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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)!

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“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. ”

PARTNER APPRECIATION MONTH!

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: http://www.crisohio.org/

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Meet the New 2016-17 Volunteers!!!

23 Aug

 

Confluence is excited to welcome the 2016-17 Class to Columbus to join in with St. John’s Episcopal Franklinton during their Episcopal Service Corps Year. Get to know this incredible group of women and men committing themselves to a year of spiritual formation, service, intentional community, and social justice.

 

IMG_3909My name is Caroline Nagy and I am from Malvern, PA, a small town just outside of Philadelphia. The youngest of three, I have one sister and one brother who live far from home also. I moved to an even smaller town in Ohio to attend Muskingum University, just an hour east of Columbus. I graduated in May 2016 with a degree in Child and Family Studies and a minor in Sociology, which has given me some insight into a future career in the non-profit sector. As a 4-year college cross country and track runner, I learned the value of working as a team. Since graduation, I have cut back on the running mileage, but continue to get in several short runs per week. I also enjoy watching TV, reading and learning to cook a little.

Growing up in a very large Episcopal church, outreach was always a part of our family life. It all started in middle school when we helped with Katrina clean up in Mississippi.   Since then I developed a passion for feeding the homeless and helping out at a local food pantry. I am really looking forward to starting this new adventure, exploring different areas of non-profit work and living in a city for the first time. and most of all, where this next year will take me.

 

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Steven Simpkins is originally from Tiffin, Ohio a small city in the northwestern area of the state surrounded by farmland on all sides. He graduated from Denison University in Granville, Ohio in the spring of 2016. While at Denison University he double majored in Religion and Economics. Steven’s favorite activities at Denison consisted of: Sustained Dialogue (an experience-based dialogue organization aimed at engaging across difference), Canterbury Club, and organizing community events with the University Programming Council. Steven wrote a senior thesis entitled Liberative Creation: Restoring Community and Home.

Surprisingly, reading two books and writing 8 pages a week takes a lot of time. Despite graduating he is still adjusting to free time he acquired after finishing the project. He also sang in the choir at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Granville. Some of Steven’s hobbies include, singing, cooking, and reading. It will be his first extended period of time not living in a rural environment. He is excited about all of the opportunities the year with Confluence in Columbus promises. He is looking forward to living a year in intentional community in Franklinton as he learns about himself and the community.

 

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Hey everyone! My name is Nicole Leigh Hamme and I am a Columbus, Ohio native. With the exception of college, I’ve lived in the area my whole life with my four cats, parents and brother who is 19 years old. In the spring, I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with my BA in Communications. For the past two summers, I have spent my time in Durango, Colorado working as a wilderness summer camp counselor and coordinator for the middle school girls camp.

 

A passion of mine is working in youth development with girls, helping them build confidence and healthy life skills to succeed and become the people they have potential to be.A dream of mine is to serve in the Peace Corps or do some sort of youth development internationally, for I have a bad case of the travel bug and a willingness to give back. I’m looking forward to Confluence because I have the opportunity to serve a city that made me who I am. I look forward to immersing myself deeply into a new community of people who are motivated by social justice. The passion and energy in this community is incredible, and I can’t wait to get involved!

Reflections from the Monastery

2 Jun
In mid-May, the Confluence Service Corps members spent a contemplative weekend in silence at the Abbey of Getsemani in Bardstown, Kentucky, taking the time to reflect on their year of service, justice, and community, further engaging in discernment through prayer, journaling, and meditation. Below are selected reflections from their time.

Anna Berger

Abbey Trail

No one in the world knows you’re here,
Atop this ridge with your rose-flushed face and the dirt smudges up and down your faintly aching legs,
you are alone.
But God is no one because God is the One and the world is God’s and there’s a whisper of something else in this place amongst the silence.
Someone else?
It takes the solitude to realize that the solitude is not absolute,
To realize that you are you anywhere and everywhere,
Under the din and the clamor and the glare from the sun that reflects and distracts and detracts from the thing itself.
To realize that life is life everywhere,
That true faith and true life are in the little moments, the sticky moments, the ones that the writers and the filmmakers conveniently pass over.
You are here,
and the other creatures in these woods, they too are here,
and you are all here together and that is important.

Katie Blodgett

Abbey - Vigil

10 things Realized and Gained from the Abbey

1. How everyone oriented themselves to be looking out the window while they eat. Much better than staring at our phone screens

2. That I feel like I know the people who were at the Abbey with us, even though I don’t know their names

3. The luxury of silence I was afforded for the weekend, and how it’s a matter of choice of how loud and noisy my life us outside of the Abbey

4. The stoicism of the monks, and how intentional I imagine them being with their words

5. The Lord gave me the idea of a sunflower for my tattoo! It was totally a Jesus thing

6. The wind that Saturday night. Some of the most intense, scary wind. I felt so exposed and vulnerable for some reason… I usually love wind

7. The order of prayer. I especially loved going to None and Compline with the monks

8. The certainty of boldness I felt before a prayer time about my future. Go free and fearless into the future

9. I loved being out of the city and sitting in the grass and hearing birds chirp while my window is open and not having my phone with me and not worrying about if I missed a text message

10. I loved what songs would pop into my head. Sometimes they were ridiculous pop songs, but lots of times, they’d be favorite hymns, meaningful songs, or just a song that I forgot that I really loved that I hadn’t heard in a long while

Hanna Kahler

Abbey Trail 2

Several years ago Eugene Peterson wrote a book called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. I have never read his book, but I have loved its title since the first time that I heard it. I often struggle with staying focused and continuing with a course once the novelty and the original excitement wears off. But staying the course is essential to our faith.

A few nights ago my housemates and I watched a documentary about the Barkley Marathons. Ultramarathon participants attempt to run 120 miles across the mountains of Eastern Tennessee in under 60 hours. They go without sleep and run through the night. They train for months and carefully calculate the equipment they’ll need. The elevation change in the course is equivalent to climbing and descending Mt. Everest twice. In the 30 years that the Barkley has existed, only 14 people have completed the entire course.

At one point in the documentary, the founder of the race observes, “People who have completed graduate school are disproportionately represented in the 14 race finishers. These people are used to taking on a big project and slogging through to the finish line.” Over its 120 miles, the race loops through the base camp 5 times. Each time runners enter camp, their sleeping bags and tents beckon, and they have the option to quit the race. Runners who complete the course make up their minds before they approach camp that quitting is not even a possibility.

The discipline and single-mindedness of the Barkley Marathon runners brought to mind the discipline and single-mindedness of the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Now, the monks may not be running long distances, but they are convening to pray 7 times throughout the day and night and they have committed themselves to a disciplined way of life. At the Abbey, I noticed that some of the monks looked very tired at prayers. I wondered what it would be like to commit to waking up for Vigils at 3:15am every day for the rest of your life. I am positive that at least occasionally some monks don’t particularly feel like waking up to pray at 3:15am. And yet, despite whatever they might be feeling at the moment, they pull themselves together and honor their commitment to their chosen life.

Similarly, I remember hearing a story about Mother Teresa– that for most of the last 40 or 50 years of her life she experienced a “Dark Night of the Soul.” This was a period of darkness where she felt alone and separate from the love of God. Mother Teresa receives universal acclaim for her compassionate work among the extremely marginalized in Calcutta. And yet, despite her tremendous work, she was not fueled by a constant sense of the presence of God in her work. She must, of course, have intellectually realized that her work was God-glorifying and God-blessed…but there was not the sense of God’s presence. Her legacy of incredible faithfulness seems especially precious in light of this Dark Night of the Soul.

When my good college friend’s father battled brain cancer, she was studying in Romania. As her semester there continued, her father grew sicker and sicker. Hers was a faith-based program and so she continued to attend church with her host family, but didn’t particularly feel the presence of God. Nevertheless, when we were talking about it a year or two later, she mentioned how much she valued going through the spiritual motions, and practicing the rituals, even when she felt only emptiness.

Spending time at the Abbey of Gethsemani brought together all of these disparate threads and gave me a picture of what a long obedience in the same direction would look like. While I doubt that I will ever enter the religious life, I strongly value the faithfulness that the monks showed in their lives. And I hope that I can foster a similar long obedience in the same direction.

 

#GivingTuesday

1 Dec

Please consider supporting Confluence Year today by giving to the Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) during ‪#‎GivingTuesday‬ ! A gift to ESC is like giving four gifts in one! You are supporting the Episcopal Service Corps on both a national level and local level with funds also going to Confluence Year hosted by Saint John’s Episcopal. You are supporting the formation and leadership development of passionate young adults, and supporting the many ministries, social service agencies, and neighborhoods that they sacrificially serve in for their ESC year!

Help us continue to be able to support the great work being done by our corps members at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) ,Ohio Association of FoodbanksLatino Ministry Commission, and right here at Saint John’s Episcopal, and in the neighborhood of Franklinton.

As an added bonus, Bishops from across the US have committed to match any donation, doubling our efforts!

https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E77029&id=7

A Week at the Latino Ministry Commission with Katie Guy

1 Dec

This week we celebrate our partnership with the Latino Ministry Commission of the Diocese of Southern Ohio , and the placement of our 2015-16 Episcopal Service Corps member Katie Guy with this great organization!

“We are a network of Latino Ministry Centers created to foster and support ministry with and among Latinos in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. There are two centers located in the Cincinnati area (Price Hill and Forrest Park) and one in Columbus (Whitehall).

Generally these centers provide Homework Club for students and ESL for adults while creating a space for community and engagement, and I am currently helping the Whitehall location, hosted by Saint Edward’s, explore new ideas for ministry.”

https://www.facebook.com/latinoministrycommission/info/…

Katie Guy

“I currently am working on creating a Reading Club for the children that participate in The Ohio Hispanic Coalition. The
church hosts this non-profit Monday through Friday after school. The picture above is from one of the girls that sometimes spends time in my office before the program starts. It’s the children like her that inspired me to create this reading club. Reading can be
especially hard for Latino students because often times they don’t have a way to practice it at home with their parents. I hope to create an atmosphere where they can be encouraged and practice their reading.

This has been an overall very new experience to work in Latino ministries. I’ve been learning how the Latino culture works and some of the norms that exist that are different from the United States. One of the norms is the lack of trust that is found with
people outside of the community because of fear of deportation. Many Latinos try and keep a low radar because they don’t want to be taken advantage of or be separated from their family. This has made getting to know the families a little difficult, but I’m hopeful as I begin to see them more often and form relationships with the parents of the children at the after school program.

One of the projects I’ve been working on is financial literacy and using the banking system. I started to go around to the different banks in the neighborhood and ask questions about their neighbors opening bank accounts without social security
numbers. You wouldn’t believe some of the responses and looks that I got. Many looked at me like I was crazy to think that someone that wasn’t a US citizen even thought about creating a safe place for their money. It became clear to me that many
people view having a bank account as a right only for a US citizen and not for anyone else living on our soil. This is where I begin to become frustrated with the ignorant culture of America. Since when did having a checking account become the exclusive
right of a citizen? Luckily I’ve found that there actually are ways around opening an account without a SSN, you just have to pick the right bank. Learning and understanding the barriers that Latinos face on a daily basis has helped me with empathy for the larger issue of immigration and refugee rights.”

Katie Guy LMC #2

“These are a few of the fellow Latino Ministry Commission members at our retreat a couple weeks ago. The three centers came together in an effort to create goals for the Commission as a whole for the year 2016. The man on my left, Carlos de Jesus, has been my supervisor in helping me get things rolling here in Whitehall. They have been running their center in Forest Park for about 8 years now and have been very helpful in supporting me and encouraging the ministry in Whitehall. We walked away with 3 goals from this retreat; wider support from congregations in DSO, enhancement of Whitehall center and identification of a champion in the community, and involving more Latinos as leaders in the ministry.”

The Latino Ministry Commission of the Diocese of Southern Ohio has impactful and practical ways you can join with Episcopal Service Corpsmember Katie Guy as she launches their new venture in Whitehall.

“All those that are interested in helping with children are a specific need right now. I’ll need volunteers to help with the reading club that will be offered Monday – Friday from 3:15-4:00pm at the Church of St Edward in Whitehall. The children are elementary age and eager for some one on one attention and help in their education. Those that are interested can email me at ktguy14@gmail.com”

LIVING IN COMMUNITY AT CONFLUENCE HOUSE

24 Nov

Originally Posted at PraxisCommunities.Org

BY: Katie Guy

It has been a new experience to live with a group of people and to have the specific intentionality that we have living together.  At the beginning of our service year we came up with a Rule of Life that organized our intentions for the year.  I’ve always been someone that appreciated honesty from the beginning and no beating around the bush.  I loved that we were able to start our year together thinking about ways that we could grow and learn together.

Living together has also helped me to see how similar we are when we give each other the chance to get to know each other.  When we get down to the heart of it my roommates and I are all 20 somethings that are searching for more meaning, for that purpose and for that sense of belonging.  When I was going through my undergrad at Ohio State I was looking for purpose, but in a more specific way.  I was searching for my purpose through a job title, not through my relationship with God.

I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people over my time in Franklinton and what I have come to learn is that no matter where we come from we all face the same fundamental questions and longings.  Jerry that loves to walk, Bruce that hitchhiked a crossed America and Sharon who mows lawns in the neighborhood.  We are all children of God and we long to be in fellowship with Him, in whatever way that may look like.  For Jerry it may be sharing a walk and conversation with a friend.  Bruce seeks fellowship with people by his positivity and kind spirit.  Sharon shows her love for God’s children through giving what little she has and making sure everyone is taken care of.  I see God in each of these people whether they recognize that or not.  I’ve learned to find the consistency of God in the people around me when my own future feels so unsure.  That consistency brings me so much peace, comfort and strength to keep dreaming and to not give up on what God has for me and the people around me.