Belinda Coulter-Harris welcomed hundreds of Members to Cincinnati Works, coached many of them through a wide range of challenges, and inspired many more with her generous smile and fierce determination. Whatever her role at the organization, she lived the mission and believed in the Members.
“Miss Belinda,” as most Members knew her, died Sunday evening at age 56, leaving behind a family she adored and a legacy of successful second chances: her own and those of the Members she supported in so many different ways.
As a Member herself, then as a Customer Service Representative, Staffing Specialist and most recently a Member Services Coach, Belinda modeled the Cincinnati Works motto: A job is just the beginning. She was quick to greet Members with a smile when they arrived, with a supportive shoulder and an empathetic ear when they were struggling, and with a firm but friendly push when they needed encouragement. Her commitment to Members was evident in many ways, perhaps most deliciously in the home-cooked meals she would bring to Phoenix peer-support group meetings.
Her most recent role at Cincinnati Works – Member Services Coach – was created specifically for Belinda to take advantage of her unique experiences and strengths. She was a connector and a trusted advisor, able to engage Members on a personal level and connect them to resources to pursue their dreams.
Belinda did not shy away from her difficult past, including the robbery that led to spending 20 years in prison. She told her story with a mix of humility, grace and unabashed optimism that she would be a force for good in the world. Upon her release from prison, and with the help of her Cincinnati Works coach, she earned associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees while helping raise her grandchildren. She joined the staff of Cincinnati Works in 2017.
“I have found that incarceration is a state of mind that many experience without ever being behind bars,” she once said. “As a coach, I use my story as proof that with guidance, support and hard work, if you can believe it, you can achieve it.”
Belinda’s legacy lives on in the colleagues she inspired and the family she treasured, as well as in a large mural on the side of a building in downtown Cincinnati. Titled “Time Saved Versus Time Served,” the mural celebrates the importance of offering a second chance to individuals who have been incarcerated.
In an article in Cincinnati Magazine about the mural, she recounted her path from poverty to prison to a life she was proud of, and she noted the potential of the mural to inspire future generations:
Sharing her face—and story—for the ArtWorks mural “feels like we still have that ability to be there for other people,” she says. “Even after we’re no longer in this world, maybe somebody can go look at the mural and say, You know, this is one of the places that it started. We hope to get rid of this whole inclination to sum a person up by one mistake.”Cincinnati Magazine, May 17, 2021
The funeral will be held Thursday, April 7, at 11 AM at House of Hope Fellowship Church in Over-the-Rhine.