Shine a Little Light

25 Nov

Today we celebrate our partnership with the Mt. Carmel Healthy Living Center by having Confluence Year Episcopal Service Corps member Steven Simpkins shine a spotlight on one of his colleagues. Today, we spend a moment appreciating the great work Ami Peacock does through Mount Carmel Health on the westside of Columbus. Thanks Ami!

“It is only natural during this week of partner appreciation that the fearless leader of MCHLC receives a day in the spotlight. Ami Peacock is more than fearless as the manager of the Healthy Living Center. Ami is a confident leader full of love and compassion for MCHLC staff and the Franklinton community. That love should not be mistaken for complacency, Ami is driven and encourages the best work possible from staff. Another quality that makes Ami such an admirable leader is her ability to be humble and ask for help when she is not sure what to do or how to do something.


Ami is a supervisor who cares about people and where they are before talking about planning. Even when time is at a premium she takes a few precious moments to ask how someone is doing and expects genuine responses. That question seems to take on a sacred quality because of its genuine tone. In a world full of fast-paced consumption small questions are frequently taken for granted. Not so with Ami. Ami listens.

There is likely an endless list of things I could learn from Ami. If I could somehow magically or prayerfully obtain any one quality it would be living fully into my work. Ami takes a well-rounded healthy life seriously. She leads by example by carving out time for replenishing work or small breaks. Ami is self-aware of when stress begins creeping in and lets her staff know when she is feeling overwhelmed. Ami loves every single program at MCHLC. Hearing her talk about MCHLC is inspiring. If I leave MCHLC capable of feeling so strongly about my calling in life I will be indebted to Ami and MCHLC for everything they have taught and passed down to me. Regardless I will be forever grateful for Ami and the staff because they teach me something about myself everyday.”

Transformed by Service

24 Nov

“I am learning from my newfound friends in room 126 of MCHLC that questions are good and curiosity is even better. Some parts of me already knew this but something about the folks in the room or the room itself drives me to recognize my own curiosity and allow it to flourish in the public sphere.”

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to read more about Steven Simpkins own transformation as he works at Mt. Carmel Healthy Living Center during his year of service through the Confluence Year Episcopal Service Corps program.

“To borrow a line from the latest and greatest hip-hop musical sensation Hamilton, while I am at MCHLC: I want to be in the room where it happens. For me that room is room 126 better known as the space of the cooking demo and any other larger program. The room itself is not particularly awe-inspiring, though the decorations for the Community Friends Thanksgiving celebration in the attached photo certainly add some pizazz and warmth. The learning and profound curiosity I have seen from program participants is what brings air into my lungs. Thanks to the hundreds of people that I have encountered in this room I have learned and relearned the radically simple power of curiosity. Room 126 is where I learn the most about myself and others and seems to be where everything of import to my personal development happens.


The first program I experienced with MCHLC was a cooking class. The second was a large 80 person cooking demo. That second day was a little overwhelming but was also incredibly insightful. Every single participant was present in the learning moment. Even after the food is served the crowd listens closely to the provided advice for living and eating healthier. Creative, genuine, thoughtful questions are asked with total abandon and people linger following the demonstration to connect with new friends from their common experience.

As an introvert I frequently struggle with asking questions or asking for help. I tend to fear the question has an obvious answer so I hold it inside and think it through if I can. I am learning from my newfound friends in room 126 of MCHLC that questions are good and curiosity is even better. Some parts of me already knew this but something about the folks in the room or the room itself drives me to recognize my own curiosity and allow it to flourish in the public sphere. Room 126 is where I find consistent opportunities for growth in relationships with others, God, and myself. It truly is the room where it happens and I undoubtedly want to be there.”

A Day in the Life – Mt. Carmel Healthy Living Center

22 Nov

A Day in the Life with Confluence Year Episcopal Service Corps member Steven Simpkins at his placement with our fantastic neighborhood partner, Mt Carmel Healthy Living Center, made possible through funding from the Mount Carmel Foundation .

“There is a cliche saying that variety is the spice of life. If that adage is indeed true then MCHLC certainly ensures I do not have a bland work life during Confluence Year. There are three general areas MCHLC floats me toward. Each broad set of responsibilities is valuable and rewarding in its own right. Yes, even the data entry I do has recognizable benefit.

The data I electronically record tracks how many individuals come into the MCHLC library/resource center and for what purpose. This data when broken down will be able to easily communicate to others the impact the resource center has on the community and the care provided by MCHLC. The reports that are generated will allow MCHLC to maximize community benefit.

While working I tend to spend most of my time in the resource center. While there, I sit at the front desk and make sure visitors to Mount Carmel feel welcome. I answer any questions visitors have and provide directions when necessary. This work is critical for the space because so many visitors are seeking comfort and reassurance they are headed in the right direction. I have witnessed genuine caring and love in all the in staff-visitor interactions in the MCHLC library. Working in the library attracts people into the space for their own needs/wants/desire while allowing MCHLC to advertise the large variety of programs, classes, and resources

I help with programs held by MCHLC in whatever way possible. Frequently MCHLC programming is all hands on deck. Especially in the hour or so before an event starts. The team works together to bring the best event possible to attendees. One thing MCHLC hopes to see me foster in the community is a relationship with Franklinton Cycle Works. Ideas for collaboration already being generated and intersectionality of missions is being noticed. Keep an eye out in the future for programs and initiatives that place an emphasis on healthy living, bicycling, food access, transportation access and more!”

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