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Transformations CDC Summer 2021 Vignettes
Transformations CDC Summer 2021 Vignettes 250 250 Episcopal Community Ministries

Transformations CDC is  a non-profit originally started by the bilingual Episcopal church, The Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, to help serve the needs of the undocumented immigrant community in Cincinnati.

Transformaciones/Transformations CDC Director Nancy Sullivan provides a glimpse into the many self-empowerment and problem solving advocacy services provided by this robust organization:

Spring and summer brought many immigrant families to Cincinnati, some of whom had been waiting for more than two years in very dangerous situations in Mexican border towns to apply for asylum in the US.


One young man remains traumatized by all that has happened to him.  A gang in Honduras murdered his father and torched their home.  He fled with his mother and brother to Mexico, hoping to enter the US and apply for asylum.  Instead, they were stuck in Tijuana by President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.  During their two year wait, another tragedy befell them: his 14 year old brother was murdered in the street.  They didn’t even have the money for a proper burial.  When the border reopened this spring, his mother sent him across alone as an “unaccompanied minor”. 

He was stuck in a shelter for weeks while Transformations assisted his young uncle to complete all the paperwork to become his legal guardian, and we helped arrange transportation from Texas to Cincinnati, supplied him with a bed and clothes and helped enroll him in school.  He made it here just in time to participate in a four week immersion course in English provided by Cincinnati Public Schools.  But he still struggles with depression and is haunted by the trauma his family experienced.

Transformations is working with CPS School Board and school personnel to figure out how to get mental health care for recent arrivals like him.  Typically mental health care is provided in schools through Medicaid, but these non-citizen students don’t qualify.


With so many immigrants coming to unite with family members here, beds were in short supply and out of reach of many poorly paid workers now offering hospitality.  Fortunately, networking enabled Transformations to supply at least 40 beds, plus additional furniture, to families.  Several partial days of sweat equity enabled families to pick up beds from a university whose dorms were going to be torn down.  We also delivered beds to many families who lacked transportation or single mothers of young children who couldn’t come themselves. 

NKU also had a dorm full of furniture they were replacing, so we made two trips there with a large UHaul to get more beds and other furniture, which quickly found new homes.

Westmont Outdoor Pantry

In late winter we started a weekly Saturday pantry in a largely immigrant low income apartment community in Price Hill, with some value-added activities.  Each week we serve between 18-24 families, (a total of 75 – 100 people including many children).  People can easily walk to the central location in a little playground.

A Spanish-speaking social worker with the Addictions Services Council had a rapt audience for her two programs, first on general parenting and talking to your children, the second on how to talk to them about drugs and alcohol. 

Bus #65

Another program has brought very tangible results.  A savvy new hire for Cincinnati’s Metro system came to ask residents about their bus use: did they use it, where do they typically go on the bus, do they know how much it costs, what are the barriers to bus use?  This whole area, with hundreds of apartments, is far from the closest bus.  Residents, including high schoolers who often must get on the bus when it is still dark in. the morning, have had to walk down a steep, winding, dark road to catch the bus.  After listening carefully and discovering that some students had dropped out because of transportation problems, the young man convinced the Metro board to add a new bus line!  Bus #65 officially went live this week, in time for these students’ first day at Dater or Western Hills High Schools.


“Basta” means “enough, as in “stop, enough” in Spanish.  Last year saw a terrifying increase in aggravated assaults on immigrants in several specific areas.  People were threatened at gun or knife point and robbed and the community had had enough, especially after one man died after an assault.  We had several Basta public events in a central little park and worked with the police to improve surveillance, putting in cameras in specific areas, etc.

As a result the violence largely subsided and the community relaxed, but this summer it has ramped up again.  We held several more events, including Women Helping Women offering an excellent Active Bystander Training, as well as individuals talking about their recent experiences of assault.


Each year Transformations schedules a canoe trip down the Little Miami for kids and families.  The best part is always when we stop on a sandbar and play in the water!  Everyone gets into the act and the only hard parts are organizing transportation to the river and then herding people out of the water and back into their canoes!  This year we had at least 45 people, from small children to senior citizens, experienced paddlers and first-timers.  What a great day! 

Click on the photos below to view full sized images:


Transformations has been fortunate to forge a partnership with My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus over recent years.  In addition to after school programs at Roberts Academy, they have provided scholarships for many students in the Learning Club to participate in their camps.  This year two students were accepted into the two week advanced circus and then participated in three shows in Cincinnati area parks.  Another ten students with less experience had their own 9 am – 3 pm weeklong class!  The result? Greater self-confidence, exposure to new ideas and people.  These opportunities are only possible Transformations can offer them transportation, as we did for five children of immigrants who participated in a free weeklong photography camp in Price Hill.

Enabling them to “Fish”!

Rural Hondurans and Guatemalans who’ve immigrated to Cincinnati lived as subsistence farmers and know how to grow their own food, what they lack here is land.  For years they have asked, “Where can I get a little patch of ground to grow some corn?”  This spring Transformations negotiated with the Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage to provide land for gardens and someone donated a dump truck load of composted manure to enrich the soil, other groups donated plant starts and seeds.  Six families have participated, growing corn, squash and a variety of other food, some unfamiliar to most of us such as epazote or yerba mora. 

In addition to providing food, this garden has been a crucial link to their indigenous cultures and allows them to pass on their experience to their children.  We plan to enlarge and improve it next year, as well as introduce ideas such as cover-cropping, unfamiliar to farmers from the tropics.


Submitted by Nancy Sullivan, Transformations CDC Director.  August 2021

To learn more about the extraordinary work done by the  Transformations CDC Program, check out their Facebook page:



“Just Let Us Know That We Are Loved”
“Just Let Us Know That We Are Loved” 250 250 Episcopal Community Ministries

“Do you see this woman?

Judge Paul Herbert often found himself pondering Jesus’ question over the years as prostitutes repeatedly came before his bench in Franklin County Municipal Court. The parallels between the pharisees’ scornful attitude toward the “sinful” woman in Luke 7 and the punitive sentences imposed by our justice system did not escape him. He had a revelation one day when a battered sex worker brought before his court had identical injuries to domestic abuse victims. He could clearly see that this woman was a victim, and he began to question his own assumptions about prostitution. He started asking law enforcement, mental health professionals, trauma experts and addiction specialists serious questions about sex trafficking. He also began listening to the women themselves. If restorative justice could ever be a reality, the essential question must shift from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?

This intensive research led to the establishment of CATCH Court in 2009, one of the first problem-solving courts in the country dedicated to healing rather than punishment. CATCH stands for Changing Actions to Change Habits. In this specialized docket, women arrested for prostitution in Columbus have the option of joining the intensive two year program providing safe housing, food, clothing, and trauma-informed care. If they agree, the women are given probation and must attend weekly court meetings with the judge, mental health counseling and addiction recovery treatment.  It is a program built on both care and accountability. This space for healing leaves room for opportunity. If they graduate from this demanding program their criminal record is expunged, opening the door to future employment, housing, and education.

The women graduate with more than a clean slate. Every step of the way Judge Herbert, his staff and the volunteers communicate to participants: “We are going to love you until you can love yourself.  We see something in you that you can’t see yet.” They come to respect themselves for the strong, capable, resilient women they are. They have been to hell and back, survived, and are learning to thrive.

Judge Herbert says one of the biggest challenges the program still faces is changing misperceptions about trafficking.  The women who come into the program have been misjudged and mislabeled.  They are vulnerable and trapped.  In addition to trauma trained professionals, the program depends heavily on community volunteers.  CATCH-Freedom, an outreach ministry developed by St. Patrick’s, Dublin (St. Pat’s) in response to the problem, is doing their level best to help.

How Did St. Pat’s CATCH-Freedom Ministry Begin?

In many ways, St. Pat’s commitment to helping trafficking victims in their community feels like it was meant to be. One of the Education for Ministry (EfM) extension groups meets every Monday morning, and in December 2018 they were working through the Preparing to Become the Beloved Community Advent Study.  During the discussion on justice, Nancy McCracken shared how she visited CATCH Court and listened to the women share their stories. The 11/23/18  BBC Advent Study entry asked, “How could your church actively participate in repairing one of the systems your group has identified?” The group chose victims of human trafficking based on what they had learned about CATCH Court from Nancy that morning. The study further instructed, “Together, set one concrete achievable goal for engagement in the year ahead.”  They were on their way.  Their initial goal was to educate the parish at an upcoming Adult Forum in May 2019.

To get them started on their quest for deeper learning about this topic, Catherine Loveland invited them to attend a Central Ohio Technical College Lifelong Learning Institute program on the topic of Human Trafficking on January 8, 2019.  Catherine Loveland, Rondi Purcell, Julie Myers, Mary Kay Arbogast, and Fran Montgomery heard CATCH Court Coordinator Hannah Estabrook and Freedom a la Cart Executive Director Paula Haines describe the mission of their programs. Trafficking survivor April Thacker shared her personal story and spoke about the Butterflies program she helped found for CATCH graduates.

Mary Kay Arbogast describes how April Thacker’s powerful story galvanized the group:

Hearing a survivor tell her story really motivated us. It is a MIRACLE that they can overcome the life they were in. Her testimony is really what touched us all.  We just wanted to help. We wanted to help other women reach that point of being a survivor rather than a victim.

They had seen this woman, and she left an indelible impression.

In response to what they were learning, members of this EfM group supported starting a new ministry which they named CATCH- Freedom. Dianne Clay, Mary Kennedy, Carol Langenfeld, Catherine Loveland, Betty Lyle, Nancy McCracken, Fran Montgomery, Julie Myers, Val Pittsenbarger and Rondi Purcell all played an important role in shaping the new ministry’s beginning through prayer, education, and volunteering. Nancy McCracken explains the genesis of their commitment:

As women, we felt particularly called to learn more about the largely unacknowledged massive sex trafficking industry in our county, to share our learning with the parish, and then to find ways to directly address those who are most harmed. As we widened our study group, we learned together through court visits, seminars, and workshops, and saw clear ways to answer the call. Our clergy and vestry and over 50 parishioners offered strong support for this new ministry called CATCH-Freedom.

With the help of assistant rector Cameron O’Riley, this new ministry helped plan the May 2019 Adult Forum to raise awareness about the sex trafficking and the shattered lives being healed due to ground-breaking local programs that have become national models for therapeutic justice.  Freedom a la Cart Executive Director Paula Haines spoke about the prevalence of sex trafficking in Columbus, and how CATCH Court and Freedom a la Cart were working to help the victims rebuild their lives. April Thacker shared her journey from abused trafficking victim through her continuing recovery as a case worker helping other survivors. Attendees enjoyed a box lunch catered by Freedom a la Cart.

This Adult Forum was the most well-attended educational program the church held in recent memory.  Fran Montgomery remembers that “the congregation was shocked at what they heard.  When you learn something like this you want to help. You have to help. Everyone contributes in whatever ways they can – there is a rippling effect.”

Their CATCH-Freedom ministry provides continuing opportunities for parishioners and community members to learn about, witness, and actively support women in our community in particular need of that support.

Moving from Awareness to Action

The CATCH-Freedom ministry has continued to evolve as members became more involved in directly supporting victims/survivors of sex trafficking by partnering with CATCH Court, Freedom a la Cart and the Butterflies Continuum of Care program.  As their ministry grew, Fran Montgomery, Julie Myers, Mary Kay Arbogast, Nancy McCraken and Rondi Purcell served as the leadership team.

How did they move so quickly from inspiration to action?  Everyone on the CATCH-Freedom leadership team agrees that the St. Pat’s culture encourages involvement.  Their vision statement declares that they believe God loves everyone and they embrace that love and share it with others.  Nancy McCracken observes that they are an amazing parish for social outreach work:

We have a ministry fair every year.  Almost all of them are social outreach, community support programs.  It doesn’t take a whole lot of storytelling. I’m on Vestry and when I came on this was just starting, and the senior warden Mike Kennedy asked me to talk about the program at our opening of year retreat.  It is part of our BBC effort as a parish, part of our ethos.  It’s just in there.

Julie Myers credits Father Stephen Smith with building an empowerment culture. He believed that the people in the parish who are excited about a project and who are knowledgeable about the issue, are the best ones to make the decisions about that ministry.  Julie describes his leadership style:

He created an atmosphere where when people would come to him with ideas for satisfying a need; he was encouraging, and he did not micromanage. He allowed each group to come up with their own ideas about what they could do to help improve our corner of the world. He would encourage and say ‘go for it.’ He didn’t tell us how to do it. He left it up to us to determine the best ways to proceed and to sink or swim on our own.

When they were initially motivated by what they had learned about CATCH Court and trafficking in central Ohio, their EfM group continued discussions about how they could turn awareness into action as a ministry. Nancy McCracken wrote to Father Stephen to see if they could make it a whole church ministry.  His reply was immediate, “Education for Ministry, Nancy.  You did the education part, now this is the ministry.  Go for it!

Soon after they visited the CATCH courtroom themselves. “Seeing the program in person, knowing that there were other people really concerned about this revolving door of women coming back in, trapped by their situation, moved us from idea to action,” observes Julie Myers. Judge Herbert told the story of his young daughter challenging him to find his purpose after reading The Purpose Driven Life and wanted to know what he personally was going to do about the rampant recidivism that plagued the court.  “For me it was, OK Julie, what are YOU going to do about this?  It just really hit a nerve when I realized there was some little part that I could play to help make these women realize that there were programs and people out there to help them escape the awfulness of the situations they were in.”

Determined to offer moral and physical support, the first thing the group did was to equip themselves with more knowledge, especially about trauma awareness. They attended training at She Has a Name, an organization that provides human trafficking education where they learned about the cycle of addiction, abuse, and the reality of street slavery. They also registered for mentor training provided by Freedom a la Cart.  Mentors are a support person that offers life coaching and emotional support through unconditional love and friendship.

Freedom a la Cart, a comprehensive community-based support program, partners with CATCH Court to provide social support to survivors in the program. This non-profit social enterprise provides survivors with paid employment training so that they can develop practical job skills and a strong work ethic necessary for sustainable employment. It is a safe, restorative space where survivors can continue to heal, learn, and grow so they can eventually become self-sufficient and reintegrate into the community. Freedom a la Cart also provides for day-to-day needs like providing transportation, clothing, and other necessities.

Freedom a la Cart began in 2011 with a food cart. Over the past decade the business has evolved into a successful catering company and recently opened the Freedom Café and Bakery.  During the pandemic they started meal delivery service to deliver dinners to people’s homes and businesses.  Members of St. Pat’s have become avid patrons, helping to keep the business afloat and survivors employed during lean times.  Parishioner volunteer teams Rondi & Wade Purcell, and Ann King & Don Ritchie, were road warriors who delivered Freedom at Home meals during the lock-down and the icy months of winter. Rondi remarked how uplifting the delivery experience is because many of the people who order express their joy at supporting the women survivors who have made these meals.

Pre Covid-19 luncheon served at CATCH Court. Pictured L-R: Fran Montgomery, Nancy McCracken, Mary Kay Arbogast, Julie Myers and Ann King.

Before Covid-19, members of the CATCH-Freedom team actively volunteered at both CATCH Court and in the kitchens at Freedom a la Cart.  Every 3rd Thursday, St. Pat’s CATCH-Freedom Ministry members would wheel in their wagons loaded with food would and serve lunch to the 30 plus CATCH Court participants.  They particularly relished the informal personal interaction with the women in the program.

Nancy McCracken reflects, “It was so important early on to have people come with us to court.  There is nothing like being among CATCH women to make us feel loved.”

Being there says, ‘We are in your corner.  I admire the hard work you are doing.  I see you. I see how strong you are becoming. You are a beautiful child of God,’” asserts Julie Myers.

All served as loving witnesses, celebrating each milestone with the women. They applauded when someone announced how long they had been sober, or wept tears of joy when someone was able to see their children for the first time in a long time. They marveled at the resilience whenever someone overcame problems using newly learned coping skills to help them through a situation that might have destroyed them before.  They were privileged to see miracles in the making.

Resilience in the Face of Challenges

St. Pat’s was challenged to discover their own resilience when Covid-19 threatened to derail their blossoming CATCH-Freedom ministry in March 2020 when pandemic safety restrictions prohibited gathering. CATCH Court did not meet in person from March through July 2020, moving online to Zoom meetings.  “I received so much from them,” says Fran Montgomery, sad that Covid-19 shut down in-person interchanges in March 2020.  Her face lights up when she relates how happy she is when one of her friends from Freedom a la Cart delivers a dinner order to her home and she can talk to them and give air hugs.

When the CATCH Court relocated to a safe room at the Columbus Convention Center in Summer 2020, only program participants were permitted to attend.  In addition, volunteers could no longer work alongside employees in the Freedom a la Cart kitchens.  The women were now sharing lunch before court outside in Goodale Park. CATCH-Freedom was unable to prepare food for them at the church or at home due to Covid-19 safety restrictions, so they began purchasing boxed lunches from Freedom a la Cart’s commercial kitchen in August, September, and October. Costs were adding up as the ministry was exceeding its budget. They could no longer hold garage sale fundraisers and parish funds had been tapped. With no end to the pandemic in sight, Father Stephen suggested they apply for an Episcopal Community Ministries (ECM) grant to cover the cost of boxed lunches and other expenses like U-Haul rentals to help women move.  The ECM Committee granted this ministry $3,500, pleased to encourage such a comprehensive empowerment program.

A worrisome number of women dropped out when CATCH Court switched to Zoom meetings last year, but since the summer their numbers have grown to 31.  The team at St. Pat’s is grateful that they will be able to keep their commitment to the women and the programs they have come to cherish.

Susan Trianfo, Program Director at Freedom a la Cart, expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the St. Pat’s and to ECM for their support of their mission and the women they serve:

“Your church has been such a great support to the women we serve at Freedom a la Cart. Supporting our social enterprise by ordering Freedom a la Cart meals enables us to provide workforce hours to the women we employ. It also provides the women in CATCH Court a healthy meal and the hope to one day be employed by Freedom a la Cart!

Many of these women have never known unconditional love before and are learning to love and trust for the first time. Thank you for being a part of their journey and helping us to empower the women to build a new life of freedom and self-sufficiency.”

Elizabeth Lewis facilitates safe delivery of Cookies for a Cause in St. Pat’s parking lot.

The leadership team looked for ways to continue their connection to CATCH Court and Freedom a la Cart throughout the pandemic. They wrote notes to the women in the program as well as women in prison.  Fran Montgomery served as liaison to Susan Trianfo, who communicates what women in the program need – anything from bus passes to feminine hygiene supplies. Julie Myers headed up a collection of $25 gas and grocery gift cards totaling $675.  In November Deanna Douglas collected and delivered warm winter coats, boots, hats, and gloves.  Volunteers like Elizabeth Lewis distributed Cookies for a Cause, a fundraiser for Freedom a la Cart in December. They also contributed to a Christmas Party for CATCH Court graduating butterflies. The congregation was encouraged to further support Freedom a la Cart by patronizing the business.  During COVID-19 gathering restrictions, Mother Cameron made sure that announcements were made during virtual church services regarding CATCH Freedom Ministry requests for food and gas gift cards.

To the CATCH-Freedom leadership team, there is no mystery to the congregation’s enthusiastic embrace of their ministry. St. Pat’s has 35 different ministries. They believe they can make a difference, so they do make a difference.  Once parishioners know about the problem, they are on board working toward a solution.

Members of the CATCH-Freedom organizational team meet on Zoom with ECM administrator to discuss grant.

The 50 plus parishioners who routinely volunteer say how inspired they have been by witnessing the struggles, courage, and success of recovering women and their loving support of each other. Consequently, the congregation responds with enormous generosity whenever there is a request for help, offering their time, talents, and treasure. Before Covid-19 changed our world, they helped survivors move into their own apartments, often supplying furniture and household items to get them launched. They help people get their driver’s licenses and tutored women seeking their GED… the list goes on and on. The St. Pat’s community continues to respond with open hearts during Covid-19, just in different ways. Mary Kay Arbogast keeps the congregation informed when there is an additional training available and sends a monthly newsletter updating the parish on the ministry’s progress and activities.  There are so many different opportunities to give and share their gifts!

Susan Trianfo (Freedom a la Cart) and Tawnya Lewis (St. Pat’s) enjoy new friend at Quiet Pastures.

St. Pat’s CATCH-Freedom Ministry also supports the Freedom a la Cart’s Butterflies who are graduates of the CATCH Court. This peer-based support program offers a continuum of care for graduates to increase their chances of long-term recovery. Monthly social gatherings began again this spring with an Easter meal and an art therapy project at Thompson Park in Upper Arlington. CATCH Court once-a-month outings also resumed. In March, St. Pat’s provided Freedom a la Cart box lunches which were enjoyed at the new Freedom a la Cart Café + Bakery followed by skating at the Ice Haus. Mary Kay Arbogast, Fran Montgomery, and Tawnya, Victoria & Elizabeth Lewis were thrilled to attend and help serve box lunches in April at Quiet Pastures Equestrian Center in Pataskala.

Mary Kay Arbogast is grateful to be involved in these outings that stress social interaction and peer support:

One of the things they stressed in the mentor training that we did is that most of the women have never had a friend they could trust. So part of their trying to bond, or to build community and peer support is really an ongoing process of learning to trust someone else. Learning exactly what true relationships could be like because they have never experienced something like that before.  Both CATCH Court and the Butterfly program are trying to support that goal.

The Vision Continues

One sign of a successful program is the ability to weather change, particularly a change in beloved leadership.  In October 2020 Judge Paul Herbert retired from CATCH Court. He turned over the reins to Judge Jodi Thomas, who is long admired for her restorative justice work with the Helping Achieve Recovery Together (HART) court program and her work helping trafficking victims. She knows that she cannot fill Judge Herbert’s shoes, but promises to “follow those strong footsteps that [he’s] planted to lead these beautiful, resilient, inspiring women to their freedom.“

The new year brought additional changes. The Rev. Stephen Smith retired from St. Pat’s. He has since been called to lead the Episcopal Preaching Foundation’s new Lay Preacher Training Initiative. The Rev. Elizabeth Hoster joined the congregation as Interim Priest in Charge.  She brings great generosity of spirit and was delighted when CATCH- Freedom received their ECM grant in February 2021 allowing them to continue their mission.  “The community of St. Patrick’s Episcopal is deeply committed to empowering women to have life and have it abundantly,” Rev. Hoster observed.  “CATCH Court and Freedom a la Cart are tangible ways to assure women have the futures they richly deserve. Everybody wins!”

In the ECM grant application, ministries are asked how their outreach ministry meets their Baptismal Covenant.  Everybody wins when the answer is love:

We have compassion for the women we serve who have been abused and have experienced trauma by being threatened, manipulated, often beaten, and always exploited. They are vulnerable, lonely, depressed, and hopeless. Most of them have lost connection to their families including their own children. They have lost their sense of self-worth. In our ministry we are attempting to share the love of Jesus Christ which we have experienced.

An example in the words of one we serve: When during our court lunch visit, this transitional survivor was asked what else she most needed from us volunteers, she answered, ‘Just let us know that we are loved.’”


Freedom a la Cart Café + Bakery
123 E. Spring Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Learn more about Freedom a la Cart program

Article submitted by Andrea Owens, ECM administrator.


Garden of All Saints Container Program Blossoms
Garden of All Saints Container Program Blossoms 250 253 Episcopal Community Ministries

The Garden of All Saints growing space was expanded this year.

After a successful growing season in 2020 where the Garden for All Saints produced 750lbs of produce for local food pantries (New Albany Food Pantry and Gahanna Residents in Need), the Creation Care team at All Saints Episcopal Church in New Albany wanted to find a way to expand a love of gardening to the community. They applied for an ECM grant for funding to hold an event where families who patronized the food pantries could come to All Saints and build container gardens to take home. All of the supplies for the event would be provided through the grant and participants would take home three containers– a container tomato plant, a container of bush beans, and a lettuce bowl– as well as care instructions and recipes for using the produce. Members of All Saints were also invited to participate.

The main goals of the event were:

  1. to cultivate a love of gardening for all participants and to provide a connection to God’s creation,
  2. to provide an opportunity for relationship building between All Saints members and community members,
  3. to provide ongoing nutrition/sustenance to people in a sustainable way and reduce the need to frequent the store or pantry.

Celebrating Creation Care and Community

The event took place on May 15th, 2021 under bright blue skies. 42 people were in attendance, almost an equal split between community members and All Saints members. Several families brought children and participated together– one large family split between two tables and will have twice as much produce in the coming weeks. Some Creation Care team members built their own container gardens and others stepped in to assist participants who requested help. Stephani Delisio, gardener extraordinaire, led the event. She taught participants about the plants themselves, what to expect when they were growing, and how to assemble the gardens. Afterward, a group toured the Gardens for All Saints on the grounds of the church.

The day was glorious– everyone had fun, people got their hands dirty, and the weather was perfect, It could not have been any better than it was and the group hopes to hold the event again next year.

Photo galleries:  Please click thumbnail image to see the larger picture.

Setting up the event:

Creating Container Gardens to take home…


Submitted by Catherine Duffy, Creation Care Ministry Chair.  All Saints Episcopal Church, New Albany, OH

Transformations CDC’s Students’ Herpetology Weekend in Red River Gorge
Transformations CDC’s Students’ Herpetology Weekend in Red River Gorge 250 251 Episcopal Community Ministries

Transformations CDC is  a non-profit originally started by the bilingual Episcopal church, The Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, to help serve the needs of the undocumented immigrant community in Cincinnati. This organization does remarkable work providing housing and food assistance, emergency services,  immigrant rights advocacy and organization, translation services and educational outreach.  Perhaps their greatest labor of love is the Learning Club, which is why Episcopal Community Ministries (ECM) so enthusiastically supports their mission to nurture and support children and to connect people with spiritual power.

One look at the young people who participated in the learning enrichment opportunities and you will see that a weekend celebrating the wonders of the natural world does everyone a world of good.

Transformaciones/Transformations CDC Director Nancy Sullivan reports on the Learning Club’s  annual Herpetology Weekend:

Imagine spending a weekend in Red River Gorge getting wet and muddy while studying salamanders, frogs and other amphibians.

Each year Price Hill-based Transformaciones/Transformations CDC takes Learning Club students, all immigrants or children of immigrants, to Kentucky for Natural Bridge State Park’s annual Herpetology Weekend.  When the park canceled their event because of the pandemic, we developed a our own.

Paul Krusling, retired Mt. St. Joseph biology professor, spent Saturday in the field, netting specimens and turning over rotting logs looking for different salamander species.  The also helped kids check out different vernal ponds, some in the sun and some in the shade, for frog egg masses, tadpoles and larvae.

Dan and Judy Dourson, reknowned Kentucky and Central American naturalists and guidebook authors, led Sunday’s adventure at the new Red Oak sanctuary founded by their family.  Dan met us with a hog-nosed snake, which obligingly played dead, rolling over, mouth agape and tongue hanging out.  For your first time touching a snake, this is the way to go!

The kids also climbed up to the top of Natural Bridge, toasted marshmallows, scaled big rocks and generally got dirty and tired while having a blast- and learning a lot.  These are opportunities they are likely never to forget.  It was fun to hear both Spanish and English flying  back and forth between the kids, some newly arrived, others born here.

We also were fortunate to have Price Hillian Jake Otte  (St. James-Westwood Vestry) and Latina soccer coach Glenda Ventura among the chaperones.  Both are longtime volunteers with Transformations CDC and are know all the students very well.


Click on the photos below to view full sized photos:


Submitted by Nancy Sullivan, Transformations CDC Director.  May 2021

To learn more about the extraordinary work done by the  Transformations CDC Program, check out their Facebook page:



Transformations CDC Says Basta! to Food Insecurity in Westwood
Transformations CDC Says Basta! to Food Insecurity in Westwood 250 246 Episcopal Community Ministries

Food Distribution in Westmont, Police Visit
An Update from the director of Transformations DCD

Working with local immigrant leadership, Transformations CDC met with police and the immigrant community over the summer and fall on the Basta! Project, aimed at preventing violence against immigrants in Price Hill.  Several Basta! Meetings at St. Lawrence Square and later at the Autumn Woods apartments on Westmont enabled more conversation about the needs of our neighbors.

Food insecurity is a perennial issue for many low wage earners, especially if they are immigrants, because neither adults nor children qualify for SNAP, (food stamps).  Because Westmont Drive, (off of Wyoming Avenue), is off the bus line, residents without cars often can’t get to local pantries if they are in need.  Maybe another application of “Basta”, which means, “stop it, enough already”, could be to say NO to hunger.

Transformations CDC teamed up with the food ministry of the bilingual Episcopal church, The Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, to bring the food to Westmont, since residents couldn’t easily get to the pantry. A number of future leaders of the neighborhood, immigrant and US born, helped out the adults by organizing the food, passing out masks and helping people register.

Several kids from the church, who are also Hispanic and live in the neighborhood, as well as two other boys from the Learning Club, volunteered in the event, as did two adult Hispanic members of the church.  It was a really successful day.

We were also fortunate to have Sergeant Hicks of District 3 come to the event to talk about recent arrest of a young man who confessed to 6 assaults/robberies of immigrants, as well as new and better security cameras in Westmont, etc.

Transformations CDC will continue to offer free food weekly at Westmont for residents who are low on food and struggle to get to the store without transportation.

Submitted by Nancy Sullivan, Transformations CDC Director.  March 2021

To learn more about the extraordinary work done by the  Transformations Program, check out their Facebook page:


Food & Fellowship Nourish the Soul
Food & Fellowship Nourish the Soul 250 246 Episcopal Community Ministries

An update from Connie Elliott on the Church of the Epiphany, Nelsonville Feeding Ministry:

Due to the high level of Covid-19 cases in Athens County we had to suspend our community dinners for several months. Now that the Covid numbers are down, our feeding ministry is once again in full swing.  To use Covid emergency grant funds to best serve our community, we are now doing a second community dinner each month.  Co-coordinator Judi Whitmore and I plan the menu together, pick up the groceries and start preparing the food. Celeste and Jim Parsons, Andrea Wright, Amy Abercrombie, and Bill Bales round out the team who come help prepare, serve, and clean up for the dinners.

We have been doing strictly carry out meals during the pandemic and continue to hand out 90-125 meals at each dinner.  Our meals are usually evening meals (5:00-6:00 pm), however we are planning to do a lunch type handout at our June 8th meal at the city park, which is adjacent to the city swimming pool.  We will do a sack lunch to reach the youth who frequent the city pool and park since the school lunch program will have concluded for the year.  We are pleased with the turn out we continue to have.

Epiphany’s feeding ministry began many years ago to help provide nutritious and delicious meals for neighbors in Nelsonville who are homeless or below the poverty line.  Everyone in the community is welcome.  Parishioners feel that they are obeying Christ’s call to “Feed my sheep”, both physically and spiritually

Celeste Parsons, church treasurer and member of the outreach ministry, reflects on a recent experience from an April community dinner, where their feeding ministry became food for the soul:

You Give Them Something to Eat

It was half an hour after we served the first carryout meal of our twice-monthly free community dinner, and the half-dozen church members who had frantically dished soup beans with ham, salad, cornbread, and canned pears into carryout containers through the initial surge of clients were sitting down enjoying a respite in demand.  From out on the sidewalk, Bill Bales, our deacon, and the greeter for the dinner, called something down the stairs, and I got up to see what was needed.

“This young man wants to go into the church and pray,” Bill said.  “Bring him a mask, please.”

I found our supply of one-use masks, brought one out, and escorted a slender, neatly-bearded man who appeared to be in his late twenties up to the church, leaving him there alone.

After several minutes, hearing some sounds of movement upstairs, I tiptoed up the stairs, finding that the man had walked up near the altar. Hearing me, he went over into one of the choir pews, picked up a prayer book, and sat down.  I went back downstairs. Another few minutes passed, and there was still no word or sign from our visitor.  The church had been robbed before, and although I knew that we left no money in the sanctuary, I was still a little anxious. I went back upstairs and down the aisle to where the young man was sitting quietly.

“Are you looking for some particular kind of prayer?” I asked, motioning to the prayer book.

“I want to find a way to get back with my family, and get myself fixed up,” he replied.  “Is there a minister here?”

“The man who met you at the door is our deacon, but he has a hard time getting up and down stairs.  I lead some of the worship services here–would you like me to find any special kind of prayer?”

“Yes, please.”

I sat down six feet away from him, took a prayer book, and told him there was a prayer I liked to use when I led services.”  I read “For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement” (p. 831 BCP), pausing and inviting him to name anyone specific he wished to pray for.  When I finished, he said, “Could you read that again and explain it to me?  I was listening, but I lost track in the middle.”

So I repeated the prayer, modernizing the language, and following that with “A Prayer attributed to St. Francis” and “In the Evening” (likewise modernized).

“You’re an older, experienced woman,” he said.  “Tell me what you think I should do. I’ve been into addiction, and I’ve tried everything I could think of to get out.  Nothing worked. And I’d like to get back to my family, but I know I’ve hurt them–and they’ve hurt me. What should I do?”

Talk about being on the spot!  Somehow, I didn’t think that encouraging him to try getting into another treatment program would be well received.  I found a few words from the sermon I had read two days before and segued from there to “We all need to listen to each other, try to understand how we are hurting each other, and try to believe in each other.”

He listened with a sweet smile on his face, but he was getting antsy.

“I felt something click right then.  I really did,” he said, standing up.  “Can I take this [the prayer book] with me?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t give you that book.  But there is something downstairs that you can take.  And don’t forget your supper.”

He put the book down, we walked downstairs together, and I searched for a pamphlet.

“Come to church Sunday.  We have services at 9:00 o’clock,” I said.

He smiled again and was gone.

In the sudden silence, I said, “Well, that was different,” and gave a brief recital of what had happened.

“You know,” said Deacon Bill, “If we hadn’t been serving a meal, he never would have come into the church.”

Note:  Church of the Epiphany, Nelsonville was awarded a ECM grant in February 2021 to supplement their Summer 2020 emergency Covid-19 grant.


Submitted by Connie Elliott and Celeste Parsons, April 2021.

Transformations CDC Learning Club Enjoys Winter Wonderland
Transformations CDC Learning Club Enjoys Winter Wonderland 225 227 Episcopal Community Ministries

Transformations/Transformacion CDC began as an outreach ministry of Church of Our Saviour | La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati.  Formed to help their asylum seeking neighbors, primarily in Price Hill, Transformacion provides a myriad of direct service to undocumented immigrants and US children of immigrants including food, educational resources, emergency assistance and legal support.  Their mission is to build bridges to recovery, restoration, and self-reliance for persons who have struggled to survive and find their way out of oppressive poverty.

As director Nancy Sullivan observed, so often they do a lot of painful work addressing community issues including assaults on immigrants, drunk-driving, domestic violence, and Covid-19 related issues.  However, an important aspect of the Transformacion mission is building community and nurturing children through out-of-school enrichment activities. She was delighted to share a joyful story full of fun this February as the world was transformed into a winter wonderland:

We’ve had our Learning Club on hold for the last 11 months, but we check in with many of the kids and their families very frequently.

We had our first field trip last weekend.  Six adults, including three members of St. James Westwood and two members of Our Saviour/Nuestro Salvador, took twelve kids, both immigrant and first generation Americans, to go maple sugaring at the Cincinnati Nature Center.

None of the students had boots, so we rounded up enough for them, (although a few fashionistas chose to go without), as well as gloves.  For all of them, it was literally their first chance really playing in the snow (for lack of boots before), although they also enjoyed learning about maple sugaring.  On the way home they were already planning their next trip.  

Some of the students already knew about the idea of maple sugaring, but had never had the experience before, so this was a wonderful way for them to match book learning with in-the-field experience.  The older kids were happy to make snow forts and chase each other around in the snow, the younger ones were busy creating snow people and also making “snow angels” by lying in the snow.  

Thanks to all the donors who helped make this genuinely joyful experience possible!

Nancy Sullivan, Transformacion CDC Director

To learn more about the extraordinary work done by the  Transformations Program, check out their Facebook page: