columbus ga

An invitation from our director

“Look for where God is at work and join in.” A friend shared this quote earlier this year as we began preparations for strategic planning at CVEM. In its stark simplicity this statement serves as a guidepost for our future and it surely reflects the work over 37 years of ministry together in the Chattahoochee Valley—the work of thousands of folks committed to loving our neighbors.
At CVEM, we join in God’s work each day by offering ourselves and our resources to our neighbors living in poverty; to our brothers and sisters who are most vulnerable and least valued, if at all, by the world’s standards. And we join in God’s work by holding up to the light questions of social and economic injustice, asking how we can right this wrong and together create a new way that affirms the dignity of us all.
As a regional outreach ministry, CVEM is uniquely poised to serve as a "connector"—connecting people with resources, connecting one another to where God is at work throughout the region. For a couple of years, CVEM’s website has featured a regional calendar Around the CV that includes opportunities to learn and serve through the Episcopal parishes and in our communities. Take a look and feel free to submit additional opportunities; the more we each know about one another and the places where God is at work, the more opportunity we each have to respond to God’s call to join in!
In our strategic planning, CVEM’s board of directors, staff, and volunteers are listening to our stakeholders—in parishes, with program participants, community agencies and friends, and our neighbors we are called to serve. In this holy listening we seek to discern the particular work God is leading us into in the coming years.  We will update you on our progress in the coming weeks—on our website; at a report-back session to the parishes on May 7th; and, by mid-summer, with a completed three-year strategic plan.

Of course, what is most important to share about CVEM is the stories of transformation that occur, not just for those to whom we minister but, for us all. Theologian Henri Nouwen tells us, “Ministry is, first of all, receiving God’s blessing from those to whom we minister. What is this blessing? It is a glimpse of the face of God.”
I glimpsed the face of God in Mr. G when serving at Trinity’s Sunday Community Breakfast recently. He asked with tears in his eyes if CVEM could help pay the funeral costs of his wife who had died the day before.
I recently learned about some of God's transformative work in Carver Heights in Columbus when I met Mr. Ronzell Buckner who formed Turn Around Columbus in 1992 and has mentored neighborhood teenagers into adulthood through education and hand-on experience learning to run a business.
More often than not, folks who come for assistance through Direct Service will tell us that our willingness to listen compassionately to their stories is just as important, or even more so at times, than the financial assistance we can provide. One gentleman even said at the end of his appointment, “Don’t bother to send a check to my landlord. Someone else needs it more than me and the time you've taken to listen to me is the blessing I needed today."

Over the next several weeks, during the 50 days of Easter, we will continue to share these stories with you. The reasons are two-fold: to express our gratitude and to extend an invitation. Be certain that the work of CVEM would not be possible--not in the last 37 years and not in the future--without you. Thank you! Your generous giving of your time, prayers and financial support touch the lives of the folks at the other end of these stories. And now, we invite you to join in our season of listening. Listen to the stories of people helped by you through CVEM and be open to how you can join in. Perhaps God is inviting you through this ministry to help our neighbors in need...join us!

In this season of joy and renewed life, go forth into the world to believe in yourself as God's chosen one and to help your sisters and brothers know that they also are beloved daughters and sons of God who belong together.-- Martha


Please consider making a donation to support the work of CVEM—a one-time gift or a recurring one. 
CVEM is funded solely by the donations of generous individuals, the Episcopal parishes of the Chattahoochee Valley, and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. 
For secure online giving, click BELOW
Or mail your check to CVEM P. O. Box 5811 Columbus GA 31906

Can you help Marsha on GA Gives Day?


She initially came to CVEM's Direct Service program looking for rental assistance; we have stayed in touch with Marsha and been able to help support her on her journey.
Today, Marsha has a steady job, a home of her own and is taking real steps to obtain long-term self-sufficiency. In the time we've known her, we've been able to provide this hard-working mom a hand up in paying for her son's senior fees and a power bill. She is proud to see her oldest son graduate high school and continues to work hard for her family.
Your generous support of Direct Service enables us to reach out to our neighbors in need year after year, providing assistance with rent and mortgage payments, transportation, medical expenses, scholarships and many more needs. Your support gives Marsha and others like her a safety net while working toward financial independence.
Many of you have graciously given to CVEM's Direct Service program on Georgia Gives Day, and we are again asking for your support. Every dollar raised on Georgia Gives Day, the state's day of online giving to nonprofits, will go directly to folks in need. Some of these gifts will be used to help our neighbors in the holiday season, as well as throughout the year.
So mark your calendars for Thursday, Nov. 12th to donate to CVEM on Georgia Gives Day. With various prizes and incentives offered by the Community Foundation, your gift on Georgia Gives Day has the potential to multiply.
Simply visit our Website or check our Facebook page on Thursday, Nov. 12 for the link to donate.
We thank you. Marsha and her sons thank you. 

Homeless Resource Network visits Infusion

Last Sunday, Infusion teens met with Liz Dillard of the Homeless Resource Network. (This year the students have chosen to study Homelessness for their theme). 

Among many things, she talked about the reasons that people end up homeless, and they are vast! The graphic above shows just some of these factors she shared with the group.

She also broke down some more specific information on poverty in Columbus, and it's so good we thought we'd share some excerpts of one of their handouts with you:

How Much Is Enough?
"Many people in the Metropolitan Columbus area are not aware that 19.6% of Muscogee County's population lives in poverty. Poverty for a family of 3 is $20,090. Keep in mind that a minimum wage ($7.25/hr) position has a yearly income of $15,080.
Fair Market Rent is based on a formula where 60% of renters pay more for rent and utilities and 40% pay less, as set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. So what this means for Columbus, GA?
At the current minimum wage, a person would have to work:
  • 67 hours a week to afford a one bedroom apartment at $628/month
  • 79 hours a week to afford a two bedroom apartment at $745/month
  • 109 hours a week to afford a three bedroom apartment at $1,026/month. 
With a Yearly Gross Income of $20,090, that comes down to $1,674.17/month. After taxes, rent, utilities and childcare, only $272.22 are left for groceries, toiletries, transportation, health care and everything else. 
"Depending upon the family's assets they might qualify for food stamps and will need to complete the application process. In the meantime the family must visit the food pantries in the area. But even food pantries have rules about the frequency of visits so they must have a plan to make sure they don't visit the same one within the forbidden time period. They can't even think about getting sick; they can't afford to visit the doctor's office or even to purchase over the counter medications. Unless they live within walking distance from their place of employment and daycare center, they must pay for public transportation or pay for vehicle maintenance, insurance and gasoline. In this situation the family is one illness, a vehicle breakdown, a missed paycheck or several months of high utility costs away from becoming homeless. "

For more information on Homelessness in Columbus, visit the Homeless Resource Network's Website

It's a lot easier to remove ourselves from homelessness. To put distance in our situations and theirs, but with so many factors contributing to this complex issue, we probably aren't so different after all. 

We are happy Infusion is taking on such a complex and important issue and will keep sharing the journey with you!

Below are some pics of teens serving at Trinity Breakfast.

Top TAP Moments in 2015

OK, if we want to be honest, the entire week of TAP is just one giant good moment. Unfortunately, there isn't enough space even on the Internet to talk about the whole week, so we had to sum it up here. (Of course, you should head on over to our Facebook page and see more pictures!)

This year was TAP's 20th Year! That is such a huge accomplishment for a program. We're getting ahead of ourselves, though. Here's just 7 of our favorite moments from TAP 2015:

1. Mini-Horses!

Every year, our fabulous TAPPERs adopt a critter for the week. Typically, these animals come from Oxbow Meadows, but for the first time, we partnered with Begin Again Farms. Begin Again Farms is a wonderful farm in Ellerslie devoted to the care and rehabilitation of abused and needy horses. The kids (and let's be honest, adults), loved these sweet little miniature horses! Such a fun experience to partner with this wonderful nonprofit, which you can learn all about here

2. The Ron & Debbie Anderson Duo

Debbie has been our fabulous, amazing, too many good adjectives to name here TAP Director for the last 14 years. To say we love her is a huge understatement. But to see her working alongside her husband Ron, who has undergone some serious battles with cancer in the last year, just makes us smile. On the first day of TAP, Ron brought some of his theater expertise to the group, teaching them miming & salutations that the kiddos performed all through the week. What a dynamic duo these Andersons are!

3. Our new Taplain

TAP simply does not happen without the work of many different co-planners and religious leaders, but every year, we have one Spiritual Director. For the last several, Father Jeff Jackson has been our fabulous leader, but with he and his family on sabbatical, we had  Imam Abdul-Raheem Hasan from the Muslim faith community take the reigns of Taplain this year solo (though it's not his first year in TAP). He's been an amazing part of the co-planning, but might we add how amazing he did especially as our fearless spiritual leader this year! Just one of the things he taught us: We are more alike than we are different!

4. Jeremy Mack all grown up

Jeremy Mack is just one of our CVEM all-stars. He was a member of Infusion and helped with TAP as a teen mentor. This year, the college sophomore, was a lead teacher in the Snack Room and guided the peace poems and rituals. We love to see someone so committed to TAP & the kids clearly felt the same way!

5. Barbara Danner's Amazing Reflection

Barbara Danner (the co-founder of TAP all those years ago), stopped us in our tracks at Thursday night's celebration. When she got up to speak, she asked everyone to place their hands over their hearts and remember the victims of the Mother Emmanuel Charleston, SC shooting. She reminded us of the contrast of hate displayed in that act with the love in TAP. Though TAP only reaches 60 kids and 20 teens at a time, they will forever go on to change the world in a positive way.

6. Our Unity Piece

TAP wouldn't be complete without a Unity Piece. This year's piece was a quilt. Each of the participants designed their own square of the quilt, and they will be woven together to make a beautiful piece to be displayed somewhere (we think we know where but can't say for sure yet) around town! 

7. 20 Years of TAP

This brings us back to our first point. 20 years of TAP is just too amazing of a feat to not mention. That's 20 years of promoting unity in place of division. 20 years of peacemaking rather than hate. 20 years of tolerance, acceptance and even love of differences. That's more than thousands of people who have been directly impacted by TAP, and we can't even begin to count how big that wave goes. Here's to 20 more years, and then 20 more after that! 

Richard Garrett to speak on EMDR


We are really excited about this event that Shedding Our Secrets is hosting. 

Shedding Our Secrets is our program that offers support for victims and survivors of incest. (Find out more HERE).

Richard Garrett, a Clinical Social Worker, will be speaking on EMDR. 

What the heck is EMDR, you ask?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology and alleviates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR is used for individuals who have experienced severe trauma that remains unresolved. EMDR is an evidence-based treatment for complex trauma.

That's a brief overview. Of course, he'll be giving out more details at this FREE event on Friday, Oct. 17 at the Columbus Public Library. You can find all those details on our handy flier here.

If you are someone who has experienced trauma or even just are curious about this treatment, come join us. Just RSVP by Oct. 15.

Hope to see you soon!

Resources for Study

If you are planning Christian Education or Adult Formation or youth programs, or even a book club selection, you may want to check out CVEM’s vast library of resources, from books to DVD’s to study guides.  You might even just want some new reading materials for yourself! A few are listed below. Call to take a look:
Money and Faith – The search for Enough – Michael Schut
See Poverty…Be the Difference – Dr. Donna M. Beegle
From Mammon to Manna:  Sabbath Economics and Community Investing
Waging a Living – Opportunities for Action with Study Guide and Video
Ubuntu – I in You and You in Me – The Rev. Michael Battle
What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty – Ruby Payne, Ph.D
Toxic Charity – Robert Lupton
Let Your Life Speak – Parker Palmer
When Helping Hurts – How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself – Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert