Conference News and Notes
for Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Sent to all Vincentians & Staff
Vincentian Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent
Sunday, March 20, 2022

Gospel: (Luke 13: 1-9) Jesus said, “Those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And then he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?' The gardener said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.’”

Reflection: The parable of the non-fruit-bearing fig tree describes the fate of those who do not repent. Even though God gives us everything we need for our journey toward salvation, we ourselves need to “cultivate and fertilize” our spiritual lives. We “grumble” our way through life - we judge others, fail to live up to our baptismal commitments, do not heed all the warnings given us. Jesus is quite clear in his message: “bear fruit" or be “cut down.” The “fertilizer” is the charity, fasting, and prayer of our Christian penance. Repentance is “cultivating” the soil so we can bear fruit. Repentance is changing one’s mind, letting go of the narrowness of our own perception of how life should be and embracing the expansiveness of God’s plan for salvation. Repentance is really conversion. And God waits everyday of our lives for us to bear fruit. (Living Liturgy, p.78)

Vincentian Meditation: Conversion for us as followers of Vincent and Frederic will mean allowing Jesus and the poor to invade the citadels of our minds and of our hearts. Our minds and hearts are like fortresses. We live within them, but are reluctant to admit Jesus and His poor into the very center of them. We will allow Jesus in just so far, but we often by our action or inaction show Him that we don’t wish Him to take us over completely. He is continually asking us to surrender to Him. He is asking us continually to let go, and we insist on holding on. Conversion or repentance is about surrender. (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p.698)

What conversion do you need, so that you can “bear fruit?”
Additional Daily Lenten Reflection Content

Locally composed daily Lenten reflections continue to be available to you.
Please use this link for the set of 8 reflections for Sat, 3/12 to this Mon, 3/21:

You can also find this full sequence of daily reflections on the Members Support & Forms Page of our SVDP - Cincinnati website at . Simply enter the password " member " (without quotation marks), then scroll down to 2022 Lenten Reflections where you can click on any of the 3 series released to-date. While there, you will also find a deep list of resources that are available with a single click.
Archdiocese of Cincinnati Beacons of Light Initiative

  • Our meeting of Conference Presidents, dedicated to Beacons of Light, is this coming Sat, 3/19, 9am - noon, in our Ozanam Center (3rd floor, Liz Carter Center, 1125 Bank St). We are excited to gather in-person to nurture relationship, especially within Families of Parishes. We're eager to have each & every Conference represented. Participants should now have advance materials.
  • Our Archdiocese released pastors & parochial vicars assignments to Families of Parishes on 2/14; the assignments are effective with the implementation of this Beacons of Light initiative on 7/1. You will find a summary of the assignments, and additional content & context, at .
  • Our Archdiocese hosts monthly Beacons Roundtable Zoom gatherings on Tuesdays, 1:30-3pm. These gatherings are attracting priests, deacons, parish leaders, and passionate parishioners from throughout our Archdiocese. March's gathering was yesterday, entitled Leadership: Co-Responsibility In Families of Parishes. Future dates: 4/26, 5/17, & 6/21. This is all part of Phase 0 - Warm-Up - of this Beacons of Light initiative. In this Phase 0, we are encouraged to pray, learn, and prepare. Phase 1 - Leadership - begins with the implementation on 7/1.
  • Please join together to embrace and seize Beacons opportunities to advance our Vincentian vocation and amplify our impact!
We're Searching for a Volunteer Program Coordinator

Please help us find a great fit for this vital team member. Here's the link to the posting on our website: Erin Nowak, our Outreach Center Program Director, can be contacted at [email protected] and she welcomes applications and/or your referrals. Thanks!
Referring Neighbors for potential TANF and EPI Assistance
In response to your feedback, we have taken steps to streamline the process for Vincentians to refer neighbors whom they feel would be good candidates for the Eviction Prevention Initiative (EPI) or Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF). Vincentians who have connected with neighbors whom they feel would be a good candidate for either program should email our Call Center Coordinator, Muslimah Winbush, at [email protected] , with a referral. This email should consist of the following:
  • Name of your Conference
  • Full name of the neighbor you are referring
  • Neighbor’s phone number
  • Neighbor’s email address
Your email will ensure that we have proper documentation of the initial referral. Muslimah will then contact the neighbor to complete the request. If the neighbor cannot be reached by phone, the neighbor will be sent an email expressing that we have attempted to reach out to them and that if they are still in need of the assistance, they would need to call Muslimah directly. Once the request form has been completed, Muslimah will send an email to the Vincentian who made the referral confirming that the request form has been submitted for review. Please do not ask the neighbors to call Muslimah directly unless they are returning her call.
Please understand that we do not have the resources to extend assistance to every eligible neighbor and manage expectations accordingly. Selections are made from all eligible request forms (including neighbors who do & do not reside in Conference footprints) submitted in a given week; request forms are not carried over from week to week, but a neighbor who was not selected can be resubmitted.
Since this is a new accommodation, your feedback is greatly appreciated. We are encouraged by how quickly some Conferences & Vincentians have already leveraged this enhancement. Our goal is to serve our Vincentians well, as you serve our neighbors well.

As a reminder, the eligibility for these programs is as follows:

City of Cincinnati's Eviction Prevention Initiative (EPI)
Neighbors must live in the City of Cincinnati and have formal notice of eviction proceedings to be eligible for EPI.
Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)
This program, through at least June 2022, will pay for up to four months' rent for neighbors who meet the following criteria:
  • At risk of homelessness
  • Hamilton County residents
  • US citizen or qualified non-citizen
  • Have custody of at least one minor child and/or at least six months pregnant
  • Have a household income that is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (currently $53,000/year for a family of four)

Here's a summary of Jan-Feb 2022 activity, which has proven fruitful:
  • You referred 57 requests for rental assistance, through 21 of our Conferences
  • 18 of these applicants were selected for assistance
Our Charitable Pharmacy
Emergency Assistance
Did you know? Nearly 25% of Americans report difficulty affording their prescription medications. Often, medication costs and medical debt are the root cause for food insecurity and housing instability. In response to this, our Charitable Pharmacy is excited to announce the expansion of its Emergency Voucher program. This program provides immediate access to free prescription medications for neighbors who do not have Ohio Medicaid benefits. Emergency medications will be provided along with an appointment for full certification for ongoing services within 30 days after their first medication pick-up. Additionally, neighbors can now access our Charitable Pharmacy’s on-site nurse practitioner for physical exams and laboratory tests. The next time you serve a neighbor in need, ask them this: “Are you able to afford your medical expenses?” If not, contact Dr. Rusty Curington at [email protected] for emergency access to our Charitable Pharmacy.

Legislative Progress is Percolating
Here in our great state of Ohio, we are prominently participating in a movement to permit pharmaceutical drug donations from the public to charitable pharmacies such as our own. Known as HB 558, this concept is attracting high-profile advocacy and giving us cause for optimism. We are laying the groundwork now for potentially exciting positive change in 2023. Stay tuned for further developments.
Summer Heat Relief

We will again be providing fans and air conditioners to eligible neighbors throughout our District Council. The program will officially begin on Mon, May 2. More information will be coming in April about who is eligible and how neighbors can request this assistance.
Our Thrift Stores are Eager for Your Furniture Donations

Demand for furniture (for voucher redemption and purchase) is currently exceeding the pace of donations we are receiving. Do you have surplus furniture you'd like to donate? Just call us @ 513.421.2273 (421-CARE) to make it happen. Thank you for repurposing this furniture with someone who will truly value it.
Cooking Improv with La Soupe

Our Catino Choice Food Pantry is partnering with La Soupe to present monthly Cooking Improv demonstrations in the Teaching Kitchen at our Neyer Outreach Center. Instructors from La Soupe will teach participants basic cooking principles and how to use what you have to create delicious, nutritious meals. The demonstrations will be on the first Wednesday of every month, 11am-1pm. The demos last 15-20 minutes and will be presented continuously during this time frame. Each demonstration will be limited to seven participants.
Our next event is Wed, 4/6. 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.
Your CMS Momentum is Our CMS Momentum

  • 36 Conferences have implemented CMS and are benefitting from its functionality
  • 9 Conferences have onboarded since June, 2021
  • Our St Cecilia Conference implemented on 3/1/2022! Who's next?
  • CMS will deliver its greatest value to you, your fellow Vincentians, and your neighbors when all of our Conferences are on board
  • 7 more Conferences are in our active pipeline
  • You’ll enjoy improved turnaround on financial closing; quicker access to all neighbor data throughout our district; better reporting availability for your Conference meetings; and a secure location for all of your go-forward data for future reference
  • This current web-based, enhanced version of CMS is accessible at ; if you are still using the old manner of accessing CMS, you should discontinue that and uninstall the old applications on your PC or MAC
  • John Wessel, your Resource Analyst, has assembled great training and support resources to complement his personal commitment to your positive CMS experience; he's happy to join you for a CMS demo
  • Still not sure? Ask Tom Roberts or John Wessel for contact info of neighboring Conferences who have embraced CMS
Bottom-line: This tool helps you better engage and lift your neighbors. And it will help us better attract resources to assist these same neighbors experiencing need. Join fellow Vincentians & Conferences and make this leap forward now! 

CMS help sessions are available by appointment. Please contact John Wessel at [email protected] or 513.562.1823 to schedule a session, which can be for groups or individuals.
CMS training videos are located on our website, accessed via the Members tab, or just use this link:
If prompted for a password, enter “ member ”, all lower case and without the quotation marks.
More Resources for our Conferences and Neighbors

Conference Assistance Fund (CAF)
We extended $54,287 in Feb for an FY2022 YTD (5 months) total CAF assistance of $292,009.
March activity through Tues, 3/15:
  • You've already submitted 98 applications
  • We've already approved 116 applications
  • 2 applications were withdrawn; 2 were declined
  • We currently have 9 applications in progress toward approval
If this current fast pace of applications continues, we will have to suspend approvals at some point later this month until 4/1. As has been been our recently repeated message, we encourage you to fully consider our neighbor's situation and other resources which could be deployed as you discern a request for CAF assistance. This is particularly applicable to neighbor situations where the total $ required exceeds the sum of the assistance you can assemble - and please remember there are other programs available in our community which have provisions for higher assistance caps.

Our Charitable Pharmacy is Still Providing COVID Vaccinations
Want more info? Our Charitable Pharmacy staff is available to answer any questions. You can contact Dr. Rusty Curington at [email protected] and a Pharmacy team member will respond.

Our Re-Entry Program
Our Re-Entry Program is eager to work with neighbors you are serving who have been affected by the criminal justice system. This includes individuals who are currently incarcerated or have been incarcerated in the past; it also includes people who have had interactions with the criminal justice system but have not been incarcerated. It can also include neighbors who have a family member who falls into one of these categories. If you are serving a neighbor who may benefit from these services, which include: 
  • Direct assistance, including rent, utility, and other basic needs assistance
  • Referrals to employment and housing resources
  • Case management
  • Advice related to expungement and child support issues
Please refer them to our Re-Entry Program Manager, Dion Crockett. Dion can be reached at 513.562.8851 or at [email protected] . You may contact Dion directly or you may share his contact information with the neighbor so that they may contact him. 
Dion is also eager to connect with our Conferences. if you would like to host Dion at a Conference meeting or get together with him in another way, please reach out to him.

Rahe Beds Fund & Program
Vouchers for all bed requests submitted by March 5 are now in the mail. Conferences are invited to submit up to two additional requests per Conference this month. Please send your requests to Gabby at [email protected] .
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.
The following has been running for weeks now...and, candidly, we're surprised the demand hasn't been more brisk: We still have a limited number of cribs & pack ‘n’ plays available for neighbors with children too young for beds (under age two). These do not count against the limit of two Rahe beds per household per lifetime. If you have a neighbor who is in need of a crib or pack ‘n’ play, please contact Gabby. Please note that these are available while supplies last, so please wait until you have confirmation from Gabby before telling the neighbor we’ll be able to assist them. We will provide the neighbor with a voucher that can be redeemed at our CHRC.

Do you have questions about our Rahe Beds Fund & Program?
Please review the Bed Program Conference Guide for the most up-to-date information, which includes some updates to the way beds assistance should be entered in CMS.

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

Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW)
GCWW kicked off a new Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program in December. This program provides funds for GCWW utility assistance for eligible tenants residing in the City of Cincinnati. The funds will pay water, sewer, and stormwater charges. Any accrued charges during March 2020 (the start of the pandemic) or after are eligible to be paid with these funds.
Tenants must qualify by completing an online application at  and certifying that their household income is at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).
If eligible neighbors have balances prior to March 2020, those charges will not be paid with these funds. However, neighbors can enroll in a flexible payment plan through the PromisePay Portal. GCWW customers can visit for details about the program and how to enroll. Customers who have paid their accounts and/or have an active payment plan on their GCWW account(s) and keep up with their current charges will be removed from the delinquency/shutoff process.
At this time, the delinquency/shutoff process may resume in just 2 weeks on April 1, 2022. 
  • Apply Today! Tenants residing in the City of Cincinnati can access the ERA Application at . Renters can also call 513.591.7700 to receive assistance from the call center to complete an application.
  • 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
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 currently available Monday through Friday, 7:30am - 5:30pm.
Seasonal developments:
  • The Winter Reconnect Order went into effect on 10/18 and runs through 4/15/2022 
  • The HEAP Winter Crisis Program began on 11/1/2021
  • Find more info at
  • Soaring Winter Utilities Costs - Duke Energy has provided a series of toolkits to help their customers navigate. We have posted these resources to our website; you'll find the webpage at this link: We will continue to update this page as we receive additional content.

City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County COVID Assistance
There is still a huge sum of COVID federal economic recovery & relief emergency funding available in our area. If you encounter a neighbor who has experienced financial hardship due to COVID, please refer them to .

Cincinnati Eye Institute Foundation (CEIF) Vision Clinic in our Neyer Outreach Center
The Vision Clinic operates by appointment on certain Thursdays as designated by CEIF. Our Vision Clinic is open, 8:30am - 3pm, tomorrow and then both remaining Thursdays in March. 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.
Call to Prayer

The discipline of Lent calls us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,
may your love guide us to conversion.
Lord, you came to give sight to the blind,
open our eyes to see beyond our own selfishness.
Lord, you came to bring good news to the poor,
may our actions bring hope to those we serve.
Lord, give us the grace to “fertilize and cultivate” our spiritual life,
so that we may bear fruit.