2015 Spotlight Award Recipients
Chuck Frobose, Key Realty
Chuck is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Columbus Downtown Branch, which will be celebrating 100 years of service in 2016.
And, service is at the heart of every Kiwanis International club, no matter where it’s located in the world. Kiwanis members stage nearly 150,000 service projects, devote more than 6 million hours of service and raise nearly $100 million every year for communities, families and projects.
Each week, Kiwanis Club of Columbus hosts a speaker for a brief TED-style talk on a subject of interest in central Ohio, or more broadly on the topics of culture, transportation, youth, philanthropy, government or health.
This club also provides scholarships, participates in the Boys & Girls Club — Columbus Reading Buddies program, is a co-sponsor of the award winning, nationally recognized summer reading program of the Columbus Metropolitan Library; and host an annual Kiwanis College Fair, where this year more than 3,500 high school students from Columbus City Schools and surrounding areas met with 175 college and university campus representatives.
Chuck has been a history teacher and administrator in the Columbus Public School System and has worked with disabled youth and enjoys being a part of an organization that is so focused on the betterment, growth and future of our young people and of the central Ohio community.
Donald Payne, Jr., Vision Realty
For nearly one year, Donald Payne, Jr., has been a volunteer with The Royal Oak Initiative, which is a program that provides a creative way to teach analytical thinking through the game of chess to Columbus City Schools middle and high school students.
The Initiative’s mission is to use the game of chess to economically and professionally empower underrepresented youth in order to build character, financial literacy and leadership skills. To date, 16 students have participated in the program.
Chess has been around for 1500 years. It’s a game that is affordable, improves academic performance, easy to learn and challenging to master. It also provides a fun mental workout. Chess can also be used to deal with real-life situations to achieve better outcomes. As a chess player, you learn to analyze situations, evaluate options, plan strategically and solve problems. Attributes that will help students be more successful in their ever day lives.
Donald says, “I became involved with this program at the request of the Initiative’s founder and my friend Ernest Levert. I enjoy playing chess and like mentoring students. I also find it quite rewarding to see students begin to think about how to attend an affordable college.”
Charmella Y. Smith, NTH Degree Realty
Charmella is the founder of Women of Sovereignty — an organization that teaches financial literacy, self-sufficient and safety skills to young adult females aging out of the foster care system.
Over the past decade, more than 200,000 teenagers have aged out of foster care at 18 — often without achieving permanent family connections or those critical building blocks of support. And, without the life skills and a support system to help them succeed on their own, these young adults face a real risk of homelessness, incarceration and hopelessness. Some even fall victim to human trafficking.
Charmella says, “This is a calling for me. It’s also both personal and something I’m very passionate about having myself been emancipated from Franklin County Foster Care at age 17, a teenage mother and a survivor of sexual abuse. I understand their struggle and want to be a blessing — to teach, encourage, and equip them with skills and the self-confidence to become productive members of society.
Charmella is also a foster parent for 8 years with the National Youth Advocacy Program and has expanded the reach of Women of Sovereignty to include bringing more awareness to domestic violence, hosting its second annual community walk this past October for National Domestic Violence Month.
Marvic Titus, Exit Realty
Is the founder of an organization committed to educating the Hispanic community on breaking down cultural and language barriers that affect their daily lives and prevent many from seeking better jobs, becoming citizens or even purchasing a home. Her organization presents workshops on financial literacy and the life skills needed to purchase and maintain a home.
Hispanics is defined by the Census Bureau as those who identify as being Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban or are from other Hispanic, Latino or Spanish backgrounds. Hispanic origin is considered an ethnicity, not a race, and Hispanics can be of any race.
Delaware and Franklin counties are first and second in the state for the fastest rates of Hispanic growth. Between 2010 and 2014, there was an estimated 32,263 Hispanic residing in 67 of Ohio counties.
Marvic says, “Education is power and it’s important for me to share my knowledge and expertise with a community of people unaware of the opportunities available to them, particularly in housing.”
Marylee Bendig, Supreme Realty
Marylee has been a community advocate and volunteer for many years. One of her projects this year was to help prepare a community garden located near Hazel’s House of Hope off of Parsons Avenue.
Marylee is one of the founders of Hazel’s House of Hope, which received a $2,000 grant this year after fellow volunteer, Theresa Martin, applied for and was awarded the donation for non-profit endeavors through the Columbus Foundation. The donation included topsoil from Scotts Miracle-Gro and lumber from Home Depot to build the raised beds for the project.
Last year, Marylee worked on six beds in this area and on April 22, 2015, Earth Day, seven more beds were constructed on three vacant lots in the area with the help of numerous volunteers. These lots are owned by the City of Columbus and rented to Hazel’s House through its Neighborhoods Rebuilding Together program in the hope that families in the neighborhood will become more involved in their community and in helping to grow the garden.
Marylee says, “I see the need in the community because this is where I was born and raised, and our community garden is located on the lots where three duplexes once stood. The continual decline in the neighborhoods due to absentee landlords, drug trafficking and crime is beginning to show improvement through these volunteer endeavors.
Hazel’s House of Hope, co-founded with Cindi Gremling in 2009, started as a crisis center in the Vassor Village area, and has now expanded to five houses in total. The most recent house, Sunbury House, will house expectant mothers.
Marylee also volunteers with her church for many community outreach projects.
Larry Coolidge, Larry Coolidge Real Estate
Larry was one of 20 finalists for the Central Ohio 2015 Jefferson Awards, a program designed to recognize the community’s unsung heroes -- individuals who do extraordinary things without expecting a reward or acknowledgement.
For the past 10 years, Larry has been organizing the Holiday Dinners Project to provide families in need in the Powell/Delaware County area with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Since its inception, more than $40,000 has been raised to feed more than 6,000 people, and to help other local groups.
The National Jefferson Awards are the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to identifying and celebrating public service of individuals who have taken the initiative to serve through volunteering -- choosing to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact throughout the community and influences on other volunteers.
Larry exemplifies dedication to public service. He had been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for 15 years, the Delaware D.A.R.R. Program for seven years, and as a fundraiser for several other service groups, including the Powell Sertoma Club, where he has helped the Club raise more than $300,000 for various projects since its inception in 1997. He’s a member of the Powell Historical Society Historic Review Board, The Powell Liberty Historical Society and has helped Delaware Speech and Hearing, the Justice League of Ohio, and various other community organizations.
On being selected a Jefferson Award finalists, Larry says, “I was both shocked and humbled that Bob Miller and Jim Thompson had nominated me.”
From the 20 finalists, five top winners are selected to represent central Ohio at the national Jefferson Awards celebration, where the most outstanding achievements in public service are honored at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies.
Ann Goetz-Sullivan, Keller Williams Greater Columbus
Ann is one of the founders of the Nate Katz Memorial Scholarship, which awards $1500 scholarships to students who are pursuing a degree, or certificate in real estate or in a related field at a college, or university in the central Ohio area with demonstrated financial need.
Columbus REALTORS® Foundation began administering this memorial scholarship eight years ago in honor of Nate Katz, who was a partner and broker with Keller Williams Greater Columbus. Since its inception, about $12,000 in scholarships has been awarded in his name.
To help fund the scholarship, Ann spearheads an annual Nate Katz Memorial Golf Outing at Jefferson Golf and Country Club, where more than 100 golfers have come out each year to support this event. This function is a citywide Keller Williams event where the supporters/agents/staff are from all of the Keller Williams offices in Columbus. As a citywide effort, they welcome all real estate service providers and agents from other brokerages to join this event each year. Proceeds from the golf outing supports the scholarship fund as well as help provide funding to give Thanksgiving dinners to families in need in Columbus.
Ann says, “Establishing the Natz Katz Memorial Scholarship is a wonderful way to remember and honor our friend and partner, as well as provide help to individuals and families in need in the central Ohio area.”
Ann is also a 2014 past president of the New Albany Realty Association.
Rick Lemmons, Coldwell Banker King Thompson
Rick has been an Honor Flight Columbus (HFC) volunteer for the past three years, helping to raise funds to take our veterans on trips to see their war memorials in Washington D.C. He has served as a guardian on one of the Honor Flights and participates in the welcome home celebrations with family and friends of veterans returning home from these trips.
The mission of HFC is to honor our senior veterans with a trip to Washington DC to visit their war memorials at no cost to the veteran. Top priority for the trip is given to the senior veterans – World War II and Korean and veterans who may be terminally ill.
HFC has provided more than 3,500 veterans with a no-cost day of celebration to Washington D.C. Funding for these trips (about $50,000 per flight) are made possible through individual and corporate donations as well as fund raising activities throughout the year.
Once in DC, the veterans are given the opportunity to see the WWII, Korean and Viet Nam memorials. They will also visit the Marine Corp /Iwo Jima memorial, the Air Force memorial and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Rick says, “I became involved with this organization after talking with a client about it. It’s a wonderful way to honor our veterans for all that they have sacrificed for all of us and our country. Sharing this moment with them is quite moving, particularly when watching the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”
This year Bob Evans (4/28), City Barbeque (5/11), and Culver’s Restaurants (5/19) will donate a portion of their daily sales to Honor Flight. Mark your calendar for June 20 as the Westerville VFW will have a pancake sale. For more information about these fundraisers or to make a contribution or even volunteer, visit honorflightcolumbus.org.
Katie Davis, Berkshire Hathaway Home-Services Calhoon Company
Katie served as the 2014-2015 Vice President for Pleasure Guild (PG) of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and has been involved with the Guild since 2013.
In addition to fulfilling the basic membership requirements, in her capacity as vice president, she was responsible for assisting the President with her responsibilities, as well as being in charge of membership -- recruiting dedicated individuals and keeping membership up to date and on track with the fundraising and volunteering goals and requirements. Her role helped to ensure that PG continued to meet and exceed their goals to continue to support Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Hospice and Palliative Care Units. Since its existence, the Guild has raised more than $4 million dollars.
Katie says, “I knew I wanted to become a part of Pleasure Guild (PG) when I heard that the organization is one of the very few organizations that has the opportunity to have direct contact and interaction with the patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. There are so many fabulous organizations that raise a lot of money, which is one of PG’s objectives too, but when I heard firsthand about Pleasure Guild from a friend, I knew I wanted to join. Hearing the stories directly from the patients’ hospice nurses, seeing patients at the hospital, helping organize drives and fundraisers for the exact needs of the sick and dying children all truly put into perspective why I volunteer. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have served as Vice President and I am excited to continue my final year as an active member of PG and I look forward to being a sustainer member/volunteer for years to come.”
Katie also volunteers for Decorator’s Show House benefitting the Columbus Museum of Art, where she volunteers her time to cover many shifts at the selected show house every other year when the fundraiser takes place. Katie has also been instrumental in helping recruit others to help cover shifts to make the show house a fun and beneficial fundraiser for the museum.
Koretta Tennant, Keller Williams Capital Partners
Koretta has been a volunteer with myTEAM TRIUMPH (mTT)—an athletic ride-along program created for children, teens, adults and veterans with disabilities who would normally not be able to experience endurance events such as triathlons or road races—where for two years she served as a coordinator of the Angels involved in this program.
Participants with disabilities in this program are known as “Captains,” and the athletes who have the honor of pushing and pulling the Captains on the course are called their “Angels.
In this capacity, Koretta was responsible for recruiting, and coordinating the Angels before each race and be certain they had enough Angels to support the Captains. This included getting the Angels acclimated to the way they did things and have them attend a practice run to learn the equipment. On race day, she checked in all the Angels to make sure they were “race ready” for their captains.
Koretta says, “This was an amazing organization to be a part of. What we were able accomplish as a true team was a thrill like no other. When you see the Captain receive cheers from the crowd, cross the finish line or receive a finisher’s medal… the smile they have and what you get to be a part of is beyond anything I can put into words. It is truly good for your soul. These individuals have such heart and they push every day to accomplish things we take for granted. They teach us so much and we smile and laugh. It helps you to keep life simple and enjoy “the moment”. I feel blessed to have been a part of the organization. Although mTT is no longer in Columbus, Ohio there is an awesome organization called Team Heart and Sole, which is tackling not only 5k and 10k road races but also triathlons. They are looking for Teammates and Champions, to get involved, contact them today at teamheartsole.org.
Shannon Verba, Howard Hanna RealCom Realty
Shannon has been an active donor with Walk for Autism for five years helping the organization raise over $2 milion.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art. The most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between two and three years of age.
Walk Now for Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest grassroots autism walk, is the signature fundraising and awareness event, taking place in communities across the United States, as well as in Canada. Powered by volunteers and families with loved ones on the autism spectrum and local businesses and companies that employ those on the spectrum, this successful grassroots fundraising effort not only generates vital funds for autism research but also raises awareness about the increasing prevalence of autism and the need for increased research funding to combat this complex disorder.
Shannon says, “I contribute to Autism Speaks because I see my sister and her colleagues work with individuals with autism and I see how important it is to teach them socially significant skills so that they can function effectively in the community and increase their independence.”
Shannon is also an active participate in fundraising walks for the American Heart Association, Stephanie Spielman Cancer Research fund; and Take Steps for Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America.
Scott Walker, Keller Williams Classic Properties
Scott has been a volunteer head coach of the Upper Arlington Special Olympics (UASO) soccer team for the past eight years. Under his guidance, he has worked with about 30 different kids ranging in age from 8 to 25.
Upper Arlington Special Olympics has a rich and rewarding history of offering year-round sports training and athletic competition to more than 40 student and adult athletes with intellectual disabilities. Their program includes soccer, swimming, basketball, basketball skills, softball, bowling and track & field. Athletes proudly perform at home and away meets and games, including divisional and state competition.
Athletes and their families do not pay for participation in the Special Olympics program. Their program is a self-sustaining, non-profit organization, which do not receive funding from Special Olympics at the county, state, national or international level, and where 100 percent of their fundraising proceeds are used directly to assist the sports programs and athletes.
Scott says, “I got involved because I was looking for a way to continue my passions for soccer and helping others. A good friend recommended me for the open coaching position, I blindly accepted and I have never looked back. Volunteering at each soccer practice is by far the highlight of my week. The kids are so happy, not just because they are playing soccer but because of the authentic relationships they build with all the volunteers. I get more hugs and high fives at soccer practice than I do the entire rest of the year; that’s what it’s all about for me.”
For the past 12 years, Scott has also served as an Adult Leader for the Mexico Mission trip to help build homes during spring break and for six years has served as an adult leader for a similar trip in the Dominican Republic at an orphanage and school.