Saturday, Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m., Greenacres Arts Center, Indian Hill
See if this sounds familiar.
Friends invite you to a gala or a dinner benefiting a good cause. You go, even if you don’t have a particular connection to the charity.
In an ideal world, the organization’s mission resonates and you become an involved volunteer or supporter.
That’s roughly how Kevin and Michelle Jones first got involved with Stepping Stones, the United Way partner agency that serves more than 1,000 individuals with disabilities.
They had been introduced to Stepping Stones through their three boys, Harrison (19, Miami University), Colin (17, St. Xavier High School) and Palmer (16, St. Xavier). The boys volunteered at Stepping Stones program sites during summers.
Then came the invitation from friends to attend Stepping Stones’ pre-Valentine’s Day fundraiser at Eddie Merlot’s restaurant.
“We then learned more through Jim and Anne Shanahan, who invited us to Stepping Stones’ Open Your Heart Dinner,” said Michelle Jones.
Kevin Jones, who is regional president of Huntington Bank, and Michelle both already had several commitments.
He serves on the boards of 3CDC, REDI Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Foundation, Cincinnati Opera and the American Heart Association.
She is on the board of Boys Hope/Girls Hope, serves on the Giving/Planning Committee of the Karen Wellington Foundation and is involved in Catholic Women United. They also are major donors to the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, bringing them membership in the organization’s Tocqueville Society.
This year, the two are taking on another challenge: co-chairing Stepping Stones’ 12th annual Bloom – the outdoor party, dance and auction that draws more than 400 guests and last year netted more than $300,000.
Huntington Bank is coming along as presenting sponsor.
The Joneses plan a memorable event that will combine seasonal trappings with music by Clueless, an auction including international getaways, tapas dining from 20 top Cincinnati restaurants and caterers, and a cocktail bar. Honorees are Beth and Doug Brendamour.
Emcees will be Jeff and Jenn, the morning team from Q102.
“We are both very proud and honored to co-chair this year’s event,” said Michelle Jones.
“We have always enjoyed the event because of the informal nature, yet incredible atmosphere of decor and fun. This is a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of Stepping Stones and embrace the warmth of fall colors and, perhaps, fall food and drink.”
The Joneses have both embraced the work that Stepping Stones does.
“We have always believed in all matters of inclusion. We have several friends who have children with disabilities, and they have enlightened us on the importance of development to lead to independence and not institutions.
“In the past, it seemed as if children with disabilities were immediately cast as not having opportunities, therefore set on a path that led to reliance versus independence. That is just not fair, nor is it right.
“Clearly, Stepping Stones leads to changing attitudes and beliefs of not only the children affected, but, just as importantly, the general public so the children are not ‘pre-determined’ on a path for life-long reliance.”
Tickets for Bloom are $150 per person.