1120 Lockwood Avenue
P.O. Box 5811
Columbus, GA 31906
Infusion students switch schools for day

By: Holli Melancon
As part of Infusion’s theme for the year--”Inequities in Education”--students switched high schools for a day to get an inside look at differences and similarities of Muscogee County Schools. 
High schools represented were Brookstone, Columbus High School, Hardaway, Northside, Carver and Kendrick High Schools. 
“Students are switching schools to walk in another teen’s shoes and gain perspective on Equity in Education,” said Monica Cobis, Infusion Director. 
Brenetta Braddy, a junior at Columbus High School, spent the day Monday, Jan. 26, at Hardaway High. She attended International Baccalaurate (IB) classes, which are similar to “magnet.” Because of the types of classes she attended, Brenetta said her experience wasn’t too different than attending her school. 
“I feel like there wasn’t a major inequality in education comparing Hardaway to Columbus,” she said. “I feel like I can only say that to a certain extent though, considering I didn’t get a chance to see any of the Non-IB classes. I got to meet some awesome students and amazing teachers, so for the most part I feel like the two were pretty equal in their ability and access to learning.”
Zach Grantham is another Columbus High student who switched schools for the day. Zach is a senior, fourth year Infusion student, former TAP participant and has also served as a teen mentor and intern for TAP; he attended Northside High School for the day. 
He said while he did see several differences, he also found many similarities between Columbus and Northside. 
“ Chason (who Zach shadowed for the day) talked about how he knew only one or two other people who scored above a 1900 on the SAT (himself included), while at Columbus that is more common. I also noticed the clothes people wore were different. At Columbus it is generally khakis or button ups, but at Northside I saw more sweats and I feel like the girls dress code was as strictly enforced,” Zach said. 
He also said he got a sense of lighter workload between the two schools. 
As far as the actual classroom setting, Zach said he felt like the two schools were very similar. 
“Chason is a very bright guy and is actually candidate for valedictorian at Northside and after being with him for the day, I feel it is outside factors that affect a students’ academic record. However, Chason did point out that he considered Columbus but he like Northside’s drumline a lot more. So for students who have a say, the choice is for where they feel best suits them. I do not think that lack of resources has too much to do with it as NHS is a massive and new school, but rather the student’s own will to be educated. That can be affected by numerous factors such has upbringing, homelife, etc. It reminds me of a quote from the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ‘There is no greater education than one that is self driven.’”

See Infusion students in the news for High School Switch Day HERE


-President, Agnes Shelton (St. Mary 
-Vice President, Malinda Shamburger 
(St. Thomas)
-Secretary, Mandy Ochoa (St. Stephens)
-Treasurer, Becca Nicolson (St. Thomas)

-Peggy Augustine (Trinity)
-Rita Mullenix (St. John’s)
-Diane Hinnant (St. Nicholas)
-June Ingram (St. Mary Magdalene)
-Ginia McPhearson (St. Matthews in the  
-Mary Lou Dabbs (St. Mark’s)
-Mollie Smith (Trinity)
-The Rev. Nick Hull (Trinity)
-Jennifer Gray (St. Thomas)

*Spiritual Director, Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards

Direct Service: Meet Ms. Willie B. 

By: Diane Hinnant
Picture a little 70-year old lady, full of spunk.  Add to that picture three grandchildren (ages 11, 9 and 5) whom she has been raising since day one of their lives.  She’s not in the best of health and some days is confined to her bed, but she has taught her 11-year old grandson how to cook and, on those days, he prepares dinner for the family.  Having no transportation, they rely on the aide who visits their home three times a week for trips to the doctor and grocery store.  Their lives consist of home, school and church.  The children often ask why they can’t go places ... do things.  Ms. Willie B. has to explain there is no money other than for absolute necessities. When she recently contacted the mother of her two grandsons for assistance in obtaining clothing they desperately needed, the mother replied, “give them to DFACS!” I soon realized Ms. Willie B. had no others on whom she could depend for financial or emotional support, never a quiet moment to herself to think about how to get through the next day.
Two bothers arrive:  one with an appointment and the other having driven him.  As I led the gentleman with the appointment to the front of the ministry house to complete his application, I realized his brother had remained in the Direct Service area and was chatting with Ms. Willie B. As I came back into the room, she looked at me with a big smile on her face, pointed at the gentleman and proudly said, “This is my cousin!” It seems they had lost touch years ago.  Through what I truly believe to have been divine intervention, they just happened to walk through CVEM’s door at the same time Ms. Willie B. was here for her appointment.  I immediately asked if Ms.Willie B. had shared her “story” with him and the three of us began to talk about the life of Ms. Willie B. and her three grandchildren.   Fast forward to the end of the visit: CVEM had helped Ms.Willie B. with rent and advocated with her landlord to repair the cracks around the doors and windows of her home that drives her electric bill in excess of $300 a month.  We also had assisted her cousin in obtaining medications, but most importantly, we had witnessed family members reconnecting.  The two brothers promised to stay in touch with Ms. Willie B. and help in any way they can with the children. (I had a conversation with one of them a couple of days later and they had already made plans to spend time with the children.)  I can picture the two boys shooting hoops with their cousins or all three children being taken to McDonalds ... an inexpensive treat they have never been able to enjoy.  

Total Assistance Given: $1,877.30
Given for housing, medical expenses, household supplies,
     scholarships, transportation and miscellaneous. 
Donations: $408.08


Meet CVEM's Interim Director

By: Holli Melancon

The Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry’s Search Committee and Board President Agnes Shelton named Martha Robert Interim Director in January.
Martha comes to CVEM with substantial nonprofit experience, a strong 
Episcopalian faith and a passion for social justice.
Her career background includes work as an elementary school teacher, an administrator for two non-profits, and director of a Day School. 
“I basically have had two careers: Education and Nonprofits,” Martha said.
She started her career as an elementary school teacher. “I feel very passionate about education, particularly early childhood education,” she said. “I made a choice to leave the classroom because that’s not where I belong.”
Her next move led her to serve as the financial administrator of Nicholas House, Georgia’s first transitional housing program for homeless families. The organization began as an outreach effort of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
“Everything I learned about nonprofits, I learned from Nicholas House,” she said.
She worked nine years at Nicholas House and three years at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter, a daycare for young children living in shelters.
After living in Atlanta for 26 years, Martha moved to Milledgeville, Ga., where she was the director of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Day School upon the retirement of the school’s founding director of 29 years.
Martha moved to Columbus in August, and found a church home in St. Thomas, where she also learned about CVEM.
“I am always seeking opportunities to work for social justice. I feel like that’s my calling,” said Martha, a cradle Episcopalian. “The advocacy work CVEM does in caring for people in 
poverty and who are marginalized is such a wonderful and long-standing work that has been done in the Church’s name. I was immediately drawn to it.”
The CVEM Search Committee will continue to work with the Diocese of Atlanta during this interim period to name a permanent director. The process may take between six to nine months.
During her time as interim, Martha said she plans to work closely with the Board, Staff, Volunteers, and Community to both honor the work that has been done and cast a vision for the future.
“I am looking forward to working with everyone, to listening to people’s stories and working together to create a vision and direction for this ministry,” she said.
Martha is widowed and has a daughter, a son-in-law and two step children in Atlanta. She also has a sister who is an Episcopal priest in Mobile, Alabama.


Infusion teen runs 26.2 miles for cause

By: Holli Melancon

One local high school student couldn’t simply sit idly by while a family in need suffers, so he ran 26.2 miles in hopes of doing something to help.  
Eddie Bridgewater, a Brookstone High School senior, ran a marathon Sunday, Jan. 25 at Callaway Gardens to benefit a family in the Boxwood Community who lost their home in a fire during the holiday season. 
In addition to finishing first in his age group, Eddie raised more than $700 to benefit the six-member family.
Eddie has been working with the four children of the Boxwood family as a member of Infusion, a high school servant leadership program of the Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry. In this social-justice themed program, high school students of diverse religious and socio-economic backgrounds spend nine months studying a relevant topic (this year’s topic is Equity in Education) and serving the community together. This year, the program has joined Path to Shine in mentoring children in Boxwood. 
Eddie has raised money through a Facebook page dedicated to the cause:

To Everything There is a Season

By: Martha Robert

To everything there is a season.
This phrase, which I will admit I learned first from the ‘60s anthem ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ before I ever read Ecclesiastes, is ever-present in my thoughts as I begin service to the mission of CVEM as its Interim Director. I certainly have experienced many and various seasons in my own life, especially in the past few years it seems; and there are numerous seasons in the robust thirty-four year life of CVEM. Now, here we are together at the beginning of a new season for us all.
Founding lay missioner Vicky Partin is entering the season of “retirement”. We all know that will be uniquely defined by Vicky and will have very little to do with its conventional definition --slowing down or resting from work! While Vicky will no longer be found routinely at the ministry house there is no doubt she will continue throughout the Chattahoochee Valley and the diocese her ministry of education in what it means to actively choose and sustain peace, of continually advocating for those who cannot or do not know how to do so for themselves, and then standing be-side as others learn to stand and lead themselves.
What a rich legacy and a firm foundation Vicky and you--faithful volunteers, donors, staff, churches, and community partners--have established in the Chattahoochee Valley. And now it is our turn to lead and continue God’s work through CVEM.
So, for us, it is the season for reflection. How have you participated in this mission work? Where and when and how have you participated in the transforming power of God’s Love? It is the season to re-vision. Who is our neighbor? In what ways is God leading us to care for our neighbors? It is the season of re-commitment. Let us work together, with mutual affection, to use our resources wisely in faithfully doing the work God now calls us to do.
Interim Director Martha Robert (center) and retired Lay Missioner Vicky Partin join St. Thomas in the Martin Luther King Day parade. Pictured with them are Cecilia Rood, Sherry Wade and John Partin. 



A huge, huge thank you to all of our wonderful supporters! We had two amazingly successful fundraisers at the end of last year, which will do great things in our community. The CVEM Jazz Benefit raised $17,310.28 and our Christmas Card Campaign raised $11,949.18.


We are so fortunate to have the CVEM house and grounds. We have been blessed to have a janitorial service that does an excellent job and is more than willing to do cleanings to fit our schedule of events.  We, however, are faced with a similar challenge now for our grounds.  In talking with lawn services, we would need to contract for services to be done on a regular schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) and those services do not include trimming hedges or pulling weeds – it is the basic mow, edge, blow.  All other services are additional costs. CVEM needs someone who will mow, edge, blow as needed, but also will trim shrubbery, weed flower beds, and even suggest improvements/things to be done.  We want to have as much pride in our grounds as we do our house.  If you should know someone who might be willing to go beyond the mow, edge, blow routine and who would take care of our grounds as needed for a reasonable fee, please have them contact BJ Landen at 706.327.0400.


The External Committee charged with fundraising and communications is seeking new members! If you would like to join or test the waters, come to our first meeting of the year Tuesday, Feb. 24 at noon at the CVEM House. For more information, contact Ginia McPhearson at 

Holli's experience with Circles

By: Holli Melancon
When I first heard about Circles of Columbus, two thoughts came to mind: first, that it sounded like an incredible program and second, that I wished I had something to contribute.
After working for CVEM for a year and a half and being exposed to Circles more, I find that it indeed is an incredible program in this community, that truly empowers people to move beyond their situations and out of generational poverty. (In case you don't know, Circles is a program of Open Door Community House designed to help people living in poverty--but not dire poverty--reach goals that move them forward in the long-run).
After spending three months as a Circles Ally, I think my concerns were rather silly.
Before I go on, let me explain a little of the language used in Circles. The Circle Leader is the person who is working to get out of poverty. They spend 15 weeks in training and after that come up with three goals that will help them. One is financial and the other two may be things like continuing education, physical health, etc. The Circle Ally is simply the person who encourages them and supports them (in non financial ways) to reach those goals over an 18-month period.
Though I loved every encounter I had with the program, including visiting Circles a few times, meeting several amazing Circle Leaders and working with Vicky, who is an Ally and member of the leadership team, I didn't feel like I would be a good asset to it. My husband and I are a young, new family in a lot of ways, fairly new to Columbus and quite honestly, haven't been "out of poverty" all that long. What could I possibly have to offer anyone?
Another major concern I had was the time commitment. Every Thursday for 18-months? That was too intense sounding.
Well, if you are even considering Circles and these are your worries, let me put you at ease.
I may not have the most Columbus connections, incredible money management tips or tons of life experience, but I am a pretty solid friend. And that's all Circles is really about. Consider it formal friendship with someone who you may not have normally had the opportunity to meet. It's really as simple as anything you would do for a friend. If your friend asks you where you go to get a service and you know the answer, you are going to tell them. If your friend is looking for a good yard service, and you know one, you tell them! That's really all Circles is about...building connections.
The time commitment is not every single Thursday, either. It's one Thursday a month and than one meeting outside of Thursday (like a lunch or coffee date or something). You could go every Thursday if you wanted and have FREE dinner but definitely don't have to.
We love our Circle Leader. She's a wonderful, hard-working inspiring woman. I may not have met her outside of Circles, but I'm so glad I did because we connect in a lot of ways.
Circles has now just about finished training for its biggest round of Leaders, and they need Allies to be able to match them.
There is a training scheduled for Feb. 12 at 10:30 a.m. (as well as training on Thursday nights). There are options to make it easier for you to join!
If you are even on the fence about it, consider going to a training just to see what you think.
Feel free to contact me with more questions at Or contact Meg at Open Door at
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