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
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.