Echoes of the Government Shutdown

A deeper dive into what the Government Shutdown means for individuals living in poverty.

Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the Government Shutdown. To the government workers who aren’t getting paid, the folks not receiving government benefits, the landlord whose tenants can’t make rent, we see you.

Consider this example of what our neighbors are facing: A single mother, Amanda, has 3 kids, is working full time earning $24,000/year. She qualifies for food assistance and rental assistance which helps but she’s still responsible for a portion of her rent and by the end of the month typically runs out of food benefits as she’s feeding growing boys. Studies show that towards the end of the month, the calorie consumption per household lowers due to higher spending habits when benefits are first received. Moms like Amanda are already sacrificing to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for 1 in 3 of our neighbors right here in Cincinnati. Poverty is alive in our city, in our state and across our country. Due to the Government Shutdown, the state of Ohio allocated February’s food benefits earlier than normal just yesterday, Wednesday, January 16th in order to ensure everyone receives their February food allotment. This means that the amount received must last through February, or potentially longer should the Government Shutdown continue. And it’s unclear if families will receive March assistance. For individuals who are focusing on the short-term the ramifications over just a month’s time could be radical.

SmartMoney financial counselor, Michelle Abernathy says,  “If the government shutdown goes until April then people will need to start thinking about their food budget for the next 90 days and what that looks like. Additionally, if they are receiving section 8 housing vouchers, they have to be thinking about how are they going to pay the full rent and budget for the same amount of food.”

In this hypothetical situation, Amanda is responsible for paying $620/month for rent because her housing voucher covers $380/month.But without this voucher she’s required to pay the full $1000 rent for the month of February. This is 50% of what she makes monthly (before taxes) and on top of that she’s faced with also not receiving her food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According the US department of Agriculture,  Amanda receives $642/month in food assistance based on her family size. So, without Government benefits, Amanda is now responsible for an additional $1,022 in monthly expenses. And that’s just food and rent.

Many times, when individuals are focused on surviving day to day or pay check to paycheck, they can lose site of the bigger picture for future. Whether that’s saving to build assets, furthering their education, or simply doing homework with your kids, when stress from financial constraints enters a home, so much more than a bank account suffers.

If you or someone you know is being affected by the Government Shutdown, CityLink has resources to support them in learning how to stretch their finances, employment supports and even pathways to new careers to change their trajectory.

Amidst all the chaos happening in our government, we are hopeful. Please join us in praying for the leaders of our nation to reach an agreement, for individuals who are out of work, and for others affected in ways we can’t always see.

Tidying Up

“My mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying” – Marie Kondo

By now, you probably have heard of the new Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her philosophy is simple, if something you own no longer sparks joy within you then it’s time to say thank you and goodbye. To get a better idea of what we’re talking about check out this trailer:

If you feel so inspired to “Marie Kondo” your closet (yeah, we made that term up)  we are happy to take those items that no longer spark joy off your hands. Because maybe, just maybe they will spark joy for someone else. It’s a win, win.

Donating to Clothing Connection is easy, simply drop off your items during CityLink Operating Hours. We’ll provide you a receipt of your donation. We can also organize a clothing drive for your business, church, or organization with you. If interested, click here. Please note, the clothes that work best for our clients are professional attire and winter coats.

Happy Decluttering!


Thankful for Abundance

We’ve got a ton to be grateful for here at CityLink Center, but most of all, we’re thankful for God’s abundance. CityLink is a place where hope overflows. Where hundreds of volunteers serve selflessly, and thousands of clients are chasing down their dreams. We’re a place where hundreds of people, churches, businesses and foundations give of their resources to make all of it possible without a penny of government support. Abundance at every turn, unearned, undeserved, and yet, always there. May you and your families be blessed this Holiday season as you ponder the sweet abundance in your midst.


Pati Payne

It’s with a heavy heart that we share the news that our friend Pati passed away last week. Pati was one of our dedicated volunteers serving over 400 hours on our hospitality team. Her warm smile and calm demeanor touched the lives of so many.

We’ll especially miss her signature “how’s you” greeting on Thursday afternoons. Pati, you will be deeply missed. Thank you for leaving a mark on so many of us here at CityLink Center.

Condolences may be shared with the family through,

Help When I was at my Worst

Being a single Dad of a 4 year old starting preschool isn’t easy. Without the support Dustin received he tells us that his daughter would have experienced more trauma. This wasn’t the life he imagined for his daughter so he decided to do something about it. 

With an army of support, Dustin has landed a job to help provide for his daughter, Vivienne. And we couldn’t be more excited for him. After he rang the bell declaring his new employment, Dustin shares with how his CityLink Family has helped him along the way…

“Brian with Catholic Charities has been a big help with working through being a positive structured father to Vivienne. Amanda, Tamiko, Derrell, Belinda, Christina, Nina, Carol, basically everyone in Cincinnati Works have been pro team Dustin from the beginning. Everyone at Children, Inc. are awesome kind-hearted people. The volunteers at the front desk are always smiling when I walk into the building. The whole atmosphere and interactions with everyone at CityLink is positive and up lifting. Monica is my service coordinator, Rachel has been my number two.”  

After a Clothing Connection appointment on Tuesday, Dustin will be off to work equipped what he feels is a foundation for his daughter’s life, the mentality of taking each day as it comes, and resting in knowing that his faith and his support system will be there for him as he keeps working on his goals. He leaves us with the sentiment “I am very thankful to have help when was at my worst”. We can’t wait to see how the choices that you’ve made over the past couple months shape your future and Vivienne’s too. Well done Dustin, we’re so proud of you. 

MashUp 2018

Your eyes, ears and taste buds will be taken on an epic adventure through four separate live performances featuring unexpected combinations of music, art and dance. Plus, a hero inspired art project our guests (thats you!) help create. All of this mashed up with amazing food and adult beverages from some of the city’s hottest venues! 

Early Bird Tickets: $40 extended through September 14th!


Pre-Sale Tickets: $45 through October 5th

Door Tickets: $50 (if not sold out… and this event sells out!)





Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Social OTR

CityLink continues expanding to support more of our neighbors on their journey to reaching their full potential.

Our latest partnership, a culinary training program partners life skills from CincinnatiWorks, SmartMoney, CPS, Catholic Charities with industry training from Findlay Market.  Student cooks will spend four weeks in our classroom kitchen at CityLink Center, followed by a 3 month apprenticeship in the kitchen of Social OTR.

“Social OTR is more than just the name of the restaurant, it’s tied to the philosophy of both the eatery and the program behind it, which will partner with CitLink to train up people who might otherwise experience high barriers to employment to work in Cincinnati’s kitchens.”

The goal is to have the restaurant up and running in a couple months at the 1819 Elm Street location. Read more about this exciting partnership in this article recently released by Cincinnati Business Courier.

You can get engaged in Social OTR through the kickstarter campaign which will provide meals for targeted community members and offer you some great perks too….then stay tuned for the program launch in October and restaurant launch in December.

Called to Serve

Julie had a clear calling from God when she first came to CityLink – she was meant to pursue a career in ministry; however, she felt like she was stuck in limbo. She knew she had a calling from the Lord, but wasn’t sure where to start. She came to the career fair at CityLink, which was hosted by Cincinnati Works in May, to figure out how to begin her career. After visiting many potential employers, Julie decided to become a client and engage in Cincinnati Works’ Jump Start class to brush up on her resume building, interview, and networking skills.

Julie says that the Jump Start class built up her self-confidence and taught her useful interview skills that she wouldn’t have otherwise known. She also enjoyed meeting and networking with everyone else in the class. She adds that the skills she learned from this class have been very helpful, and that she will definitely use them to present herself to future employers.

Outside of class, Julie engaged in a multitude of services. She attended women’s group and bible study, utilized the drop-in childcare services at VISIONS Early Learning Center, and was even able to make dental and optical appointments for her entire family. Her children received much-needed dental procedures, and her fiancé was even able to receive a new pair of glasses.

The client-centered model of CityLink has been incredibly helpful for Julie and her family, especially since they are limited to one vehicle. She says that it is a huge time saver to be able to bring her family to dental and optical appointments in the same building where she is already engaging in classes.

Now that Julie has graduated Jump Start, she plans to become ordained and begin her career in ministry. Her biggest goal, she says, is to give back to the community and help anyone who needs help. Once her career takes off, she has goals of eventually starting her own ministry.

Trust in God’s Provision

Imagine you’re back in grade school… You know that feeling on the last day right before summer break? You’re so excited for the adventures but there is a twinge of sadness to say goodbye to the teachers you’ve gotten to know so well? Well that’s exactly how we feel when a class of Per Scholas students graduate and move on into the wonderful world of IT. But man, when they come back to visit it is simply a blast to catch up.

2016 Per Scholas graduate David (left)  recently stopped down to say hello (and goodbye) right before his flight to New Mexico! That’s right- David has accepted a position at Fluent Health. He’s pumped not only to continue to thrive in his work life (not to mention the bump in pay) but also get out there and enjoy that Albuquerque scenery!   

The grind that Per Scholas students put in day in and day out for 10 weeks is inspiring to watch. We love watching the progression of each class. Every 10 weeks we watch individuals transform their thoughts and feelings of self doubt and stress into confidence and victory.

When we find ourselves trapped in the fog of life it is easy to focus on the negative. But when clients like David show up two years later, we are reminded of God’s provision. We are reminded that a 10 week class everyday isn’t easy and stress isn’t fun.  When we are in it, in the ‘muck’, it’s all we can see. Yet, He still says “Trust Me” and when we do, when we get through it, like David did, God smiles down as says “I told you” and that my friends is a beautiful thing.

Good Luck, Doug!

Last Thursday, June 21st we celebrated Doug Green’s last day as Program Director of Center for Employment Opportunities’ (CEO) Cincinnati chapter. While Doug helped launch CEO, Cincinnati in March 2017, he’s been a part of the CityLink family since the doors opened in 2013, working previously at Cincinnati Works.

CEO is a national organization that offers comprehensive employment services exclusively for people with criminal records. CEO’s model is based on a highly structured program of life skill education, short-term paid transitional employment, full-time job placement and post-placement services.

 Doug joined CEO’s mission with a heart for serving returning citizens; a space he’s been passionate about for some time.  Thursday he shared that he began this work with the hope of starting something he could leave behind for his children and the next generation to continue. “I knew there were things that I could accomplish and things that I couldn’t,” Doug said, “Those things unaccomplished go on to my children to accomplish and create a legacy for themselves to pass on to their children.”

Doug leaves CEO to continue pursuing this passion by starting a construction company that will serve as a second-chance employer to those with a criminal background. 

We are beyond grateful for the time, energy, patience, and persistence Doug has poured into hundreds of clients lives. He has helped plant a seed of hope and grace in this city and we pray God will continue to bless his path.