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  • Writer's pictureMonique Wingard

Season of Love

As we end the month of February, one that is celebrated as the season of love, I plan to make an effort to show it. Cards, candy, flowers, and date night are cool; actually it is my favorite part of February–when done right. But, this year, I am making a greater effort to extend my hand in love through service. As a fervent believer in servant leadership, I have a responsibility to pour into the communities that have played a significant role in my journey. It is my hope, that you will consider how and to whom you will honor during this season of love.

It would take a lifetime to name and adequately thank every person who nurtured my creativity, encouraged me to be the best version of myself, remain curious, and most importantly, never settle. If you do not recall any such person in your life, consider taking the steps necessary to be who you needed and be a blessing to someone else. Start now.

Below, are only a few organizations I hope you will consider supporting monetarily or through your time as a volunteer:

As a school-based coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, I had the honor of facilitating programs at a number of Columbus City Schools, including Columbus Alternative High School, Columbus Africentric High School, and Clearbrook Middle School. Please consider supporting the only college access program in Columbus, Ohio, I Know I Can. Your donation ensures that students receive support from elementary school until college graduation.

Photo Credit: WTVG, Toledo

My high school experience included learning the value of volunteerism–increased self-confidence, social skills, and sense of purpose. As a tutor at Grace Community Center, my desire to be an educator who leads with compassion emerged. For more than 50 years, Grace has served the Central City of Toledo, Ohio. Your donation would help fund several efforts, including mentoring programs for youth and adults, as well as a food pantry serving an area of approximately 5,000 residents, with 48% poverty rate. To donate by check, mail your donation to: 406 W Delaware Ave, Toledo, OH 43610.

Dayton, Ohio; a city that is and will always be near and dear to my heart. The "Gem City" provided a solid foundation of faith, education, and resilience, that continues to fuel me in times of adversity. A single blog post could never convey the debt of gratitude owed to Precious Blood Catholic Church and Wayman AME Chapel. They each continue to be cornerstones in the community through monetary support and volunteerism.

Precious Blood Parish frequently sends clothes, shoes, coats, household items, blankets, toys, and children’s books to St. Bonaventure Indian Mission in one of the poorest counties in New Mexico. If interested in helping with this ministry please contact Ruth and Don Simon at 937-770-1395.

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As the first Black church and the first A.M.E. church in Dayton, Ohio, Wayman Chapel continues to foster a community of love and fellowship today. Every Thursday, you are invited to volunteer from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to assist in the distribution of food and clothes to families in need.

Cleveland, Ohio. Never did I imagine attending graduate school or living in northeast Ohio for an extended period of time–over 10 years to be exact. In that time, I had the privilege of volunteering in many capacities. So many, that I decided to make a list a few years ago.

Now, I have three more organizations for you to consider:

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1. The arts prepare students to thrive in an economy that is driven by innovation and creativity. Karamu House, a treasure in the Fairfax neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland, provides a space for adults and children to learn, engage, and celebrate the arts.

When considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ohio students and that millions of U.S. public school students do not have access to music and arts. Visit to make a donation of any amount to help further the Karamu House mission and legacy.

2. As a graduate student at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Mary M. Bethune Elementary School was my number one destination. Every Wednesday, I boarded a school bus every week for a short trip to Moulton Avenue, where 25+ students awaited the opportunity to meet their big buddy at CWRU School of Law.

Having a mentor has proven lifelong benefits in the personal and professional lives of young adults. However, the dedication of an educator who leads with kindness and works tirelessly to support the educational journey of each student, is unmatched.

Donors Choose makes it easy to support teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty. Take a moment to visit to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of students and teachers at Mary M. Bethune Elementary School and beyond.

3. In 1935, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) with the mission to "lead, empower and advocate for women of African descent, their families and communities." This mission is sustained by 300 campus and community-based sections that promote civic engagement, public policy, social justice, STEM education, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and economic stability. Additionally, NCNW is an advocate of women's health; HIV/AIDS; promotes civic engagement and advocates for sound public policy and social justice.

In northeast Ohio, the Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Western Reserve Sections continue to uphold the vision of Dr. Bethune and Dorothy Irene Height, who served as president of NCNW for 40 years. I encourage you to not only show your support for each section via social media, but to make an effort to support their efforts to serve, enlighten, and empower women of African descent, their families and communities.


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