Here’s a look back at 2020 and my annual end-of-the-year “10 Most Intriguing People of the Year.”
Ashtyn Bennett: ‘Great just helping people in need’
For his 14th birthday, Ashtyn, a eighth-grade homeschool student in Middletown, asked for donations and used the $150 to purchase food for the homeless in Middletown.
He and several of his friends cooked 156 sliders and added bags of potato chips, snacks and bottled water to the meals. They passed them out to 78 homeless at the downtown City Bus Terminal, a popular place for the homeless to congregate.
Ashtyn said he originally considered buying fast-food meals, then realized he could serve more people if they prepared the meals. He also enjoyed talking to the homeless and hearing some of their stories. He said one man was thankful for a hot meal because he had a job interview the next day.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget and it was great doing it with my friends,” he said. “Great just helping people in need.”
Christa Carrero: ‘You can talk to an animal and not be judged’
Carrero, married with four biological daughters and one adopted daughter, recently opened a farm in Butler County she hopes “creates a safe, therapeutic environment to help vulnerable youth overcome fear, loss and trauma.”
The organization is called Healing Order Peace Encouragement (HOPE)-Full Pastures Therapeutic Farm and is located on six acres on Ross Hanover Road that used to be Baker Photography. The farm held its grand opening in September enrolled six children in the first month.
The children are given a tour of the farm and watched as they interact with the horses, cats, chickens, goats, ducks, turkeys, alpacas, a donkey and the trusty border collie, Parker. Then the children are partnered with an animal.
“You can talk to an animal and not be judged,” she said. “That animal will not tell your secrets. You can get so much more during those conversations than you can in a therapist room. We see this as a need.”
Brian Choi: ‘I’m their shepherd and I have to take care of the flock’
Choi, a native of Korea, was tasked with two difficult challenges this year: As a pastor leading an aging United Methodist congregation in Hamilton while dealing with the coronavirus and its impact on his services.
“We have to figure out how to move forward and create different ways to come together,” said Choi, 34.
Choi’s appointment this year as pastor of Park Avenue United Methodist Church concluded a journey that began in Korea with stops in Dayton, Fairborn, a small town in Kentucky, Cincinnati, Mason and finally in Hamilton, 6,722 miles from his birthplace.