By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Jeff Klima likes a little variety in his life. The kind of variety he gets from volunteering with Give Back Cincinnati, for example.
During the past year and a half with the organization, the Deerfield Township man has painted the gym at Western Hills High School, revamped homes in Price Hill, cleaned up areas of Over-the-Rhine, and coordinated a dinner-and-dancing event for area seniors.
"When you do a variety of activities, you get to know a lot more individuals and make a bigger difference within the community," said Klima, 31, a field services supervisor with Airborne Express.
Klima was skeptical about the organization at first. He liked the concept behind the nonprofit organization of young professionals, which focuses on enhancing Cincinnati's communities through volunteer activities. But he wasn't so sure real people would benefit from their efforts.
His view changed during June's Paint the Town event, when 11 homes in Price Hill were repainted. Klima sat down with one of the homeowners, a woman in her 90s, and chatted for about an hour.
"I think at that moment, getting personally involved and getting that connection - it instantly removed all barriers," he said. "These are people I never would have known or met in other situation, and I'm fortunate to have that experience."
The same thing happened during a Clean Up the Town event in August, when volunteers picked up litter, planted flowers and pulled weeds along the 1400 block of Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine. When Klima spoke to a resident of the neighborhood and explained what the organization hoped to accomplish there, her first response: "Thank God."
"It's that type of reaction and knowing you're making a difference in someone's life that counts," he said. "My reward is seeing people happy and knowing that I had something to do with it."
Even with a busy schedule, working from 4 a.m. into late afternoon most days, he still manages to give back.
"It's a matter of deciding what's important," he said.
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Schedule of local events
Updates on today's memorials across the country
Emotional impact of 9-11 blunts as world changes
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9-11 aftermath stays with Loveland man
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Photos of the attacks on the World Trade Center
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