Conference News and Notes

for Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Sent to all Vincentians & Staff

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Is Tomorrow (Thursday, 12/8/2022)

Gospel: (Luke 1:26-38) The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he said to her, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you…Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age…for nothing is impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Reflection: The dogma of Mary’s being conceived without sin—what we refer to as the Immaculate Conception—was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Mary is the model of holiness who calls us to be who we were meant to be: innocent before God. Mary’s innocence and holiness were God’s special favor to her. This solemnity reminds us that God’s desire for each of us is to have the same innocence and holiness. Just as Mary and her divine Son said “yes” to God’s will for them, so are we called through our baptismal commitment to do the same. But that doesn’t mean that their example of holiness and fidelity is beyond us. Their lives were ordinary - wife and mother, son of a carpenter - but they lived the ordinary according to God’s word. Our ordinary days - being wife or husband, mother or father, brother or sister, neighbor or friend, employer or employee - are to be lived as a “yes” to God. This is how we are holy too. (Living Liturgy, p.6)

Vincentian Meditation: Frederic Ozanam had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, from his youth to his death. Frederic was insistent that the Society take Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as its patroness. The first members of the Society chose December 8 as their special Marian feast twenty years before the formal proclamation of the dogma in 1854 by Pope Blessed Pius IX and a year after Frederic’s death! Vincentians implore Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, their patroness, to intercede for their Councils and Conferences, their lives and ministry. (SVDP Manual, p.64)

How does our Conference show devotion to Mary?


We pray:

Through Mary, conceived without sin,

we ask for the grace of holiness.

Through Mary, and her Immaculate Conception,

we ask for healing for those who are brokenhearted.

Through Mary, patroness of our Society,

we ask for the grace of fidelity for all Vincentians.


Vincentian Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

December 11, 2022

Gospel: (Matthew 11:2-11) When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.

Reflection: Jesus, in answering John’s question gives a most startling answer. He recounts an alternative world vision that is actually taking place because of his ministry: “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” In other words, he is saying “Don’t take my word for it that I am who you are looking for. Look at what I’ve accomplished! The good news can be seen and touched and felt and heard in the lives of people.” This is why doubts can be appeased and all can know that Jesus is, indeed, “the one who is to come". We are now charged to take up Jesus’ ministry. We can’t ask people to take our word for it; our actions speak for us - or our non-actions. Either we take up Jesus’s ministry or we don’t. (Living Liturgy, p. 14)

Vincentian Meditation: John the Baptist makes it very clear that we will live genuinely for Christ only if we are willing to die for him. Only the person who is practiced in the art of daily dying will be able to hand themselves over to God in an act of final resignation, as John the Baptist did. Daily dying consists in pouring out one’s energies in the service of the poor, in listening attentively, in praying faithfully, in living harmoniously with others, in seeking reconciliation, in doing penance, in renouncing anything that is an obstacle to following Christ. John the Baptist calls us to prepare the way of the Lord by eliminating from our lives whatever impedes his coming. (Maloney, Seasons in Spirituality, p.48)

Right here in our Conference and our community, how do our actions show that we are doing Jesus’ ministry? 

Your Formation and Training Opportunities & Tips

Marian Vincentians - The Blessed Mother has held a special place in our Vincentian lives since the earliest days of The Society, informing and guiding us in the ways we engage with our fellow Vincentians as well as our neighbors. Just as Mary went to Elizabeth, spending three months by her side, so too do we, as Vincentians, stand alongside our neighbors through repeated encounters, repeat invitations to love more deeply, even when all we can give is a quiet, humble presence or listening ear. May Mary continue to guide our steps as she leads us closer to her son, Jesus, and may we be that humble gift of love just as she was.


We've lightened up on our formation offerings for the remainder of 2022 so you can focus on the holidays for your neighbors and yourselves. Watch for news of your 2023 formation & training opportunities.


Chris Kelley, our Formation and Service Learning Director, can be reached at 513.345.1767 or [email protected] .

Thanks for a Truly Vincentian Conferences Christmas Meeting

Last Night!

We gathered, 180 strong, in anticipation and joy. We shared faith, friendship, service, food, drink, love, and hope as Christmas draws near. Special thanks to Our Lady of the Valley Conference (Penny O'Brien, President) & Parish in Reading, our gracious hosts; to A Taste of Class, our caterers; to Chris Kelley, who led our preparations; to Marta Hewett, who organized our Raffle; to those who contributed prizes for our Raffle; to Sunnie Johnson-Lain, who facilitated our holiday trivia game; to Aggie & Fred Brackmann, who led us in Silent Night; to each of our Council leaders for their presence, guidance and messages; to Olivia Scheper & Alec Jewell, for their humble support; and to all who committed their evening to Vincentian unity.

Exciting Changes to our Rahe Bed Fund!


Quite often, we hear that a key challenge our neighbors and Conferences face with our Rahe Beds program is the ability to transport those beds to homes. We have listened, and we are happy to announce that we have found a beds solution that is much easier to transport. We will be changing our beds vendor to a supplier who makes beds that will fit into a typical car. 

This vendor, Malouf, is a National Partner with SVDP, and their beds are packed into two boxes. One box contains a well-made foam mattress that rolls up, and the other box contains a sturdy metal frame. This type of bed is a platform bed, which means that it needs no box springs. We have been in touch with other SVDP Councils that work with Malouf, and they have been happy with both the products and the services that Malouf provides. Malouf will also be supplying the mattress covers that we provide with each bed. 

Going forward, you will notice that the beds request form no longer has the box springs option, as this is not part of the beds that will be provided. You will also notice that we are changing the eligibility for beds through this fund from “once in a lifetime” to “once every ten years”. This is a response to the reality that beds do not last a lifetime, and also to the enhanced ability we have to see a neighbor’s service history, now that virtually all of our Conferences and services are utilizing CMS. 

We hope this change will benefit our neighbors seeking a humble bed and a good night's sleep.

Could You Share a Hand Up?

Our Becky Catino Women’s Stability, Employment and Empowerment Program is looking for volunteers!

We are looking for current or former professionals in the areas of human resources, nursing, criminal law, scientific research to help our women through Targeted Mentoring and other services. Please contact Tara at [email protected] if this speaks to you.

It's Cold Out There - Please Keep Sharing Warmth


Yes, winter cold is here! Our Cincinnati District Council's annual Coat Drive is going on now and we need coat donations. Our media partners, WLWT and Warm 98.5, are sharing this news with our community: We are collecting new and gently used coats to share with our neighbors in need and encourage local parishes, schools, businesses, and other organizations to host coat collections in support of this effort. Gold Star Chili has joined with us for another year of partnership and is providing a coney coupon for those who choose to donate financially through .

We need your help - How can your Conference and you participate in sharing warmth with our neighbors this year?

  • Host a coats drive at your parish or school - contact Alec Jewell at 513.345.4983 or [email protected] for info, to schedule, and to make arrangements for logistical support (barrels & pick-ups). 14 Conferences have already stepped up to host drives. You can join them - you need to act now!
  • Donate coats, gloves, mittens, scarves, and caps hiding in your closet
  • Extend winter coat vouchers to neighbors who have not received a coat this year, after our distribution events have concluded

We are hosting 3 Coat Distribution events:

  • On Sat, 11/19, 9am – noon, we were @ Elder High School (Price Hill) for a huge distribution event
  • On Sat, 12/3, 9am – noon, we were @ CCPA Middle School gym (West End) for another successful distribution event
  • This evening (Wed, 12/7), 5 – 8pm, we will be @ Clippard YMCA (Colerain/Groesbeck/Mt Healthy)

So donations now are vital!

Beginning this coming Mon, 12/12, Our Conferences and NOC staff will have the ability to issue winter coat vouchers to neighbors who have not yet received 2022 winter coat assistance from SVDP; these vouchers will be redeemable @ our CHRC in the Liz Carter Center (LCC, 1125 Bank St) or @ any of our SVDP thrift stores.

Please contact our Conferences Support team - Olivia Scheper at 513.345.4986 or [email protected] ; Alec Jewell (see above); or Tom Roberts at 513.345.4910 or [email protected] - to explore how you can share warmth with a neighbor bracing for the chill.

Conference Days to Shop Angel Toys for Your Neighbors  


As is our traditional arrangement, we have designated the days beginning Tuesday, 12/13, for Conferences to make reservations with Tom Roberts, 513.345.4910 or [email protected] , to shop our remaining Angel Toys in our Neyer Outreach Center (NOC). Please note that this is subject to availability of toys and gifts. 15 Conferences have booked appointments for Tues, 12/13, or Wed, 12/14, thus far. If your Conference wants to participate, book now! Reminder: this is for Conference members only shopping for identified neighbors for whom the Conference will enter this assistance extended in CMS.

CMS Tips, Tricks, & Transformations


  • Our next CMS Webinar will be held this Monday,12/12, via MicroSoft Teams meeting. This webinar will provide a preview of Release 4.1 and then move to an open Q & A for any CMS questions. Webinar will start promptly at 6:30 PM and end at 8:00 PM. An invite has already been emailed to all CMS Administrators and all CMS users are encouraged to attend. Please contact your CMS admin who can forward the invite to you. Please click here when you are ready to join this meeting: Link to the meeting
  • CMS has functionality specifically for Holiday Programs (Angel Tree, Thanksgiving, Christmas) where Conferences can submit neighbors and then mark whether a gift is given or not. Reporting can be performed on it and downloaded to retain for the next year as well. This reporting contains household information which can be helpful to you. There are four short training videos on the CMS Support Page under the section header of “Holiday Programs.” Please review if your Conference is interested in utilizing this functionality for your holiday programs.
  • Please note that the CMS data for Nov 2022 is now available in the “CMS Statistics – Conferences” report which is available on the Member Support and Forms Page of the SVDP website. You can access it at this link and if prompted for a password, enter the word "member". Please be sure to review pages 6 and 7 of this report for open cases which need to be completed and any missing $ values for assistance which may need to be added.


Want to refine your CMS skills & learn tips to utilize CMS more efficiently and effectively? Please contact John at [email protected] , or by phone at 513.562.1823, to schedule a CMS group or individual session.

More Resources for our Conferences and Neighbors


Conference Assistance Fund (CAF)  

Our November activity:

  • You submitted 169 fresh applications
  • We approved 190 applications and declined 0; 4 were withdrawn
  • This translates to 190 neighbor families/households assisted with approx $84,000 in complement to your Conference's organic resources

Our December activity to-date:

  • You've submitted 41 fresh applications
  • We've approved 14 applications; 0 have been declined and 0 withdrawn
  • We have 44 applications currently in process

You can check on the status of CAF applications you have submitted by going to the Member Support and Forms page of our SVDP-Cincinnati website and clicking on CAF Application Status, or use this link: .

This resource is reserved for Vincentian members only; access to this resource can not be shared with neighbors, landlords, etc, under any circumstances.

In mid-October, our Council temporarily augmented our original FY2023 CAF budget provision of $60,000 per month. Our Council is subsidizing $80,000 per month for October, November, & December, 2022. We are carrying over $11,000 from Oct/Nov, so we have $91,000 available to extend this month. Please note:

We can extend this Council subsidy plus any twinning to CAF from fellow Conferences. If your Conference is currently blessed with funds exceeding 2-3 months of your normal operating outflow, please know that we have fellow Conferences in search of funds to invest in lifting neighbors right now. Please contact Tom Roberts, 513.345.4910 or [email protected] for more info or to twin.

We continue to encourage you to guide our neighbors to other publicly- & privately-funded resources available within our community...and to nurture relationships that extend well beyond immediate basic needs (material) assistance to provide lasting impact.


Publicly-Funded Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA 2)

ERA 2, funded through the City of Cincinnati, is available for qualified/eligible tenant neighbors who reside within the City of Cincinnati. The City's funding is committed to us only for the remainder of this month (December, 2022). As of today, we (Conferences) have approved 108 ERA 2 applications and have 25 more in progress.

As we are committed to managing expectations of our neighbors and Vincentians…while providing an acceptably responsive turnaround time for all stakeholders, including landlords and utility providers…please understand the following:

  • We cannot accept any more ERA 2 applications at this time. Our full focus is on processing and hopefully approving the ERA 2 applications currently in our possession. In order to extend ERA 2 assistance, we must approve an application by Monday, 12/19.
  • Our acceptance of an ERA 2 application does not guaranty assistance will be extended: we must determine that the neighbor is eligible; we must have all the info and documentation requested, including from the landlord or utility; and we must be able to accomplish this while there are still City of Cincinnati funds available to us.

We will continue to share weekly progress here. Thanks for your understanding and collaboration.

Rahe Beds Fund & Program

We are processing your December bed requests submitted by this past Fri, 12/2. We will let you know if there are more beds available later this month.

If your Conference is considering purchasing beds to extend as assistance, you can get info, including current pricing, or purchase by contacting Dave Chidlow, Stores Retail Resource Manager, at [email protected] or 513.853.1002. Your purchased beds will be picked up at our CHRC within our Liz Carter Center. Please be aware that our beds cost and resale pricing have risen significantly.

We are now out of pack n’ plays. We will let you know if/when we have availability.

Do you have questions about our Rahe Beds Fund & Program?

You can find the most updated Bed Fund Conference Guide in the Members section of the SVDP website. A recording of our recent Resource Spotlight featuring beds assistance will also soon be available. Our online request form can be found here .

Metro Bus Passes (Everybody Rides Metro)

Your Conference has access to Metro single-day bus passes to be extended to neighbors for use for any of 3 defined purposes:

1. Commute to/from new employment

2. Commute to/from our Bank St services hub or other community social services

3. Commute to/from medical appointments

Please understand that these passes are sourced through the Everybody Rides Metro program and our Council is required to comply with the above-referenced usages and submit reports of passes distributed. Please also understand that your Conference will need to record bus passes extended in CMS for the neighbors receiving this assistance. Our Bus Pass Guidelines sheet for Conferences is available to you on the Members Support page of our website

or use this link to go directly to this document:

If your Conference wants to learn more about this program or request passes, please contact Alec Jewell, Conferences Manager, at [email protected] or 513.345.4983.


Our Re-Entry Program

Our Re-Entry Program Manager, Dion Crockett, is eager to work with you to assist neighbors you are serving who have been affected by the criminal justice system. If you would like to host Dion at a Conference meeting, get together with him in another way, or discuss a particular situation, Dion can be reached at 513.562.8851 or [email protected]


Cooking Improv with La Soupe

Our partner La Soupe teams with our Catino Choice Pantry to present monthly Cooking Improv demonstrations in the Teaching Kitchen at our NOC. Instructors from La Soupe and volunteers engage participants on basic cooking principles and how to use what you have to create delicious, nutritious meals. All recipes are based off ingredients found daily in our Catino Choice Pantry. Neighbors are encouraged to sample the delicious dishes and discuss preparation and ingredients with our staff, volunteers, and resident La Soupe instructor, Chef Mona! 

These sessions are held on the first Wednesday of each month - which means our next event is today (Wednesday, 12/7), 11am-1pm. No pre-registration is required.

Feel free to share this information with your neighbors, or if you’re interested in getting involved in our Teaching Kitchen programming, please reach out to Demi Schoenherr at [email protected] for more information. ​

Haircuts from the Heart in our NOC

This is a free haircut program, courtesy of our partner Franciscan Ministries. Stylist Margarita will be in our NOC on the first and second Monday of each month, 9am-noon, cutting hair in a room on the 2nd floor. Our next haircut date is this Mon, 12/12. Neighbors are accepted on a walk-in basis, and should sign in at our NOC reception desk upon arrival.


Education Center Within Our Neyer Outreach Center

Our NOC Education Center is available for our neighbors and Vincentians to use during our operating hours: Monday - Friday, 8am - 4pm, and Saturday, 8am - noon.


Language Service Available to our Conferences

A growing number of our Conferences are experiencing increased interactions with Latino members of our community…and are struggling to effectively communicate with neighbors who are most fluent or exclusively fluent in Spanish. We have contracted a dedicated language service to help you engage these neighbors in a welcoming, affirming manner. Any Conference member can download the “LanguageLine InSight” app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer at . You simply need to use the Authentication Code 6NN692GLS2 the first time you login. Through this app you will have access to over 40 different languages, including Spanish, via an interpreter. You will have the option of either audio or visual (for those needing sign language); we strongly encourage using visual only when you must. Please be efficient in your utilization as our Council pays by the minute for this service; visual is nearly twice as expensive as audio. When you access the service, you will be asked for your name and department, you simply need to state your name, then “St Vincent de Paul Cincinnati Conferences”, then your Conference name. Be sure to only call through the app; you cannot use this service through a regular phone call.

A testimonial from within our Council, "We actually just gave the line a call, figured trying it out would be the best way to know. It was very easy. You login and just select the language, then immediately it connects you with an interpreter who can add the other person to the call. It’s all through the app, very quick, very easy."

Our Charitable Pharmacy and Social Services are already using this tool to engage our Latino neighbors.

If you have any questions or are having trouble accessing the service, please reach out to Alec or Olivia of your Conferences Support Team.

A final seed to plant: If your Conference is among those engaging more neighbors preferring or needing to communicate in Spanish, please consider this an opportunity to seek the addition of Spanish-speaking members. This could enhance your responsive communication and expand your Conference’s perspective.


Christ Church Plumb Line

Olivia Scheper, Conferences Support Coordinator, is our central contact point-person. Plumb Line only accepts assistance referrals from this single SVDP point-person.

As a reminder, Plumb Line can assist with $400 of past due rent for neighbors who are currently working.

Please note: Your Conference does not need to enter your request for Plumb Line assistance into CMS when you submit it to Olivia. Olivia will add the referral into CMS once she submits it to Christ Church.  

All referrals to Plumb Line should be sent to:

Olivia Scheper

[email protected]

Phone: 513.345.4986, ext 239

Please understand and have faith: Plumb Line only communicates with the landlord and the neighbor after our referral is made. Therefore, once we have submitted your neighbor referral to Plumb Line, no news is good news. Christ Church will only communicate with us when they are unable to assist a neighbor or there are difficulties with a case. We should not contact Christ Church for status reports on a referral.


Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW)

GCWW's Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program provides funds for assistance for eligible tenants residing in the City of Cincinnati. There are eligibility stipulations. Tenants must qualify by completing an online application at .

Renters can also call 513.591.7700 to receive assistance from the call center to complete an application. There is also a flexible payment plan through the PromisePay Portal. GCWW customers can visit for details about the program and how to enroll. Renters not residing in Cincinnati city limits but living in Hamilton County can visit for utility assistance. If you need additional materials or information, please contact GCWW at [email protected] .


Duke Energy

Duke Energy has released an updated summary of Financial Assistance Available for Ohio & Kentucky Natural Gas and Electric Customers. To learn more, go to the Duke Energy website, click on the Financial Help tab, and then click on Ohio.

Duke encourages us to follow our standard steps for processing pledges on customer accounts. For questions on accounts or pledges for neighbors requesting utility assistance, please contact Duke Energy's Centralized Agency Team at 800.241.3194. Advocates are available Monday through Friday, 7:30am - 5:30pm.

Should our neighbor / their customer not meet Duke's qualifications for assistance, please refer them to Duke's customer care organization at 800.544.6900 where they may find assistance through a flexible installment plan.


State of Ohio Program for Struggling Homeowners

Save the Dream Ohio helps eligible Ohio homeowners facing foreclosure and/or who cannot afford to pay their mortgage payments, utility payments or other related housing costs as a result of economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Ohio was awarded $280 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for the program. Click here for more information:

Save the Dream Ohio - Managed by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (


Hamilton County COVID Assistance

Our neighbors & you can still find info and resources at . Hamilton County has recently refreshed funding at Hamilton County Job & Family Services (JFS). Neighbors can apply at on their mobile device or desktop. The Hamilton County Rent and Utility Program’s application can be submitted on a smart phone. Please note: this funding comes from the same federal pool as ERA and other COVID relief programs, so a neighbor who has previously exhausted their access to this pool will be ineligible. Community Action Agency (CAA) also has COVID relief funding through the City of Cincinnati. Please refer eligible neighbors to either or both of these service organizations.  


Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation (CEIF) Vision Clinic in our Neyer Outreach Center

The Vision Clinic operates by appointment on certain Monday mornings & Thursdays as designated by CEIF. Please note this schedule for the remainder of December: open 8:30am - 3pm tomorrow (Thurs, 12/8), and open for the morning, 8:30am - noon, 12/15, & 12/29. A limited number of walk-in exams can also be accommodated. To schedule an appointment, or to inquire for additional info, please call 513.207.6140.

Our Mission

A network of neighbors, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.

Call to Prayer


As our Advent journey continues, we turn in hope to Christ and pray:

Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay.

Strengthen all Vincentians in their efforts to reveal your love,

Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay.


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