Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cincinnati's Neighborhood Summit: What a Great Tradition

I'm blogging from the Neighborhood Summit.

What a great tradition this has become since we started it seven years ago: hundreds of residents, community leaders, advocates and public officials convening to discuss ways we can all work together to improve our many great communities.

This has to be one of the best events of its kind in the country.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Heart-Warming Story

I recently had this forwarded to me . . . .


In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out atregister 4. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was very beautiful.

She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love. Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the timeclock to find out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA. He walked out only to see her start walking up the road.

Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work. She simply said it wasn't possible. He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn't afford a baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter.

Reluctantly, she accepted his offer for a date for the following Saturday. That Saturday night he arrived at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, "Well, let's take the kids with us." She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed.

Finally, Brenda brought him inside to meet her children. She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a wheelchair. He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome. Kurtis asked Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't come withus?" Brenda was amazed.

Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities - just like her first husband and fatherof her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary, he had a different mindset.

That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the movies. When her son needed anything, Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheel-chair, took him and brought him back. The 2 kids loved Kurtis.

At the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with. A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children. Since then they have added two more kids.

So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl?
Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona, where he is quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the Super Bowl."

(I didn't want to ruin the story up front--but in addition to warming the heart, this gives one more reason for Bengals fans to root against the Steelers next Sunday!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Save $$$ on Prescriptions: Get Your County Rx Card

Last week, I announced that a key part of our economic recovery strategy was to help families who are being squeezed by this challenging economy. When you cut through all the policy and politics, middle class, working families are the ultimate engine of getting our economy going again. If families are secure in their home, making ends meet, confident and stable financially, and spending as they once did, our economy will ultimately recover.

Along those lines, I announced that we at the County can and would help our families in a number of ways.

One clear way is that, at no cost to the County, we have the ability to help our residents reduce the cost of prescription drugs. So today, we are introducing our Hamilton County Drug Discount Card, which will save residents an average of 20% or more on prescription drugs for which they are not insured. For some, this will mean hundreds of dollars in savings over the course of a year.

Much more information is available at the website

You can pick up your card at any local library, YMCA and a number of other locations. And they are accepted at most pharmacies.

Big picture, if residents are so squeezed that they can hardly afford bare essentials like medicine and energy, they will spend on little else--and our economy will suffer. If we lower the costs of those bare essentials, as we are doing today, we are putting prescious dollars back in their pockets, and ultimately into the economy.

Channel 9, Channel 12 and Channel 5 all provided good coverage of our announcement.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Calling All Citizens: Update

Last week, I put out a call to citizens who want to help the County conduct its work.

And what a response we got. Dozens of you sent in applications to take part on one of our many boards and commissions. Others expressed an interest--and if you forgot to do the application, please do so by going here.

This amount of interest will really help us fill the current vacancies in the short run, but also populate these commissions and boards over the long haul. Good government requires active participation by engaged citizens, and this process will really help us get there.

Now that we have the applications, we will begin to review them all to make decisions on these committees by the end of the month. More to come.

Call To Service: Mentor a Child

Today, we proclaimed January mentoring month in Hamilton County--the timing of which was perfect following our new President's inspiring call for citizen service yesterday.

While there are many ways to give back, one of the most effective ways to make a difference is to be a mentor. Bottom line: a mentor's devotion and commitment for one hour a week will forever change a child's life, as well as the mentor's. And the statistics support the difference it makes--in so many categories, whether it is showing up to school, advancing to the next grade, graduating from high school, applying to college, those children with an adult mentor fare better.

Right now, there are many young people in our schools who have signed up to request a mentor, and badly want one. But they sit on a long waiting list because there are not enough adults.

If you're interested in learning more, go to one of the many organizations that pair mentors with our young people: the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and others.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Remembering Those Who Fought for Freedom

The brief but wonderful poem Frederick Douglass, by Robert Hayden concludes that Douglass' great life and struggle will be remembered not by statues, wreathes, or even poems. Instead, it will be remembered "with the lives grown out of his life, the lives fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing"--freedom.

While we celebrate the historic achievement of this week, it is an especially fitting time to remember and honor the struggles and sacrifices of the many great heroes like Frederick Douglass. From their lives and efforts, the possibility for this historic moment grew.
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