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Conversations with Tyshon Holden

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyshon Holden.  

Hi Tyshon, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Very thankful for the opportunity to share my story with you all and how my vision came about. My name is Tyshon Holden, I am currently a Manager for the Earth and Ocean Restaurant Group. I am here today to discuss my passion and my purpose. I love my team. I love our brand and everything Earth and Ocean stands for. Our job never ends once the check has been dropped off to the table, or when the doors shut for the evening. Being an active light over and for Cincinnati is on-brand for us. With that being said, Outreach is my whole world! Just being in a position to brighten someone’s day and make their life a tad easier; is all I could ask for. But let’s pump the breaks for a second. Here is what brought me to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati will forever be my home. Cincinnati is the city that adopted me as a young adult. I am originally from Gahanna, Ohio. I relocated here in the spring of 2014, one week after I graduated high school. I was a baby forced to find my way. I was on a journey to play Wide Receiver for the University of Cincinnati. During my time here it feels like I’ve worked everywhere. That’s the running joke amongst my peers. My jobs ranged from a Smoothie King barista all the way to a Cincinnati Bengals’ Video Coordinator for three years before their historic Super Bowl run. I just loved the idea of being a workaholic. Only thing was, I realized it wasn’t loving me back. All that work left me unfulfilled. I was in a funk that I couldn’t shake.

Here is where my outreach comes into play. Giving back is something I have always wanted to do but never knew how to go about it. But first, let me tell you guys about the most important and pivotal day of my life. As that dark cloud consumed my personal life and world, tragedy struck my family. My grandmother passed. And my grandmother for many reasons was the glue that held our family close together. If there was one person that I thought I knew and had figured it out, it was my grandmother Ruby Jones. On the day of her funeral, I had a huge epiphany moment. As I watched my beautiful grandmother lay motionless in her casket, one by one people spoke of her. I listened to everyone’s stories, testimonies, and experiences with her. I felt like I met her for the first time. I had no idea of her impact in her community and job. My grandmother was that grandmother I knew for thousands and thousands of children. She was a music teacher who dedicated her entire being to those kids and whoever was in need. From that day on I knew it was time for action. I could not sit back any longer. It was my time to be a voice for those in multiple communities. I just needed a plan of action.

My first event/drive was a roaring success. I personally dedicated it to my grandmother and it was tribute to her outreach work. I recognized certain needs in the homeless community within downtown Cincinnati. I had just moved into the heart of downtown and seeing the homeless community daily broke me. It continues to break me. I threw my “Warming Cincy” Coat Drive for the homeless and less fortunate in December of 2021 at E+O Kitchen at the Banks. Participants came to the restaurant with coats or other donations and received a Golden Ticket. With that ticket, you received a complimentary glass of wine and deals on food items. With the support of the city, I was able to raise 500+ coats, 30 pairs of shoes, and $2000 cash on the December 17, 2021. Receiving one donation would’ve made it a successful event. To receive that many donations in a short period of time and that amount of love, it meant the world to me. It turned out to be bigger than I could ever imagine. Weeks later I gathered up all those donations, 20 pizzas, bananas, and cases of water. My team and I bussed all-over inner-city Cincinnati and hand-delivered whatever items individuals needed. This was right before the Bengals played in The Super Bowl. The city was full of new life and I wanted the homeless community to feel similar feelings. Truly one of the best; if not the best, days of my existence.

The month of April has been coined Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Coincidentally, I was already collecting donations for domestic violence victims and survivors since early February. Domestic violence was and is an uncomfortable topic that kept coming up in my conversations with close peers. It was another topic that made my heart ache. I began my research on what domestic violence actually is. Through that studying, I started to recognize my peers that are in danger and those warning signs all around me. I recognized that certain stories that were told to me, fell in that category. I recognized that it was not exclusive to just women either. Complete eye-opener for me. I partnered with City Club Apartments to collect items for the women of Ester Marie Hatton Center for Women. In just two months we collected 8000+ items for the shelter. The immediate support and response showed how big of an issue domestic violence is in Cincinnati. I am blessed to be in a position to lead this charge and help spread awareness about this problem in our city. I was featured on Fox19 for three live shows to showcase our donations and explain our mission. I was also featured on two live morning shows for Channel 5 the following week. It ended up taking a whole bus to drop off all the donations. Those five shows grew our donation count even further and we had to give up counting. I am still receiving donations to this day!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Ya know, nothing comes easy in this life. I would not change my journey for anything. The hardest part for me is always the beginning. When I have a fresh idea, the first step is difficult. And I won’t lie to you guys, fear is probably at the top of the list of struggles. I often worry about if my projects will receive enough support or will they get overlooked. It eats at me. It’s because my work comes straight from my heart and my passion. So not always the smoothest of roads, but what road is? I have to remind myself that if I can brighten one person’s day and make that person’s life just a little easier, that’s a whole life worth living for me.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
When comes down to it, I’m just a Cincinnatian with nothing to gain but with everything to give. To bless others, is what I do. Down the road, I plan to start a non-profit of my own. It will be centered around catering to many different communities in Cincinnati. I’m not satisfied with the two fundraisers I have completed. I want to be that voice for Cincinnati. There are committees I would like to be a part of in the future. There are so many groups I would like to collaborate with to spread awareness over these communities in need. When my time on this earth comes to an end, I want my legacy to speak for itself. It’s almost like I am rebranding myself as I mature. I’m falling in love with the journey.

My consistency is what I think I am most proud of. To accomplish what I have so far has been such a test. I have many moving pieces on my plate at the moment. It comes with many sleepless nights. My outreach is not just a one-time success story, I want to continue this for the rest of my life. What sets me apart is my outlook on others. We are all one. We are all the same. Before you can put anyone in any sort of class, color, or role you have to understand that we are all brothers and sisters. We are all human. I can’t turn a blind eye to my struggling brothers and sisters around this city. I refuse. I need them just as much as they need me.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
My parents are my greatest gift. Everything that I am is because of them. Never had it all but I always had what I needed. My mother is by far the strongest person I know. She’s the light of my life. I just want to make her proud. We’ve overcome and beat all expectations. My E+O family has also stuck by my side and picked me up whenever I started to doubt myself. I love them to death. I needed them along this journey. I am blessed to have so many people that mentor me and offer advice to me. But above all else, they listened. I don’t have to feel alone anymore and it’s all because of the positive souls around me, listening to goals I want to accomplish and achieve. Life is good!

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Image Credits
Mitch Schry
Melissa Wamp

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