Jewish Federation of Cincinnati kickball game a fun way to combat childhood poverty crisis

CINCINNATI -- Marie Krulewitch-Browne is dedicated to making a difference in her community because she believes change happens when people act locally.

The 27-year-old, who works for the nonprofit organization Artworks, which employs and trains local talent, says that’s why she is involved with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. She wants to raise awareness of causes that affect our neighborhoods.

Krulewitch-Brown is especially proud of the fact that she is participating in a JFC’s Young Adult Kickball Tournament to raise money to fight childhood poverty.

RELATED: See a child's poverty plight told in graphic-novel form.

The event is cleverly and appropriately called “Kickin’ For A Cause,” and will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21 from at the new P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy in Roselawn Park, where baseball-themed outreach provides new opportunities for underserved youth.

“I have watched my adult friends who were struggling to find a niche to make a contribution to our communities and I am appreciative that we have finally found a friendly, competitive and fun activity to rally around for a meaningful cause,” said Krulewitch-Brown, of Covington.

Jeff Blumental, the director of the Federation’s Young Adult Division, said through this event, the first of its kind, they hope to raise $5,000 to contribute to the efforts to lower Cincinnati’s high childhood poverty rate. 

Participants gather at MadTree Brewing for a pre-tournament event. (Provided by Jeff Blumenthal)

“I work with young adults who are passionate about solving problems and fixing issues. We had a pre-tournament happy hour at the MadTree Brewery where we heard from Ross Meyer of the United Way about the work being done by the Child Poverty Collaborative to fight back against this problem,” Blumenthal said.

“It only further motivated our young adults to raise awareness about the issue and make an impact.”

He has spent his career challenging adults from 21 to 45 years old to think about the problems that plague our communities and the world. 

Each year, they pick a campaign for an issue they believe will change people’s lives. 

“And they realize that Cincinnati’s childhood poverty problem is everyone’s problem. They are personally committed to finding innovative ways to create a brighter future for Cincinnati’s kids and this is a prime example of that,” Blumenthal said. “God willing, we will raise money for childhood poverty again.”

He offered some facts on Cincinnati ‘s childhood poverty problem.

In 2014, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 44.3 percent of Cincinnati’s children lived in poverty. That rate is more than double the national rate of 21.7 percent and nearly double the state rate of 22.9 percent.

“Cincinnati has an abysmal ranking, it is ranked in the top five major cities in childhood poverty, year after year,” said Brooke Guigui, chairperson of the Federation’s Young Adult Division.

“It’s a horrible statistic, brought home even more when we stop and sit with the fact that these kids and these families are our neighbors.”

There will be 10 teams of 12 young adults competing and all the funds will go to three organizations that are providing opportunities for children living in poverty. These are the Reds Community Fund (which benefits the Youth Academy), need-based financial aid for Mayerson JCC youth programs and the Jewish Family Service’s Big and Littles program.

“The cause of childhood poverty has really resonated with our young adults making this the first of its kind event to be held in Cincinnati,” said Jackie Congedo, public relations manager for the Jewish Federation.

About the organization

The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati envisions an exceptional Cincinnati Jewish community and, through the community-wide strategic plan Cincinnati 2020, brings diverse groups together to build it. They raise money and use volunteer-driven, transparent process to distribute it to the local, national and global programs that need it most. And they work to protect Jewish security by educating the community and advocating for Israel. Learn more at jewishcincinnati.org.