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In Focus:

Carol Hall wins award, donates to Shedding Our Secrets

Shedding Our Secrets member Carol Hall has received Aflac’s Amos Volunteer of the Year Award and is donating it on behalf of the group.
The Amos award is given each year to employees of Aflac with the most volunteer hours. Carol is the third place winner, meaning she has $2,500 to donate to a charity of her choice. She logged 460 volunteer hours in 2013 working with Shedding Our Secrets. 
Carol first joined Shedding Our Secrets, CVEM’s support group for victims of incest, in 2012.
“I felt I might benefit from their support group as a childhood survivor of abuse, rape and incest,” she said. “I had been writing a book about my life since 2005, and by 2012 it became abundantly clear as I relived what I could remember from my past that there were deep wounds within me still raw and bleeding.”
Carol said she found encouraging, life-changing support from counselors in Shedding Our Secrets.
“It’s through my involvement with Shedding Our Secrets that I discovered one of my callings in life: to use my life story to help other hurting people heal and survive their past,” she said. “Through my involvement with 
Shedding Our Secrets, I’ve been inspired to complete my book and search for a publisher. I also share my story and faith on my personal Facebook 
Writer’s Page at carolhall.survivor that’s reaching people around the world one post at a time. I feel that each time people read the word INCEST, the power it has over its victims is destroyed.”
While Shedding Our Secrets has been a great source of support for 
Carol, she has likewise added a lot to the group as a member of the      marketing committee. She is responsible for managing the group’s Facebook page and putting up CVEM’s first billboard in Columbus to encourage people to seek help.

Partin set to retire from CVEM


On May 4, Vicky Partin announced her retirement as founding director of the Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry after over 33 years of service.  After two years of spiritual discernment, she will step down this December as the first commissioned Lay Missioner in the Diocese of Atlanta.  Since 2003 Partin has served on the Bishop’s staff.
CVEM is the first convocational outreach ministry, which includes six parishes in the Chattahoochee Valley Convocation and two parishes in nearby Diocese of Alabama.
The CVEM Board of Directors will develop and circulate the job description in collaboration with Bishop Rob Wright.  An event will be held later this year to celebrate Vicky’s ministry.

Becoming a welcoming parish


By: Denny Clark
How can our parishes become more welcoming places of worship, education and outreach? How do we move from saying, “Of course, anyone who wishes to come is always welcome in our parish,” to helping people actually experience that welcome – particularly when they don’t look or sound like the majority of people in the parish?  It can be awkward … all the way around! 
If you care about being a truly welcoming parish, please consider participating in the Dismantling Racism Training to be held Saturday, June 14, 8:30-4:00, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 2100 Hilton Ave., Columbus.  The training will be conducted by a team from the Commission for Dismantling Racism of the Diocese of Atlanta, led by Dr. Catherine Meeks, Commission Chairperson.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided by CVEM, which has made arrangements for the event to be available in the Chattahoochee Valley. 
Parish staff, vestry officers and members, ushers, parish education members, outreach people, and welcome committee members are all ideal people to participate. To register, contact your parish priest, or CVEM staff member Denny Clark (dennyclark74@gmail.com), by May 31.  The registration fee, which goes to the Commission for Dismantling Racism, is $20/person.  Please provide your name, postal address and email address, so that preparation materials may be sent to you. 

Infusion teen reflects on Civil Rights journey



By: Jacob Sholtis
I have been a volunteer at CVEM almost all my life. My mother is a volunteer with Direct Service, and my sisters and I have been involved with Infusion; I also volunteer at the annual Christmas Party. I knew Infusion was a program that focused on bringing together teens of different spiritual beliefs, varied socioeconomic backgrounds and racial diversity. I have come to find out that it is also a program that teaches tolerance, civil rights, social justice, and acceptance. 
Every year the Infusion group takes a service trip which focuses on that year’s chosen topic. This year’s topic was social justice, taking us to historical Civil Rights sites in Alabama. We stopped in Montgomery, Selma, Greensboro, and Birmingham.
Our first stop was at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery. Outside was an enormous granite wall and fountain with the words of Martin Luther King, “Until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” inscribed upon it. It included the names of people who died during the fight for civil rights. As we passed this monument there were sporadically placed armed guards outside the building. We later found out the guards were necessary because of bomb threats on the center. We also had to empty our pockets and pass through a metal detector before gaining entry. Inside was a collage of the civil rights movement - protests, speeches given, churches burned, Ku Klux Klan rallies, bomb sites, demonstrations, and other memorable moments of the movement strewn across the walls.  No one in our group spoke. As we left the center, we noticed a box by the door accepting donations. Not asking for them but presenting the opportunity to give. The box was almost full to the brim.
Our next stop was a church where Dr. King preached in Montgomery. There was a mural of the civil rights movement painted by one of the church’s members in the basement. Then we walked along the Alabama River Walk and visited the Greyhound Bus station where courageous freedom riders of the Civil Rights Movement were attacked while exiting the bus they had been riding. This happened in spite of a request from the president of the United States to the governor of Alabama to provide security to the riders. Conveniently, the police showed up after the bus riders had been attacked.
 We then went to Selma. We stopped at the bridge where over 600 were victims of “Bloody Sunday.” The marchers were protesting the wrongful death of a fellow activist named Jimmie Lee Jackson and were embarking on a march through Selma to Montgomery. At the mouth of the bridge they were met by a massive crowd of white supremacists accompanied by the Selma City Police. It felt like a sacred place.
Our main goal for the trip was to build a house for a woman with cancer in Greensboro. We stayed in a historic house in the heart of the town. Needless to say, we all got to know each other much better than we previously had. When we arrived at the work site the next morning, we came to find that no one else had shown up! As soon as our supervisor arrived we got to work. Everyone felt very strong about the reason we were constructing this house and that fueled us through the next 8 hours. Our job was to put up siding over every reachable space of the frame of the house. After eating dinner we drove around Greensboro and saw other projects done by Auburn architectural students as a part of the Hero Housing Project. The program’s goal is to modernize and increase the living standards for many of the poverty stricken people in the area.
After a night in Greensboro, we left Sunday morning to attend the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. This is the church where four little girls were killed in a bombing in 1963. The service was very different from my Episcopalian background. This was a special Sunday as, not only was there the regular service, but also a Baptism and the appointing of a deacon. The style of preaching and the way in which the congregation participated was joyful, jubilant, and very proud. Everyone was standing and clapping and singing the hymns at the top of their lungs. Many in our group did not feel comfortable enough to participate, but one of our chaperones, Malinda Shamburger was the exception. All through the service Miss Malinda stood and clapped and sang right along. The history of the church itself and the wave of spiritual praise washed over us for the entire service.
The last stop on our trip, and in my opinion the most memorable, was the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham. Our visit began with a video on Civil Rights Movement. The video concluded discussing the beginning of an new era, one of social determination. The museum galleries began by showing life during the imposition of the Jim Crowe Laws and segregation. It gave you side by side comparisons of the facilities used by blacks and whites. I’ve heard these stories but seeing the images and relics in person was shocking and disturbing. 
One of the most impactful rooms marked the transition from segregation to integration. The room was empty except for plexi-glass panels that rose up from the floor. On each of the 8 panels was a person etched in white. As you wove through the panels all of the eyes seemed to follow you. In the back of the room stood a Ku Klux Klan uniform, adjacent to a charred cross. I felt this room represented the continued oppression and discrimination felt by African Americans in the United States even after the abolishment of segregation – the feeling that they were constantly being watched. The room opened to a final exhibit; one with a new feeling. The new displays showed the integration of African Americans into society, jobs, political offices, and overall everyday life. The museum gave a powerful insight into the hardships faced during these times. A few of our members were even brought to tears by some of the things on display. We all shared our feelings and what we personally took away from the museum on the walk to our cars.
One thing I did not know about Infusion was the fellowship and relationships that are developed by being a part of this group. I came in knowing no one and left this trip and this year with many new, close friends. Every night of our trip was spent talking about the day,  the sites we saw, and our topic, social justice. One night was spent as a group painting miniature canvasses to represent the 30 articles of human rights in the Declaration of Human Rights. The conversations and experiences we had together on this trip created relationships that will last a lifetime. That is one of the most impactful results of this trip personally. Our last event together this year will be a celebration dinner with our families, but it will also mark the start of a new beginning. The things we experienced together will continue to bring us closer to one another. The historical sites we witnessed and the help we provided gave us a new outlook on the past as well as a hope for the future.  I was told before I even applied to be a part of Infusion that it would change my life. This year, and especially this trip, has confirmed that to me.

THANK YOU

to all who made donations for our Easter Meditations. All gifts go to the Infusion program this year.
We have received generous donations from 13 people, totaling $769. We appreciate your continued support!
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Mayor Tomlinson comes to Beallwood

By: Vicky Partin

The BAND Center on 50th Street filled with people and excitement on May 8 when Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and her top assistants addressed the neighborhood concerns.
Over fifty residents weren’t all complaining, as many came to ask questions about growth in the area and learn how the city operates.  The Mayor’s staff, including City Manager Isaiah Hugley and assistant David Arrington, told what they do and who to call for action.  Four policemen attended and asked questions about trouble spots.  The residents got to meet the cops on their streets and were offered personal phone numbers.  From garbage pick up to abandoned houses and lots, the questions came and easy discussion followed.  Some residents voiced concern about a transitional home for ex-offenders on Ingram Street.
Mayor Tomlinson praised BAND for its organization and long history of caring for the neighborhood.  She praised the members for their willingness to speak out.
BAND and the City became partners in l992 when the residents first organized to fight drugs, industrial encroachment and residential zoning.  BAND became the first Columbus area, which co-planned its own redevelopment in partnership with the City.  Bob Poydasheff, Carmen Cavezza, Lynette Gross, Rebecca Wiggins, and Rene McAneny were all involved in the changes that have taken place.  
The neighborhood has more homeowners than ever with 11 Habitat homes, 13 NeighborWorks homes and a total of 26 lots yet to develop.
Through block grants the park was renovated, infrastructure improved, and properties were purchased for home development. The City offered the BAND Center across from the park for $1 a year!  Resident Clementine Stephens Cochran became the first President of the Beallwood Area Neighborhood Development, Inc.
CVEM was a co-founder of BAND after many months of porch sitting and hearing the concerns of the people.  From those early days, children have participated in TAP and Infusion programs. Resident Cynthia Walker currently serves on the CVEM Board as a member At-Large.

All about TAP Themes


LaGrange TAP: Groovy to Serve
In LaGrange, children will spend the week working on art while serving the local community. Director Angela Hutchins has recruited fellow Servant Leadership students at LaGrange College to assist with the FOCUS and art lessons. They will have a visitor from Habitat for Humanity and paint 2x4’s that will be the inner walls of a future Habitat home. They will write letters to Meals on Wheels participants at St. Mark’s. Another day they will spend making blankets for the Linus project. And two other days will be creation centered, with activities with critters from the Humane Society and a focus on keeping water clean with the Chattahoochee River Keepers. Their Unity Piece will feature the logo above painted on canvas and donated to the new Boys and Girls Club Center. 



Columbus TAP: Play Fair
The theme will center around how to play fair and what fairness is. TAP Director Debbie Anderson discusses how the activities will play into this year’s theme, with activities in performance, art and focus. 
In the Performance Room, we will use a  curriculum from Teaching Tolerance--a wonderful program of the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have a curriculum centered around Dr. Seuss’s book--The Sneetches. Some Sneetches have privileges because they have a green star on their belly. Others, though they are the same in every other way, don’t get the same privileges. In Dr. Seuss’s creative way, he teaches us about fairness in the real world. He shows us truths about fairness and choosing to be fair, at a developmentally appropriate level. We will act out the story and play other games that teach about fairness.
In the Art room, we will create a large abstract face made up of pieces of each child’s self-portrait.  Kids will also be weaving on cardboard looms, using yarn that is the color of their skins--showing the true beauty of our diversity.
 In the Focus Room, we will build a neighborhood out of boxes, learning how children from different socio-economic neighborhoods, prioritize what should be in a neighborhood. Through role-playing, kids will also learn coping skills when they discover that life is not always fair. 
And of course, we will be learning what different religions have to say about the idea of fairness and justice. There will be a kid-friendly labyrinth that will serve as our common ground.
And, Oxbow Meadows will bring a Critter for us to Adopt.

So who's to care?


By: Vicky Partin
Hardly a day passes at CVEM that I don’t gaze our front door and see African American youth walking on the sidewalk.  It’s the middle of the day on Lockwood Avenue.  They are not in school, at work, or in training like other young men.  They are handsome; they usually wear sagging pants; they have dreadlocks.  Sometimes they walk briskly, as with a destination in mind.  I want to go out and invite them in to propose some sort of useful activity or simply ask why.
Most workdays, young men from the neighborhood make the local paper with arrest for burglaries, molestations, even murder.  And according to State Representative Carolyn Hugley in a recent article in The Courier, 86% of the commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice are black youth.  So why don’t I just go out and bring them in?  I can honestly say it’s not fear.  I grew up on a farm with black people, and I’ve always been close to many black people and their sons.
Actually these young men are probably afraid of me, an older white woman.  Maybe I represent a reason for their current situation as a dropout, being poor with no hope for a real life.  Or maybe I don’t believe that I can “fix it” for them.
I was recently struck by Leonard Pitt’s commentary in the Ledger        Enquirer about absent fathers.  He wrote what NBA Player of the Year Kevin Durant said about his mother during his acceptance speech.  Durant gave total credit for his success to Wanda Pratt, who raised him in poverty, taught him how to survive and work hard, loved him daily. All without dad anywhere in sight.  “You’re the real MVP”, he told her.
Pitt went on to state that it matters that dads are missing, despite the current social more discounting them. They are not there showing the boys how to be men, earning money to support and loving them daily. The statistics on poverty, drug use, education and incarceration suggest the hardships of the one in four American children living without their fathers.  Most of the women coming to CVEM for assistance are single moms struggling to survive and raise their children with no hope of ever getting child support. 
It’s good that folks like Leonard Pitts, Bill Cosby, Carolyn Hugley and Willie Coleman are willing to address the issues.  Carolyn recently announced a collaborative between the local Delta’s and AKA’s that sponsored a meeting at Carver High School for a community conversation to help equip young men to avoid becoming the next statistic.
Willie Coleman, Director of BRIDGE, engages young men (and women) in an 11-week program to obtain a GED and get back on track.  His personal story of dropping out and finding his way in the army and his current model as a devoted father speaks to his dedication and his hope for the these young men.
Carolyn Hugley is right.  Enough is enough, it’s time for all of us to speak up and join forces for our youth, no matter their current situation.  We’re all to care!

CVEM SHORTTAKES


New Community Partner at CVEM
Autism Hope Center President Diane Pope recently met with Direct Service Coordinator Diane Hinnant and the Mission to share the mission and needs of families associated with autism.  As a local “voice” for autism, Pope  especially advocates for the growing population of young adults in their 20’s who are attempting to go to college and live independently.  The Center also offers respite support and referrals for families.  Pope suspects that over 2,000 families are affected in the Valley area.
Needed:  iPads and caregivers
Contact Diane:  706-604-6333
dianempope@gmail.com
www.autismhopecenter.com

Shedding Our Secrets Hosts Guest Writer
Shedding Our Secrets chairperson Terri Hasty announces that Deidre Ann deLaughter will visit CVEM on Friday, May 30 at noon.  The author of the new novel, Reawakening Rebekah:  The Gift of the CLAMOR Girls, will lead an informal discussion about her first novel, which depicts the childhood secret of sexual abuse, “celebrates triumph over great loss and testifies to the resilience of the human spirit.”  Local team members will invite deLaughter to consider the possibilities of creating a stage production based on her story. 
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