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Conference News and Notes

for Wednesday, December 14, 2022

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Vincentian Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 18, 2022


Gospel: (Matthew 1:18-24) This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.


Reflection: The gospel for this Fourth Sunday of Advent helps us to reflect on the relationship between Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit and his birth, as both are clothed in the mystery of God’s revelation and presence to us. Two names are given the One incarnated in Mary’s womb: Jesus, meaning “God saves the people from their sins” and Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us.” The names reveal that the presence of God among us is experienced most profoundly in the forgiveness of our sins. This is the deepest mystery that we celebrate as we see how the joy of Christmas connects and points to the triumph of Easter. Not even the compassionate, righteous Joseph could imagine such a merciful work of God. It is to dream the impossible: God with us (Emmanuel) not as a condemnation but as Savior (Jesus). (Living Liturgy, p.18)


Vincentian Meditation: The mystery of the birth of Jesus is supremely a mystery of love. The purpose of the coming of Christ was to speak to us humans about the love which the great, eternal, and all-powerful God has for us short-lived, weak, fragile and sinful human beings. A newborn infant calls forth from our hearts love. The language of God at Christmas is one of love. Our vocation as Vincentians is to continue learning the language of love, not only at Christmas but throughout our lives. It is the language that we must learn to speak if we wish to draw near to the poor. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.509)


Learning a language involves listening, observing, experiencing, and practicing. How are we learning the language of love this Advent?

How will we share this language?

Your Formation and Training Opportunities & Tips


Formation Moment: With Christmas around the corner, we often feel pulled in many directions: getting our holiday traditions and gifts set; wrapping up end of year deadlines at work; and even helping our neighbors feel some measure of comfort during this special moment of the year. At the same time, Advent is a time when we also partially turn inward to see what it is that we need to grow closer to Christ. As Catholics, and especially as Vincentians, we are called to give of ourselves in a deep way yet let us make sure we also take care of our own needs, and strengthen ourselves, so we do not run out of gas on the journey. In the remaining days of Advent and the coming Christmas season, may we let our Lord show us where it is we are needing to grow, and may we carve out the pathways to become who He has called us to be in this life. After all, we cannot give what we do not have first within ourselves.

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2023 Formation Calendar: This year’s opportunities for Formation will be spread throughout the district at various parishes, but we need your help! If your Conference (or Parish Family) is interested in hosting a Formation workshop or event, please contact Chris Kelley to discuss details; our Formation team will take care of most logistical needs for you! Help your fellow Vincentians, and yourself, be strengthened in the gift of Vincentian life for many years to come. Watch for news of your/our 2023 Formation & training opportunities.

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Chris Kelley, our Formation and Service Learning Director, can be reached at 513.345.1767 or ckelley@svdpcincinnati.org .

Thanks for a Truly Vincentian Conferences Christmas Meeting

Last Tuesday Evening!


Sharing a few pics. Vincentian smiles, Advent purple & Christmas red - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Thanks again to our wonderful hosts @ Our Lady of the Valley...and to all who shared Vincentian faith, friendship, service, hope, & joy.

Our Council's Christmas Food Distribution...


Began this past Monday, 12/12. Neighbors who reside in Hamilton County may stop by our Neyer Outreach Center (NOC, 1146 Bank St) during operating hours (Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm; Saturday, 8am – noon) to pick up a box of Christmas food. Meals include ham, fresh produce, and other fixings for a complete Christmas dinner at home. Limit of one family meal per household. Neighbors should bring their photo ID to receive their food. This program will continue until all meals have been distributed.

Winter Coat Vouchers


Our Council's 3 coat distribution events wrapped up last Wednesday,12/7. Our new phase of coats assistance began this past Monday, 12/12. Any Hamilton County resident who has not yet received a coat from St. Vincent de Paul is welcome to come to our Neyer Outreach Center (NOC, 1146 Bank St) to request a coat voucher. These vouchers can be redeemed at our Clothing and Home Resource Center (in our Liz Carter Center, across the street, 1125 Bank St) or any of our 7 SVDP-Cincinnati thrift stores (our Outlet Store on Chickering Avenue excluded). Neighbors must have a photo ID for themselves and any other member of their household for whom they request a coat. Vouchers are good for thirty days after the day they’re written. This program will continue until early 2023 (the decision of when to end the voucher program will be based on supply of coats at Stores and the weather).

Vincentians may request a coat on behalf of their neighbor using the following process:

  • Check for eligibility in CMS. Neighbors are eligible to receive one coat per household member per winter (from either a voucher or a distribution event). Previous coat assistance is listed in CMS under Programs – Coats through Liz Carter.
  • Email Erin at enowak@svdpcincinnati.org to request a voucher. Please include:
  • The name and date of birth of each household member who will be receiving a coat (including the head of household)
  • Where the voucher should be sent (the address of either the neighbor or the Conference member who will be delivering the voucher)
  • Please ensure that the neighbor is aware they will need some form of ID for each person listed on their voucher. Acceptable forms of ID are listed below, as well as on the voucher itself:
  • Driver’s license or other photo ID (including VESTA card, MARC ID, or work photo ID)
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Medical/Insurance card
  • Lease agreement with household members listed
  • Our Outreach Center Programs team at the NOC will take care of writing and mailing out the voucher, as well as entering the assistance in CMS.

Related note on coats: We are still eagerly and thankfully accepting donations of winter coats which will supply these voucher redemptions and provide a start for our 2023 winter coats assistance. Huge thanks to all who have donated, have hosted drives, and continue to attract coats.

Smoke-Free in 2023


With January come New Year’s resolutions, making this an ideal time to discuss quitting smoking with our neighbors. While smoking costs on average nearly $2,000 per year, research also shows that every cigarette someone smokes reduces their life by 11 minutes. You can save lives and resources by referring neighbors who smoke to our Charitable Pharmacy. Our Charitable Pharmacy is accepting new neighbors to participate in its expanded tobacco cessation program. This program includes:

  • FREE nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum or lozenges)
  • Weekly text reminders
  • Biweekly phone calls
  • Monthly face-to-face counseling

To enroll, neighbors can come to either location of our Charitable Pharmacy (Neyer Outreach Center or Western Hills Thrift Store) to meet with a pharmacist. They do not need to be certified for other Pharmacy services to participate; this program is open to all who are serious about quitting tobacco products. The next time you discuss budget with our neighbors, try asking the question, “Would you like to be smoke-free in 2023?”

We can help!

Exciting Changes to our Rahe Bed Fund!

 

Quite often, we hear that a key challenge our neighbors and Conferences face with our Rahe Beds program is the ability to transport those beds to homes. We have listened, and we are happy to announce that we have found a beds solution that is much easier to transport. We will be changing our beds vendor to a supplier who makes beds that will fit into a typical car. 

This vendor, Malouf, is a National Partner with SVDP, and their beds (available in twin & full sizes) are packed into two boxes. One box contains a well-made foam mattress that rolls up, and the other box contains a sturdy metal frame. This type of bed is a platform bed, which means that it needs no box springs. We have been in touch with other SVDP Councils that work with Malouf, and they have been happy with both the products and the services that Malouf provides. Malouf will also be supplying the mattress covers that we provide with each bed. 

Going forward, you will notice that the beds request form no longer has the box springs option, as this is not part of the beds that will be provided. You will also notice that we are changing the eligibility for beds through this fund from “two beds in a lifetime” to “two beds every ten years”. This is a response to the reality that beds do not last a lifetime, and also to the enhanced ability we have to see a neighbor’s service history, now that virtually all of our Conferences and services are utilizing CMS. As before, Rahe Beds assistance may be requested for 1 or 2 beds for eligible neighbor households.

We accepted our final delivery of the "old model" beds this past week. We will continue to distribute these "old model" beds until our inventory is exhausted. Please watch for updates, including a revised value to place on Rahe beds assistance when entered into CMS. 

We hope this change will benefit our neighbors seeking a humble bed and a good night's sleep.

Please Support our Xavier Men’s Basketball Food Drive!


SVDP will be at the XU Men’s Basketball game against Seton Hall this Tuesday, 12/20, collecting canned goods for our Catino Choice Pantry & Pantry Network. Coming to the game? Please support the Musketeers and SVDP with a canned goods donation! Fans who bring a bag of canned goods will receive a coupon for a discounted ticket to an upcoming XU game. These food drives are vital to our ability to respond with volume and variety to our growing number of neighbors experiencing food insecurity.

Tipoff is at 8:30pm and we will be collecting food outside the Cintas Center from the time doors open at 7pm.

Huge thanks to our partners Xavier University Athletics and Kroger!

Could You Share a Hand Up?


Our Becky Catino Women’s Stability, Employment and Empowerment Program is looking for volunteers!

We are looking for current or former professionals in the areas of human resources, nursing, criminal law, scientific research to help our women through Targeted Mentoring and other services. Please contact Tara at catino@svdpcincinnati.org if this speaks to you.

Conferences' Days to Shop Angel Toys for Your Neighbors Are Here!  

 

Our Council's 3 formal Angel Toy events concluded this past Monday evening, 12/12. As is our traditional arrangement, we are now hosting Conferences (17, and growing) in our Neyer Outreach Center (NOC), shopping remaining toys & gifts - to the extent our supply lasts - for their neighbors. Appointments were scheduled for yesterday & today. Please contact Tom Roberts, 513.345.4910 or troberts@svdpcincinnati.org , if you have encountered a neighbor in such need. Reminder: this is for Conference members only shopping for identified neighbors for whom the Conference will enter this assistance extended in CMS.

Holidays Impact Upon Our Operating Hours


Please note the following operating hours revisions for our Christmas & New Year's holidays, as currently scheduled:

  • Our Neyer Outreach Center (NOC) and Liz Carter Center (LCC) will be closed on Christmas Eve (Saturday, 12/24), Christmas Day (Sunday, 12/25), & Monday, 12/26; reopening Tuesday morning, 12/27, for normal 8am - 4pm hours; Will also be closed on New Year's Eve (Saturday, 12/31), New Year's Day (Sunday, 1/1/2023), & Monday, 1/2; reopening Tuesday, 1/3, for normal 8am - 4pm hours.
  • Our Thrift Stores will close @ 2pm on Christmas Eve (Saturday, 12/24) and remain closed on Christmas Day (Sunday, 12/25); reopening Monday, 12/26, for normal hours; Will be open for normal hours on New Year's Eve (Saturday, 12/31) & New Year's Day (Sunday, 1/1/2023).

CMS Tips, Tricks, & Transformations

 

  • CMS Release 4.1 preview webinar was hosted this past Monday, 12/12
  • Our premier issue of The Pulse, our CMS newsletter, was distributed to Conference CMS Administrators this past week
  • Training videos for Holiday Programs in CMS are available in the Members area of our SVDP website

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Want to refine your CMS skills & learn tips to utilize CMS more efficiently and effectively? Please contact John at jwessel@SVDPcincinnati.org , or by phone at 513.562.1823, to schedule a CMS group or individual session.

More Resources for our Conferences and Neighbors

 

Conference Assistance Fund (CAF)  

Our November activity:

  • You submitted 170 fresh applications
  • We approved 190 applications and declined 0; 4 were withdrawn
  • This translates to 190 neighbor families/households assisted with approx $84,000 in complement to your Conference's organic resources

Our December activity to-date:

  • You've submitted 81 fresh applications
  • We've approved 64 applications; 0 have been declined and 1 withdrawn
  • We have 34 applications currently in process

You can check on the status of CAF applications you have submitted by going to the Member Support and Forms page of our SVDP-Cincinnati website and clicking on CAF Application Status, or use this link:

https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiNjQyZDg5NmMtNWQ1ZC00OTAyLWIwYmUtZTA2NGMwZmZmNmZiIiwidCI6ImY2NWUwODUxLTYxM2QtNDEzNS05ZTE2LTUwOWFkYThjMDY2YiJ9 .

This resource is reserved for Vincentian members only; access to this resource can not be shared with neighbors, landlords, etc, under any circumstances.

In mid-October, our Council temporarily augmented our original FY2023 CAF budget provision of $60,000 per month. Our Council is subsidizing $80,000 per month for October, November, & December, 2022. We are carrying over $11,000 from Oct/Nov, so we have $91,000 available to extend this month. Please note:

We can extend this Council subsidy plus any twinning to CAF from fellow Conferences. If your Conference is currently blessed with funds exceeding 2-3 months of your normal operating outflow, please know that we have fellow Conferences in search of funds to invest in lifting neighbors right now. Please contact Tom Roberts, 513.345.4910 or troberts@svdpcincinnati.org for more info or to twin.

We continue to encourage you to guide our neighbors to other publicly- & privately-funded resources available within our community...and to nurture relationships that extend well beyond immediate basic needs (material) assistance to provide lasting impact.

 

Publicly-Funded Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA 2)

ERA 2, funded through the City of Cincinnati, is available for qualified/eligible tenant neighbors who reside within the City of Cincinnati. The City's funding is committed to us only for the remainder of this month (December, 2022). As of today, we (Conferences) have approved 116 ERA 2 applications and have 17 more in progress.

As we are committed to managing expectations of our neighbors and Vincentians…while providing an acceptably responsive turnaround time for all stakeholders, including landlords and utility providers…please understand the following:

  • We cannot accept any more ERA 2 applications at this time. Our full focus is on processing and hopefully approving the ERA 2 applications currently in our possession. In order to extend ERA 2 assistance, we must approve an application by this Monday, 12/19.
  • Our acceptance of an ERA 2 application does not guaranty assistance will be extended: we must determine that the neighbor is eligible; we must have all the info and documentation requested, including from the landlord or utility; and we must be able to accomplish this while there are still City of Cincinnati funds available to us.

We will continue to share weekly progress here. Thanks for your understanding and collaboration.


Rahe Beds Fund & Program

We are currently working on processing our December bed requests. Due to your volume of initial requests, we will be unable to issue any additional vouchers in December.

If your Conference is considering purchasing beds to extend as assistance, you can get info, including current pricing, or purchase by contacting Dave Chidlow, Stores Retail Resource Manager, at dchidlow@svdpcincinnati.org or 513.853.1002. Your purchased beds will be picked up at our CHRC within our Liz Carter Center. Please be aware that our beds cost and resale pricing have risen significantly.

We are now out of pack n’ plays. We will let you know if/when we have availability.

Do you have questions about our Rahe Beds Fund & Program?

You can find the most updated Bed Fund Conference Guide in the Members section of the SVDP website. A recording of our recent Resource Spotlight featuring beds assistance will also soon be available. Our online request form can be found here .


Metro Bus Passes (Everybody Rides Metro)

Your Conference has access to Metro single-day bus passes to be extended to neighbors for use for any of 3 defined purposes:

1. Commute to/from new employment

2. Commute to/from our Bank St services hub or other community social services

3. Commute to/from medical appointments

Please understand that these passes are sourced through the Everybody Rides Metro program and our Council is required to comply with the above-referenced usages and submit reports of passes distributed. Please also understand that your Conference will need to record bus passes extended in CMS for the neighbors receiving this assistance. Our Bus Pass Guidelines sheet for Conferences is available to you on the Members Support page of our website https://www.svdpcincinnati.org/conferences-members/member-support/

or use this link to go directly to this document:

https://www.svdpcincinnati.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Bus-Tickets-Policy.pdf

If your Conference wants to learn more about this program or request passes, please contact Alec Jewell, Conferences Manager, at ajewell@svdpcincinnati.org or 513.345.4983.

 

Our Re-Entry Program

Our Re-Entry Program Manager, Dion Crockett, is eager to work with you to assist neighbors you are serving who have been affected by the criminal justice system. If you would like to host Dion at a Conference meeting, get together with him in another way, or discuss a particular situation, Dion can be reached at 513.562.8851 or dcrockett@svdpcincinnati.org

 

Cooking Improv with La Soupe

Our partner La Soupe teams with our Catino Choice Pantry to present monthly Cooking Improv demonstrations in the Teaching Kitchen at our NOC. Instructors from La Soupe and volunteers engage participants on basic cooking principles and how to use what you have to create delicious, nutritious meals. All recipes are based off ingredients found daily in our Catino Choice Pantry. Neighbors are encouraged to sample the delicious dishes and discuss preparation and ingredients with our staff, volunteers, and resident La Soupe instructor, Chef Mona! 

These sessions are held on the first Wednesday of each month - which means our next event is Wednesday, 1/4/2023, 11am-1pm. No pre-registration is required.

Feel free to share this information with your neighbors, or if you’re interested in getting involved in our Teaching Kitchen programming, please reach out to Demi Schoenherr at dschoenherr@svdpcincinnati.org for more information. ​


Haircuts from the Heart in our NOC

This is a free haircut program, courtesy of our partner Franciscan Ministries. Stylist Margarita will be in our NOC on the first and second Monday of each month, 9am-noon, cutting hair in a room on the 2nd floor. Our next haircut date is Mon, 1/9/2023, as our NOC is closed on 1/2 for the New Year's holiday. Neighbors are accepted on a walk-in basis, and should sign in at our NOC reception desk upon arrival.

 

Education Center Within Our Neyer Outreach Center

Our NOC Education Center is available for our neighbors and Vincentians to use during our operating hours: Monday - Friday, 8am - 4pm, and Saturday, 8am - noon.

 

Language Service Available to our Conferences

A growing number of our Conferences are experiencing increased interactions with Latino members of our community…and are struggling to effectively communicate with neighbors who are most fluent or exclusively fluent in Spanish. We have contracted a dedicated language service to help you engage these neighbors in a welcoming, affirming manner. Any Conference member can download the “LanguageLine InSight” app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer at https://insight.languageline.com/ . You simply need to use the Authentication Code 6NN692GLS2 the first time you login. Through this app you will have access to over 40 different languages, including Spanish, via an interpreter. You will have the option of either audio or visual (for those needing sign language); we strongly encourage using visual only when you must. Please be efficient in your utilization as our Council pays by the minute for this service; visual is nearly twice as expensive as audio. When you access the service, you will be asked for your name and department, you simply need to state your name, then “St Vincent de Paul Cincinnati Conferences”, then your Conference name. Be sure to only call through the app; you cannot use this service through a regular phone call.

A testimonial from within our Council, "We actually just gave the line a call, figured trying it out would be the best way to know. It was very easy. You login and just select the language, then immediately it connects you with an interpreter who can add the other person to the call. It’s all through the app, very quick, very easy."

Our Charitable Pharmacy and Social Services are already using this tool to engage our Latino neighbors.

If you have any questions or are having trouble accessing the service, please reach out to Alec or Olivia of your Conferences Support Team.

A final seed to plant: If your Conference is among those engaging more neighbors preferring or needing to communicate in Spanish, please consider this an opportunity to seek the addition of Spanish-speaking members. This could enhance your responsive communication and expand your Conference’s perspective.

 

Christ Church Plumb Line

New development: Christ Church Cathedral is halting activity on their Plumb Line assistance outreach for the holidays. Starting EOD this Friday, 12/16, we will be holding off on submitting referrals to them until the New Year. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Olivia Scheper, Conferences Support Coordinator, is our central contact point-person. Plumb Line only accepts assistance referrals from this single SVDP point-person.

As a reminder, Plumb Line can assist with $400 of past due rent for neighbors who are currently working.

Please note: Your Conference does not need to enter your request for Plumb Line assistance into CMS when you submit it to Olivia. Olivia will add the referral into CMS once she submits it to Christ Church.  

All referrals to Plumb Line should be sent to:

Olivia Scheper

oscheper@svdpcincinnati.org

Phone: 513.345.4986, ext 239

Please understand and have faith: Plumb Line only communicates with the landlord and the neighbor after our referral is made. Therefore, once we have submitted your neighbor referral to Plumb Line, no news is good news. Christ Church will only communicate with us when they are unable to assist a neighbor or there are difficulties with a case. We should not contact Christ Church for status reports on a referral.


 

Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW)

GCWW's Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program provides funds for assistance for eligible tenants residing in the City of Cincinnati. There are eligibility stipulations. Tenants must qualify by completing an online application at assistance.mygcww.org .

Renters can also call 513.591.7700 to receive assistance from the call center to complete an application. There is also a flexible payment plan through the PromisePay Portal. GCWW customers can visit GCWW.promise-pay.com for details about the program and how to enroll. Renters not residing in Cincinnati city limits but living in Hamilton County can visit https://erap.hcjfs.org/ for utility assistance. If you need additional materials or information, please contact GCWW at GCWWCares@gcww.cincinnati-oh.gov .

 

Duke Energy

Duke Energy has released an updated summary of Financial Assistance Available for Ohio & Kentucky Natural Gas and Electric Customers. To learn more, go to the Duke Energy website, click on the Financial Help tab, and then click on Ohio.

Duke encourages us to follow our standard steps for processing pledges on customer accounts. For questions on accounts or pledges for neighbors requesting utility assistance, please contact Duke Energy's Centralized Agency Team at 800.241.3194. Advocates are available Monday through Friday, 7:30am - 5:30pm.

Should our neighbor / their customer not meet Duke's qualifications for assistance, please refer them to Duke's customer care organization at 800.544.6900 where they may find assistance through a flexible installment plan.

 

State of Ohio Program for Struggling Homeowners

Save the Dream Ohio helps eligible Ohio homeowners facing foreclosure and/or who cannot afford to pay their mortgage payments, utility payments or other related housing costs as a result of economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Ohio was awarded $280 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for the program. Click here for more information:

Save the Dream Ohio - Managed by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (ohiohome.org)

 

Hamilton County COVID Assistance

Our neighbors & you can still find info and resources at https://513relief.org . Hamilton County has recently refreshed funding at Hamilton County Job & Family Services (JFS). Neighbors can apply at 513Relief.org on their mobile device or desktop. The Hamilton County Rent and Utility Program’s application can be submitted on a smart phone. Please note: this funding comes from the same federal pool as ERA and other COVID relief programs, so a neighbor who has previously exhausted their access to this pool will be ineligible. Community Action Agency (CAA) also has COVID relief funding through the City of Cincinnati. Please refer eligible neighbors to either or both of these service organizations.  

 

Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation (CEIF) Vision Clinic in our Neyer Outreach Center

The Vision Clinic operates by appointment on certain Monday mornings & Thursdays as designated by CEIF. Please note this schedule for the remainder of December: open for the morning, 8:30am - noon, tomorrow (12/15) & 12/29. A limited number of walk-in exams can also be accommodated. To schedule an appointment, or to inquire for additional info, please call 513.207.6140.

Our Mission


A network of neighbors, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.

Call to Prayer

                  

As we prepare for Christmas we pray for the poor and lonely,

may our lives be a sign of faith.

We pray for those who do not know that God is our “Savior”,

may our lives be a sign of hope.

We pray for those who do not know that God is “Emmanuel”,

may our lives be a sign of charity.

Amen.

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