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Everyday Evangelists: SMOY parishioner uses leadership skills to help others

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

By Paul McKibben

ST. ANDREW DEANERY — Leslie Kuhlman says her friend of nearly 25 years, Jenny Berg, “is a gifted leader and a real visionary when it comes to strategizing and working in an organization.”

Berg, a member of St. Margaret of York Parish (SMOY) in Loveland, serves as president of the board of directors of Impact 100, a nonprofit, philanthropic women’s organization that provides funding for 10 counties in the Greater Cincinnati area. Each year, its members make a $1,000 donation and the money is later awarded in the form of grants to nonprofit groups who serve people in those 10 counties (Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren in Ohio; Boone, Campbell and Kenton in Kentucky; and Dearborn in Indiana).

Jenny Berg
Jenny Berg (Courtesy photo)

Berg said for every 100 members, the organization can award a grant of $100,000. Members vote on award recipients each year. Impact 100 began in 2001 and currently has more than 300 members. Since 2002 it has awarded grants totaling more than $1.8 million. Recent grant recipients include the Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati Inc. and Dress for Success Cincinnati.
Berg is in her second year as president of Impact 100. She said she became involved with the organization through her role as board chairperson for Tender Mercies, a nonprofit in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine that serves homeless people with mental and emotional disabilities. Tender Mercies was a finalist for an Impact 100 grant in 2003. Berg joined Impact 100 the following year.
“I was impressed by the organization itself, with the women and how they could get so much done with so little resources,” she said, adding she liked the simple model of giving $1,000, multiplying it by 100 and giving away $100,000.
Kuhlman, who serves as executive director of Ruah Woods, a Catholic education and retreat center, said Berg “is involved with an organization like Impact 100 because she sees the significant role nonprofits have in serving the needs of those who require assistance in some way … and she has the knowledge, skills and ability to tap into the talent of others to make it happen.”
In addition to her time with Tender Mercies and her current service to Impact 100, Berg has also chaired SMOY’s pastoral council, along with the board at Ursuline Academy in Blue Ash. She is current a member of the high school’s Mother’s Club board and volunteers at Pregnancy Center East.
Berg said it was the example of her parents, Don and Phyllis Neyer, who shared their time, talent and treasure in a variety of ways, that has inspired her through the years.
“It’s been instilled in me to give back to the community,” said Berg, who is one of eight children. “We were blessed to be given a lot in our lifetime. We are very much of a volunteering family in different ways.”
Berg feels blessed to have the time and a supportive husband and family that enable her to give so much back to the community. There is also a faith component to her commitment to serving others.
“At Tender Mercies, (we) talk about compassion and serving the people who can’t help themselves. To me, that’s what God tell us to do, and that’s what our faith is all about,” she said. “That’s the social justice side of the Catholic faith, I think.”
Berg said her friendship with Kuhlman has contributed to her desire to put her faith into action. The two women support each other, occasionally attend Mass together and discuss spiritual matters. Kuhlman has encouraged Berg to take part in Bible study, Familia, a Catholic program dedicated to strengthening families, and Christ Renews His Parish. Berg said this has helped her to grow in her faith.
“I think God wants to reveal himself to us through other human beings,” Kuhlman said. “We’re His hands and feet. So, the Holy Spirit, I think, has worked through me to draw Jenny closer to her Catholic faith.”


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