It has been an exciting 2018 so far for Sweet Cheeks. We are so happy to introduce you to our new Program Manager, Jean! She will be taking over getting our diapers out the door, communicating and coordinating with our partner agencies, and scheduling our volunteers. Jean brings us a wealth of experience with project, personnel, and financial management. She was most recently at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore building relationships within the community. Read on to learn a little more about Jean!
Name: Jean Hodge
Day Job: Sweet Cheeks
Sweet Cheeks title: Program Manager
Why are you excited to be a part of the Sweet Cheeks Team? Sweet Cheeks is the perfect place for me to help alleviate the pain of childhood poverty in our city! The need is great and there is much to be done, but I believe that the focused approach of Sweet Cheeks is impactful and provides some relief for families living in poverty. I am excited to help Sweet Cheeks grow and to serve more people in our community.
Tell us about your kid(s): My two boys keep me busy and teach me something new every day! Cooper is a college sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, where he competes on the swim team, studies psychology and philosophy and works at an iconic used bookstore. Henry is a middle school student who is the most passionate sports enthusiast! He plays basketball and baseball and he is your go-to guy for any sports news or stats you may need. He dreams to become a bracketologist to combine his love of sports and math.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Italy. Food, wine, culture, scenery.
What are you reading right now?The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney.
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? To read! So many books on my list!
If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate? Peace on Earth
Today’s sponsor spotlight comes from a health care system that takes a multi-faceted approach to helping improve the lives of low-income families in our region. Paramount Advantage, an affiliate of ProMedica, has created a suite of services designed to help families in need. “We believe our responsibility to our community reaches beyond what you might expect from a health care system,” Paramount says, “We invest in the health of the entire region, working with dedicated community partners to influence policy and to provide preventive medicine, health education, healthy food assistance, and financial assistance to those who need it most.”
In addition to providing a care plan of healthcare services that complements programs like WIC and Medicaid that families might already be utilizing, Paramount has taken a special focus on making sure the tiniest members of our community are as healthy as possible. “The most important gift you can give your baby is early and regular pregnancy care,” Paramount said. By creating a pregnancy care reward program to encourage pregnant moms to schedule and attend their prenatal and postpartum doctor’s appointments, they have set up an incredibly important first step to ensuring babies are born healthy. Many families don’t have access to a reliable personal vehicle, and another Paramount program makes sure that families can get to their appointments on time by providing transportation to medical visits.
As parents know, the stress of taking care of a tiny human being doesn’t end after a safe delivery and healthy newborn arrives. Paramount promotes Text4Baby, a free mobile health service for pregnant women and new moms. Paramount explains that “text messages include helpful information on how to have a healthier pregnancy, nutrition, immunizations, and sleep safety.” We are so honored to have an organization that cares so much about healthy families partnering with us to help end diaper need in our community. Thank you for your support!
It’s hard to know where to begin when trying to explain the impact the folks at Q102 have had on Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank. We were less than 6 months old when we first met with Mollie Watson and then the rest of the Q team and told them about this crazy thing we started. Their response was one of the most impactful votes of support we’ve received. They said they wanted to help us grow and succeed and get to an incredible place in the future. We thought about what Sweet Cheeks might look like if we were all sitting around that conference table 30 years from now, and let me tell you, that dreaming was something the most ambitious strategic plans are made of. “Our partnership with Sweet Cheeks has been especially rewarding as we have been a supporter from the beginnings of the organization,” Patti Marshall, Q102 Program Director, said. “We are honored to to be a small part of the growth and continued success.”
Q102 and their audience are generous supporters of organizations in the Tri-State area. “Q102’s audience has such a large percentage of moms,” Marshall explained. “We are a reflection of our audience and what they care about.” And lucky for Sweet Cheeks, that audience is passionate about keeping babies happy, healthy, and clean. Q102 considers it to be “an honor and an obligation to support the community we all live in”, and they have walked the walk so well that they are nationally recognized by the National Association of Broadcasters for their community service.
Being included with the family-owned Hubbard Interactive community, and specifically Q102, has given us opportunities and connections beyond our wildest dreams. People (including our board chair!), diaper drives, donations, events, publicity, promotions, sponsors and more have come our way because Q102 took a chance on a young organization and believed in our ability to help change the lives of hundreds (some day thousands!) of kids in the community.
We will forever be grateful that Mollie decided to meet with us, agreed to be part of our first Board of Directors, and has spent countless hours wrapping diapers, hosting events for us, promoting us on the air and being one of our most enthusiastic and positive supporters. We are humbled and honored to have you and the Q102 family as part of our Sweet Cheeks family.
We are grateful to have a grant-writing dream team at Sweet Cheeks. Ann joined Claire on the grant team late last year and has been helping keep us organized and on track and within character count limits ever since. She brings lots of experience with writing multi-million dollar RFPs in the corporate world and we’re happy to have her expertise bringing in more money for clean diapers.
Name: Ann Loch
Day Job: Full-time mommy, part-time front desk associate, part-time freelance project manager
Sweet Cheeks title: Grant Writer
Why are you excited to be a part of the Sweet Cheeks Team? Making a difference to the lives of Cincinnati’s smallest residents is not only exciting, but needed. So often our efforts to help others is haphazard, but with Sweet Cheeks, I know that the efforts of many talented people are coming together to make a true difference. While our daily activities may seem segregated and small, together, we are truly changing lives – and that is very exciting!
Tell us about your kid(s): I have two little monsters who keep my life interesting and give me the best reason to wake up each day. Dominic (2.5 years old) is inquisitive, sweet, and gentle, and Allison (18 months old) is the opposite – a crazy girl at heart, she’s the wild one that keeps us all on our toes!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Anywhere with a beach! Preferably in one of those huts over the clear blue water that serves ice cold beer.
What are you reading right now? I am perpetually re-reading the Harry Potter series when I don’t have time to get into a new novel.
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? Reading! I never have enough time to read as much as I’d like.
If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate? Manatees, pancakes, and an empathetic ear.
We’re thrilled to be able to introduce you to our partnership with Kroger, which has been in place since before our first Diaper Dash. As a company that has been named the Most Generous Company in the United States by Forbes Magazine, they recognize the importance of helping the communities where they live, work, and play. Do you remember the giant tower of diapers on the stage at last year’s Dash? Kroger donated over 17,000 of their Comforts for Baby brand diapers in our most-needed sizes and made a huge impact on our young organization.
Patty Leesemann, External Communications Leader for The Kroger Co., explains why SCDB is such a good fit for Kroger’s corporate giving initiatives. “Being a grocery store, it makes sense for us to feed people so our core area of giving is hunger relief,” Leesemann said. “It’s a tough choice for families to choose between putting food on the table or having clean, fresh diapers for little ones. We can lend some support and take that burden from families on making the choice between putting their child in a clean diaper or putting food in their mouth by supporting Sweet Cheeks.” We’re grateful that because of Kroger’s support, more babies in the Greater Cincinnati Area have clean diapers AND full bellies.
Kroger gives more than $5 million in product and funds to the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Dayton communities through their foundation, community giving, Community Rewards and other initiatives. “Kroger has always been a big supporter of the communities we serve and knows that giving back is the right thing to do,” Leesemann said. You can easily link your Kroger Plus Card to benefit Sweet Cheeks by signing in HERE.
We are so proud to partner with CityLink Center to provide their clients with diapers. CityLink operates with a model where individuals go to one place, get surrounded by one team, and find an integrated, holistic path to break free from poverty and get to a place of self-sustainability and hope. We’re thrilled to be a small part of that model by providing free diapers to their clients who are receiving services like job training, childcare, legal assistance, health and wellness education, financial planning, housing referral and employment assistance all in one place. They recently featured US on their blog and we wanted to share that story here as well:
“For young families juggling priorities with limited budgets, diapers, while necessary, can be a cumbersome expense. The average family in the U.S. spends upward of $700 per child annually on diapers. CityLink partners with various organizations to provide holistic care and access to services that will support clients reaching their goals and eliminate barriers blocking the path to self-sufficiency. And yes… for CityLink families with small children, this includes DIAPERS!
Thanks to our partnership with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, the only diaper bank serving the Greater Cincinnati area, clients are provided with size-appropriate diapers in bundles at no cost to them.
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank partners with social service agencies across the Tri-state to support low-income individuals with diaper needs while raising awareness of the basic health need for diapers. By assisting families during what can be one of the most challenging times in a parent’s life, Sweet Cheeks is working to build a strong community for the future. Over 150,000 diapers were donated to Sweet Cheeks in the past year and these diaper donations are what keeps them going (learn more about donating new diapers to Sweet Cheeks here).
Our clients often express gratitude for Sweet Cheeks Diapers, commenting on the bills they have been able to pay, food and non-food items they have been able to purchase, and money they save because of the diaper resources. Allocating diapers via Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank fills a tremendous gap in means for our clients and their little ones.
In 2016, CityLink distributed 7,360 diapers serving over 80 individuals. Now that’s a “bottom line” to be proud of!”
If you’ve been to one of our events you’ve probably met Jamie and instantly recognized her enthusiasm for Sweet Cheeks and people in general. She always has a smile and kind word which makes her the perfect person to help coordinate our volunteers. We need over 200 man hours each month to get our diapers out the door and Jamie makes sure we’ve got everything covered and that people are excited to come wrap diapers. We’re lucky to have her on the team!
Name: Jamie Bryson (Mack)
Day Job: Cengage – Content Developer
Sweet Cheeks Role: Volunteer Coordinator
Why are you excited to be a part of the Sweet Cheeks Team? I had been looking for a way to give back to the Cincinnati community since moving here a few years ago. The mission of Sweet Cheeks is one that I love to share with others because it helps individuals and ties them into such important services through other agencies as well. The individuals I work with in this venture are such incredible givers, it is so exciting to be a small part and link arm and arm with them in pursuit of making a difference!
Tell us about your kid(s)/kids you love: I don’t have any children of my own yet, but my favorite thing that I love about kids, especially my niece and nephew, is their incredible energy and unrelenting happiness that they share with others! They are not weighed down by any issues that adults so often get upset over, and their smiles are contagious! I love seeing the world through their eyes!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Madagascar, because the natural beauty and encountering unique species would be quite the adventure!
What are you reading right now? You Are a Bad Ass at Making Money- Jen Sincero
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? I would spend it reading a good book and drinking a delicious glass of wine (or coffee if the time was in the morning!)
If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate? March 20th—My Birthday is the holiday that exists in my honor and celebrates ME! Birthdays are the BEST DAYS and should be celebrated longer than one day with all of your most favorite things, doing exactly what YOU want to do– no questions asked!
We are thrilled to introduce our new intern: Megan Kolida. She is coming on to help us at a critical time in our growth, and we are so happy to have her on board. Here’s a little more about Megan:
Name: Megan Kolida Day Job: Community Relations Coordinator at Performance Honda Sweet Cheeks Title: Intern
Tell us a little more about your background and where you want to go with your degree: I grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from Oak Hills High School in 2005. I decided not to attend college right out of high school and took a *brief* 7-year hiatus from learning. I started at Cincinnati State in 2011, then transferred to the University of Cincinnati in 2013. My time at UC was short-lived, and I eventually transferred back to Cincinnati State and completed my Associate’s Degree. I will be starting my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies in August. I hope to be prepared to work at a non-profit organization upon completing my degree.
Why did you want to work with SCDB? When I was reviewing a list of non-profit organizations that were looking for interns provided by my Intern Advisor, they all seemed too big for the kind of learning experience I was looking for. After reading more about Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank and learning more about the assistance they provide to families in the community, I knew it was the kind of organization that I would like to learn from.
What do you hope to do in the future? In the future, I would really like to work for a non-profit organization with a focus on something I am very passionate about, which is education.
What are you most looking forward to learning and doing at SCDB? EVERYTHING! ☺️ I am really excited about learning how Sweet Cheeks, or any non-profit for that matter, runs on the support of the community. I would like to see how that support comes to life from informing the community about the cause to gaining contributions, then maintaining that relationship.
What are you reading right now? The Handmaid’s Tale
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? Laying on a blanket at Ault Park.
If there were a holiday in your honor, what would it celebrate? Get In Your Car & Drive With Your Music Up Loud Day
It’s no secret that Sweet Cheeks wouldn’t exist without the support of our incredible Greater Cincinnati community. Today we’d like to tell you a little more about our annual sponsor Performance Lexus. From our very first meeting it has been clear that the folks at Lexus care as much about keeping the babies in our community healthy, happy and safe just as much as we do. Dan Kommeth, General Manager of the Kings Auto Mall location, said “Performance Lexus exists not only to sell and service automobiles, but to also be part of the community at large. We are successful because our employees and our organization give back to those that need our help in the Cincinnati area.”
And it’s not only local dealers who are getting into the giving spirit. Once local dealers decide which children’s charities to donate to, Lexus matches the donation through their Pursuit of Potential program (which has donated over 2.5 million so far!). “When the ‘diaper gap’ was brought to our attention, it seemed like the perfect fit for some of our charitable efforts,” Kommeth said. “Lexus is passionate about children’s charities. They want the local dealers to find the most impactful ways we can help the next generation in our communities. Sweet Cheeks is instrumental in making sure children get off to the healthiest start possible and we know our contributions are having a huge positive effect on these children’s lives.” Lexus’ support is ensuring that we can get an entire month’s worth of diapers out the door, as well as put on our 2nd Annual Diaper Dash at the end of the summer.
Here at Sweet Cheeks we are grateful for the opportunity to serve others in our community, and it’s very special when we find another company that preaches gratitude. “One continual theme in our internal meetings is gratitude,” Kommeth said. “When we approach each day with the feeling of ‘I get to (insert task or job)’ instead of ‘I have to,’ we feel we are better prepared to serve our guests’ needs. That translates into a better guest experience and makes our business more successful. When we are more financially blessed, we are able to contribute more back to the community and the whole cycle begins over again.”
Lexus, we are so happy we GET TO partner with you to end diaper need in our community!
One of the biggest signs of our crazy growth over the past year is the addition of a part-time grant writer to our staff. Claire and I have been friends for somewhere around 18 years, were roommates through all of college (and made it through with our friendship intact!) and have been able to share of love of reading, writing and our English majors from Miami University. She will be coordinating both the strategy and writing pieces of our grant-writing efforts to help bring some much-needed capital to our diaper distribution program.
Name: Claire Ballinger
Day Job: Academic librarian/ mom
Sweet Cheeks title: Grant Writer
Why are you excited to be a part of the Sweet Cheeks Team? I believe we are put on Earth to love one another, and especially to love the most vulnerable among us. Sweet Cheeks is helping mothers, fathers, and their children flourish, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Tell us about your kid(s): Libby is the coolest! She is 21 months old this week. She picks and eats mint leaves out of our garden, loves reading, and practically survives off of cheese. She has serious dance moves and is the only person on the planet who likes it when I sing. She’s my girl.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Iceland. The sheer, unadulterated beauty of the land there is enchanting. And I would love to see the Northern Lights with my own eyes.
What are you reading right now? Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files.
If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? I’d go for a walk outside.
If there were a holiday in your honor what would it celebrate? Simple pleasures.