Friars Club award winners: from left, Jeff Hock, Bob Herzog and Lannis Timmons

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Friars Club annual dinner returned on March 3 with much joy, excitement and positive energy. Some 150 attendees, including supporters, local community members, staff and nine friars joined in celebrating an organization dedicated to serving at-risk youth through organized sports, education, nutrition and fitness.

group photo with Cincinnati Reds mascot

Friars Club staff members pose for a photo with Cincinnati Reds mascot Gapper. From left, Parrish Ozias, athletic director; Mikayla Chess, communications director; Annie Timmons, president; and Sandy Sieben, vice president of operations

“There was so much energy and support in the room,” said Sandy Sieben, vice president of the Friars Club. “I kept hearing people who have supported us over the years saying how happy they were to be back together. The dinner was a wonderful way to highlight the great work the Friars Club and the Franciscan friars are doing.”

The evening began with a reception and welcome by Bob Herzog, Local 12 news anchor, who served as master of ceremonies for the event. Provincial Minister Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM, offered the invocation prior to dinner.

“The Friars Club Dinner is always so inspiring, Bob said, “and being back for the first time in several years, the room had a special energy.”

A highlight of the gathering was the recognition given to compassionate community members who have gone above and beyond in their support of the ministry of the Friars Club. Jeff Hock, CEO of HBH Holdings, Inc., received the Friars Award, given to those who have served or assisted at the Friars Club in an exceptional manner. A graduate of Moeller High School, Jeff is known for his work helping youth in the local community and is active in both professional organizations and philanthropic efforts, including serving as a Friars Club board member.

The Francis Award, presented to those who demonstrate the Franciscan spirit through their community leadership on behalf of others, was given to Bob, who joined the Local 12 news team in 2005 and currently anchors “Good Morning Cincinnati” with Sheila Gray. A Cincinnati (specifically the West Side) boy, he takes special pride in getting involved in community activities and is inspired by the kindness and generosity of neighbors and friends.

Fr. Al Hirt, Fr. Mark Soehner and Fr. Robert Seay enjoy the event

The Coach/Player of the Year Award is given to someone who is successful in their area of athletics and has a positive impact on others. This year’s honoree is Lannis Timmons, a Cincinnati native who has been coaching basketball for more than 47 years and has dedicated his life to mentoring young men and women on and off the court. Lannis has been married to Annie Timmons, Friars Club president, for 25 years.

“Coach Timmons and Jeff Hock both do such special things to make our community a better place,” Bob said. “It was wonderful to be a part of lifting them up.  And then there’s Annie. Hearing her talk about Friars Club and its mission is a masterclass in motivation!”

As the program for the dinner stated: “St. Francis admonition for peacemakers highlights the meaning of these awards: ‘The peace which you proclaim with works must dwell even more abundantly in your hearts. Do not provoke others to anger or give scandal. Rather, let your gentleness draw them to peace, goodness and concord. This is our vocation: to heal the wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost.’ This is the mission of the Friars Club. With grateful thanks to God, we acknowledge those who embrace our mission.”

Philip Anderson, regional director of mission integration and mission support for the Franciscans, said of the event: “It was exhilarating to celebrate the many successes of Friars Club at their awards dinner. Their work transforms and empowers the lives of children throughout the city.”

Philip Anderson and Fr. Ric Schneider chat

Philip Anderson and Fr. Ric Schneider chat during the event

Mark said he “remains impressed by the energy of the Friars Club. It’s the energy of the very young players, their shouts of joy and competition, the flow of tears over a mistake or loss, or the energy of Annie Timmons. Annie has been the face of Friars Club as one of its many graduates, who landed a job with Friars when it was still at its Clifton location. She exudes strength, commitment and determination to help each of her young people to become integrated and contributing adults.”

Friars Club began in 1860, he noted, “as the friars attempted to help German immigrant kids that were likely to get into trouble after school. They began sports teams that kept these kids busy, but also introduced young people to the values of respect, responsibility, leadership and good sportsmanship. These perennial values are now emblazoned on the walls of the facility, located at 4300 Vine Street.”

“Just walking in, I could feel the energy bouncing off the walls, encouraging our next generation to greatness,” Mark added.

“We were excited and grateful to have the strong presence of the friars present for the celebration,” Sandy said. “The friars have continued to give the Friars Club such generous support, shine a positive light on our mission and inspire us by their example.”

Photos by Chris Bradley

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