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The Change-Makers: stories that inspire

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Kathleen Gingerich

I like to say that Flowers found me… But I also know that it’s a little bit in my blood. My Grandpa was the original family gardener. In fact, when giving directions to their house, my dad recalls telling people, “It’s the house with all the flowers.” While I never got to see it in all its glory, I’ve seen pictures of when the entire front yard was turned into an American flag made of flowers. My gardening journey started with vegetables. Later, I had a small patch of flowers at the end of the vegetable garden. The flowers then grew, and I was addicted. My garden is now all flowers and no vegetables. Read more>>

Elaine Clark

Hyer Magazine Association Awards (HMA Awards) are a self-made production for the most cutting-edge artists, entertainers, and business owners. In order to help cultivate an open door for their potential dreams, we created this award show for individuals representing the small communities from around the world. As a result, we have assisted talent in signing with agencies, artists in securing long-term contracts, contractors in closing contracts, etc… The formula we use to create our award show is to find the most talented, gifted, outgoing, and passionate creatives and let the world know about them. Read more>>

Dr. T Carter

Hmmm, how did I get started? I think I’ve always been passionate about women’s rights and equality and opposed to traditionalism and labels. I remember challenging and debating many of my teachers and leaders in my childhood community about things that I found to be unjust or oppressive to a specific people group or system. I think that just organically translated into my purpose. But BWCC (Black Women Coping in Community) was truly birthed out of my frustration with systems that had continuously excluded, subverted, and oppressed black women. Read more>>

Rachel Dolby

We’re Kian and Rachel- Friends and Columbus natives that are excited to be on the Central, Ohio event and wedding floral scene! We love working together and have a mutual passion for flowers and event planning, so we started Flocal as a creative outlet for both. We have been working in Health Care IT and consulting for 10+ years, and the pandemic took a toll, as it did for everyone, in terms of time spent behind a desk and from a home office. As it wore on, we both were searching for an opportunity to not only get out and interact with our community but enjoy some time working with our hands and fostering our creativity. Read more>>

Heather OBoyle Erman

I was a young artist who moved from Ohio to LA with fresh eyes and an open heart. After a couple of jobs that were unfulfilling in the entertainment industry, I left my corporate job and put myself through makeup school at 28, with an “it’s now or never” attitude. I worked in TV, Commercial & Film for 12 years doing everything from natural corrective beauty to high fashion to blood and gore SFX (which I actually LOVED). I learned the power of creative transformation. It can start outside and seep inward, or it can happen inside and translate outward. Read more>>

Laura Anderson

I started my journey in the fine art industry and then followed that with graphic design. While in art school at Columbus College of Art and Design, I was working at a child care center in the infant room, and I adored it so much! Eventually, I started wanting to combine my love of art and babies/children into one entity. After my daughter was born in 2009, I couldn’t put my camera down; just like any new mom, I wanted all the photos! Having a background already in editing programs and some foundation education in photography, it was really fun to play around with ideas with her as my first model. Read more>>

Kate Buzzacco

At a very young age, I started identifying myself as an artist. This passion for art led me to study at Kent State University in Fashion Design, which then led me to work in Columbus as a print designer for apparel. In between freelance jobs, I found myself painting a watercolor portrait of my son and posted it on Instagram. The requests from friends started rolling in for me to paint their own loved ones, and Kate Buzzacco Studio formed. I love the creative freedom portrait painting has given me. I feel fortunate that my paintings have the ability to give someone joy and to forever capture the emotion of a memory in art form. Read more>>

Sven Olaf Nelson

Letterpress printing hooked me while getting my Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Graphic Design at Ball State University. I grew up drafting and doing mechanical drawings, so drawing letterforms as a first-year design student came easy, and I became restless. I did learn that I love typefaces, letterforms, and designing with typefaces. I just stumbled upon letterpress in the Senior Design Studio and started messing around with the presses and moveable type, printing flyers for senior shows, books covers, and small cards. I love antiques and continuing to use them for their intended purpose. Read more>>

John Hart

About 10 years ago, Kari and her husband Cory lived in Paulding and would bring pizza from Red Angel every Friday night. We moved back to Hicksville, and Cory asked John Hart (Kari’s dad) why don’t you just put in a shop. A few weeks later, John ran into Red (Jim Allen, the owner of red angel). At the gun range in Antwerp, Ohio, and asked if he ever thought about putting a shop back in Hicksville… He told me no because they were all too old and getting tired, but I should try and open one. I laughed and said what do I know about pizza? We had a family meeting about this and made a decision to give it a try. We meet with Red and Ethel (right-hand girl at the time) and made the deal. Read more>>

Thomas Manuszak

4 years ago, my wife and I tried a pottery night at a local gallery/studio. My wife noticed I was more relaxed and happier than I had been in months. We soon bought a tabletop wheel, and I began producing as a hobby. Soon I had so much made we took items to the Stow Farmers Market. By year 3, we were in multiple galleries in Stow and Cuyahoga Falls, selling online and still attending markets. Today we continue at markets, online, and with the galleries. Next year I plan to do pottery. Art and making of custom pottery tools full-time. Read more>>

Yahel Pack

I came to Dayton Bach in 2016 when the military told me I’d be going to Ohio. I found Dayton poetry slam, and I stayed involved ever since. The development I had while in the city is something I still am thankful for to this day. The road has been anything but smooth; from my twin brother dying to me almost kicking the bucket myself, the hurdles were not easy to overcome. I almost stopped completely; being able to look back and see all the things that could have been where everything stopped but didn’t is an eye-opener. Read more>>

Bakary Kamara

I love music, and I love to travel… I like good food also. Coming from west Africa was challenging, had to learn English and adapt. So, I started working and working so I can buy the equipment I wanted to produce music… and after that meet people in da industry… I’m a beat maker/producer… It’s never smooth in life… we always have challenges and struggles, but I think this why it’s interesting… my first struggle was the language barrier and the accent. I did change my carrier… but I still compose music and work with some artists… I’m very happy when I hit the studio and create some beats or record a track… Read more>>

Nicole Campbell

We found out we were pregnant in May of 2019. We were so excited to be starting a family. My first trimester was showing to be normal with no complications. Right at 13 weeks, entering into the 2nd trimester, I began to experience things that were contradicting to normal pregnancy symptoms. From that point on I was having to go to multiple doctors’ appointments a week. Many ultrasounds were conducted, and while they could detect a bleed, the baby was still thriving. At week 16, even while experiencing scary pregnancy symptoms, we went to our appointment at Becoming Mom to find out the gender of our baby. Read more>>

Tyler Roberson

My name is Tyler Roberson, and I am the owner/operator of Ohio’s Greatest Music (OGM). One of Dayton’s premier events DJ companies. My musical journey has taken me through all sorts of adventures and started a long time ago. I come from a family of musicians. Two of my uncles are in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and my mother was an up-and-coming artist in Bluegrass Music throughout my childhood. My sister and I would open for her band (Tish & Company) at The Spring Fling in Miamisburg every year by singing some of our favorite songs. Read more>>

Sarah Rathsack

I had my first migraine attack at age 5. I lived episodically (less than 15 migraine attacks a month) growing up and as an adult became chronic and daily. I started my blog My Migraine Life to feel less alone and connect with other people living life through migraine. Now I have been a migraine advocate for 9 years and grow in my knowledge and connection daily. Living with migraine is incredibly hard. I have really bad days and many bad moments experiencing a range of physical symptoms and emotions. Read more>>

Danasha Edgington

As a young little girl, I have always wanted to be a model, I used to watch America’s top model often with my grandmother when we had free time. As a little girl, I attended many Sunburst Beauty and Baby Contest pageant competitions from age 2 1/2 to 3 – 4 years old. Doing those competitions has allowed me to get familiar and comfortable with being a figure in the modeling industry that I am in today. I am forever grateful that my mother, father, and nana for allowing me to attend the Sunburst competitions as such a young age. After a couple years have gone by, I picked up my interest in being a model again in the summer of 2020. Read more>>

Miranda Hertel

I got into photography right after high school. I always loved taking pictures and have always thought I had “the eye” for it. I am the least artsy person you will ever meet in your life when it comes to anything other than photography! I started using my mom’s digital camera to take photos of friends for fun, and then when my husband and I started dating he bought me my first professional camera. I remember begging my friends and family to let me take their photos for advertisement, and looking back now it is crazy how far I have come! As that continued, I began teaching myself more and more and practicing a ton! Read more>>

Paul Romano Weedman

The Weedman 420 Chronicles began as a ‘smoke sesh’ conversation in our basement, with talks of creating a comic book series that later evolved into the creation of the podcast. Paul, aka. Mr. Weedman and the boys were the original hosts, smoking and talking about all things cannabis, with a focus on education and freeing the plant’s stigma. As time progressed, the pandemic limited our ability to record with the crew, so Susan, aka. Mrs. Weedman agreed to jump in. Once she acclimated to the process, the podcast found its groove and became a more regular show with weekly episodes. Read more>>

Eric Sulzer

Growing up, I always was active playing sports with my family and friends. But it wasn’t until I started lifting weights at 14 that my obsession with fitness started. From that moment on, I was hooked! I was a skinny kid and became fascinated with how lifting weights changed my body and improved my strength. The more I lifted, the more and more my confidence grew. Flash forward to 2010, when I discovered CrossFit. I was a middle school history teacher, and I had continued to stay in shape but never seriously or consistently. I first found CrossFit through videos on YouTube, and then I tried to replicate the movements at my local YMCA. Read more>>

Tracy Nicole Stokes

I am Tracy Nicole Stokes, AKA TraSpeaks, in these streets. (If you listen to my Podcast More Than a Single Story- UnScripted, you will understand the reference!). I am from Dayton, Ohio (known as the Gem City). I graduated from Wright State University with a B.A. in Sociology- in 2001 and a Master of Education in HigherEducation Administration- in 2004. After graduating with my master’s degree, I worked at my alma mater for six years as an academic advisor. There, I was able to give back and inspire others to create intentional plans to reach their personal and academic goals. Read more>>

Goodwill Industries

More than 100 years ago, Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio was started out of a warehouse on Thackery Street on the east side of Cleveland. At that time, the city and country were in the midst of grappling with the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Needs were great throughout the community. Goodwill provided an opportunity for those less fortunate or those with disabilities an opportunity to find work. Just as other cities had embraced the Goodwill ideals, so did Cleveland. Donations of clothing and furniture were collected. Read more>>

Vanessa King

I competed in my first two pageant competitions in 1978 and 1980. I took a long break and began competing again in 1999 and won my first national pageant title in 2002. In 2003, one of the pageants I competed in needed a director for Ohio and asked if I could have the position and was accepted, beginning my journey as a pageant director. I began getting offers to direct other pageants and began directing multiple pageants in 2009. In 2010, I decided to bring all my pageants under one umbrella and named my pageant business Queen Nefertiti Productions LLC. Read more>>

Ryan Huston

My story as a bonsai artist starts when I was young. At 8 years old, I vaguely remember visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory for the first time with my parents and sister and being stunned by the bonsai on display there. I don’t remember exactly how I talked my mom into it, but she let me buy a cheap $10 prebonsai there as well as a book called the “Bonsai Survival Manual.” I was mystified by these little trees so much that after reading through the book I would flip through it again to see the pictures of the specialized techniques and all the beautiful examples of bonsai again. Inevitably, I killed my first tree, but soon there was a second, and I still had that book to refer to. Read more>>

Katherine Griffin

It started out with the “secret family” chocolate chip cookie recipe lol. I made them for a long time but always wanted to try different things. I’ve always loved cooking but found I really enjoyed baking. I would try different things and ideas and bring them to family and friends’ parties. It started out as a joke. “You need to sell these!” “You need a bakery!”. I would laugh and just brush it off, but one day a friend asked me to make muffins for her family that was coming into town. Well, that lead to orders and setting up at fairs. Read more>>

Margi Griebling-Haigh

I’m a classically trained oboist, English hornist, and composer who hails from a unique family of composers. My father, Stephen Griebling (deceased), was a much-admired, self-taught composer who made his living as an engineer at Firestone Tire and Rubber in Akron; my mother, Mary Ann Griebling, was for several decades a very respected and successful private teacher of music theory, piano, and composition; my elder sister Karen Griebling, holds a DMA in composition and served for 30 years as a professor of music theory, composition, upper strings, music history, and world music at Hendrix College in Conway Arkansas. Read more>>

Justin Singleton

I have done a lot in my life. As a teenager, I was the kid who sat in his room reading encyclopedia articles about World War II and other historical events. As an adult, I’ve been a mailman, a factory worker, and a construction worker. I’ve gone to war, had a radio show, traveled the world as an archaeologist, and have been a lifelong learner. In 2005, I was called to go to Iraq, where I was attached to an Infantry Reconnaissance platoon, even though I was an Indirect Fire Infantryman—a completely different skill trade. Nonetheless, I figured things out, and we all did quite well in the missions to which we were assigned. Read more>>

Jeremy Slagle

As a kid, he drew everything and anything he could think of, hung out with the designers at the advertising agency where his mom worked, and constantly took things apart to better understand them. Always looking for new ways to solve problems, Jeremy was the kid and later the adult whom people turned to when they needed help expressing themselves and their ideas graphically. Today, as the principal of his own firm, Jeremy puts his insatiable curiosity to work every day as he gets into the heads of his clients to really understand what it is they want and—perhaps more importantly—need in order to develop a memorable brand presence. Read more>>

Summer Mazion

I’ve always had a love for the beauty industry. At my request, my mother took me to a cosmetic counter for my 13th birthday. By 20 years old, not knowing then what path my life was going to take, I moved away from a small appalachian town to Cincinnati, Ohio to fulfill my lifelong passion of becoming a certified makeup artist and licensed advanced esthetician. It has not been easy to get to where I am today. I juggled multiple jobs throughout my latter 20s-mid 30s while building my clientele. Read more>>

DeJonna Williams

I grew up participating in theater. In high school, I was inducted into the National Thespian Society with the troupe 946. There is where I found my love for acting and assisting in putting together shows. I actually wrote my first show, “The Lady with the Mustache in high school. It was a short comedy. I was involved in several shows and musicals. I also worked in several departments, from the costume department to the set design department. I began in 2013 doing background work on a film that was being done in the Cleveland area. Read more>>

Donavon Gaines

My name is Donavon Gaines; I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio; Growing up here, you never hear anything positive about Cleveland. I can remember my mother and I would take the bus Downtown, and I’d just look out the window, inspired by my surroundings recognizing raw beauty. From a very early age, my environment and circumstances imprinted a particular “swagger” in me that’s displayed throughout my personality, work ethic, and creativity. I’m currently a proud freelance photographer and creative based in my home town using its many amenities as inspiration. Read more>>

Tamika Tucker

My passion to create positive t-shirts started years ago when I walked into a local mall with the desire to buy a cute t-shirt. I was going to wear a casual t-shirt and dress it up with skinny jeans and stilettos! Frustrated that I could not find a single shirt with something positive on it, I went home disappointed. I refused to wear something negative because I realized that words are powerful, and we can speak our destiny into existence, good or bad. I made my own shirt with some puff paint and a $4 shirt from Walmart. The shirt said Beauty on it. Read more>>

Angie Haze

There’s a cassette tape. On it my mother asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m only 3 yrs. old, but I don’t even hesitate. I know. I always knew. Pretty sure I chose it before this lifetime. So, I tell her, “I want to be a singer, a piano, and a guitar.” This hasn’t changed. All I wanted and still want to this day is to perform, produce and compose my own music. While my story has a lot of heartache, want to focus on telling the story of the little girl who, against all odds, believed in herself and chased an “impracticable” dream. Read more>>

Narada Myers

Throughout my life, I’ve always been passionate about people and understanding them. In the workforce, I’ve been in the hospitality/restaurant industry for over a decade. Recently in the past few years, I’ve ventured into the world of marketing, going from traditional marketing to digital. My current role is Supporter Relations at the Columbus Crew. Having the mix of strategic creative planning with the fundamentals of connecting with people and hit the roots of human interaction is what I’m all about. Balance! On the other side, I’m a dance teacher (hip hop), model, and poet. Read more>>

Benjamin Baugham

I was born in Dayton, Ohio, to a family of street performers, musicians mostly. From a very early age, we were out on the streets of Oregon District busking for cash using the talents that we had. I was the only visual artist in the family and desperately wanted to make money with the rest of my siblings; this inclined me to pick up “chalk art” and performative visual arts. I have been networking with the people of Dayton and beyond since I was thirteen years old; through this, I have built a loyal customer base and following that supports my artistic endeavors daily. Read more>>

Lashanna Alfred

Raised as an only child, mother and father were murdered when I was a child. Grew up in a drug-infested environment and had limited role models. My adult lifestyle landed me in prison in a 3rd world country while pregnant with my 3rd child. After I was released, I was encouraged by my parole officer to become a social worker. I went to school and graduated with my Master’s of Social Work degree. I worked with substance abuse population for over 8 years prior to opening up my private practice and behavioral health agency, where the focus is on mental health. Read more>>

Azure Stephens

My and my mother’s (Portia Yiamouyiannis, the owner) story are closely intertwined. On day 2 of life, I was with her in her first health food store (Beechwold Natural Foods, closed 2006), and I spent most of my time there with her, listening and learning until it closed when I was 8. She went on to pursue her main passion, healthy vegan food, and eventually opened a restaurant, Portia’s Cafe, in 2013. I was very involved with her business, working as a server and in the kitchen. Then in 2015, the opportunity presented itself to open another health food store just a few doors down from our restaurant. Read more>>

Haley Schaub

My mom always had a vision of owning a boutique with her daughters – I have two sisters, Hannah & Colleen and I am the oldest. I am a kindergarten teacher and a mom of two little girls, Eleanore and Amelia, so even though I had (and still have) a full-time job, I loved the idea of starting a business with my mom and sisters – I mean what would be more fun than this?!? So, we all started doing a bunch of research on ways to start up our own business without having any background knowledge or experience. Read more>>

Vanessa King

I competed in my first two pageant competitions in 1978 and 1980. I took a long break and began competing again in 1999 and won my first national pageant title in 2002. In 2003, one of the pageants I competed in needed a director for Ohio and asked if I could have the position and was accepted, beginning my journey as a pageant director. I began getting offers to direct other pageants and began directing multiple pageants in 2009. In 2010, I decided to bring all my pageants under one umbrella and named my pageant business Queen Nefertiti Productions LLC. Read more>>

Alex Goodman

I started Franklin Morrow in March of 2018. My goal with Franklin Morrow was simple. I wanted to produce a high-quality and affordable sock that helped people stand out in a crowded room. We quickly went from a majority of our sales being online to entering stores across Ohio, to where we are now, which is a large portion of our business focused on creating custom designs for clients. At the end of the day, our main goal is to help clients put their best foot forward. Like most businesses, we’ve had our ups and downs. Entrepreneurship is much like a rollercoaster. Read more>>

Bo Dupler

As a kid growing up around Somerset, OH, I always wanted to give back to the community and provide something that was unique to Somerset and the surrounding communities. My wife and I transformed the original “Snack Bar,” which was a breakfast and lunch diner on the square to a self-service frozen yogurt shop in two months. The road wasn’t smooth leading up to our opening on the 4th of July weekend, but it has all worked out, and the community has embraced us and our sweet treats! Read more>>

Latisha Owens

In 2014, I founded Guiding Light Mentoring (GLM) as I felt a calling from God to provide youth with guidance, support, and encouragement in making positive decisions that would lead to a successful life. In my obedience to God, I started the business with just 5 mentors and 5 mentees and no budget using my own money to initially fund the organization. I have come to realize that relationships built through Guiding Light Mentoring have proven that mentoring is a key factor in the healthy development of youth. Read more>>

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