By Janet C. Wetzel
MASON - When it comes to the needs of a child, Dynette Clarkjust can't say no.
Even after she tucks her own three boys into bed after a busy day at home, she tackles her volunteer projects, including a foundation she recently co-founded.
"When my kids go to sleep, I go to work - doing paperwork and other things for the groups I support," says Clark, who is 36.
Clark started volunteering with her children's schools and quickly branched out to area organizations. She works many hours each month with Mason Kindervelt #32, and has done so since the group - Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's largest auxiliary fund-raising arm - began in 1997. She's been president, treasurer and is now vice president. She helps with group projects like golf outings, craft sales and marionette shows.
Clark also volunteers with the Wendy Faulkner Memorial Children's Foundation,which helps raise money for orphans in Third World countries. Faulkner, who lived in Mason with her husband and children, loved helping orphans. She died Sept. 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center.
Clark says support from her husband, John, and neighbors make her volunteer work possible.
In mid-2002she learned of the needs of Sydni Quinlan, now 4, daughter of Judy and Rick Quinlan, who just moved from Batavia to California. As an infant, Sydni suffered severe brain damage from a rare liver problem, and Clark learned in 2002 she needed $25,000 worth of medical treatments not covered by insurance.
"She's so precious; I just knew I had to do something," says Clark. "I almost lost my second child at birth. That really made me realize how something so terrible can happen."
With help from a few friends, Clark held a fund raiser in August 2002, grossing about $13,000 - a good start, but not enough. Clark decided to start a foundation to raise money for children's medical needs not covered by insurance.
That foundation, Building Blocks, was launched in January with the help of Bridget Kleinhenz and Suzy Hummel, both of Mason; and Liesl Roeder of Sycamore Township.
"It's a foundation to help improve the quality of life of children with a one-time medical need, such as a prosthetic device, or life-saving surgery," Clark says. "We're building hope for children."
The foundation held a second benefit for Sydni in March, grossing about $14,000. Since the Mail Boxes Etc We Deliver Dreams Foundation had approved a grant to pay some of Sydni's medical costs, several thousand dollars from the benefit went into the foundation to help other children, Clark says.
"We're applying for grants, and we hope to raise about $20,000 from our annual benefit next year, and see that grow annually, plus get general donations," Clark says.
A friend and neighbor, Tina Kenney, says despite her busy life, Clark's home is a child magnet for the neighborhood kids who lovingly call her "Aunt Net."
"She's the most generous, caring person I've ever met in my entire life," Kenney says. "It's amazing how she does all her volunteer work along with keeping her own family intact and thriving. She just never says 'no' if a child is involved."
"I've been blessed to be able to stay home with my children. They're all healthy now, and I want to share those blessings by helping others," Clark says.
Donations for Building Blocks can be mailed to 7740 Cove View, Mason, Ohio 45040.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax to 513-755-4150.
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