I believe you can learn something from every person you meet, whether they are a CEO of an international corporation or a college freshman trying to find their way. There are many fascinating people on the Thought of the Day distribution list, and Liz’s THD Reader Feature is a way to share that wisdom.
Roger Grein is a Philanthropist, Accountant, Baseball Enthusiast, Softball Coach, Friend, Mentor, Leader.
1. How did you get on the Thought of the Day distribution list?
Jane Meier, former Athletic Director at Northern Kentucky University, introduced me to Bill Keating, Jr. through the Cincinnati USA Women’s Sports Association, which honors high school and college female athletes. This was many years ago. Bill was a pioneer of this organization and its efforts. A friendship blossomed from that introduction and led to Bill Keating and Paul Keating being on the board of Magnified Giving.
I was exposed to these emails originally through the guy who started it all.
2. What is your favorite Thought of the Day and why?
When Liz Keating left to go to college at UCLA, Bill wrote about 10 tips on how to deal with the challenges of leaving home – and advice for moving away. While I don’t have children of my own, it really resonated with me because I coached youth for so many years and felt like a father figure to many young people. I could relate to handing out this advice to someone who was having a totally new life experience. And the care and concern that a father expresses for his daughter who is leaving home for the first time.
3. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Great question for a Cincinnati guy – Peach! July is Peach month at UDF!
4. What is your life’s purpose?
That is simple. To love and to be loved. And – to gain everlasting life in Heaven someday.
5. (Besides marriage/having kids/etc.) What are you most proud of in your life?
I never married or had kids. But I have great pride in many things.
I’m most proud of working with youth. First as a coach of high school girls’ softball for almost 40 years, and later establishing Magnified Giving, which teaches youth how to give their time, talent, and treasure back to their community. In both roles – as coach and as founder of a high-impact, mission-driven nonprofit organization – I have exposed youth to the world around them, and helped them be aware of people and issues that they may not be aware of. For example, as a softball team we traveled to and played in Russia, Sweden, Hawaii, and Mexico. We visited third world countries and met children living in extreme poverty. I think I was able to provide life experiences for these youth, that they may never have had otherwise.
Likewise, with Magnified Giving, we have empowered over 20,000 young people to learn about their community’s needs, to engage in service to nonprofits, to be advocates for causes they are passionate about, and to make wise decisions about a grant of $1,000 to a local nonprofit. We have granted over $1 million to the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities since 2008 – all through the hands of these incredibly special and talented youth. They have used their voices to change the world around them – and I like to think I had a little something to do with that.
6. From your experience, what is most important in life?
Faith. Family. And Friends. Contentment. Health and Protection.
7. What do you believe in?
God and the goodness of other people.
8. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a stock broker. I majored in finance at UC so I could be a stock broker. That never happened though, but something much more meaningful did.
9. What is the one thing you need to do every day to get ready to take on the day?
Pray. Get in touch with God. Pray for others and their needs. Have a PMA: Positive Mental Attitude.
10. What are you currently doing to positively impact your community and why?
Magnified Giving is my main focus. Up until March, I was visiting 3-4 schools each week and telling them my story. Talking about life lessons, perseverance, my struggles, my failings and my values. My focus is empowering youth to love and serve others. Encouraging them to use their voice, to act for good. They can be philanthropists now and that is what our world needs.
Through the pandemic, I have continued to visit classrooms by “zooming in” to see them and talk with them – and listen to their perspective, their fears, their solutions to the many issues in our community. What they have told me is that Magnified Giving has given them purpose and helped them see that they can continue to have an impact – even through uncertain times. It shows them just how important our local food pantry, shelters, and thousands of other community nonprofits are and continue to be.
11. What is one defining moment that changed the course of your life?
Getting fired from First National Bank. My first job out of college. I worked in the trust department doing taxes. They said my writing wasn’t clear and that I wouldn’t progress in the organization. But that was a blessing, because it led me to start my own business at a tax accountant. It changed the course of my career and my life. If you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
12. What difficult situation happened to you that, in hindsight, turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
In 2008 I was substantially invested in the stock market but I had not diversified my investments. I lost over $7 million when the market crashed. And I also lost my ability to be a quiet angel that funded dozens of educational programs that I had committed to.
$500K a year to charities vanished.
I went through the five stages of death. It caused me to reflect on what was really important in life. Faith. Family. Friends.
But because of the loss I suffered financially, I was motivated to reach out to others to join me in supporting the many charitable causes I cared about.
It humbled me to ask others to join me to continue work that I started. I wrote over 3,000 letters and sent them to every person I had ever met. To my total delight, they joined me to turn my dream into a reality. 12 years later, we have grown from 8 schools to over 100 schools. I didn’t know it at the time, but the darkest time of my life actually led to my greatest joy – Magnified Giving.
13. When was a time your beliefs were challenged?
A time when my beliefs were challenged was when my father was suffering from cancer and my mother had Alzheimers. I had to let go and trust in God, even though I could not understand why good people have to suffer.
14. If you could change one thing in your personal or professional past, what would it be?
I would not change a thing because I believe there are lessons to be learned in every season of life.
15. How do you find fulfillment and balance in your life?
Through prayer and caring for others. Through family and friends. And balance that with self-care. Exercise, too.
16. When was the last time you took a leap of faith?
Right now. Dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds your future.
17. What do you want your legacy to be?
I want people to remember me as a good person. Kind, gentle, generous and hopefully that is transferred through Magnified Giving and through 100,000 students who will be touched by the spirit of philanthropy – for generations to come.
Note: If our readers would like to learn more about Roger’s amazing life, you are cordially invited to a premiere viewing of his new documentary titled: Roger Grein, An Empowering Philanthropist on Monday, August 31st at 7 p.m. You can find the live virtual event by going to www.rogergrein.live
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