Update on Tiara Lawson

In our May newsletter, we shared the inspiring story of one of our clients, Tiara Lawson, and asked for contributions to help Tiara achieve her current career goal of obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Thanks to you, Tiara received $1,600 to help her reach this goal. This was greatly appreciated by Tiara, who worked overtime at her job to make up the other $1,800 needed.  We are very happy to report Tiara is right on track and will graduate with her degree in December!  This puts her one step closer to her ultimate goal of a master’s degree and certification as a Nurse Practitioner.  We thank you. Tiara thanks you.
In our previous article, we quoted Tiara as saying, “As my adulthood passed, I knew I needed to give my kids a stronger foundation to call home.”  Today she is well on her way to doing exactly that as she awaits a closing date on the purchase of a home for her family!  You can hear the excitement and pride in her voice as she speaks of getting things ready for their new home.
This is Tiara’s story … single mother of three (12 year-old twins and a 15 year-old), student, full-time employee as an R.N. at Jack Hughston Hospital (their 2015 Outstanding Nurse of the Year) and now new home owner.  Congratulations, Tiara, as you continue to take leaps and bounds into the future.  And, again, we say “thank you” to those who have helped make Tiara and her family’s dreams come true. 

Meet Cherie: CVEM's new bookkeeper

CVEM is excited to welcome Cherie Chagoy to our team as our new Bookkeeper/Office Manager. 
Cherie comes with over 10 years accounting experience and a heart for nonprofit work. 
“Cherie comes highly recommended as a smart and skilled bookkeeper and already seems to have figured us out! She’s worked with other vulnerable populations and has a heart for service,” said CVEM Interim Director Martha Robert. 
In addition to her work at CVEM, Cherie works as an accounting assistant at Stewart Community Home. 
Originally from Texas, Cherie and her husband Chip moved to Smiths Station when he was stationed at Ft. Benning. He is now out of the military and working as an electrical engineer but they have no plans of leaving the area. “This is home,” Cherie said. 
Cherie and Chip have three children: Alec, 8; Ashton, 6; and Ava, 3. Cherie has been a stay at home mom and decided to rejoin the workforce this year in  hopes of serving the Lord in a different way. 
 “I’ve been praying for the Lord to utilize my talents for the Kingdom,” she said. 

Thank you for supporting Auction for Action!

A couple weeks ago we held an online auction fundraiser. This was our first year hosting Auction for Action and it was a HUGE success!

Thanks to you kind folks (or should we say competitive bidders?!), we raised more than we originally anticipated. MUCH more! (We don't have the final totals yet but will update you when we do!

We had some amazing items for bid thanks to some very generous people and businesses throughout the region. Vacations, furniture, art, hotels stays, spa visits...the list goes on and on.

And we are so appreciative of all who bid (whether you won or not!), shared our auction site with your friends and just support us everyday.

We thank you but most importantly, MANY in the Chattahoochee Valley who will be served by our programs thank you!

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. 

Celebrating 20 Years of TAP

We had such a wonderful evening Sunday at our Concert & Celebration honoring 20 Years of TAP!  The night started with a fabulous concert of "Bluegrass Served Up Family Style" by Debbie Anderson, her brothers & friends. We carried over the evening with a reception (made possible by countless volunteers, including St. Thomas Episcopal Church, who provided staff & food to help us out!). We unveiled a TAP Video produced by Columbus State University (which we'll be posting soon), and our 2015 TAP Unity Piece. Enough talking, though! We have plenty of words to say, but we'll let these event photos say the rest! 

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! 

In the Press: Infusion teen runs marathon for good

We've already mentioned how awesome our Infusion teen Eddie Bridgewater is. He's the one who ran 26.2 miles to raise money for the Barmore family, who lost their home in a fire over the holiday season.

He ended up raising $1,000! So amazing!

This week, the Ledger-Enquirer featured Eddie in an article, and we couldn't be happier about that. He deserves this recognition! 

Head on over and check it out (here). 

Infusion teen runs 26.2 miles for cause

One local high school student couldn’t simply sit idly by while a family in need suffers, so he ran 26.2 miles in hopes of doing something to help.  
Eddie Bridgewater, a Brookstone High School senior, ran a marathon Sunday, Jan. 25 at Callaway Gardens to benefit a family in the Boxwood Community who lost their home in a fire during the holiday season. 
In addition to finishing first in his age group, Eddie raised more than $700 to benefit the six-member family.
Eddie has been working with the four children of the Boxwood family as a member of Infusion, a high school servant leadership program of the Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry. In this social-justice themed program, high school students of diverse religious and socio-economic backgrounds spend nine months studying a relevant topic (this year’s topic is Equity in Education) and serving the community together. This year, the program has joined Path to Shine in mentoring children in Boxwood. 
Eddie has raised money through a Facebook page dedicated to the cause: https://www.facebook.com/TheBarmores


The Voice: January/February

Here's what you can find in our January/February newsletter:

-An introduction on Martha Robert, CVEM's new interim director

-Infusion news galore: Students switch schools for a day; one awesome teen runs a marathon for victims of a fire; and their upcoming Rent-A-Tech fundraiser that will help you outsmart your smart phone!

-Martha's first-ever newsletter contribution & it's a wonderful letter on "To Everything there is a Season"

-CVEM's 2015 Board of Directors

-A story that will surely tug on your heat strings from Direct Service 

-The final fundraising numbers from our Jazz Benefit and Christmas Campaign (oh my goodness, thank you so much!)

-Know anyone who does yardwork? Because we need someone!

-Speaking of need, External Affairs (our fundraising/communications committee) is recruiting!

-AND, Holli shares a personal story on her experience with Circles of Columbus

That enough incentive for you to click! Go check out our January/February edition of The Voice HERE! 

Welcome Martha, CVEM's new Interim Director

The Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry’s Search Committee and Board President Agnes Shelton named Martha Robert Interim Director in January.
Martha comes to CVEM with substantial nonprofit experience, a strong Episcopalian faith and a passion for social justice.
Her career background includes work as an elementary school teacher, an financial administrator for two non-profits, and director of a Day School. 
“I basically have had two careers: Education and Nonprofits,” Martha said.
She started her career as an elementary school teacher. “I feel very passionate about education, particularly early childhood education,” she said. “I made a choice to leave the classroom because that’s not where I belong.”
Her next move led her to serve as the financial administrator of Nicholas House, Georgia’s first transitional housing program for homeless families. The organization began as an outreach effort of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
“Everything I learned about nonprofits, I learned from Nicholas House,” she said.
She worked nine years at Nicholas House and three years in Atlanta Children’s Shelter, a daycare for young children living in shelters.
After living in Atlanta for 26 years, Martha moved to Milledgeville, Ga., where she was the director of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Day School upon the retirement of the school’s founding director of 29 years.
Martha moved to Columbus in August, and found a church home in St. Thomas, where she also learned about CVEM.
“I am always seeking opportunities to work for social justice. I feel like that’s my calling,” said Martha, a cradle Episcopalian. “The advocacy work CVEM does in caring for people in poverty and who are marginalized is such a wonderful and long-standing work that has been done in the Church’s name. I was immediately drawn to it.”
The CVEM Search Committee will continue to work with the Diocese of Atlanta during this interim period to name a permanent director. The process may take between six to nine months.
During her time as interim, Martha said she plans to work closely with the Board, Staff, Volunteers, and Community to both honor the work that has been done and cast a vision for the future.
“I am looking forward to working with everyone, to listening to people’s stories and working together to create a vision and direction for this ministry,” she said.
Martha is widowed and has a daughter, a son-in-law and two step children in Atlanta. She also has a sister who is an Episcopal Priest in Mobile, Alabama.


Around here: Reading, Golfing & Planning

I would say that this week has been a busy one at CVEM, but really, they all are...that's a good thing though! 

This week, we joined B.R.I.D.G.E.(Building Responsible Individuals through Discipline, Guidance and Education) in its annual Golf Tournament. This wonderful program is one of the many organizations we partner with. They work with students to earn their GED's and help further education and career readiness. We love them!

We also had the St. Thomas Book Club meet at our house this week. These lovely ladies meet once a month, and we love having them in our space. In fact, we love when groups take us up on our offer to use the CVEM house. It is here for that purpose!

We also attended the Continuum of Care meeting at Open Door. This is a great group of people from several nonprofits working together to tackle homelessness and poverty in our community. 

Of course, our staff has been busy, busy getting ready for some upcoming events. It's really a fun time of year.

Who else is loving this fall weather?

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!

Breakfast at CVEM!

We would like to invite you to a breakfast Friday morning at CVEM with The Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, the Episcopal Church's Domestic Poverty Missioner. 

The breakfast will be at 8:30 a.m.

Mark was appointed Domestic Poverty Missioner last August. Based in Dallas, Texas, he is affiliated with the Office of Government Relations in DC, which includes Jubilee Ministries and The Episcopal Church advocacy networks. 

Mark has spent this past year touring Dioceses and Jubilee Centers and developing the DC relationships. He is no stranger to the south, having lived in Savannah, Memphis and New Orleans. 

The Diocese of Louisiana is his home base, where he coordinated response to Hurricane Katrina.

Mark will be a guest speaker at the Hearts to Serve conference at St. Bede's on Sept. 13. (Don't forget to register!)

To join CVEM for breakfast with Mark on Sept. 12 call the office at 706.327.0400. Hope you can join us!

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

Register for 'Hearts to Serve'

Representatives of outreach ministries in the Convocation are invited to attend the “Hearts to Serve” conference Saturday, Sept. 13. The one-day event is a Diocesan Community Ministry Conference featuring conversations on effective ways for Christians to serve the underserved.

The gathering will be at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in northeast Atlanta and is unusual because it zeros in on one of the most important aspects of living the life of a Christian. Hearts to Serve is hosted by the Diocese of Atlanta Community Ministries Collaborative, a year-old group of ministry leaders that has been examining ways churches and agencies in middle and north Georgia can best address the needs of the hungry, the poor and the infirm through advocacy, fundraising and careful reflection. 

CVEM Lay Missioner Vicky Partin is chairing the event.

Bishop Bob Wright is expected to set the tone for the day by talking about “the power of shared purpose.” And the Rev. Mark Stevenson, domestic poverty missioner for The Episcopal Church who organized assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, will talk about outreach throughout the church and especially through the Jubilee Ministries Network. 

“This day will be important for clergy and laity alike,” Vicky said. “This is for vestry members, deacons, youth leaders and teens, and for outreach ministry directors and volunteers.” According to Deacon Arthur Villarreal of Macon, “You’ll hear from outstanding speakers and also be able to inspire and inform others with what you do.”

To register, click here. The registration fee is $20 and covers snacks and lunch. 

Participants are requested to bring a treasure for a Yard Sale and Silent Auction to support St. Bede’s October fundraiser.

For more information, contact Vicky at cvemvicky@knology.net.

Meet Tabitha, the designer behind our new brand

It takes a lot of people to go through a rebranding process, as it should! It's important to have plenty of input when choosing how you want your organization to be viewed by the public, especially after 30 plus years of the same look.

We are so proud to unveil our new logo, which is just a piece of a much bigger effort to tell the CVEM story and cast the vision much, much wider. 

And while there were many behind the scenes working to make this happen, we definitely owe a lot to our wonderful graphic designer, Tabitha Mixon. Tabitha was a student in one of Troy University's senior level design courses and competed with her classmates in our branding project.

Her work is beautiful! We hope you think so, too. Enough talking on our part, though...here's a little about our fabulous graphic designer:

Tabitha is a recent Troy University (the one in Troy, Alabama) graduate from Ashford, Alabama. Her degree is in graphic design. 

"I've always been on the creative side but not really 'artisitc.' I thought design would be a good option for me," she said. 

The work she did for CVEM, which included a logo design and a graphics standards manual, was her first complete branding project. 

"I saw CVEM as an exciting challenge.Tthe organization has such a colorful variety of programs that make up a diverse group that just wasn't being presented as such. So I wanted to see how I could change that," she said.


Seeking Infusion Director

Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry seeks a part-time Director for the Infusion youth leadership program.  The Director develops the year-round program and service activities, interviews and selects fifteen diverse high school teens, and works with a team of advisers in focusing on the Servant Leadership model.

An ideal candidate will hold a college degree, have experience and a passion for working with teenagers, and have experience in community service and social justice issues.

Position is available August 1.

Send letter of interest and resume to CVEM Infusion, P. O. Box 5811, Columbus, GA 31906 OR call Vicky Partin at 706-327-0400.

Job Description

Program Description:

Infusion was founded in 2005 by the Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry to engage high school teens from diverse backgrounds in study, reflection and direct interaction around social justice issues.  Using servant leadership characteristics, the teens interact with community, decide each year’s theme (focus), examine the beliefs of various religions, and implement strategies for service.

Infusion accepts 15 high school students each year into this nine-month program.  The application process includes written references and a personal interview.  Infusion provides service hour credits approved by the local schools. The program is free of charge to the students.

Director attributes considered very important to Infusion:

  • Understanding that Infusion is sponsored by an Episcopal organization which will encourage the spiritual development in the young people
  • Recognition that CVEM is a social ministry working to improve the lives of underserved people, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religious belief
  • Keen interest in developing assets in young people, using Servant Leadership as means to empower and transform
  • Creativity in developing collaborative partners to provide education and hands-on experiences around various social issues
  • Holding a college degree or being a candidate in Servant Leadership and preferably with experience working with teenagers
  • Showing passion for impoverished and otherwise at-risk populations

Director’s Duties:

  • Developing the program year-round, using an average of 10-12 hours weekly
  • Designing the application and parental forms, curriculum, measuring tools, and evaluations
  • Recruiting high school teens, using other CVEM programs, Episcopal parishes, local congregations, and public and private schools
  • Interviewing and selecting participants
  • Building relationships with the teens, modeling servant leadership
  • Developing contacts and partners to provide religious perspectives, in-depth studies of various social issues, hands-on projects that engage with those in need, and opportunities for personal growth
  • Working with an Infusion advisory committee
  • Assisting with the development of a mentor pool for the teens
  • Organizing a fall fundraiser with the new class to provide teen bonding and funding for the year’s program
  • Keeping records of committee work and finances
  • Reporting to the Executive Director or designated supervisor on a regular basis

Program Activities:

  • Monthly meetings at the CVEM House
  • Fall Retreat
  • Fall fundraiser designed by teens
  • Community theme enhancement activities
  • Partnership with Path to Shine at Boxwood Recreation Center
  • Spring service trip
  • End-of-year celebration dinner with families