Celebrating the individuals that make our community special

It will be a recurrent theme here – to celebrate the good things Northern Kentucky people (and businesses) – do for our community. There’s plenty to celebrate. Here are just a few:

Bill and Sue Butler received this year’s Devou Cup award, given annually by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation/Northern Kentucky Fund to exemplary philanthropic leaders. The cup has found worthy hands indeed.

Bill and Sue established the Butler Foundation years ago to assist low-income families in their home region. In just the last three years, their foundation has given more than $1.5 million to the “less hopeful” through schools, churches and charities. They also launched the Life Learning Center, a Covington-based public charity that provides comprehensive services for at-risk people. Sue helped create Northern Kentucky Harvest and has volunteered for the St. Elizabeth Medical Center Foundation and the Carnegie Visual & Performing Arts Center. Bill founded the Metropolitan Growth Alliance and Forward Quest (now Vision 2015) and serves on community boards too numerous to mention. As chairman and CEO of Corporex Companies, Bill has left his mark on Northern Kentucky in many ways, with Sue a full partner in civic engagement, good works and philanthropic generosity.

“It is so fitting for Bill and Sue Butler to receive the 2013 Devou Cup award because it completes a circle of their good works in the community,” says Kathy Merchant, president/CEO of GCF. “The award was crafted years ago by advisors to the Northern Kentucky Fund, which itself exists because of Forward Quest and efforts by the Butlers to envision a vibrant and more prosperous future for Northern Kentucky.”

A great corporate citizen, Toyota, is increasing its already substantial commitment to early childhood education. Our own Helen Carroll, manager of community relations for Toyota, is going around the state presenting new “born learning” academy grants, representing part of a five-year $1 million investment to establish the early-learning programs at 62 schools through 2016. The local schools added to the program are J.A. Caywood Elementary in Edgewood, Silver Grove Elementary, Lincoln Elementary in Dayton and Glenn O. Swing Elementary in Covington. This brings the number of these academies in Northern Kentucky to 12.

A special congratulations to a remarkable young woman, Kayla Kinker of Covington, who was one of 136 future physicians to enter the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine during recent white coat ceremonies. Kayla spent her senior year of high school in Welcome House, a homeless shelter for women and children. She decided that staying in school was the best thing she could do to help her family. After graduating from high school with honors, she went to Berea College and now she’s a UK med student aiming to open a community health center to help others. Her advice: “You can do whatever you set your mind to if you just don’t give up.”