My first year of managing interns for Over-the-Rhine Community Housing was a whirlwind experience. I was a recent graduate myself and keenly aware of what our interns should be capable of technology-wise. My expectations were surpassed by many of our interns that summer, especially University of Cincinnati Electronic Media student Jarrod Welling-Cann.
In addition to being a talented film maker, Jarrod demonstrated a growing passion for the resident-centered, community building work that OTRCH engaged in. Many in Cincinnati know of Over-the-Rhine Community Housing as a leader in providing safe, quality affordable housing because the 93 buildings we manage in Over-the-Rhine are the evidence. Less well known is the perseverance it takes to build and sustain the affordable housing, the commitment and passion of staff, and the programs and services OTRCH provides that truly make the organization "more than a roof."
After Jarrod's summer internship wrapped up, he remained a dedicated volunteer to OTRCH and the people of Over-the-Rhine, volunteering at our Children's Creative Corner and lending his film talents to the organization by filming this documentary and other short films. It was such an awesome and encouraging experience for me as Jarrod's former supervisor to see him stay involved after the internship, and it was an honor to be included in this documentary. I am interviewed at about 1 minute 30 seconds in and later in the video around 6 minutes.
Surrounded by support from my colleagues!
On Thursday June 13th I had the pleasure of attending the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati's annual gathering and awards luncheon.
I was looking forward to the luncheon because it's an opportunity to be in the same room with so many hardworking men and women who dedicate their time and energy to community development. Within moments of walking in the door, I was greeted by friend Samantha Brockfield, who had volunteered to greet and sign in guests. Samantha is my closest friend in community development - when I met her for the first time, I jotted down "this women will change my life" on the back of her business card, and those words rang true. I then spotted Patrick Whalen, a fellow Planner who was one of the first interns I ever supervised at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing. Being greeted by Samantha and running into Patrick set a great tone for the luncheon, but nothing could have prepared me for the moment when I sat down at a table and opened the event program - there inside was a photo of me (taken in action, while working with a volunteer group) and the words "Most Outstanding CDC Staffer"!
To my surprise, months beforehand my inspiring and supportive colleagues at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing had nominated me for the recognition. This is the biggest honor I have ever received, and it means the world to me. Prior to working at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, 'community' was more of a concept to me, and 'community development' a branch of Planning that I had spent more time reading about than participating in. But from the first few days with Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, I was fully immersed in the neighborhood and community, and taken under the wing of my bosses Mary and Andy.
Just a few days after starting at OTRCH the organization held a groundbreaking for the Jimmy Heath House, the first housing development based on the Housing First model in the city. The groundbreaking was a gathering of hundreds of supporters and friends of the organization to celebrate the uphill journey to open the doors of the Jimmy Heath House. A few days later, my boss Mary B. Rivers was honored at the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition's annual dinner, where she received the buddy gray Lifetime Achievement award for her decades of service to affordable housing and social justice. Being present at the dinner and hearing my boss' reflection had a life changing impact on me. With these two events as my introduction to OTRCH, I think it was only natural that I was inspired to dive in and contribute everything I had to my roles and responsibilities. As I transition out of my role at OTRCH to seek a more direct way to use my Urban Planning degree, this "Most Outstanding CDC Staffer" recognition will forever be an inspiration to continue giving my best!
Young professional Urban Planner, drawing inspiration from all people, places and experiences I encounter!