PGA golf professional Ron Dumas with Rotary Club presenters of the Cincinnati Greater Cincinnati Jefferson Award presenters. Photo provided

By Peggy Kreimer Hodgson

Herald Contributor

Ron Dumas, who has spent more than a quarter of a century helping at-risk children build stronger futures through his free golfing and life lessons program, received the 2023 Greater Cincinnati Jefferson Award for outstanding community service.

The awards ceremony is a celebration of the power of service, said presenter Bill Shula of Bethel.

“I am so honored to be part of this great program,” Shula said. “We have so many non-selfish individuals in Greater Cincinnati, this is always difficult to choose just one.”

As the local Jefferson Award winner, Dumas becomes a finalist for one of the five national Jefferson Awards to be presented in New York in October. The national award program was founded in 1972 by Cincinnati native Robert Taft and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It is known as the Nobel Prize for community service.

The local Jefferson Award program is administered by The Rotary Club of Cincinnati and is one of more than 90 community awards programs across the country that send winners to be finalists for national Jefferson Awards.

Since The Rotary Club of Cincinnati started hosting the local award program in 2005, nine local winners have become national awardees.

“This program celebrates individuals whose service and imagination has a continuing impact on the community,” said Shula, who chairs the Rotary’s Jefferson Award program.

Dumas, of Clifton, is a PGA golf professional and CEO of RelySupply who has become a mentor and life coach to thousands of at-risk children through his Reaching Out for Kids program. It combines golf skills with life lessons in persistence, integrity, teamwork, goal setting, respect, discipline and consequence-based decision making.

The free program serves more than 350 kids annually. Dumas has helped close to 200 young students get college scholarships. His “graduates” include four doctors, two airline pilots, several engineers and four golf professionals.

“It’s about more than just golf,” said Dumas. “It is about who they become. Golf is an avenue to their future.”

Shula said the strong finalists for the award made choosing a winner difficult. 

Finalists for the Greater Cincinnati Jefferson Award were Joseph & Noel Julnes-Dehner of Hyde Park, who created the Summer Camp Reading program, helping children retain and expand reading proficiency over the summer, and Bruce Kintner of Cold Spring, Ky., who created Samaritan Car Care Clinic to help low-income individuals keep jobs and build independence by providing affordable car care. 

In 2010, The Rev. Canon Noel Julnes-Dehner, of Christ Church Cathedral, was doing after-school tutoring in Northside when she realized that her students couldn’t do their math homework because they couldn’t read the instructions. When she and her husband, Joseph, couldn’t find summer reading programs in the area, they started their own.

Their Summer Camp Reading programs are now running in nine sites with stunning results.

Typically, students can lose 10% of their school skills over the summer. In 2022, students in the Summer Camp Reading programs showed a 46% increase in reading comprehension, 25% increase in reading fluency and 35% increase in oral reading fluency.

The camps serve children in the second through fourth grades who struggle with reading.

Shula said the Rotary’s focus on service above self makes it perfect host for the Jefferson Award. The national award is a program of the national non-profit Multiplying Good.

Information is available on the Rotary Club of Cincinnati web site. The Rotary Club of Cincinnati was Cincinnati’s first Rotary Club, founded in 1910. It is a service and networking organization for business and community leaders and has a mission to provide selfless service in the community and the world.

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