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Mentors Make HEMI Possible

HEMI Welcomes its Newest Mentors!

Jade Martinez

Jade Martinez started her educational journey at the University of Notre Dame where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts in Education. Jade was a first generation college student from Florida.  During college, she has served as a big sister to members of the Balfour Hesburgh Scholar’s Program at the University of Notre Dame. She currently is employed at Xavier University where she is a Communication Specialist. She is interested in becoming a mentor because she “wants to make a difference for students the same way people made a difference for me when I was in high school.”

Jalen Johnson

Jalen Johnson started his educational journey at the University of Kentucky where he obtained his Bachelor’s of Science in Family Science. He is currently employed at Ultimus Fund Solutions as an Associate Fund Administrator. Jalen is also currently working as a Group Facilitator for Fernside, an organization that helps grieving kids that have lost a parent. He is interested in being a mentor because he believes “it’s important to prepare kids for the future while encouraging them.”

Help HEMI Recruit New Mentors

Next Steps:

Individuals who are interested in volunteering to support HEMI should complete our interest form:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Community Engagement Specialist, Denise Hewitt, at J

Save the Date: Mentor Retreat

Thursday, November 7, 2019
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 
Location: TBA

This fall, our HEMI Mentors are exclusively invited to
a special retreat focused on resetting & recharging for 2020.

Next week’s blog will feature

the success of HEMI’S HANGOUTS!

HEMI’s New Leader & Site Director

September 23, 2019

UC & HEMI Welcomes Orville McDonald!

“We are thrilled to announce the promotion of Orville McDonald to HEMI Site Director effective Monday, September 23, 2019! Orville has been a Program Specialist with HEMI for the past four years and has advanced through progressively more responsible roles, and has played a key role over the past several months with the transition of Rayma’s retirement.

Orville brings a wealth of experience to the HEMI department and we are excited about his new role with HEMI!”

Kathie J. Maynard, Ed.D., Associate Dean
Office for Education Innovations & Community Partnerships

Re-Introducing Orville McDonald:

  • Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
  • Married (Tiffany) with two sons Chris and Orville
  • Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
  • 19 years of career experience in the social work field (Hamilton County Job and Family Services, Central Clinic, and Mercy Hospital (Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psych unit)
  • What are you most excited about in this position with HEMI? 

Continuing the great work that has already been established throughout the ten years of this program with the hope to guide HEMI to new heights and accomplishments in the near future.

  • How do you feel about having this leadership role?

Very blessed to be able to lead such an amazing staff of individuals, whose passion for this work keeps me motivated as we work together to train up our mentors to best support our young people.

  • What plans do you have in store for HEMI?

The initial focus is to recruit and train new community volunteers to become HEMI mentors.  Our mentors are a very vital piece of our program and we always need more committed and passionate people to become HEMI mentors.

  • What are your favorite aspects of HEMI?

 I have many but the one I will speak of is the ability for Mentors, with the training and support of our Program Specialist to really build that sense of community and relationship for our HEMI mentees.  As we know our population are foster youth so to be able to establish that solid consistent relationship as we, help guide these youth toward their career path is the true beauty of this program and my overall favorite aspect.

  • What interested you in social work in the first place?

The ability to motivate a person to reach their best self and obtain self-actualization; and just the understanding that your consistent, genuine presence can possibly change the trajectory of an individual’s life over a period of time.

Next week’s “Success Story” will feature our newest HEMI Mentors!

YAB Makes a Difference

September 16, 2019

HEMI Celebrates the Youth Advisory Board!

The Youth Advisory Board for Hamilton County is composed of current and former foster youth and other adult supporters. They discuss various issues within the foster care system and seek ways to support foster youth to advance advocacy and new policies. They have been working hard and having fun all summer to plan and execute several events for our community. 

YAB Moving Forward Ceremony

YAB kicked off the summer with our annual Moving Forward Ceremony celebrating our recent high school and college graduates! We celebrated on the River Queen at BB Riverboats on the Ohio River.  Our graduates received certificates and gifts to celebrate their educational accomplishments.

Recent graduates and YAB participants pose for a group picture on the riverboat. 

Summer Kick-Off at Kings Island

HEMI and YAB came together in June for our annual trip to Kings Island! Students enjoyed a day of thrills and fun to kick off a great summer.

YAB and HEMI program specialists start their fun-packed day at Kings Island. 

YAB Quarterly Meeting & COSI Trip

In July, Hamilton County YAB also attended YAB’s Ohio quarterly meeting and elections in Columbus, Ohio. Afterwards, they headed downtown to COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, for a day of learning and fun.  They also enjoyed lunch and their four-hour commute!

YAB Hamilton County group together outside of COSI, the Center for Science and Industy, in Columbus, OH. 

Philanthropy Project @Parky’s Farm

In July, YAB put on their annual philanthropy event. They wanted to give back to foster homes and group homes by planning a field day at Parky’s Farm! Food, face painting, service dogs, and much more were enjoyed by guests.  

YAB volunteers helped foster youth in Hamilton County.

Back 2 School Bash

YAB and HEMI partnered together for our annual Back 2 School Bash and provided foster youth with a book-bag and school supplies to start the school year off right. There were also several motivational speakers to get our students back in the mindset needed for success this year. 

Speaker Joshua Dennis from Jobs and Family Services speaking to our youth about staying motivated in college.  

YAB started the school year off right with a goal-setting workshop to allow participants to think about their futures and what they would like to accomplish this fall and spring.  

YAB challenges you to get involved! If any mentor and/or mentee would like to become involved with all of the amazing things YAB accomplishes every month, please contact Keith Shoemaker at They meet 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month at Peoples Church.

Isabel Slonneger is a student worker at the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI). She is also a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati, double majoring in International Affairs and Environmental Studies. 

Next week’s “Success Story” will feature HEMI’s New Site Director!

HEMI & Mount St. Joseph University

September 9, 2019

HEMI Thanks Meghann Littrell, Steering Committee Member

Since 2014, Meghann Littreell has served as Steering Committee Member for the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative. She joined the MSJ team in 2014, and oversees the Learning Center. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Ohio Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Prior to her role at Mount St. Joseph Meghann worked at the University of Cincinnati in a number of capacities including Disability Services, Supplemental Educational Tutoring Services, a grant administrator for a 21st Century Community Learning Center Federal grant, and a program specialist for the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative. Her continued support of HEMI is a demonstration of her commitment to make a difference in Hamilton County. HEMI thanks Meghann for her service and dedication to helping our foster youth reach their academic goals!

HEMI Welcomes Jonathan Beard, Social Work Intern

This fall, HEMI is fortunate to have a new intern, Jonathan Beard. Jonathan is a Social Work/Sociology Senior at Mount St. Joseph University. He wants to see every HEMI mentee succeed at whatever path they choose.

When asked about his own career path, Jonathan stated, “Education is one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive and I want to see every person succeed! My future aspirations include graduating Mount St. Joseph University as a Licensed Social Worker. I plan on applying to the University of Cincinnati’s Masters of Social Work program and applying for a Social Work License. There are so many options in social work, but every means I can help another person and that is the primary goal of my life.”

Welcome Jonathan! HEMI congratulates you on your upcoming spring commencement! We thank you in advance for your support of HEMI.

Next week’s “Success Story” will feature Hamilton County’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB).

HEMI College Students Lead the Way!

August 30, 2019

HEMI Mentees Pursue their Dreams & Degrees!

Every week, the HEMI HUB will highlight our success stories about our mission, mentors, mentees, staff, partners and more! This week, we are highlighting our foster care youth and alumni who are enrolled in college. These stories are a beautiful reminder that our HEMI mentees are shining brightly and not statistics. They are graduating from high school and succeeding in college. Here are a few of their Back-to-School stories!

LaTia Kemp is a senior (Class of 2020) at the University of Cincinnati majoring in Criminal Justice, while also pursing a certificate in Forensic Populations. She is currently an intern for Judge Alan C. Triggs. Upon graduation next spring, she plans to pursue a career in the court system. She is a mother of two children: a two year old son and a six year old daughter. She has a passion for community corrections, improving the criminal justice system, and enhancing society as a whole.

MeKaisha Jones is a sophomore at Northern Kentucky University (Class of 2022). She is pursuing Special education/Middle school education and a Minor in Spanish. She has maintained Dean’s list status and is a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. She was chosen/hired to be a Peer Mentor in the Norse Advising center and a Student assistant in the Social Work Department.

Isabel Slonneger is a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati. She is working on a double major of International Affairs and Environmental Studies (Class of 2022). She is a member of the Undergraduate Student Government Association and Director of Scholarships. She made the Dean’s list in fall 2018 and spring 2019. This summer, she passed her driver’s license exam and bought her first car! She is also a HEMI student worker and secretary for the College of Arts and Sciences Tribunal.

Goldeci Peterson is a freshman at Southern University (Class of 2023) in Baton Rouge Louisiana. He is majoring in Business Management. Goldeci is pictured in his dorm room as he prepares for band camp for Southern’s legendary marching band, The Human Jukebox.  Often imitated, but never duplicated, this band prides itself in the unique ability to execute precision drills better than any other marching ensemble in the country. The band will be marching in the 131st Rose Parade on January 1, 2020. The HEMI community is so proud of Goldeci as he pursues one of his lifelong goals!

Do you have a HEMI Success story to share?

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