Published in the Cincinnati Business Courier, October 1, 2010
Bob Hoffer grew up in Northern Kentucky’s Lakeside Park, not all that far from the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home in Fort Mitchell. But the graduate of Covington Latin High School and Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law didn’t get an up-close view of the former orphanage until the mid-1980s. That’s when Jack LaVelle, then head of law firm Deters Benzinger LaVelle, where Hoffer was an attorney, asked him to help with a fundraiser.
“I was overwhelmed by what they do for these kids,” Hoffer recalled. “I had a terrific childhood. I saw these kids, many of whom have been physically and sexually abused by people they should have been able to trust. It brings tears to your eyes.”
The DCCH, sponsored by the Diocese of Covington, treats children ages 6 to 14 with moderate to severe behavioral problems at its 83-acre campus. The home prepares children to move to a permanent home, whether they go to a foster or group home, or return to their family.
In addition, Hoffer said, “Four or five years ago, we started an adoption program – about 38 kids have been adopted.”
Needless to say, Hoffer stuck around after the festival. He was a board member from 1988 to 1993, and served as president from 1991 to 1993. When he left the board, Sister Jean Marie Hoffman, then a social worker at DCCH, asked him to get involved with development.
“She’s the other key to my involvement,” he said of Hoffman, who is now the home’s executive director. “I can’t tell her no.”
Hoffer helped with fundraisers, often joined by his wife and four children. He also got involved with strategic planning. The main need at the DCCH was for a new multipurpose facility, something that would be more of a “home” for the kids, he said.
A $3.8 million fundraising campaign was in the works in the fall of 2008 when the recession spawned a worldwide financial panic. Hoffman took a leap of faith and decided to go ahead with the campaign, and it kicked off in May 2009 with Hoffer playing a big role in bringing in private contributions.
And despite the economy, $3.2 million was raised, all from individual donors, Hoffer said.
“We broke ground on the facility in July,” he added. “We’re now kicking off the public campaign to raise the last $600,000.”
Hoffman, for her part, praised Hoffer’s fundraising prowess, and not just for the capital campaign.
“Money from the state can be so tenuous, here today and gone tomorrow,” she said. “Bob is always looking at how we can bring in additional revenue. His involvement is tremendous.”
Hoffer got a lot of support from his law firm, now Dressman Benzinger LaVelle, where he has practiced for 30 years. Now a partner, he heads the firm’s employment law division.
“Since the day I started, I’ve always been encouraged to reach out,” he said.
The long-term goals for the home involve developing more programs, he said. Some of those will help reunite children with their families, and others will boost the home’s therapeutic recreation efforts. That furthers the goal of getting them back into society.
“Because of their backgrounds, they have a hard time interacting with others. Recreational activities help build trust,” he said.« Back to news