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Conference News and Notes

for Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Sent to all Vincentians & Staff

Vincentian Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 29, 2023


Gospel: (Matthew 5:1-12) When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.


Reflection: One way to approach the Beatitudes is in terms of their being descriptions of identity rather than moral demands. The Beatitudes embody a radically alternative vision of our Society. This is how the kingdom of heaven is at hand: that we appreciate that we in ourselves are blessed. Blessed is who we are in Christ. God indeed calls us to blessedness. (Living Liturgy, p.54)


Vincentian Meditation: The gospels and epistles frequently remind Christians to be gentle. They should seek to resolve conflicts peacefully, act with kindness, speak courteously - in short, love their neighbors as they love themselves. Such gentleness comes when Christians realize that despite all their sins, God loves them. The balance of gentleness and strength is learned in the schools of prayer and experience. Gentleness is not passivity or spinelessness. Strength is not uncontrolled rage or stoic coldness. Determining when to be gentle and when to be forceful should be the subject of our prayerful discernment. We are called to be gently strong, and strongly gentle. (McKenna, Praying with Vincent, p.97-98)


How have you been “gently strong and strongly gentle”?

How might you embrace the opportunity to be "gently strong and strongly gentle"

in a matter of significance - and all matters - today?               

Your Formation and Training Opportunities & Tips


Feast Day Mass at our NOC on Tuesday, 2/7: In two weeks, we will rapidly come upon the feast day of one of our great Patronesses in The Society – Bl. Rosalie Rendu – who helped guide Bl. Frederic Ozanam in meeting the needs of many in Paris during their early days, serving as the one passing on the Vincentian life to the new Vincentians. We invite you to join us for a special Mass at the Neyer Outreach Center (NOC) Chapel at noon on Tuesday, 2/7, to commemorate her feast. Space is limited (no more than 40 attendees) in the chapel so advanced registration is required, please sign up on our Signup Genius or contact Chris Kelley to register.

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Our Next Ozanam Orientation: The next Ozanam Orientation for new Vincentians, as well as those seeking to reflect more on their Vincentian identity, will be at Good Shepherd (Montgomery/Symmes Township) on Saturday, 2/18, 9:00am-3:00pm.To sign-up, please follow this link here , or reach out directly to Chris Kelley to register. The Ozanam Orientation is a great way to gain a deeper insight into who we are, how we strive to live out our call to serve Christ in our neighbor, and meet Vincentians from across our area. Our Society so strongly believes that the Ozanam Orientation is vital to Vincentian formation that it is the lone required formation/training offering. We look forward to seeing you! Registrations are filling quickly – if you experience any issues, please contact Chris Kelley; as a reminder our Formation workshops and Orientations are offered at no-cost to participants, breakfast and lunch will be provided at this Orientation.

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Formation Postcards are being sent out with a listing of our workshops/events for the first few months of the year, we encourage you to take part in our offerings as best you can to deepen your own Vincentian life, connect with others from different Conferences, and gain the tools needed for more effective ways to meet the needs of our neighbors.

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

Beacons of Light Families of Parishes

Our Conferences Journey Onward


Stories from around our Council:

  • Divine Mercy Family of Parishes includes Our Lady of the Visitation, St Jude, & St Joseph - North Bend Conferences. Their Family's Pathway Planning Team organized and sponsored a Meet & Greet Christmas Gathering which attracted 40-50 Vincentians and guests, including Fr Don Siciliano (pastor), Fr Martin Bachman, Fr Jerry Hiland, and all 3 of our Conference presidents. Advent anticipation was alive and the guests expanded friendships to extend year 'round. (Thanks to Vincentian Heidi Heinrich, Secretary of our St Bernard - Taylor Creek Conference, for sharing.)
  • Our Lord Christ the King Conference is quite active - they have recently expanded their service footprint; they have ongoing collaboration with Fr Adam Puntel, pastor; and they are inviting parishioners from their intra-Family parishes to engage with their Conference's good works.
  • St William Conference, of the Westside Catholic Family which includes Resurrection of Our Lord & St Teresa of Avila Conferences and St Lawrence parish, has recently invested efforts to heighten awareness within their parish and invite interested parishioners to explore opportunities to live their faith more fully in this Vincentian vocation.
  • St Gertrude & St Joseph - North Bend Conferences have added members.
  • Bellarmine Conference is nurturing collaborations with Xavier University students, faculty, & administrators - shared activities include participation in Conference meetings and Home Visits. Such are the seeds that could produce future Vincentian fruit for all.

Do you have Beacons of Light progress to share from your Conference & Family of Parishes? We'd love to hear and share in this Conference News and Notes each week. You might just inspire others as we seize this opportunity to advance how we live our Vincentian vocation, engage our neighbors, transform our community, and evolve our Archdiocese. Please contact Tom Roberts at troberts@svdpcincinnati.org or 513.345.4910.

One More Time: Our 2022 Annual Report


As our External Relations team works hard to compile this year’s Annual Report, the door is still open for you to share the impact of your work! Coupled with data that tells the quantitative story of our 2022 fiscal year, your stories are needed to help demonstrate how our mission is brought to life in the community!

Have a story of faith, friendship or service to share? Email Kristen Gallagher, Sr. Marketing & Communications Manager, at kgallagher@SVDPcincinnati.org or give her a call at 513.562.8853. Your contributions this season have been so meaningful – thank YOU!

Opportunity: A Call to Action


Our Becky Catino Women’s Stability, Employment, and Empowerment Program needs your help! We are looking for a generous professional who is licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio, preferably experienced in criminal law. They need to be able to contribute enough time through pro bono hours to assist 1 or 2 women in achieving record expungement and Certificate of Qualified Employment (CQE). By assisting in this way, you can help those who otherwise would be reliant on already overburdened programs with large wait lists. Please contact Tara at catino@svdpcincinnati.org .

Voice of the Poor Nugget


Regarding Rental Security Deposits

Did you know that renters must request the return of their security deposit in writing and leave a forwarding address so that the landlord knows where to send the deposit? If the full amount is not returned, the landlord must provide an itemized statement on how the money was spent. Landlords may also use the deposit to cover unpaid rent.

Before renting an apartment, renters would be wise to inspect the apartment closely. Come prepared with a checklist and take photos. Then when leaving the apartment, renters may compare its condition with the initial checklist. Once again, take photos for proof of condition.


Upcoming Resource Spotlight

Our Council's Voice of the Poor Committee will offer a Resource Spotlight in February (via Zoom; date & time TBD) on the topic of landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities. Do you have questions about landlord and tenant responsibilities that you would like to have answered? Email them to JanePhelan02@gmail.com , and we’ll work to provide answers.

What is "Medicaid Unwinding" and How Will it Affect

Our Neighbors & SVDP?

Perspective from our Charitable Pharmacy, repeated for impact

 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Ohio Medicaid beneficiaries have not been required to prove eligibility to retain Medicaid benefits. However, on 4/1/23, the requirement for annual Medicaid re-enrollment returns, which is estimated to result in the cancellation of Medicaid benefits for up to 14 million Americans. Many of our neighbors are at risk of losing Medicaid benefits which could result in much higher need for our services, specifically impacting your Conference, our Council, our Charitable Pharmacy, and our food pantries network. This is advance notice. To prevent gaps in coverage, encourage all neighbors to gain online access to their Medicaid benefits at benefits.Ohio.gov and ensure their address and phone numbers are up-to-date.

Want more info about Medicaid Unwinding? Please use this link:

https://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/10-things-to-know-about-the-unwinding-of-the-medicaid-continuous-enrollment-provision/

Christ Church Plumb Line Ministry (Temporarily?) Suspended


Christ Church has shared the following sad news:

Their team member who has administered this Plumb Line assistance program is leaving this role effective this coming Wednesday, 2/1. Christ Church has determined to suspend this ministry for at least a few months, if not permanently. New referrals are no longer accepted; they are focused on completing existing referrals by 2/1.

We thank Christ Church for their uplifting partnership over these years. We know this resource has been a blessing to our employed neighbors in need of a boost. We will advise if there are further developments.

Winter Coat Vouchers


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 (CHRC, 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. Our Winter Coat Vouchers are normally good for thirty days after the day they’re written. The last day to redeem coat vouchers will be Tuesday, February 28. We will continue to write vouchers during February, but all February vouchers will have a 2/28/2023 expiration date.

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:
  1. The name and date of birth of each household member who will be receiving a coat (including the head of household)
  2. 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:
  1. Driver’s license or other photo ID (including VESTA card, MARC ID, or work photo ID); or
  2. Social Security card; or
  3. Birth certificate; or
  4. Medical/Insurance card; or
  5. 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.

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

CMS Tips, Tricks, & Transformations

 

Helpful Reminder: Please be aware that there are still CMS users who are attempting to use the very old version of CMS which was installed on their computers. This version should be uninstalled and any icons linking to it should be removed.

CMS is accessible from your web browser, using https://cincinnati.cmssvdp.org and nothing else.

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Release 4.1 of CMS was implemented for our Cincinnati District Council on 1/4/2023. This release is another advance in user-friendliness. There are 4.1 training videos on our CMS Support Resources page, along with other training videos to empower your CMS utilization. 

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Does your Conference need any CMS follow-up training? Want to refine your CMS skills & learn tips to utilize CMS more efficiently and effectively? Ready to embrace & implement CMS if you are a member of the final 6 of our Conferences who are yet to deploy this powerful tool? If so, arrangements can be made by contacting John Wessel @ 513.562.1823 or via email, jwessel@svdpcincinnati.org .

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Our 1st quarter of our 2023 fiscal year concluded on December 31, 2022. Please be sure you have completed your CMS entries for all your good works - including the time & mileage you invested in your Vincentian vocation - so your Conference Treasurer can generate quarter-end reports. Treasurers: Please see the CMS training videos (Treasurer section) if you want a refresher on how to close out your check register and generate your quarterly reports. CMS makes these month- & quarterly-end closes so much easier. Please join many of your fellow Conferences who have already submitted their reports for the quarter ended 12/31/2022 - the sooner we can assemble and absorb this data, the sooner it can inform and empower our good works!

Free Income Tax Preparation Services Available


Free Tax Prep, an initiative of United Way of Greater Cincinnati funded by the IRS, provides free (federal & state) income tax preparation and filing services for low to moderate income neighbors residing in our Greater Cincinnati area. These same services are available to neighbors on fixed incomes, neighbors with disabilities, and those with limited English language abilities. To learn more, explore United Way's webpage by clicking here , or calling United Way of Greater Cincinnati's 211 helpline or 513.762.7900. Please also note that United Way is seeking volunteers to help provide this service. More information about volunteering is available at this link to their website page

More Resources for our Conferences and Neighbors

 

Conference Assistance Fund (CAF)  

Our final December activity totals:

  • Approvals totaled $71,777 in assistance extended to 166 neighbor families/households
  • We extended $219,186 in CAF to 501 neighbor families/households in our quarter ended 12/31/2022

Our January activity to-date (with 1 week to go):

  • You've submitted 157 fresh applications (71 in the last week)
  • We've approved 126 applications; 4 have been declined and 3 withdrawn
  • We have 47 applications currently in process (responding to the surge)

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 subsidized $80,000 per month for October, November, & December, 2022. Our Council has also augmented our January budget provision to $80,000. And we carried over under-extended December provisions of $20,814. Please note:

We can extend this Council subsidy plus any (welcomed and encouraged) 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 through December, 2022. We (Conferences) processed and approved 132 ERA 2 applications (of 139 submitted) which resulted in $398,488 in assistance to our neighbors. Huge thanks to those Conferences and Vincentians who submitted ERA 2 applications...and to Olivia, Alec, Mary Reid, and our Finance team for turning these applications into assistance extended to our neighbors.

We will share any new developments as they present themselves.


Rahe Beds Fund & Program

To offset the earlier delay in voucher redemption, any bed voucher with a January 2023 expiration date will be honored through January 31, no rewrite needed. Due to the number of beds requested this month, we will be unable to offer any additional vouchers. We will again accept six requests per Conference starting this coming Wednesday, February 1. Our online request form can be found here .

Our new twin & full bed models should be considerably easier to pick-up and transport or deliver. We are optimistic that this will result in a higher redemption rate of the vouchers we issue, which means more of our neighbors having the beds we aspire to provide.

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 has changed with our new bed vendor.

A limited number of cribs are available for neighbors with children younger than two. They can be requested by emailing rahebedfund@svdpcincinnati.org with the neighbor’s name, date of birth, and address. 


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 this coming Wednesday, 2/1, 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 - Please note service frequency enhancement!

This is a free haircut program, courtesy of our partner Franciscan Ministries. Starting in February, stylist Margarita will be in our NOC every Monday, 9am-noon, cutting hair in a room on the 2nd floor. Our next haircut date is Monday, 2/6. 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.

Our Charitable Pharmacy, Social Services, and some Conferences are already using this tool to better 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.

  

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. Please refer Hamilton County neighbors who you believe to be eligible.

 

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. This Vision Clinic will be open on Thursdays only this month and in February, as follows: all day tomorrow (1/26); the morning of 2/2; all day on 2/9; the morning of 2/16; and all day on 2/23. 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.

You are Both Thanked & Invited


We thank you for your readership - we welcome your feedback to Tom Roberts at 513.345.4910 or troberts@svdpcincinnati.org - and we are eager for your content, including pictures, to make this weekly connection all the more relevant and empowering for you!

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.

Our Call to Prayer

                  

For the grace to be poor in spirit,

Merciful God, hear us!

For the grace to mourn,

Merciful God, hear us!

For the grace to be meek,

Merciful God, hear us!

For the grace to hunger and thirst for justice,

Merciful God, hear us!

For the grace to be merciful,

Merciful God, hear us!

Amen.

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