What does a man do when he has earned and saved millions of dollars from many years of working hard and living modestly? And, then what does a man do when he suddenly loses all of that wealth? One need only look at that man’s strengths of character to begin guessing what the answers might be.
Roger Grein’s top strengths of character as measured by the VIA Survey (www.viacharacter.org) are spirituality, honesty, kindness, perseverance, gratitude, and perspective. He has strong beliefs in a higher power, purpose, and meaning that shape his behavior and provide comfort. He is without pretense, and presents himself in a genuine way. He derives great satisfaction from helping others, is very grateful for the good things that have come his way. And, his perspective of “the big picture” along with strong perseverance ensures that he finishes what he starts moving through and past all obstacles.
So, what would you guess he might do with his accumulated wealth? Move out of his $60,000 home to a bigger one? No. Buy a nice car? No. Find a charitable cause in which his money could be leveraged to ensure college scholarships for physically challenged students, and name this gift after his mother? YES! After establishing this fund at Northern Kentucky University he then donated the Frank Ignatius Grein Softball Field in his father’s name with endowed scholarships for their student athletes on the team! Kindness…gratitude…perspective…spirituality.
As if that was not already a lot of generosity, Roger then noticed the success of the Mayerson Philanthropy Program at NKU and had the perspective of envisioning how that program could grow…other universities and into high schools as well. Fueled by his strengths of character and core values he created AND funded programs to do just that. He is a man with a vision…on a mission.
And then, the bottom fell out of the financial markets and he lost essentially ALL of his money! He could not make good on his pledges to his charities. He was back to square one in terms of earning a living as a certified public accountant in a small office in Reading, Ohio. Did he shrink away with his tail between his legs? No. With head held high and a smiling spirit he had an honest talk with the programs that were depending on his further contributions. He told them that while he couldn’t take out a checkbook, he still had a lot passion, talent, and he knew a lot of people who in turn knew a lot of people. He could continue his incredible generosity even though he had experienced a financial loss that most would describe as devastating.
“There are two different thoughts. Give up or move forward. If you are talking about the loss, it is about your faith and never giving up and knowing what is important to you. If you take that away, you have to take out of the experience and not recognize the loss, then it is a change of heart. That’s what you really want. A change of heart. All I have to do is have a heart, have love, and have generosity. I don’t need a checkbook, I just have to use my own gifts, and whatever that gift is in order to give back. Christmas of 2008, I sent over 3,000 letters to everybody I knew, asking for help to support the new organization, Magnified Giving. I didn’t tell them about the financial loss, I just asked for support and shared our mission. This would have devastated 99 percent of people out there. But then, there would have been no Magnified Giving, no high school programs, and I could have said “heck with everything, I lost everything,” Grein said.
Today, Magnified Giving has reached 65 schools and over 200 nonprofits and given back $103,358 to the community in this year alone. Grein’s efforts have come full circle. The total grants made through Magnified Giving since its 2008 inception are $408,017.84. Through generous admirers the program now has a permanent physical space and a substantive endowment!
We all have an entire complement of 24 character strengths and by living our lives through those strengths we become best versions of ourselves. Roger Grein is a perfect example of a life well-lived through his strengths of character.
9940 Reading Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45241
209 West Benson Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215