Making A Difference: Will Gilliland

We were able to catch up with Will, a student at MoellerHigh School, and talk about “Working For a Smile”, their Service Challenge Project from 2014. Last time we spoke with Will, “Working For a Smile” was a project in process, now we see how Will and his peers at Moeller took our challenge to create a service project a step further and decided to not only impact their own community, but also the community of Santa Cruz, Peru through “Working For a Smile”.  (You can view their trip below)

What was your biggest take away from the Youth Leadership Seminar?

Will: My biggest take away from the seminar was just the inspiration of seeing other high school students become passionate about doing service work in the community. Seeing my peers come up with great ideas for service pushed me to come up with the most challenging service project possible. The speakers also inspired me to go out and make a difference in someone else’s life as so many have done to me in my own life.

What impact have you seen in your community and school from the Youth Leadership Seminar and from “Working for a Smile”?

Will: I saw a large impact from my school when we raised money through the penny wars because tons of people got involved and I was happy to see the support of my peers and my school. There was also large support from my school to try and win second place in the contest when students used social media to try and win. The Seminar was a great opportunity to raise awareness for service not just domestically but also internationally in my community and my school.

Would you recommend others go to the Youth Leadership Seminar?

Will: Yes, because it engages students in a subject that talks about service to those in need. Whether it is bullying or the homeless there is always someone who needs help and with the great opportunities given to my peers and I by our parents and our schools we have the ability to help others. The Youth Leadership Seminar inspired me to take advantage of these opportunities and it led me to great success with my project.

You were the student leader for the Service Project Challenge.  How did “Working For a Smile” specifically impact your own life?

Will: It impacted my life by forming a sense of work ethic that I never thought I could have before. This project helped me reach my potential and the satisfaction I derived in seeing the respect from the villagers made it so worth it. It helped me form new relationships as well as reestablish old ones and also helped me form new ideals to live by.  This project has changed me as a person greatly and I will never forget the positive impact it had on my life and especially the people we helped.

Check to see if your school is on the list for this year’s Youth Leadership Seminar so your students can make an impact like Will!

Kristin Shaffer
Experience Intern

Meet the Interns

The Anthony Muñoz Foundation has some great events coming up and we as the new interns cannot wait to tell you all about them.  Some of the upcoming events we will be writing about on the blog are the Youth Leadership Seminar, Service Challenge Projects, and more. The two of us will be keeping you up to date on everything that’s happening here at AMF, but first we wanted to give you guys the chance to get to know us a little bit!


Ilana Siegel: Events Intern

I attend the University of Cincinnati where I am a Junior Communications major, Marketing minor.  I grew up in Cleveland, OH all my life then moved to Greensboro, NC going into my Freshman year of college.  Ever since attending UC, I have fallen more in love with the city of Cincinnati and I can definitely call it a second home.

What about AMF most excites you?

I admire AMF’s dedication in providing opportunities for growth and success within the community.  I look forward to being a part of the process in helping make a difference in one’s life, this is something I have always been passionate for.

If you could meet any celebrity who would it be?

I am going to have to say Anna Kendrick (star of Pitch Perfect 1 and 2).  Her quirkiness, her attitude on life and just her personality as a whole is kind of myself in a nutshell.  We would get along very well!

What is the best thing about Cincinnati in 3 words?

Much to offer


Kristin Shaffer: Experience Intern

 I am a senior Communications and English major at the University of Cincinnati. I definitely consider myself a Cincinnati enthusiast who loves the Reds, Bearcats and of course Graeter’s Ice Cream.

What about AMF most excites you?

I have worked for various non-profits, but since I am a Cincinnati native I am especially excited about working for the Anthony Muñoz Foundation.  The impact this foundation has made on the community is powerful and I look forward to being a part of it.

If you could meet any celebrity who would it be?

If I could meet any celebrity it would be Melissa McCarthy (she starred in Bridesmaids and the Heat).  She is hilarious and always has me laughing!  If I ever got to meet her I would probably be her new best friend because I would laugh at all of her jokes.

What is the best thing about Cincinnati in 3 words?

Strong Community Atmosphere

We are both excited to be working for AMF and getting to share our experience with you here on our blog! Be sure to stay up to date with everything that’s happening through our blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

New Miami’s Candlelight Vigil: Doing Something Worth Remembering

On October 27th, New Miami High School dedicated their #AMFChallenge to Christian Benge and her family by hosting a Candlelight Vigil. Christian Benge, who was a student at New Miami High School, passed away on Friday, October 17th from an underlying heart condition. The high school created a truly amazing event to remember her and support the family. It is great to see that New Miami can create light during such a dark time.


New Miami high school did a number of fundraisers within the school in order to raise enough money to help the family with expenses for a headstone and a tree they planted outside their school. It is through the generous acts that this school has done, that highlight the importance of coming together to get through a loss and bringing together a community.


The point of the AMF Challenge is not who can raise the most money but who can make an impact on the community around them. That is just what New Miami is doing and it is wonderful to see a community come together during such a hard time.

Don’t forget to keep us up-to-date on how your AMF Challenge Project is going by following us on social media and hash-tagging AMFChallenge.

Caroline Wydysh

Events Intern



High Schools Inspiring Community Involvement: Part 1

Our Youth Leadership Seminar (YLS) has inspired many Tri-State schools to go out into their community and make a difference one Service Challenge Project (SCP) at a time. Below are the 5 schools who are not only dedicated to YLS, but making an impact in their community as well!  Let’s put the spotlight on some of the schools for how many years they’ve been to the event!

Aiken High School: 9 Years

AMF is proud to be able to see firsthand the positive impact Aiken High School has undoubtedly made in their community. Counselor, Sandi Horine, and her YLS group have been outstanding with their past SCP, including one completed this past February which focused on raising awareness against local gun violence.

Read more about it here!


Amelia High School: 9 Years 

Amelia has proven loyal to their school’s commitment to have students “stretch their learning to show what they can do as they become more responsible world citizens.” (AEP Vision Statement)  What we can say is that they are definitely on the right track, especially with service challenge projects like 2012’s canned food drive which collected over 4,000 non-perishable food items, and 2013’s Amelia Ambassadors Program!


Anderson High School: 9 Years

Needless to say, YLS would be nothing without all the great faculty leading students. Anderson High School’s Pat Thatcher is just one example of an exceptional, motivated YLS moderator. She’s lead the way in helping her students inspire their community with projects like a donkey basketball fundraiser and the school-wide Christmas present drive.


Bracken County High School: 8 Years

Winners of the 2012 Service Challenge Project, Bracken High School is an outstanding example of what it means to spark a passion in your community. Their “No Text on Board-It Can Wait!” campaign educated many throughout their community about the dangers of distracted driving. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your school normally does, if you have a great idea and a few friends to help you, you can do it no matter what.” –BHS Student

Check out their winning Service Challenge Project here!

bracken county

Franklin High School:  6 Years

Franklin High School was the 2012 runner-up for the SCP, opening a library for Kindergarten students whose library’s funding was cut. This is a great example for younger students as it shows great leadership skills within the community!

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These are just a few of our most active YLS schools! Make sure you tune in next week to see more schools under the spotlight!

Jemannie Luong

Experience Intern


Aiken Rallies Against Gun Violence

  The Aiken Community Stands Strong Against Violence 

        Students at Aiken College and Career High School, tucked away in the heart of College Hill have become all too familiar with the devastation of several tragic deaths spurred by gun violence throughout the past five years. Numerous teenagers have come to know the heartbreak of losing their family members and friends. Sandi Horine, Aiken Guidance Counselor, and her Youth Leadership Seminar Student Leadership Group were inspired by the Service Challenge Project and were eager to take a stand against gun violence in their immediate community. Sandi was impressed with their passion and dedication to the project and the enthusiasm they showed in rallying together. The group was committed to making an impact in preventing tragedy from striking any more of their peers. Three years ago, Aiken lost five students to gun violence and the year before, several students and alumni. Just one week after plans for this project were finalized, Aiken lost a 14-year-old to gun fire. Several weeks later, another 14-year-old, who was not an Aiken student but a close friend to many, was tragically killed. The week before the event, an Aiken senior was shot but survived with the support of friends and family. Needless to say, this issue is one that hits too close to home for many students.

Aiken’s service challenge project, featured on the FOX 19 evening news, kicked off a week-long event on Tuesday, February 11th with two, all-school assemblies reaching 700 students targeting gang awareness and addressing preventative action. Sandi’s group hosted a follow-up during lunch to provide students the opportunity to learn about additional resources and to confide in peers about their personal experience. In addition, Wednesday’s lunch period included a discussion that focused on methods to cope with loss by encouraging students to open up through sharing how gun violence has affected them.

Jamie Bryant, who works with the Cincinnati Human Relations Committee at City Hall partnered with Aiken and presented at Wednesday’s rally. In addition, representatives from “Mothers of Murdered Victims” attended the event to share their personal stories of loss and mourning.  Ms. Horine was struck by the impressive turnout and courage of those who were so willing to open up by facing a very difficult and personal issue that is often considered “the elephant in the room” in hopes of making a difference. Students were eager to equip themselves through education on this very prevalent issue so they too are prepared to go out into their neighborhoods, and make an impact both as individuals and as a school. Although Aiken emphasizes a strong focus on academics and excelling students to the next level, Ms. Horine says the school holds the safety and comfort of the students in the highest regard.

To bring the week to a close, the school opened its doors to students, families and community members for the “Night-at-the-Mic Rally”. The attendees – including two local Cincinnati Police Officers, the “Mothers of Murdered Victims” members and countless students – shared their personal testimonies of gun violence and stories of loved ones who have lost their lives. The thought-provoking discussion and personal accounts were incredibly moving and shed a serious light on an issue that continues to pose a threat to many Cincinnati communities. Following the rally, attendees scribed the names of friends and family members who have passed away on hundreds of purple and white balloons and released them into the sky. The sun was shining and the group fell silent as the sea of purple and white floated up over the hill and soared through College Hill. It was a beautiful symbol of hope and honorable tribute to those who have lost their lives to gun violence.









Great Job, Aiken!


Service Challenge Project: Talawanda “Plugs Into Kindness”

Talawanda “Plugs into Kindness”

          The heavy snow posed no threat to the energy that awoke the halls of Talawanda Middle School (Oxford) last Friday morning as they kicked off their YLS Service Challenge Project. Although the temperature was low, the spirits couldn’t have been higher as the 6, 7 & 8th graders “plugged into kindness” with their ‘Unplug Bullying’ rally. The idea, spurring from The Anthony Muñoz Youth Leadership Seminar in October, was headed by Talawanda High School’s group of YLS attendees who recognized the need to address bullying in their younger, more impressionable generations – their district middle school. Sharon Gregory, Family and Consumer Science Teacher and AMF group leader at Talawanda High School was so overwhelmed with the positive feedback that the group is planning a community presentation next month and will continue to visit the middle school during lunches to mentor students.

YLS High Schoolers Kicking Off The Assembly!

YLS High Schoolers Kicking Off The Assembly!

“We have had great comments from our staff and administration! I am so proud of the students and how they came up with the idea and ran with it. We worked together as a group to come up with small group ideas and the students handled themselves very professionally. They were surprised with how many students opened up to them and shared things during the small groups.”

       April Kerley, U.S. Paralympics Swimmer and nine-time American record setter delivered a moving message of her story and the adversity she has overcome in life, striving to hold herself to a standard of compassion and kindness toward others. She explained that in life, there is no such thing as “normal” and that if we were all in fact “normal” – we would all be average, possessing the same strengths, but also the same weaknesses. April, a keynote speaker at the 2013 AMF Youth Leadership Seminar, sparked an energy at Talawanda with her inspirational story.       

April and Talawanda High School Team

April and Talawanda High School Team

       “As an athlete, I train daily with teenagers and have long believed they are emerging as inspiring, youth leaders. So when the opportunity came along to speak at the Anthony Munoz Foundation’s Youth Leadership Seminar, I was eager to support the cause and contribute to your service projects. What I did not anticipate was the learning I would gain along the journey. As I have traveled to schools to support your projects, it has elevated my enthusiasm! Along the way, I discovered new insight into what is important to you, and, most importantly, why a project matters to you. Through the AMF Challenge, you shared of yourself, your life experiences, your aspirations and that directed your community service to align with you, your peers, and your community.”

        The YLS high school ambassadors finished up with a series of creative skits aimed to express the extreme emotional and social effects of bullying, whether in or outside of school walls. With a progressive age of technology focused on social media and online interaction, there is a rising platform for bullying, including threats, hurtful words and exclusion in the digital space – specifically with apps such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The crisis of cyber bullying through technology and online mediums continues to heighten and the YLS team didn’t hold back in challenging this nation-wide issue head on.

         Following the all-school rally, Ms. Gregory’s students chose to hone in on 7th graders specifically for the small group break-out sessions – a group seeming to be more affected by this issue. The high schoolers facilitated evoking dialogue on the various forms of bullying and how it can be disguised, why it happens, and where students should turn if they experience bullying amongst themselves or peers. Through their thoughts and participation, it was evident that the students’ eyes were being opened to the magnitude of bullying – an issue that hit home for them, and thousands of youth throughout the community. The 7th graders were encouraged to share personal opinions, stories and suggestions on how the issue can be eliminated moving forward.

Small Group Breakout Sessions

Small Group Breakout Sessions

As one chapter closes, another one opens

5 busy computers. 4 month internship. 3 graduating interns. 2 major events. And 1 amazing experience.

Can you believe that 2013 is finishing up and 2014 will be here before we know it!? This will be the final blog post from your AMF fall interns. We have 4 new faces that will be taking over starting in January and they will have the chance to tell their own stories each week through their blog posts.

We have been passionately following the Service Challenge Projects for the last 2 months and are extremely impressed with each school’s drive, compassion, and excitement in helping to better the community by getting “Plugged In.”

foodFinneytown High School is currently working on a project of opening a food pantry at their school for the entire year, instead of just around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. The students are working with the PTA for a grant in order to be able to better the lives of others and make an impact in their community.

Lebanon High School has been taking advantage of #AMFChallenge by tweeting pictures of their project of starting a homework club and tutoring local children. The picture shows the tutors teaching multiplication tricks to students  who may be struggling in the subject. The plan for this project is that the homework club will continue throughout the whole year and hopefully become a new yearly program at Lebanon.

runningDeer Park High School has confirmed that their project is going to be a 5k for suicide awareness taking place on Saturday, January 11th. Deer Park recognized a problem in their area and is doing something to bring awareness to this important topic. This will be a great event to start 2014 off on a strong note and will hopefully be one of the first projects that AMF staff members will be able to visit in January.

These are just some of the projects that continue to inspire us each day. Working closely with each of your schools has been a great opportunity, and one that we are so thankful we got to experience. As we finish our final few projects in the office, we hope you take the time to reflect and realize which Service Challenge Project is most inspiring for you. We don’t want Service Challenge Projects to end even though the semester is coming to a close. As students, you get the next two weeks off to spend time with your family and friends, enjoy the holidays, play in the snow, and think about how you can continue to inspire your community!

Becky Griesmer
Impact Intern