen saturation monitors, respiratory monitors, ventilators, synthetic surfactant, temperature probes, and ultrasounds.
  • The majority of micro-preemies will contract at least one infection during their initial hospitalization, with the smallest infants having the highest infection and mortality rates.
  • Many micro-preemies are discharged from the hospital still needing medical monitoring equipment and breathing assistance.
  • Common difficulties that micro-preemies face include breathing problems due to immature lungs, digestive problems, cerebral hemorrhaging, chronic infections, severe anemia, physical handicaps, developmental and neurological delays, underdeveloped feeding reflexes, visual and auditory impairments, and long-term health issues.

You can learn more about Graham’s Foundation on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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