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Mt. Carmel Healthy Living Center Partner Appreciation Week.

21 Nov

We enter this week of Thanksgiving with great appreciation for our neighborhood partner Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center (MCHLC)! Confluence Year Episcopal Service Corps member Steven Simpkins is placed with Mount Carmel Health and all week you’ll get to learn about the great work the MCHLC is doing on the westside of Columbus, and his experience serving there.

“Imagine a hospital, health-care setting aimed at proactively keeping folks out of the hospital’s beds and emergency rooms by focusing on empowering patients to develop healthy lifestyle habits and encouraging holistic wellness. The goal of the Mount Carmel West Healthy Living Center (MCHLC) is essentially that. The MCHLC is located in Franklinton and designs programs for the community. MCHLC focuses on recognizing the social determinants of health for community members so the care provided addresses the most immediate needs.

MCHLC delivers care to Franklinton residents through facilitating programs and acting as a resource and referral center. MCHLC has wellness initiatives aimed at body, mind, and soul. Two highlights of the MCHLC are a monthly cooking demo and Moms2B. Attendees of the monthly cooking demo, of which there are consistently at least seventy, watch a meal be professionally prepared, hear from a dietician about the nutrition of the meal, learn about a specific health issue, eat a meal, and then are sent home with ingredients to recreate the meal at home. This program gives attendees the knowledge to make healthy eating decisions, which is critical because obesity is a significant barrier to wellness in Franklinton. Moms2B is both childbirth education and a support system following birth. Moms2B is held every week and intends to reduce the infant mortality rate.

MCHLC also provides free of cost classes in: zumba, tai chi, weight management, mindfulness and other stress reduction techniques, and a myriad of other topics. MCHLC does all of this with love, care and compassion that welcomes all walks of life. I truly think MCHLC believes we are all Children of God, and as such we all have a right to live healthy lifestyles capable of both preventing and managing chronic conditions. If you are interested in learning more about the Healthy Living Center please visit the following website:


Support Our Partner!

18 Nov

Learn how you can support the mission of the The Homeless Families Foundation and partner with our Confluence Year Episcopal Service Corpsmember Caroline Nagy in making a difference in the lives of children on the westside.

“With the holidays coming up there are many ways to give back, donate and or volunteer at HFF. For many of our families the holidays can be tough, but for people who would like to help it is possible to make the families have a much more enjoyable holiday.

By going to the website there are many things to contribute towards, one of them being the “Holiday Store” in which it allows the parents of the child along with a staff member and or volunteer to select free gifts for their children which ranges from newborn to age 18, the goal is to brighten over 190 children within the community so please if you are willing to give back please check out the website!

By donating more than just gifts HFF is always looking for supplies to give to those families starting in their permanent housing, and there is always a need for items especially if there are young children many of these things can be looked at on amazon which can be found on the website as well.

The final way to help out around HFF is to volunteer, we love our volunteers and are always grateful for those who come in and take time out of their day to help out at the center. We have over 30 volunteers that come in every week to read with the children in the after school program, but if you check out the website there are many other ways to volunteer besides reading to the children at the Dowd Center. To see what kinds of volunteer opportunities are available please check out website, we would love to have volunteers especially around the holidays!”



18 Nov

Our series on our excellent partner The Homeless Families Foundationcontinues with Episcopal Service Corps Confluence Year member Caroline Nagy shining the spotlight on her site supervisor. Checkout the great work happening below.

“My mentor and co-worker Erin Priest is the main reason I have this fabulous position at HFF. Erin is the Curriculum Coordinator at the Dowd Center. Erin serves as the librarian also. She is responsible for testing each child for reading placement to determine their reading level. Once each child’s strengths and weaknesses are identified, they are also assigned a Reading Mentor volunteer from the community. In addition to working one on one with the children, Erin also goes to monthly community meetings and seeks book donations, etc. ALL of her hard work gives the Dowd kids so many extras. She organizes reading contests and encourages all 70-75 children to read and improve their writing skills also. She has even encouraged me to start reading for pleasure again.

Erin has encouraged me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and helped me gain confidence. She is helpful to me in both my job tasks and my personal life and I hope I help make her job easier. Working as Erin’s assistant has proved to be fun and creative. I have helped with everything from holiday events to everyday tasks like shelving books in the library. I am very fortunate to work with Erin and the entire staff at HFF and the Dowd Center because they are all diligent, hard-working, but most of all loving and caring.


Transformed through Service

16 Nov

“The children’s’ life stories have made a big difference in the way I understand our society and the realities of their environment and neighborhoods…I have had a completely different understanding of the world and that not all people grow up the same way in an upper or middle class life and that many of them have to work way harder in the classroom than most of their peers…”

Read more of Caroline Nagy ‘s personal reflection on the way her work with The Homeless Families Foundation during her Episcopal Service Corps year is transforming her.

When I first started working at Homeless Families Foundation I had no idea what I was going to expect as far as working and where I would fall into place. My first week at HFF was all about getting my feet on the floor and getting to know all 70 plus kids at the center. Since I have started working at HFF I have loved every second of being there. I love the people that I am surrounded with on a daily basis who continually support everyone around them and I especially have fallen in love with the kids. This place was the best possible placement for me and I am so glad I have an opportunity like this to be able to experience and help others in ways that some cannot.


I have developed close relationships with many of these kids just by working with them and knowing their stories, as well as just getting to know them by feeding them a meal and sitting and talking with them at dinner, or working with them in their classrooms. The children’s’ life stories have made a big difference in the way I understand our society and the realities of their environment and neighborhoods. These children have gone through many things that most of us have not had to go through a day in our lives and it is a powerful statement because it is true many of the kids that I work with have to mature much younger than many of them should.


These kids, this place of work, and the people have all changed me for the better and I love every second I spend in this facility. It is just a place that brings you up instead of bringing you down and I like to look that way especially the way the world has been seen recently. I have had a completely different understanding of the world and that not all people grow up the same way in an upper or middle class life and that many of them have to work way harder in the classroom than most of their peers because they are behind. These kids have impacted me in a way that makes me want to build a relationship with many of them to help them succeed in the best way possible.


A Day in the Life – Homeless Families Foundation

15 Nov

While spending my time at Homeless Families Foundation as a staff member I was very involved with the work that they do at their education enrichment and youth development center, The Dowd Education Center from the very first day I started. I am the program assistant working under the wing of the wonderful Erin Priest who is the Curriculum Coordinator. As the program assistant, I am involved with the students as well as getting in contact with people who volunteer at our center with the kids. At HFF we have a reading mentorship program which we have individuals come in and read with our students that we have paired up. For many of the children the issue is getting them reading on their grade-level because so many of these children may have gone through a lot of trauma in their lives which makes focusing on school that much harder. The main focus of having the reading mentors working with them is to improve the child’s reading skills.

Where I fall in place as the program assistant is that I pull all of the students lessons each week based on their reading level and also on what their reading mentor said about how the student read that week and whether they should be moved up a level because it is just too easy for them or that they are struggling and need to be moved down to best meet the child’s needs. I pull about 30-40 books each week for the students to have a new lesson and new book to read with their reading mentor that week.

I am also currently doing reading intervention with many of the younger kids, many of which need to work on the basics that they didn’t get because for some this is their first time being in school. So, I have the children read a book to me at their reading level, and then I provide a lesson to go along with it. I also help the teachers within the classroom when it is needed.

It impacts not only the kids that are having the advantage of people coming in a working with them but I also believe it impacts the teachers especially when you see that a student has improved in something that they were not able to do earlier in the year. I believe this really impacts the kids and the mentors though as they are working each week and although the student may not improve their reading every week they are working to improve and succeed in their reading skills.


Homeless Families Foundation Partner Appreciation Week!

14 Nov

This week we celebrate the Confluence Year partnership with The Homeless Families Foundation who provide a worksite placement for Episcopal Service Corps volunteer Caroline Nagy. Be sure to stop back each day this week to learn all about the good work Caroline is up to in partnership with The Homeless Families Foundation located right here in our neighborhood of Franklinton.


“The Homeless Families Foundation is a nonprofit organization that believes that no child should be homeless so the goal of the organization is to end homeless in which the best way to help end it is by stabilizing the families and educating the children and supporting the children with a caring community.

“Educates and nurtures children while empowering families to achieve stable housing and self-sufficiency”.

Teresa Dowd, Jan Wagner, and Mary Jane Carpenter founded the Dowd Center; they were concerned about the large number of homeless children and families in Franklin County. The organization started with having apartments as well as an all-volunteer staff that has changed since then. Currently HFF uses a model that puts families directly in permanent housing and from there continues to provide support for the families through case management until they are stable.

In the 90s the children’s program began which started as a two week summer camp which by 94’ if grew into a three day a week education and tutoring program and has continued to where it is now which is an after school and summer education enrichment program for kindergarten and middle school children. The after school program provides for many children along the west side of Columbus.

The center has 16 full time staff members and 11 teachers for the afterschool program; all who which help better the students as well as the program.”

Partners in the Work

8 Nov
After a brief interruption we continue our spotlight on Nicole Hamme and her work with Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) during her year as an Episcopal Service Corps member.
“In order for all operations at CRIS to run smoothly and effectively, we rely on the hard work from our staff, interns and volunteers. It has been enjoyable getting to know my fellow employees and learning about their cultures and religions. Over half of our staff at CRIS were former refugees themselves! This creates a passionate environment because the employees genuinely care about our mission and have experienced this process from a firsthand basis.
Each year, CRIS also hires a variety of recent college graduates to fulfill service oriented roles, like myself. CRIS works closely with Americorps, Confluence and as of this year, the United Church of Christ. In honor of this being the first year CRIS has partnered with this organization, I’d like to introduce the new staff member that fulfills this role!
Meet Tyler Reeve, a Community Engagement and Resettlement Program Intern. Tyler works in partnership with Common Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church Disciples of Christ. As a full-time volunteer until September 2017, Tyler primarily organizes CRIS Welcome Teams, which are groups of people who gather to provide services to a family from the moment they get off the airplane. His most recent project is gathering speakers for the Refugee Speakers Bureau. These are gracious refugees who are willing to talk to community groups about their experiences moving to the United States and what it means to be a refugee.
“The goal is to show there is never the same story twice with a refugee family. Everyone’s experience is different and we like to show that through the personal narratives they offer.” He says.”
Caption: Nicole (Confluence) and Tyler (United Church of Christ) gather for a photo in the CRIS office. cris-4

On Unconditional Love

2 Nov
“I will be forever grateful for this experience, for it has taught me how to be patient and understanding, but most importantly, how to love unconditionally.”
Read more from Nicole Hamme ‘s reflection on her worksite placement during her Episcopal Service Corps year of service through Confluence Year .
“Since starting my position at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) almost two months ago, I have opened my mind drastically and have received a newfound appreciation for the human race.
Prior to working at CRIS, I had very little understanding of what it meant to be a refugee in the United States. Whenever I met or talked to someone from a different country, I never considered the challenges and triumphs they endured in order to get here. I’ve suddenly realized how refugees are some of the bravest individuals I have ever met.
Now that I work “behind-the-scenes” in a social service agency, I am able to see firsthand how much work is involved on all ends to support the refugees that come here. Not only have I discovered a new gratitude for our New Americans, I also have immense gratefulness for my fellow employees. Day in and day out, the CRIS staff show up ready to work and make a difference in this world in their own unique way. Whether they are teaching English classes, hosting new arrival orientations, recruiting volunteers for special events or picking up new arrivals from the airport, each staff member plays an integral role in the success of our organization.
My favorite part of working here is getting to interact with the families directly, for it is these experiences that bring me closer to God and to the human race. Over the past month, I’ve had the privilege to work with a single mother from Uganda and her two year old son. I helped them pick out furniture and delivered some essentials for the toddler, such as milk, diapers and a stroller. When I went to leave their apartment after dropping these items off, her young son gave me a hug. It was the simplest and sweetest gesture, and although he did not understand my English mumblings to him, our smiles that we shared said it all. I will be forever grateful for this experience, for it has taught me how to be patient and understanding, but most importantly, how to love unconditionally.
CAPTION: One of the most inspiring places in the CRIS building is the English language classroom, where hundreds of newly arrived refugees gather each year to learn their new language. The classroom is full of artwork and games to engage students and create an interactive environment. “

A Day in the Life

1 Nov

Spend a little time today learning about Episcopal Service Corps member Nicole Hamme and her daily work at our great partner organization Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS)!


“At CRIS, I am serving as the Pre-Arrival Intern for the 2016-2017 Episcopal Service Corps year. As a Pre-Arrival Intern, I have a variety of tasks that take me many places throughout the community. One of my most important jobs is assembling welcome kits for newly arrived families. Each welcome kit includes crucial items that each refuge needs to live comfortably in their new home, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, dish soap, towels and trash bags (just to name a few). As simple as these items might be, they are essentials that lead to a healthy, happy lifestyle and we make sure each family receives these.

Once each family receives their welcome kit, the next step is to get their homes furnished. We have partnerships with the Furniture Bank of Columbus and Mack Mattress Outlet, two incredible organizations that graciously work with us and our families upon arrival. At the furniture bank, we pick out staple pieces- beds, dressers, sofas, kitchen tables, etc. – for each family. Although the furniture bank does assemble some of their own pieces, majority of the furniture would not exist without donations from the community. The Mack Mattress Outlet is where we receive our mattresses for each client. We receive these items brand new, with the hope that each family can continue sleeping on these mattresses for years to come.

When I am not setting up appointments for clients, taking them to get furniture or assembling welcome kits, the rest of my time is spent acquiring donations from the community. We have two donation rooms at the CRIS office where we keep blankets, pots and pans, winter coats and many other items to give to newly arrived families. What keeps this room stocked full is the help from our partner non-profits. Vineyard Church of Columbus has a Transitions program for refugees and we began a partnership with them. Each month, Vineyard sponsors a handful of our families to provide them their household materials. We also receive kitchen supplies from the Recycle Pots and Pans program at the Commissary in Columbus. Working with all of these partnerships infuses me with faith. It truly is a beautiful thing to witness firsthand how crucial it is to work together and share strengths with other people and places in the community. Without help, our work would be nearly impossible.

Lately, I have also had the chance to do a little more outside of my job description. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a family to get their children enrolled in school. These experiences open my eyes more to the challenges each family has to overcome. There is no such thing as just moving here and settling simply. It takes a lot of work from all across the community to assure each family has what they need for a successful, healthy and happy life in America. ”


31 Oct

It’s Partner Appreciation Month here at Confluence Year! Our Episcopal Service Corps member Nicole Hamme will be sharing all about Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) who have provided a worksite opportunity for Confluence for three years running! Be sure to check back in all week to learn more about Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) who are a member of the Episcopal Migration Ministries and partner with the Diocese of Southern Ohio!

“Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) is an independent non-profit organization that serves the growing refugee and immigrant populations in Central Ohio. The mission of CRIS is to help clients reach and sustain self-sufficiency while successfully integrating into the Central Ohio community.

CRIS is a unique organization with over 50 staff members that hail from more than 15 countries with many languages represented, from Nepali to Somali and everything in-between . A majority of CRIS employees have been refugees themselves and are integral members of the communities they serve.

For the 2015 fiscal year, 621 refugees were resettled through CRIS and for the 2016 fiscal year, 833 refugees were resettled. When each family arrives, our resettlement team works hard to provide housing, furniture and essential household items to each client to assure a comfortable transition into the United States. Our caseworkers walk each refugee through the integration process, helping them with tasks such as applying for social security and enrolling the children in school.

As of 2013, a Health and Wellness program was introduced at CRIS, which allows the organization to support client’s health needs. CRIS also offers job counseling for clients ready to start work in the United States, as well as English language classes to help families better navigate day-to-day in Columbus.

CRIS has everything a newly arrived refugee needs to get started in Columbus. Thanks to the help from volunteers and community partnerships, CRIS is able to carry out their mission each day!”

Please learn more by visiting the official website: