1120 Lockwood Avenue
P.O. Box 5811
Columbus, GA 31906


By: Holli Melancon

The 2015-2016 Infusion Class will kick off its new year this month and will join many dedicated to studying and eradicating homelessness in the City of Columbus. 

 Every year, students choose a theme to guide their study and service for the next nine months. Last year, students studied Inequities in Education and before that Civil Rights.

“ The teens start a conversation about things they see or hear about that they have questions about, and then we talk about what specifically we want to know and what can we reasonably do to make an impact,” said Malinda Schamburger, member of the Infusion advisory committee.

The topic of homelessness comes at a time when CVEM and a few local organizations have just formed a unique partnership with Home for Good to work together to house homeless families using Rapid Re-housing funds. Home for Good is the agency charged with implementing the City of Columbus’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

 Infusion Director Monica Cobis said this partnership and the unique collaboration of agencies in the city has a lot to do with choosing this topic. 

The Infusion servant-leadership program is designed as an interfaith, intercultural program that recruits high school students from diverse backgrounds to focus on social justice work together. They spend time in study and discussion, as well as participating in various service opportunities. 

Malinda says the diversity of the program is something that makes this particular theme so significant. 
“ Homelessness is an issue everywhere. It does not discriminate. People of all races, faiths, and even socioeconomic status can feel its effects,” she said.  The city of Columbus has taken on a huge venture to end homelessness, and there are many components involved in making that happen. Therefore, having the opportunity to learn about a topic that is at the forefront of the minds of our leaders and our help agencies will be amazing for our students.”

Monica said plans are still underway for exactly how this theme will be applied to service projects for the year but could include things like volunteering for a Habitat for Humanity build or a homeless simulation project. 


Brenetta Braddy
Senior, Columbus High School
Brett Coleman
Senior, Hardaway High School

Gabrielle (Gabi) Farley
Sophomore, Shaw High School
Tarrence (Talon) Gamble
Sophomore, Northside High School
Shakerria Hezekiah
Sophomore, Central High School
Austin Lisbon
Junior, Kendrick High School
Dylan Rice
Senior, Columbus High School
Jacob Sholtis
Senior, Columbus High School
Kevin Taich
Freshman, Brookstone High School
Matthew Taich
Sophmore, Brookstone High School
Theyah (T.K.) Thomas
Senior, Hardaway High School
Josefina Williams
Freshman, Columbus High School



A New CVEM Partnership

CVEM has joined in partnership with Home for Good, the agency charged with implementing the City’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. CVEM will coordinate with partnering agencies the placement of homeless families into their own homes in a new Rapid Re-Housing Program. The program is made possible with a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Job Opening

St. Nicholas in Hamilton is hiring a part-time director for their Children’s program SNICK. This position will take about 7-8 hours a week, at $12-15/hour. See for a full job description. 

St. Nicholas’ Lobsterfest 

Save the date for St. Niicholas’ Annual Lobsterfest, Friday, September 25. More details to follow!

By: Vicky Partin

In 1965, in the dawn of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and following the famous sit-ins at Woolworth’s in Nashville, Tennessee, I was right there during my junior year at George Peabody College for Teachers.  I vaguely remember hearing the dangers of going downtown, but it did not occur to me that I needed to be there.  Thirty years later I learned from my black friend LoDoris Leavell that she was a junior at Tuskegee Institute and did not go to Montgomery to march.  We admitted that we were too self-absorbed in our education as budding teachers to get involved. And just maybe it was all too scary.

So when asked in February by my priest Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards to read Outside Agitator and see how we at St. Thomas might celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the death of Jonathan Daniels, I felt compelled to explore the possibilities. After all, I had spent years trying to dispel my own racism.

The young seminarian Jonathan Daniels did leave the safety of his “up east” and traveled to Selma, to move in with black families. He showed a deep emphatic and courageous nature when he told the Lord, “Here am I, send me”. He refused to see other human beings through the lenses of class and race. He had no understanding of the true South; he simply walked out in faith.

In a recent series of events at St. Thomas we have delved more deeply into the history in an effort to grasp our personal understanding of the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other activists of the day and to see why racism still exists today in Columbus. In many ways, MLK and Jonathan Daniels would not be proud. However, there is progress.  

Dr. Catherine Meeks, chair of the Diocesan effort to dismantle racism, has a long history promoting racial harmony. She notes the mostly segregated churches and shortages of black priests. She says that if the church cannot forge the path to racial reconciliation, it will not happen anywhere. To Catherine, it is God’s will that modern day Christians become more intentional. She knows that it will take more than pulpit swapping and a few shared potluck dinners to build substantial bridges that lead to new beginnings. She challenges us to listen and have the courage to dismantle our own fears.

Local historian and civil rights activist Billy Winn challenges us to study Columbus’ history starting with the land grabs from the Creek Indians.  He contends that was really when the civil rights of people around here were first violated.  His new book The Triumph of the Ecunnau-Nuxulgee chronicles the huge connection between the states rights and the rise of the Old South and coming of the Civil War.  Winn explained how Columbus was described in the 60’s as the most racist of all cities in Georgia.  One participant chimed that many people here today still feel that way.  That surprised and saddened us.

So it’s time to talk- honestly talk-with others who are different.  Recently, local columnist Alva James-Johnson sat with her white neighbors and did just that. In her column she stated that discussions about race are usually avoided like the plague, mainly because we fear hearing and saying things we don’t want to hear. It’s just easier to bury our heads and pretend the problem doesn’t even exist.

CSU professors John and Florence Wakoko-Studstill share their views on John’s notion that “race” is not an appropriate description for human beings, as there are no biological “races”, only folk concepts.  Florence is Ugandan teaching sociology in a heavily African-American culture.  She and John have many stories of discrimination, even in a “bi-racial” marriage.  (They spoke at St. Thomas Aug. 2).

We are all concerned about the hostility and oppression expressed by many young black men.  We are exploring their sentiments on August 9 with CSU Communications Director Paula Adams, herself battling racism in her young life.  Judy Tucker, Administrative Assistant to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, has a long history of life and community involvement in Columbus.  We’ll ask her how and what Columbus is doing with intention to break down barriers.

As for me, fifty years later, I’m trying my darnedest to look straight on at my racist past and present.  I can put an actual face and name on every black person who has helped me and loved me along the way. 

This series at St. Thomas is not just educational though, it is a painful study.  It’s about what I am going to do, as a person of faith, and alongside new friends, to reconcile and build new bridges.


Meet Direct Service Volunteers

By: Holli Melancon

Every month, more than 30 people come to CVEM’s Direct Service program with a need. These needs range from assistance with rent, mortgage, medical expenses, transportation and even scholarships, and more often than not, this immediate need is met during an individual’s appointment at CVEM.
But thanks to a group of volunteers dedicated to Direct Service, these clients are often gifted with much more than a one-time check. 

“CVEM’s Direct Service Program is important because it is different from many other agencies in town doing similar work. We strive to establish relationships so we can be available to mentor, if needed, the changes some of our clients wish to make in their lives,” said Kristie Sholtis, a member of Saint Thomas who has been a volunteer since 2004. “So many people do not have anyone to truly hear their story and work with them to find ways to change their future. They have never imagined the possibilities, only their current struggles day to day. Often it is a continued pattern of their upbringing. It is very rewarding to discuss goals, dreams and wishes, and help them to figure out ways to get started on a new path in life.”

Norma Wolfe, a member of Saint Nicholas who is another Direct Service volunteer, echoed these sentiments. 

“CVEM has such a variety of missions, but to me, Direct Service is the heart of the Ministry.  It is awe inspiring to hear stories from people who have many struggles in life and yet still have faith that God will provide.  So many clients really need a listening ear and a tissue for their tears,” Norma said. “I think that Direct Service at CVEM is special and different because we don’t just write a check to solve problems.  We try to get to know our clients and stay in touch with them.”

Vivia Waterman, a member of Saint Mary Magdalene’s is the newest volunteer to Direct Service, but her passion for service runs just as deep. 

“Working here I have discovered the need is so much. There are so many people who are not working and can’t feed themselves and feed their kids,” Vivia said. “I personally want to help as many people as I can.”

Kristie, Vivia and Norma, along with Direct Service Coordinator Diane Hinnant, each make this program possible, and they each found their way to the ministry through their different parishes. Krisite, who moved to Columbus in 2003, saw a notice in the bulletin at St. Thomas looking for volunteers. 

“We had just moved to Columbus in late 2003 and we had gotten our three kids settled into school and activities so I was looking for ways to get involved in the community. I have always felt very blessed for the good fortunes in our lives and this felt like a good way to give back,” Krisite said. 

She is married to Jim Sholtis, who is the VP of Global Operations for Charbroil, and they have three children, Emily, Jillian and Jacob. All have been involved in CVEM’s Infusion program, a servant-leadership program for high school students, and Jacob, a Columbus High School senior is currently part of that program. In addition to her work at CVEM, Krisitie volunteers at Columbus High School and is a member of the vestry at St. Thomas. She’s also an avid tennis player. 

Norma felt the call to serve from right in the pew during a service at St. Nicholas. 

“I knew that I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work when I retired from teaching at Brookstone School. Vicky Partin came to my church, St. Nicholas, and spoke about CVEM. Then she sat down right beside me for the service. I felt that God was showing me what I was meant to do in this next phase of my life. I offered and Vicky gave me the opportunity for rewarding service at CVEM,” Norma said. 

Norma is a retired Spanish teacher, mother of two and grandmother to four grandsons. She is a graduate of Columbus High, Wesleyan College and has a masters degree in Spanish from Auburn University. She enjoys biking, watching any sports, walking her dog and reading. She calls herself a relatively “new” Episcopalian. 

Like Norma, Vivia was looking for a way to volunteer after her retirement. 

“I had always heard about CVEM from St. Mary’s, and when I retired from CB&T Vicky invited me for lunch and asked me if I’d like to volunteer here, and I said yes,” Vivia said. 

Vivia is married to her husband of 46 years Calvin, who is retired military. They moved to Columbus from Panama in 1984. She has three kids and four grandchildren and loves dancing. Vivia is a member of the Altar Guild and Vestry at St. Mary Magdalene’s. 

Direct Service Report, April-July
Donations: $675.00
Poor Box: $3,026.03
Assistance Given: $14,790.99
Assistance Categories: Furniture, appliances, rent, mortgage, medical, storage facility, employment background check, scholarships,I.D., uniforms, GED graduation expenses, transportation, car payment, repair and insurance, bus pass and bus ticket, utilities and Brown Bag of Columbus.


Summer is TAP time at CVEM! The Thompson-Pound Art Program, a week-long interfaith, intercultural art program for children, was held in both Columbus and LaGrange. 

This year’s Troup TAP took place in July with the theme “Shine On: Be the One to Stand Out from the Crowd.”

Participants spent the week hearing from various speakers on topics of compassion, individuality and how we all have our own unique gifts to offer the world, and confidence. 

They participated in several art projects and musical activities, like the drum circle pictured above. Davida Heard, a guest speaker, led the group in this drum circle in her talk about confidence. 

Columbus TAP celebrated its 20th year the last week of June. The theme was 20 Years of TAP: Teaching Tolerance. 

Each day of the week, lessons were taken from previous years of TAP.  These included performance arts and various art projects and centered around peace and being a peace maker. 

There were  several areas of significance that made this year unique. One of those, pictured left, was the appearance of a miniature horse from Born Again Farms. Children adopted the pet and got to visit him first hand on Monday. Each year children bring donations for the care of their adopted pet. This year’s group of children collected a record-setting amount over $100.

Below, you can see a glimpse of all the different religions discussed at TAP: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Native American. The Taplain, who serves as the spiritual leader for the week, was Imam Abdul-Raheem Hasan from the Islam community. He took the reigns from Father Jeff Jackson of St. Nicholas, who is on sabbatical with his family this year. 

In the snack room room, children heard poems about peace and prayers for peace from different religions. Each day they offered their prayers for peace while weaving them in the prayer loom. Each color fabric represents a prayer for peace from a particular faith tradition. The woven prayers will become the batting of the quilt, which is this year’s Unity Piece. Each child made a square for the quilt, representing something about himself or herself. 

The 20th Anniversary TAP Celebration Event
Sunday, Oct. 25
Details to Follow
Shedding Our Secrets volunteer Carol Hall won third place in Aflac’s Amos Volunteer of the Year Award for her work with CVEM. She logged 758.75 hours and was awarded $2,500 to donate to Shedding Our Secrets. CVEM is grateful for Carol’s gift of her time and dedication to Shedding Our Secrets. 
Copyright © 2015 Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry, All rights reserved.

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