CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. -- Nathan Stierwalt has a love of cars and a lot of friends who share that passion.
The Northern Kentucky businessman decided there had to be a way to leverage their interest to do good things for the community.
Enter Cincinnati Cars & Coffee.
Between 9 a.m. and noon each Saturday, Stierwalt, his friends, and scores of other car enthusiasts have been gathering at Crestview Hills Town Center in Northern Kentucky to see as many as 200 vehicles on display.
"It doesn't necessarily matter what you drive. It's just the shared passion of anything automotive," Stierwalt said. "And if you have the disposable income to have these kinds of vehicles, you could be doing good for the community."
Anyone can display a car, and there's no admission charge. And now that the event has built up an audience over the past several months, organizers are asking those who attend on Sept. 10 to bring donations for Children's Home of Northern Kentucky.
The nonprofit has a number of different behavioral health programs. But the donations made on Sept. 10 will benefit its residential program that serves boys between the ages of 7 and 17 who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
"These are kids who just have been given a bad hand," Stierwalt said. "Those are the ones, in my opinion, that we need to be helping the most."
Stierwalt's group has other events in the works, too, and hopes to use the cars as a way to make connections with the kids being served by Children's Home of Northern Kentucky.
"We're really excited about the direction this may take," said Anne Sturgis, the development manager at Children's Home of Northern Kentucky.
'Tide Pods are like gold'
A future program, for example, might bring a bunch of cars to the home's Devou Park campus so the boys living in the residential program there can examine them and ask questions about the vehicles, Sturgis said.
Another idea is to teach the boys how to perform basic car maintenance and repairs, such as replacing the oil or changing a tire.
"The youth in that residential program are all boys, and they get very excited about fancy cars," Sturgis said.
When Stierwalt met with Sturgis and Rick Wurth, the home's CEO, Stierwalt had "probably 100 ideas of different things" that he and his group could do to support the organization and its mission, Sturgis said.
And for a nonprofit like Children's Home of Northern Kentucky, that support makes a huge difference, she said.
For many of its programs, the home receives government reimbursements. But that reimbursement, especially for the organization's residential program, only covers about half of what it costs to care for the boys who live there, Sturgis said.
That means the home spends lots of money on things such as new shoes for the kids who live there, bedding, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies.
"We do a lot of laundry," Sturgis said. "Tide Pods are like gold to us."
When an event like Cincinnati Cars & Coffee comes along to generate donations to offset some of those costs, it means that Children's Home of Northern Kentucky can spend more of its money on direct services and training for its staff to make sure they're providing the best services possible, she said.
"The more we can get our army of supporters lined up where they're helping spread the word about what we do, the more it helps our kids," she said.
For Stierwalt and the other business owners and executives involved in Cincinnati Cars & Coffee, that’s the goal.
"This is not a one-time deal," Stierwalt said. "My focus is to do more specifically for these kids."
More information about Cincinnati Cars & Coffee is available on the group's Facebook page. Donations for Children's Home of Northern Kentucky will be collected from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 10 at the event in the parking lot between Dillard's and Dewey's Pizza at Crestview Hills Town Center.
See below for a list of suggested donations.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and also shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Childhood poverty is an important focus for her and for WCPO. To read more stories about childhood poverty, to go www.wcpo.com/poverty.