MashUp 2017 Recap

 

MashUp 2017  was bigger and better than ever before. If you were able to join us, you witnessed the stories of some of our clients and just a taste of the work we do. At CityLink, we believe in a reconciled city and that by working together we can transform lives and our community one journey at a time.

Thanks to your generosity, MashUp 2017  raised over $100,000! 

This year’s artistic performances inspired and wowed our crowd of nearly 600! Not to mention perfect weather for our Beer Garden, fire pits and a ton of incredible food and drink from our city’s top destinations.

However the real stars of the night shined bright in our client testimonial video that was featured in our finale performance, Together we Rise. If you missed the event or just want to see the impact our partners and people like you and me are having in the lives of our clients, check it out:

Oh, and check out the sweet art project that you helped create. This piece will help us celebrate some of the milestones and stories that have been written within our walls over the past 5 years:

Join us in thanking God for all that He is doing

Thank you for Clients willing to share their story. 

Thank you for the stories you are writing within our walls.

Thank you that you blessed CityLink with over $100,000 in donations and sponsorships. 

Thank you for 75 volunteers stepping into their serving roles. 

Thank you for 11 food and drink supporters. 

Thank you for performers dedicating their time and talent. 

Thank you for a facility to host a 600 guest event. 

 

 

 

Per Scholas on American Graduate Day

On Saturday, October 14th, the sixth annual American Graduate Day aired on CET, and featured a national segment on the Cincinnati Per Scholas program, a resident partner at CityLink Center. The show ran from 2pm – 6pm, with Per Scholas’ segment airing around 4:20pm.

The American Graduate Day broadcast, which has been on the air since 2012, has traditionally aimed to tell stories and build connections in order to successfully move students from early education through high school graduation. This year, however, was the first year that the show examined post-secondary pathways to success. The focus was on highlighting organizations and programs that equip individuals with skills needed to enter different career paths.

Per Scholas has been a resident partner of CityLink since 2015, and has been opening new doors into the IT world for dozens of unemployed and underemployed adults in Cincinnati each year. Graduates of the program see, on average, a 429% increase in income.

Along with highlighting Per Scholas on a national level, the television program featured Wayne Ivy, the Career Development Director of Per Scholas at CityLink, as an American Graduate Champion. Wayne’s clip focused on the hope that individuals are able to find through Per Scholas, and the success they achieve after graduation.

 

VISIONS Receives 5-Star Rating

 

CityLink’s onsite childcare partner, VISIONS (a subsidiary of Children, Inc.), has been awarded a 5-Star Rating by Step Up to Quality – Ohio’s main rating system created to recognize educational excellence in pre-school and early childhood programs. This is the highest award an early childhood education program can receive in the state of Ohio!

The scoring structure of Step Up to Quality, which ranges from one to five stars, is based on how effectively a center teaches age-appropriate skills, such as learning numbers and the alphabet. A program is considered “quality” if it has a rating of three or more stars. After meeting the requirements for four stars, an organization must meet specific standards to advance to five stars, including lower staff to child ratios, appropriate organizational accreditation, and involvement from parents and local community partners.

VISIONS earned this five-star rating with its personalized curriculum, small class sizes, literacy-rich environments, and teachers’ focus on children’s social and emotional development. As the newest resident partner, they have definitely been a blessing to our clients.

Congratulations to VISIONS for this awesome accomplishment! We salute you for your incredible commitment to quality, affordable childcare.

CityLink at The Ballpark

Boy do we love our CityLink Community. We were reminded of this last month as a group of 120+ Clients, Volunteers, Partners and Staff headed downtown to watch the Cincinnati Reds (believe it or not..) win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rachel and her kiddos (pictured above) were able to experience their first Reds game because of the generosity and engagement of our community. Rachel says she felt very blessed for the opportunity, especially since her son wants to play baseball. She graduated from the Per Scholas program in August. While job searching at CityLink, she happened to notice the flyer for the Red’s game and immediately signed up for tickets.

The game was special for Rachel in more ways than one and says that her son, Daron, is named in memory of an incredible baseball player who lost his life at a young age. Rachel was glad to be able to honor his memory with her children at the game for the first time.

We want to invite you to join our CityLink family because Jesus has called us to live in community and we want you to have the opportunity to be a part of the goodness that is happening all around us.

If you’re interested in becoming a client, give us a call at 513-357-2000 ext 0. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, sign up for an upcoming volunteer orientation here. And for other inquiries email info@citylinkcenter.org.

 

From Struggle to Success

 

During a very stressful time in his life, Charles had been attending Bright Star Baptist Church, led by Pastor Jim Strayhorn, who is CityLink’s Director of Spiritual Growth. Charles was in search for life change, but didn’t know where to start, and felt like he had nowhere to go.

Pastor Strayhorn challenged Charles to check out CityLink in May of 2017 – right when The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) became a resident partner.

CEO is a job-readiness program designed for people with felonies on their records. It focuses on people who have recently been released from prison, and offers a range of comprehensive employment services.Charles immediately became engaged in the CEO program, joining the very first class that was hosted at CityLink. He was touched by how helpful everyone was, and felt comfortable knowing that the staff and volunteers were there to help him throughout his journey.

Just a few months after graduating from the CEO program, Charles received a job as a cook at B&A Street Kitchen located in Over The Rhine. His job even has room for advancement, and Charles looks forward to earning a promotion to Sioux Chef.

“I enjoy working,” he says. “It’s very challenging and fun. It’s fulfilling. I leave there and I can go home with my head held up. I can care for my kids, and my wife looks at me as a provider.”

One of the most exciting things for Charles is that he no longer needs to depend on other people – he now has the means to be self-sufficient.

“CityLink is doing the right thing,” he says. “Door after door keeps opening for me…[CityLink] allowing me the opportunity to change my life for the better has made me a better person.”

Charles stays in contact with his Service Coordinator, and plans to get involved with the SmartMoney program in order to build a budget and save money. He tries to be an advocate of CityLink every chance he gets by recommending the services to people who are looking for holistic life change.

Q&A With Anna Stokes

Anna is here on Wednesday nights helping out with Client Info Sessions by entering new client data, scheduling initial goal sessions, and more! She serves our clients with excellence, and always does so with a smile. If you sign up for the Service Coordinator Support Team’s Skill Set Training, you will get to learn the ropes with her!

We asked Anna a few questions about this team. Check out what she said below!

 

Why do you serve on the Service Coordinator Support Team?

Honestly, I initially chose this position because it was the only one that I could fit with my current schedule, believing that once they added Wednesday evening shadow shifts for hospitality, I would simply switch over. After serving in the role for a few weeks, I was hooked! I get to work with the same core group of volunteers every week, and we have the opportunity to talk and get to know each other, which makes the experience just that much better. The main reason I continue to come back every week is the interaction with clients. You get extended time with them, a majority of them open up about their stories and their goals, and you feel a connection. You can see in their faces and hear in their voices the hope that CityLink brings to them.

What keeps you coming back?

The connections with the staff, volunteers, and clients. I was actually jobless for a few months at the beginning of the year, and the support I received from the other volunteers (and even the clients when I shared my goal was to find a job) was more than I could imagine.

What would you say to someone considering joining this team?

I would tell them that I understand that it doesn’t look like a great position from the description, but to give it a couple weeks. If you don’t see and feel the impact you are making (which I doubt that will happen), then go to another role. I would love to work with you all!

The Service Coordinator Support Team is often clients’ first major experience at CityLink. This team truly serves on the front lines. Thanks for all that you do, Anna!

Are you interested in working with clients as they first enter CityLink? We need you on the Service Coordinator Support team! Email Becky at becky.heisler@citylinkcenter.org to get involved!

Q&A With Shannon Yung

Shannon serves on the Social Events Team, and has been essential in planning some of our social events, including the Zoo Day, which happened in May, and the upcoming Red’s game in September. These events are wonderful opportunities for clients, volunteers, and staff to interact and connect outside the walls of CityLink. Over 90 people attended the Zoo Day and had a wonderful time! We’re looking forward to the upcoming Red’s game!

We asked Shannon a few questions about her experience volunteering at CityLink. Check out her answers below!

 

Why do you serve at CityLink?

I serve because I believe that is what God calls us to do. The invitation was extended, and I accepted!

What keeps you coming back?

I believe CityLink is helping people make significant positive changes in their lives. The hope and connection at CityLink is unlike what I’ve seen at other nonprofit agencies. I believe building into the whole person is what makes CityLink successful, and that really appeals to me.

What would you say to someone considering joining a volunteer team at CityLink?

Don’t hesitate – do it now! There are so many different kinds of roles that can either push your boundaries or fit into your skill sets. The clients, volunteers, and employees are all so wonderful to work alongside that you will be sad to miss the weeks you can’t make it to CityLink.

Any favorite moments at CityLink?

I’ve had the opportunity to serve in a few different roles, and currently I’m involved in the Social Committee. The goal is to bring clients and volunteers together outside of CityLink. In May, we went to the zoo together as a group, and over 90 clients and volunteers showed up. I got to spend a couple hours at the zoo with a client and eight of her grandchildren, and it was so much fun just being able to enjoy life together for an afternoon.

Q&A With Billy Cargile

Billy is one of our faithful, long-time volunteers on the Hospitality Team at CityLink. He volunteers 2-3 times a week at the Welcome Center, where he loves getting to interact with the clients and being able to work with a great team of volunteers. Billy has a huge passion for CityLink’s mission, and for helping folks find a way out of poverty.

We asked Billy a few questions about his experience volunteering at CityLink. Check out his answers below!

 

Why do you serve on the Hospitality Team?

I serve because I want to be where the rubber meets the road – to see clients, greet them, talk to them on the phone and as they come into the center and become clients. I actually ran into some guys I worked with years ago. They asked me what I’m doing, and I said that I’m giving back to the community. I help get people out of poverty.

I call this work. I’m retired, and I could go back to work, but I wanted to do something more meaningful than just make money. I love what I do.

What keeps you coming back?

What keeps me coming back is the clients and the crew – the people that I work with. I truly enjoy giving myself to this community. [Duke Energy] wants me to come back to work, but I choose this place. I can do what I like, too. There’s stress here, but it’s just not the kind of stress that I’ve had my whole life. This is good stress. I love when problems come up that I can solve with the clients. When I was working, I loved the problems too, but they took much more out of me.

Sometimes my heart breaks when I see the situation some of these clients have. I feel like I have to do something.

What would you say to someone considering joining this team?

I would say please join! You’re going to get fulfillment in helping others. You’re going to learn something about yourself in the process. And if you’re here for God’s sake, you’ll get closer to God. You are exposed to the clients. You’ll share with them part of yourself, and they will definitely share with you if they feel comfortable.

At the Welcome Center, Billy fights on the front lines every day. Thanks for all that you do, Billy!

Interested in fighting on the front lines as well? We need you at the Welcome Center! Email Becky at becky.heisler@citylinkcenter.org to get involved!

Keanna Dresses to Impress

Before coming to CityLink, life for Keanna was incredibly stressful. She suffered through drug addictions, time in prison, and separation from her two daughters. While she eventually entered a substance abuse program, she still found herself not knowing where to go in life. It was in that moment that her substance abuse program facilitator recommended CityLink Center.

In June of 2017, Keanna came to CityLink and immediately began engaging in the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) program. As part of CEO’s Life Skills Training course, she was able to receive new interview clothes from Clothing Connection.

Keanna describes Clothing Connection as “fantastic,” saying that the most exciting thing for her was the wide variety of clothes, shoes, and jewelry she was able to try on. She was able to find two outfits, with matching shoes and jewelry, that look fabulous on her!

“I feel like a new person,” she says. “I’m ready to go on interviews and present myself.”

When she graduated from her substance abuse program in August, she was able to wear one of her new outfits to the ceremony. She received compliments on it all night, and says that everyone loved the way she looked!

The services offered at CityLink have changed Keanna’s whole demeanor. “I look forward to going to CityLink every day,” she says. “I brag about it to my family, and I refer a lot of people to CityLink.”

She adds that Clothing Connection has been a huge blessing, and that she is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to go through the program. “I really think other people should try out Clothing Connection,” she says. “My friends who went through it were so happy. They get to go on interviews and people like the way they dress.”

Keanna is still involved with CEO. She is out with the work crews each week, and has recently participated in the panel mock interview. She received outstanding reviews from the interviewers – they were all truly impressed with her interview skills and charisma!

 

Thank you to all of our volunteers who help out with Clothing Connection! You are the reason that stories like Keanna’s are possible!

Want to get involved with Clothing Connection? We need you! To get engaged, contact Becky at beck.heisler@citylinkcenter.org!

Buck’s Journey Started With Faith

A few years ago, CityLink client, Buck, felt a strong calling from God that he and his family were being called to move from Columbus to Florida to start a church. They gave up their house, and Buck left a great job to make the move.  While in Florida, he found a car to drive with Uber, but just one week later, Uber was declared illegal in his city and he found himself unemployed and stuck with a car payment he couldn’t afford. “My family lost everything” he shared.

Buck wound up moving to Cincinnati for a job offer last year, but transportation was still a big concern for his family. When he came to CityLink in December of 2016, he began engaging with SmartMoney Community Services with the goal of going through the ChangingGears program in order to obtain reliable and affordable transportation. ChangingGears was established in 2014 with a mission to provide safe and affordable transportation for those working their way out of poverty.

ChangingGears helps individuals and their families obtain the transportation they need, allowing them to access better employment opportunities, manage family responsibilities, and complete daily errands efficiently. A client’s pathway to ChangingGears is through CityLink’s financial education partner SmartMoney Community Services. SmartMoney provides financial workshops and 1-on-1 financial counseling for CityLink clients to help them become more financially fit while working on long and short term, savings, debt and money management practices and goals.
The integration of services through SmartMoney and ChangingGears,  gives clients the tools they need to make more calculated and responsible decisions with their finances, setting each client up for success as vehicle owners.

In July of 2017, after working closely with both SmartMoney and ChangingGears (including investing “sweat equity” hours in the ChangingGears garage) Buck received the keys to his minivan! Today, he has reliable and affordable transportation with space for his whole family. Buck shared that his van even has enough room for them to go camping! Buck continues to be engaged with ChangingGears, and is optimistic about his future. He says that ChangingGears has been a blessing to his family, and he tells people about the program all the time.

We are proud of Buck for his steadfast determination, even in the face of adversity. Our collaborative partners work together everyday to support people like Buck with various aspects their lives to enable and encourage them towards their goals.