South Campus Gateway, LLC.

Thanks!

The Dalai Lama says that there is no secret to happiness, but that the path toward it is paved with gratitude.

Since it is the season of drawing loved ones near, and giving thanks, (614) decided it was about time to point the spotlight right at some of our hometown heroes. We wanted to pull some Columbusites from the crowd, so we sent out a call for nominations.

Our readers responded with countless words of recognition for the unsung champions that work tirelessly for causes and people across the city.

This is a small gesture compared to the day-to-day, monumental efforts of the advocates and activists herein. This little thank you note to some of the biggest hearts in the city is the least we could do to show them how much we appreciate their valiant aspirations.

From the whole city to our tireless, behind-the-scenes warriors: Thank you for all you do.

 

Suzie Simpson

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Girlz Rhythm n’ Rock Camp

Thanked by:

Jeni Bynes

Suzie’s camp works to provide a safe, discrimination-free creative space for girls from the ages of eight to 18. She sees to it that there are fabulous female role models to teach these kids music and help build their self-esteem. This fall, Girlz Rhythm n’ Rock started the new After School Program at Art Outside the Lines. Suzie was named an Honored Community Activist at ComFest in 2017. She is active in all areas of the music community in Columbus, and gives freely of her time, money and energy to help make our city a better place.

Hannah Estabrook

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Trafficking Advocacy

Thanked by:

Beth Dekker

The CATCH court program, started by Judge Paul Herbert, has helped dozens of victims of human trafficking, prostitution, and sexual exploitation. This program keeps these women out of jail by providing services to help them heal, rehabilitate, and successfully reintegrate into society. Hannah uses her graciousness, kindness, and counseling background to reach out to and support these women, leading them through the two-year program and fostering a successful future. CATCH stands for Changing Actions To Change Habits, and through her work with the court, Hannah has been able to positively affect the lives of women who would otherwise be lost to the system.

Heather Lynn Kyle

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Arts/Non-profits

Thanked by:

Michael S. Brown

While Columbus enjoys a rising tide of independent artists performing in ever-changing forms across 614’s neighborhoods, a few special souls are mastering the thankless art of organizing. Heather Lynn Kyle is undressing preconceptions of galleries and performance at Wild Goose Creative and similar joints, with free-spirited allies and friends. At times Heather is the performance, but more often she is quietly off to the side of the room, having paved the path to execute a quality event, pushing fellow artists to excel, to shine, while Heather’s team tackle logistics and the creative collisions critical to the sustenance of art culture in any growing city.

Bela Koe-Krompecher

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Housing Advocacy

Thanked by:

Erica Young

Bela meets people right where they are: be it an office, their residence, or a street corner in bad weather. An adjunct professor in the MSW program at OSU, and a key member of The Opiate Task Force, he is quick to buy a cup of coffee for anyone and listen without judgment. Bela has a unique ability to put a spotlight on areas of need without pity for the “have-nots” or condemnation of the “haves,” creating a space where all people can come together for real dialogue of change and action.

Stephanie Ewen

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Melanincholy Fest

Thanked by:

Kent Grosswiler

Stephanie is regularly on many of the front lines of the good fight, making sure the voices of women, people of color, and members of the LBGTQ community are being heard. She was with the Black Pride 4 when they got arrested, and rallied incessantly to seek justice for her friends. While small in stature, she roars loudly. She’s assertive and quick to call out discrimination where she sees it. She saw an area where Columbus was lacking and helped start The Melanincholy Festival. With everything else she has going on, she also puts a lot of time and energy supporting the endeavors of others and her company is absolutely delightful.

Tricia Keels

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Hunger Relief 

Thanked by:

Ryan Blanski

Tricia is the founder of Souper Heroes, a non-profit whose mission is having fun with food and community, while providing for those who don’t have enough of either. Each October through May since 2012, Souper Heroes hosts events at businesses in Columbus. Volunteers bring in a slow-cooker full of soup and serve guests, who are encouraged to make donations that benefit the local hunger relief system. This year, Souper Heroes is going world-wide with the Souper Heroes Starter Kit: All the tools to host an event in any city, including a website and social media promotion. She humbly leads by example, proving anyone can make a difference by just showing up.

Staley Jophiel Munroe

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

LGBTQI Awareness

Thanked by:

Sarah Jones

A powerhouse in every sense of the word. Staley has spent years as a photographer, art director, and coordinator within the creative and fashion industry. She is a proud, resilient, transgender woman, always fighting for equality for the LGBTQ community. A frequent speaker at schools, conferences, radio shows, and podcasts across the state, she works to and bring humanity to the transgender community. Staley has helped many people accept their own diverse truths, and embrace their human-process. Through her shining example of transparency, warmth, and faith, her caring truly bolsters this community.

Erin Upchurch

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Social Work

Thanked by:

Stephanie Craddock Sherwood

Erin is the embodiment of the “If not me, who? And if not now, when?” ideology. As a social worker and community organizer, she’s dedicated her life to supporting and advocating for young people, especially those who are underserved and marginalized. She’s gifted in seeing gaps in systems that could and should be serving these communities. Erin works diligently behind the scenes to give those in service to these communities the tools to fill in and do more good. Her anti-oppression work on all levels comes from a deep passion for justice, informed by her personal experiences, and sustained by her joy and big heart.

Ariana Steele

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Activism

Thanked By:

Stephanie Ewen

It might be tough to tell from their calm demeanor and quiet disposition, but Ariana Steele is one of the most courageous, steadfast, and capable people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. Working with them and seeing them fight and organize is galvanizing; they will always be the rock at the core of the group, unwavering but never unkind, tenacious but never onerous, gentle but never complacent. Their work in the community seeks out and amplifies the voices of those who are rarely heard, and you can see it in their every interaction. It’s people like Ariana that genuinely make this world a better place, though so often they go unrecognized.

Ruben Castilla Herrera

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Art/Activism

Thanked By:

John Thorne

Ruben works towards a just society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. His work is focused on issues related to immigration, but seeks to connect all forms of injustice and stand in solidarity at this intersection. He is heavily involved with the Ohio Interfaith Immigration Coalition. In the short time that I have known him, I’ve been consistently amazed by his absolute dedication to the causes he fights for. His tireless activism inspires those around him, motivating them to dig deeper in their own lives to find ways to support and advocate for those in need.

Anthony Gatto

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Education/Vision

Thanked By:

Jami Goldstein

As a long-time board member of the Arts and College Preparatory Academy (ACPA), I have known Tony Gatto for more than a decade. Since he became principal in 2010, the school has blossomed under his leadership. He’s held vigorously to the school’s mission and vision of safety, acceptance and inclusivity, generating top state report card ratings year after year. He’s developed rigorous academic and arts programs, and has helped build a student body that is valued regardless of race, gender, perceived gender, class, or sexual orientation. He’s a champion for school kids who don’t feel like they have anywhere else to go. Most importantly: he has created an environment where students and staff have a voice.

Dan Clark

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Faith/Holistic Health

Thanked by:

Amber Knicole

Dan is the Communications and Development Director at Health Gives Hope, they work in developing nations to provide health through holistic programs that cultivate a hopeful future. They work to build healthy communities, establishing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and providing general clinical services to the community. He is also the Minister of Music for the contemporary service at St. John’s UCC. I am nominating him because, besides being an amazing, supportive, and understanding friend, he is an outstanding member of the Columbus community. He continuously advocates for the voiceless and marginalized among us in Columbus and around the world.

Derek S. Lory

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Community Gardens

Thanked By:

Lauren Paglisotti

Derek has supported community gardens, such as HelpingHands Community Garden, and has donated to locals time, service, and money for a long time. He has been volunteering and donating tons of food from his gardens to the The Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center (CRC) as well as too many others to count. A few years back, he was in a terrible accident and on his first day, the entire critical care unit waiting room was taken over by people whose lives have been touched by his generosity.It spoke volumes of the love and kindness that Derek has put out into the community.

Beth Stewart-Magee

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Youth Leadership/Hunger Relief

Thanked By:

Trisha Clark

Beth has two decades of experience working in youth progamming—going from volunteer to outreach coordinator to her current position as Basic Needs Coordinator at the Clintonville/Beechwold Community Resources Center (CRC). She now runs their food pantry program. I have looked up to her for years, as do many others, for her unwavering commitment to help those in our community that are in need. She is unbelievably hard working, kind, patient and humble. She is truly what I think is a good community leader and mentor. She helps thousands of people in need every year.

Virginia Nunes Gutierrez

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Bottoms Up Co-Op

Thanked By:

Shibnum Blewett

Virginia opened a cool non-profit coffee shop, Bottoms-Up, that focuses on reducing infant mortality in an area with one of the highest rates in the nation. She is a strong voice and activist for immigrant rights in Columbus. Jumping to action and rallying the community, when funds and resources are needed. She acts when others only think about acting. She is a leader and a role model. I am inspired to make decisions that impact the community in that way that she does. I don’t know her well personally but that is a testament to how far her impact reaches.

Monique McCrystal

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Meditation/Connection

Thanked by:

Donna Marbury

Monique has forged partnerships with corporations, schools, social services, and sports organizations in Columbus with the aim of spreading mindfulness and meditation as a daily, meaningful practice. She specializes in working with teachers and social workers with organizations that focus on race, social justice, and LGBTQ issues. She’s also a doula and uses meditation with women who have experienced reproductive loss or trauma. At Replenish Spa, she leads her own full and new moon meditation classes, which are often full with 40-plus people. She’s currently partnering with a book company to create a moon meditation workbook.

Kelley Freeman

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Women’s Rights

Thanked By:

Michelle Love-Davis

Most pregnancies include morning sickness, fatigue and a whole lot of horizontal growth—Kelley’s was no different. What made this new mama’s 40-plus weeks incredible was the next-level reproductive freedom work she did in that time. All of the actions she did centered around busting abortion stigma, fighting unjust laws and raising abortion funds. She established a constant pro-choice presence in Columbus and traveled to Washington for the women’s march.  From sit-ins to bake sales to escorting women into clinics, she devoted her entire pregnancy itself to the concept that it’s not meant to be a consequence or a punishment, but a CHOICE.

Rick Isbell

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Veteran Affairs

Thanked By:

Darin Hadinger

Rick is always going above and beyond. He was ADA and Veterans Affair Coordinator for the City of Columbus for 11 years, and during that time was instrumental with my companies’ Solar by Soldiers program. Aside from helping supply veterans, he went out of his way to assist them with other issues that fell way outside of work. He also is an artist and author. He has authored two books for children, one of them that gives its sales proceeds to help abused women in central Ohio. He also works with the Fallen 15 and many behind-the-scenes initiatives, even after his departure from his City Job.

Stephanie Craddock Sherwood

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Women’s Rights

Thanked By:

Bethany Sanders

Stephanie Sherwood runs Women Have Options-Ohio with energy and grace. The WHO/O is Ohio’s abortion fund, which provides financial support for those seeking abortion care and advocates for reproductive health. Prior to her work with WHO/O, Stephanie offered consulting to a variety of social justice causes and worked to improve local food options. She shows by example the necessary connections within the movement for social justice. In her personal and professional lives, she strives to make the world better with kindness, accountability, and by being a light in the world.

Katherine Cull

Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Thanked For:

Social Work

Thanked By:

Bryan Curtiss

Katherine is busy working for the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, Board for Student Success Stories, a community advocate for the East Side, and a volunteer for Columbus City Schools. She gives of herself tirelessly to make the community (and the world) a better place. She’s co-founder for Goddesses for Good, which raises funds and awareness for organizations that do good in our community, such as the American Civil Liberties Union. In a time where we could be more compassionate towards our fellow human beings and and our neighbors, that is the spirit that Katherine brings.  It’s people like her that help shape Columbus into a caring and giving community.

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