Spring 2022 Newsletter

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What’s Cooking in the Ruth Jung Conway Teaching Kitchen

Society of St. Vincent de Paul—Cincinnati District Council

DEAR FRIENDS, What a beautiful Easter season we are in! Here is an interesting bit of etymology: the word “Easter” derives from an Old English word meaning “east.” In the east, the sun rises, bringing us light, warmth, and, ultimately, life. How fitting for the season that brings the risen Christ, the true Light of the World! As Christians, Easter is a season for remembering more than the stone that was rolled away, but also celebrating the promise of victory over darkness and death, and the living presence of the Lord in the midst of His own people. Blessed Frederic Ozanam and his friends, who founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, sought the light of Christ at the heart of every interaction -- especially in their interactions with the poor and suffering. Look no further than the three pillars on which the Society

was founded: faith, friendship and service. In faith, Christ dwells within in us. May we make space for His light, for us and through us. In friendship, Christ dwells in our relationships. May we see His light in others. In service, may Christ dwell in the world through our acts of service to others. May we also receive him through those interactions. I encourage you to explore these three tenets alongside us this Easter season. Together we can find Christ’s light this Easter season and beyond. In this issue of St. Vincent’s Way, we share opportunities for your engagement and highlight some of the people and programs that spread light to others each day. You will read about new programming in our Ruth Jung Conway Teaching Kitchen that aims to empower neighbors with healthy eating options and provide

encouragement with recipes that are both nutritious and delicious. You will read about Celebration of Service, honoring two longtime supporters and friends of SVDP – and how this event raises critical funding to help sustain our work to keep more local families in their homes during these difficult times. I hope you will join us on May 19 for that event! Finally, in this season of light, I would like to thank YOU. Your involvement, your support, and your prayers help bring our mission to life. I am reminded of the words we hear in Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world!”

Alison Zlatic President, Cincinnati District Council

CONFERENCE SPOTLIGHT: ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL Profile written by Jan Deters, Conference President Neighborhood Served: Sharonville Number of Vincentians: 14 Active and 12 Associate What’s the biggest need right now that you’re responding to in the community? Our community’s biggest need always has been

help with rent and serving the homeless. Seventy to eighty percent of what we spend goes toward rent. Since our community has 30% of all the motels in Hamilton County, we help with a lot of temporary lodging. However, we are very judicious as to how and why we help each neighbor. We put a priority on neighbors with children and neighbors who have jobs. We also work to get them out of motels and into apartments. It is very challenging but a necessary part of our ministry given the unique dynamics of the community. Can you share with us about a recent home visit? We recently helped two different families with their utility bills. Both were families with four children and the parents were working but could not keep up with all the bills. It was wonderful that we had the funds to cover their bills thanks to our generous parish. What may surprise someone unfamiliar with SVDP about your Conference’s work? Our parishioners would be surprised by the amount of homelessness in our area and most people think SVDP is mostly about the Thrift Stores. We all know the home visit is the core part of what we do. Final thoughts: We are so grateful to have such a wonderful, supportive parish which makes it possible to help our neighbors.



Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati:

CALLED TO SERVE In my life, I want to become better, and do a little good. Those words are attributed to Bl. Frederic Ozanam, who founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul along with fellow students studying at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1833. In that same spirit, Sarah Miller, current VVC SVDP brings together a group of young professionals, ages 21-30, to participate in an 11-month-long, faith-based residential service program each year, known as Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC). VVC program participants build new skills through full-time work placements at SVDP. Additionally, VVC participants live in intentional community, sharing weekly meals, praying together, and engaging in reflection on social justice issues, both locally and globally. Sarah Miller is currently participating in the VVC program after graduating from Mount St. Joseph University with a degree in social work. Sarah says serving as a Social Services Associate in the Neyer Outreach Center has helped prepare her for her career by giving her hands-on experience in direct service to neighbors. “I spend most of the day doing case work, with about six or seven rent and utility cases a week. I talk to neighbors about what their situation is, and how we can best assist them.”

Beyond professional development, the VVC program also seeks to help participants grow in the Vincentian values of simplicity, humility, gentleness, selflessness and zeal. VVC alum Mary Ellen Ostrowski Mary Ellen Ostrowski, VVC alum participated in two years of VVC, first serving a placement as a Patient Advocate for the SVDP Charitable Pharmacy and then serving a placement as Program Coordinator for VVC. Now she works as a registered nurse in Chicago and reflects fondly on the “intentionality” VVC brought into her life. Mary Ellen says, “Although far from perfect, decisions about how I spend my money, my interactions at home and at work, and the choices I make when it comes to what I buy, wear, and eat – all those decisions come with a lot more thoughtfulness.” Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati is currently recruiting for its ’22-’23 service year, which will begin in August 2022. Interested applicants should apply by June 19 by completing an online application at SVDPcincinnati.org/VVC. Do you have questions, or want to learn more about Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati? Please visit VincentianVolunteers.org or email a member of our team at VVC@SVDPcincinnati.org.

Annual Gala Provides Critical Support for Homelessness Prevention SVDP-Cincinnati is delighted to honor two of its longtime advocates and friends at its 7th Celebration of Service event. Sherie Marek and Linda Mueller will be recognized over dinner and fellowship at Anderson Pavilion and Carol Ann’s Carousel at the Banks on Thursday, May 19. Proceeds raised through the event will benefit St. Vincent de Paul’s Homelessness Prevention Program, providing critical support for neighbors facing eviction and other significant crises. Soaring housing prices and a spike in inflation are impacting many Cincinnati neighbors right now. In fact, a recent Zillow study found that the median rent for a 2-bedroom unit in Cincinnati increased 14.2% between March 2020 and December 2021. Every day, neighbors who are struggling to pay rent and utilities payments are turning to St. Vincent de Paul for assistance and are considered for our Homelessness Prevention Program. In the first three months of 2022, we provided over $398,000 in rent assistance and $43,413 in utilities assistance to neighbors through this program. Support generated through Celebration of Service will empower us to help more neighbors through this program. As we honor Sherie Marek and Linda Mueller for their steadfast support of Cincinnati’s neighbors in need, we invite you to join us! Buy tickets or make a gift in their honor at SVDPcincinnati.org/COS. (And yes, – the carousel will be running and admission includes a ride during cocktail hour!) SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG


Yes, we can! Learning through Cooking Improv “But I don’t like mushrooms.” It’s certainly not the first time Chef Mona Bronson-Fuqua has heard those words. A culinary educator by trade -- and with diplomas from Cincinnati COOKS! and Cincinnati State’s culinary management program on her resume – she knows a thing or two about how to cook a mushroom. She persists.

Walnut Hills headquarters for a year. The organization’s goal is simple: to encourage people to create healthy meals with what they have on hand.

“You’ve just never had them prepared like this,” Bronson-Fuqua says, as she scoops a steaming spoonful of mushroom stew into a cup and offers it to a neighbor to sample. This is Chef Mona’s first visit to St. Vincent de Paul’s Neyer Outreach Center working as an educator for La Soupe Cincinnati. Through a new partnership, she and other La Soupe chefs have begun offering free Cooking Improv classes to neighbors in SVDP’s Ruth Jung Conway Teaching Kitchen. La Soupe, a nonprofit dedicated to bridging the gap between food waste and hunger, has been hosting Cooking Improv classes at its 4


Now, by partnering with St. Vincent de Paul, these classes will go one step further: encourage neighbors to create healthy meals -- and demonstrate how they can be created with ingredients on hand at the Becky & Ted Catino Choice Food Pantry. “This is my kind of cooking. You can make some really beautiful dishes from fruits and vegetables,” says Chef Halichea Edwards, La Soupe Education Coordinator. She leads a

demo showing how apples and pears can be sauteed and mixed with quick oats and cinnamon to make an apple-and-pear crisp. At another station, mushrooms and peppers are mixed with rice, braised turkey necks, and garlic powder to create a savory and nutritious mushroom stew. Beyond creativity and nutrition, another emphasis of the Cooking Improv sessions is reducing food waste. “This partnership utilizes the pantry, but also familiarizes the community with some of the foods that may not be flying off the shelves,” explains Chef Halichea. She shows how a dragon fruit – donated with other surplus produce from a local grocery store – can be diced and mixed with red pepper, lemon and honey to create a sweet and zesty salsa. Chicken sausage is sautéed and sandwiched between two boiled eggs to make low-glycemic, gluten-free sliders. Cooking Improv with La Soupe, now offered the first Wednesday of each month, is the first recurring program to launch in the Ruth Jung Conway Teaching Kitchen. The kitchen bears the name of longtime supporter and

special friend of SVDP, Ruth Jung Conway. Ruth was fondly known for her heart for serving others – often by preparing and sharing meals. This programming builds on a continued effort to promote holistic wellbeing for neighbors seeking help through St. Vincent de Paul, and empowering neighbors through resources and tools to make healthy choices. Dr. Rusty Curington, Director of the SVDP Charitable Pharmacy, was instrumental in the creation of a PHARMers Market program in 2018. The program empowered pharmacy staff to write “prescriptions” for healthy food – and then distribute boxes of that fresh food, along with recipe cards, to patients with diabetes through the pharmacy window. “That pilot program made a big impact,” says Curington. “Seventy-four percent of patients who completed it experienced a decrease in hemoglobin A1C, marking significant improvement in diabetes control.” The next phase of the program, called the PHARMers Kitchen, was slated to kick off in May of 2020, but was put on hold due to the coronavirus. Curington is ready to relaunch later this year with cooking classes for neighbors with diabetes. SVDP Outreach Center Program Director Erin Nowak says she anticipates more programming to return to the Teaching Kitchen later this year through the Pantry to Plate initiative, a partnership with the UC Open School Clinic. The program invites students studying Community Nutrition to create healthy dishes for neighbors to sample. Neighbors who are interested can then take home ingredients for the recipe from the Choice Food Pantry. “When life throws us challenges, like those facing many of the neighbors who are visiting our Outreach Center, you’re not always reaching for the healthiest options when it comes to food. You’re looking to feed yourself and your family in the best way you can,” says Nowak. “It’s important that we’re not only providing our neighbors access to food, but also equipping them with the tools to positively impact their health.” SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG



NOVEMBER – FEBRUARY: WINTER COAT DRIVE It was a record year for our Winter Coat Drive! Coats were distributed through a hybrid model: in-person at our three distribution events, and through a voucher system at our thrift stores. We distributed coats to 2,464 neighbors, sharing warmth and comfort to those in need. A special thank you to the over 140 businesses, churches, schools and other organizations that helped us share warmth by hosting a coat collection. Planning ahead and want to get involved next winter? Contact Renee Berlon at RBerlon@SVDPcincinnati.org.

MARCH 26: VINCENTIAN MASS & RETREAT Vincentians from across the Cincinnati District Council gathered at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish for a morning of prayer, fellowship and fun. Tim Williams, St. Vincent de Paul’s National Formation Director, led an inspiring reflection on the special bonds of friendship formed through our shared vocation.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AND SERVICE: YOUR DONATED FURNITURE MAKES A DIFFERENCE THROUGH OUR STORES You are likely aware that sales from our eight Thrift Stores help support our direct services, but what you may not know is that our Thrift Stores distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars of items at no cost to neighbors in need through our Voucher Program. Throughout the first six months of this fiscal year, $276,897 worth of furniture, clothing and household goods has been distributed through the Stores to neighbors like Natasha*. After losing furniture and personal items during a recent pest infestation and move, Natasha reached out to St. Vincent de Paul for help. As she lay her two young sons down to sleep on air mattresses, Natasha says she thought about all the things she wanted to provide for her family and felt devastated. Through St. Vincent de Paul’s Voucher Program, Natasha was able to get new beds for her boys and new-to-them outfits, as well as basic housewares. “I am so grateful and blessed,” Natasha says. “We are okay. I couldn’t imagine saying that {before}.” Our Thrift Stores especially need donations of furniture this spring. Will you consider donating your gently-used furniture to help neighbors in need? Schedule a free home pick-up by calling 513-421-CARE or drop off items at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store or donation box in your neighborhood. Find locations by visiting SVDPcincinnati.org/locations. *name changed at request of neighbor 6




MAY 9 FEAST DAY OF ST. LOUISE DE MARILLAC “Above all be very gentle and courteous toward the people you serve; love them tenderly and respect them deeply.” Those are the words of St. Louise de Marillac, a close friend of St. Vincent de Paul and Foundress of the Daughters of Charity. She was canonized on this day by Pope Pius XI and is recognized as the patron saint of social workers.

a celebration OF SERVICE



MAY 19 CELEBRATION OF SERVICE Join us as we celebrate Sherie Marek and Linda Mueller’s commitment to the Cincinnati community and neighbors in need. Our 7th annual Celebration of Service will take place at Anderson Pavilion & Carol Ann’s Carousel at the Banks. This event generates resources to support our Homelessness Prevention Program, providing rent and utilities assistance to help keep families in their homes. Special thanks to platinum sponsor, Protective Life. Secure your tickets today: SVDPcincinnati.org/COS

MAY-JULY FAN & A/C DRIVE, PRESENTED BY BRAUN HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING The summer heat can bring on many challenges for neighbors, especially the elderly, families with young children, and people with certain medical conditions. St. Vincent de Paul aims to provide relief for those in need by supplying free fans and air conditioning units. Help us keep the community cool this summer! $18 provides a box fan, and $120 provides an A/C unit at SVDPcincinnati.org/HeatRelief.

JULY 22-23 STRIKE OUT HUNGER Play ball! St. Vincent de Paul is partnering with the Cincinnati Reds again this summer to help feed local families. We’ll be collecting non-perishable food items at Great American Ball Park before the games on July 22 and July 23 as the Reds host the Cardinals. Your donations help ensure our food pantry is stocked as many neighbors, especially children, experience food insecurity throughout the summer.

AUGUST 1 PRESCRIPTION FORE FUN GOLF OUTING, PRESENTED BY PROTECTIVE LIFE Save the date for the annual Prescription Fore Fun Golf Outing, followed by our Wine & Bourbon Tasting, both benefiting the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy! These fun and impactful events support the innovative programming at our Charitable Pharmacy, which provides $13 worth of prescription medication for every $1 donated.

AUGUST DAY TO DREAM Each summer, we partner with Morris Home Furniture and WCPO Channel 9 to help address the need for beds in Greater Cincinnati and ensure local children have a safe, comfortable place to sleep each night. We’ll host a celebration as 50 kids receive a new bed of their own, followed by a fundraising effort for our Bed Program.



Non Profit Org US Postage Paid Cincinnati, OH Permit #1106 1125 Bank Street Cincinnati, OH 45214-2130




Help Our Neighbors Keep Cool This Summer. $18 provides a fan • $120 buys an A/C unit SVDPcincinnati.org/HeatRelief

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