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Conference News and Notes

for Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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Vincentian Reflection for the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord

Christmas Sunday

December 25, 2022



Gospel: (Luke 2:15-20) When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.


Reflection: The angels told the shepherds that the Messiah was born and where to find Him. How and when are we told? God reveals divine presence in the smile of another, in someone’s generous offer, in a plea for help, in the cry of the poor and oppressed, in the child needing reassurance, in the aged needing a listening heart, in the sick needing a consoling hand. This is how we make “known the message”: to reach out to another with God’s compassion, mercy, forgiveness, healing love. The mystery of Christmas is that God is incarnate. Today we see not a Baby in a manger, but a saving God working through and among us. This is what we make known. (Living Liturgy, p.24)


Vincentian Meditation: The only gift we can offer our newborn Savior is our hearts within which lie our wills. Aligning our wills ever more closely with His will, at all times and in all circumstances, is the only gift we can offer our Savior on Christmas day and every other day throughout the year. In the words of Cardinal Newman: “May each Christmas as it comes find us more and more like Him who at this time became a little child for our sake, more humble, more holy, more happy and more full of God. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.675)


God's blessed, unconditional love, in the form of His Son Jesus, is truly the greatest gift.

How have we “made known the message” of God’s love this Christmas?

A blessed Merry Christmas to you, those you love best, and all of God's children.

Your Formation and Training Opportunities & Tips


Formation Moment: The footsteps of Christmas can be heard all throughout the house these days, and we can sometimes focus more on the physical gifts we need to buy or the meals we need to prepare. Yet we also have a subtle question come to mind, do we realize the deep gift that we have when we give of ourselves to another in charity and gentleness? From the beginning, we have been called and granted those gifts/talents which are needed to help those around us, as well as ourselves, see the unique love and dignity which the Lord has. When we seek out the Christ present in one another, whether that is in visiting someone’s home or welcoming our entire family to the dinner table, we help give witness to that unique and particular love which God has for each individual no matter where they have been, or where they are in this moment. This Christmas, let us love one another with that same joy and tenderness that the newborn Christ loves each of us with.

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Formation Calendar & Quarterly Reflections: The coming year’s Formation Schedule is on its way! All Conference Presidents and Spiritual Advisors should be receiving an email from Chris Kelley with the schedule attached by the end of this week. The quarterly reflections will also be sent out at that time as well. If you do not receive these for some reason, please reach out to Chris.

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

Our Council's Christmas Food Distribution...


Began Monday, 12/12, and concluded when we were fully distributed on Monday, 12/19.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to our Vincentians who assisted with sharing Christmas meals at our Neyer Outreach Center this year! With your help, we were able to extend 1,193 Christmas meals at our NOC this year. It was a blessing to see warm Vincentian faces sharing this service with our neighbors. 

Our Services team is grateful to all our members who, in addition to their work in their own Conferences, choose to also serve here at our NOC. You are inspirations to us! 


Sunnie Johnson-Lain and your/our Services team

Winter Coat Vouchers


Our Council's 3 coat distribution events wrapped up on Wednesday,12/7. Our new phase of coats assistance began 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.

Please note that Erin will be out of the office this coming week of 12/26. Any voucher requests emailed in next week will be written and sent out the following week. Thanks for your understanding.

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.

News from our Charitable Pharmacy


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!


Free COVID Tests Available

Last Wednesday, 12/14, President Biden approved another round of free COVID tests for all American households. With the holidays quickly approaching and the recent increase in COVID cases, you might consider having COVID tests on-hand just in case. You can order four (more) free tests at https://special.usps.com/testkits .

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 earlier in December. 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.

Conferences' Days to Shop Angel Toys 

 

Our Council's 3 formal Angel Toy events concluded Monday evening, 12/12. As is our traditional arrangement, we have now hosted 20 Conferences in our Neyer Outreach Center (NOC), shopping remaining toys & gifts. The majority of these Conferences shopped Tuesday, 12/13, and Wednesday, 12/14, by appointment. Our toys & gifts supply is now limited (with the exception of many dolls and toddler gifts available). We are still welcoming Vincentians - to the extent our supply lasts - to shop for their neighbors who have not yet received SVDP Christmas gifts assistance this year. 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.

To-date, our 20 Conferences who have chosen to partake have shopped for 100 families/households, including 279 children.

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 is scheduled to be implemented 1/4/2023.

CMS 4.1 Training videos are now available on the CMS Support page. They should be viewed by all.

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Reminder #1: Any financial assistance provided to a neighbor, whether rent, utilities, etc, is required to be entered into CMS as a check request and NEVER as an In Kind transaction. No check (or debit transaction) should be issued by the treasurer without a check request in CMS. Non-CMS case related expenses should also be entered as debits into the CMS Check Register. The only exception to the financial assistance rule is CAF and ERA where the respective teams for those will enter the In Kind transactions onto your CMS Case. If you have questions on how those processes occur, please contact your Conferences Support team.

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Reminder #2: All volunteer time should be entered into CMS. There are training videos on how this can be done. It’s easier than shopping online.

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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 189 applications and declined 0; 4 were withdrawn
  • This translates to 189 neighbor families/households assisted with $82,724 in complement to your Conference's organic resources

Our December activity to-date:

  • You've submitted 127 fresh applications
  • We've approved 116 applications; 0 have been declined and 2 withdrawn
  • We have 15 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 $12,592 from Oct/Nov, so we have $92,592 available to extend this month. While our December activity to-date has been brisk, we expect less volume during the holidays, and then likely a surge in requests in January as the winter reality takes hold. Unused December funding will carryover to January. 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, was available for qualified/eligible tenant neighbors who reside within the City of Cincinnati. The City's funding was committed to us only for the remainder of this month (December, 2022). As of today, we (Conferences) have approved 131 ERA 2 applications with 1 pending approval.

As previously shared, we can no longer accept ERA 2 applications as they cannot be processed and assistance extended by our December deadline.

We will share any new developments as they present themselves.

Huge thanks to those Conferences and Vincentians who have submitted ERA 2 applications...and to Olivia, Alec, Mary Reid, and our Finance team for turning these applications into assistance extended to our neighbors.


Rahe Beds Fund & Program

All December bed requests have been processed. 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 the bed pricing will change slightly with our new bed vendor.

A limited number of pack ‘n’ plays are available for neighbors with children younger than two. We do not currently have any available cribs. Pack ‘n’ plays can be requested by emailing rahebedfund@svdpcincinnati.org with the neighbor’s name, date of birth, and address.

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

Holidays development: Christ Church Cathedral is halting activity on their Plumb Line assistance outreach for the holidays. As of this past Friday, 12/16, we are 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 our remaining December operating day is Thursday, 12/29, for the morning, 8:30am - noon. Looking ahead to January, our Vision Clinic will be open on Thursdays only: the mornings of 1/5 & 1/19; all day on 1/12 & 1/26. 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.

Christmas Call to Prayer

                  

On this day, joy was reborn into the world,

may we share the joy of Christ with everyone.

On this day, hope was reborn into the world,

may we bring the hope of Christ to those most in need.

On this day, love was reborn into the world,

may we bring the love of Christ to others in compassion,

On this day, peace was reborn into the world,

may we bring the peace of Christ to our family and our world.

Amen.

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