By Janet C. Wetzel
MASON - As an eighth-grader, Becky Brower Osborne was chosen by fellkw students as the most compassionate in the class. People say she hasn't changed.
Becky Osborne gathers donated school supplies in the hallways of Western Row Elementary.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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The Mason mother of two still spends much of her time reaching out to others - from young children to the elderly.
She helped Make a Difference Day in Mason grow from no projects in 2000 to 21 projects this year. She also raises money for the Wendy Faulkner Memorial Children's Foundation, volunteers at her daughters' schools, and speaks frequently about the problems associated with being hearing-impaired.
Osborne laughs when she calls herself a "stay-at-home mom," since she's usually out helping with one project or another.
"I really enjoy doing these things because I get to use my computer skills, meet new people and just have fun planning an event,'' Osborne said. "It's my creative outlet, and allows me to be involved and serve the community.''
In 2000, when Osborne wanted to help out with national Make a Difference Day, she learned that Mason had no projects established. She immediately spearheaded a citywide effort to start projects for the annual October event.
By 2002, she was inspired to expand the effort. She started a pilot project at Mason Heights Elementary for students to bring in recyclable school supplies to be donated to Cincinnati-area schools. Later, she started school food drives.
"Because the pilot program went so well, I decided to extend Make a Difference Day in Mason to a year-round effort at the schools," Osborne said. "Besides the collection drives in October, usually for books and coats, some of the schools now collect food in the early spring."
Three elementary schools now collect school supplies.
The food goes to the Grace Chapel Outreach Center, a local food and clothing center.
Other Mason Make a Difference Day projects include collecting coats, books, toys and school uniforms for needy kids
This month, The Cincinnati Enquirer honored communities, including Mason, for their Make a Difference Day programs. The $500 award will be split between Mason Veterans Memorial and the Faulkner foundation, which honors a victim of Sept. 11 terrorism.
Wendy Faulkner, who lived in Mason with her husband, Lynn, and children, was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Her family started the foundation as a way to continue the flow of care packages she'd been sending to orphans. The foundation also collects food and money for self-sufficiency projects.
Osborne maintains the group's database of contributors and she and her husband, Steve, helped create its multimedia presentation.
In May, Osborne represented Mason in Columbus to receive an award from Make a Difference Day Ohio for being one of the top 10 programs statewide.
Osborne said support from Mayor John McCurley and council members was a key to the program's success.
McCurley credits Osborne.
"Becky has not only worked on this herself, she has been the catalyst for the whole community to work on Make a Difference Day projects," McCurley said.
"She truly has made a difference in this community - an amazing effort by an individual, which shows what someone with a good heart and a determination can accomplish," McCurley said. "She's generated a lot of interest in volunteering for many programs to benefit people in the area. She and her husband, Steve, have their whole neighborhood involved, plus much of the Mason community."
Osborne, who suffered hearing loss as a toddler after a bout with meningitis, doesn't let that stop her from doing good deeds.
A good hearing aid and determination carry her through when she's doing community work, especially when phoning others, which can be challenging. That's why she often addresses the issue at retirement communities and service organizations. She also speaks to second-graders in Butler, Warren and Clermont counties as part of the Everybody Counts program.
"I teach students how to help other children in school who have hearing problems, and I try to promote awareness and compassion for others," said Osborne.
Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at email@example.com, or fax to (513) 755-4150.
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