Neighborhood dreams drive Mount Washington woman's endless volunteer work

Community hosts annual Holiday Walk on Saturday
Posted at 2:58 PM, Nov 24, 2016

CINCINNATI -- To understand a neighborhood's soul, you have to understand its history.

Part of Mount Washington's history is in the far corner of a cemetery on Sutton Road: All the community's founders are buried there. The neighborhood was built on land deeded to six soldiers from the Revolutionary War.

For decades, a volunteer board has maintained the cemetery with whatever help they can find.

"We hired the homeless for the most part," said Julie Rimer, secretary/treasurer of the Mount Washington Cemetery Association.

A lot more has gotten done in the past year since one person asked one question, Rimer recalled: "She said, 'What is your dream for this place?'"

Jody Pol asks that question a lot. She's a volunteer extraordinaire and a changemaker. She organizes neighborhood watch programs, a market in Stanbery Park, a community garden -- so much that she was given this year's Nextdoor app Good Neighbor Award.

"I've got my finger kinda in almost every pie around," Pol said.

At Stanbery Park, she sees an example of the change she wants for the neighborhood she loves: The market, she said, brings people back to the park and sends a message that it's a safe place to play. Pol also volunteered at the neighborhood's annual Pumpkin Chuck this month.

"It started with two guys and a trebuchet, and 350 people lined up in the cold in November and built up into something great for the whole community," said Jake Williams, a former community council president.

Pol's most shining work stands above the cemetery: She's helped raise money to refurbish lights on the water tower, a beacon of the neighborhood.

The neighborhood will hold its annual Holiday Walk on Saturday, and Pol said she's most proud of one thing: "I think the biggest success as a community is that we're working together and I think that's the hardest part."