What wakes you up in the morning? What inspires you? What makes you GO? In this blog series we asked our staff, friends and supporters to share why they choose to give their time, talent and treasure to GreenLight. Read their stories and then tell us what motivates you using #MyGreenLight on Twitter.

Author: Tara Noland – Executive Director, GreenLight Fund Cincinnati

There’s something I have to confess to you, and it’s hard for me to admit. I’m not from here. I moved to Cincinnati nine years ago, fully expecting to stay for a year or two before moving on to somewhere else. Now, almost a decade later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else except the best big city small town in the world. My fellow transplants and those of you who have left and come back can probably relate to this feeling: Cincinnati gets under your skin and you just can’t shake her. And you’re not really sad about it.

This is an amazing time to live here. Cincinnati has so many things going for it, from an incredible start-up ecosystem  to first-class arts performances and an energy that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Like everyone else who calls Cincinnati home, however, there are a few things that I’m not proud of when I talk about the city I love. First and foremost is that half – seriously, half – of children in our city grow up in poverty. And what worries me most about this issue is that it isn’t getting better.

That’s how I ended up at GreenLight. I’m a social worker who has great respect for the social services and programs that Cincinnati has, but what we’re currently doing isn’t enough. We aren’t moving the needle far enough or fast enough, and we don’t have time to waste in addressing this issue. Real people’s lives are impacted at every turn.

As GreenLight launches in Cincinnati this year, there is more focus on and commitment to eliminating poverty than ever before—and that makes it the perfect time for GreenLight. I’m working hard to make GreenLight a community tool that will help bridge the gap between where we are now and where we know our community can go. Urgent needs demand innovative, effective responses and that’s where GreenLight excels.

Two decades from now, when my daughter—who is from here, by the way—is talking to her friends about why Cincinnati is such an amazing place, I hope she’ll still be talking about the tremendous business opportunities here, that you can eat some of the best food you’ll have ever have and watch a light show projected onto a historical building, set to a live performance by an award-winning symphony (that’s a thing here, and it’s awesome).

I’m working hard every single day to make sure that she’ll also be able to say that children and families in Cincinnati are better off than they are now. That our community was able to come together to truly move the needle for families experiencing poverty and find the necessary resources, program models and supports. And that her mom helped make that happen through this really cool thing called the GreenLight Fund.