Mothers Fighting Poverty: Judy Schneider, Akron, Ohio

Leading up to Mother’s Day, the NCC Poverty Initiative is sharing a series of stories lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.

Prayer for Judy: God, thank you for expressing your love through Judy to women in Ohio prisons. Thank you for filling her heart with love of her neighbor, especially imprisoned neighbors we are called by God to visit, despite the fact that they are kept away from mainstream society and so often forgotten by many. When times get tough, fill Judy with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.

Recognized by: Bo Schneider

I would like to honor my wife Judy. She is the mother of three children and raised another boy after his mother died, during her second marriage. She is involved with Kairos Prison Ministry International and as served in Trumbull Correctional, while they housed some women there for a while. While there she realized that the women, receiving State pay of $17.00 a month, were having trouble securing basic items like soap, both bar and shampoo, toothpaste, hygiene products of all kinds. At one point when Ohio’s funds were really at a low point, the women had to purchase their own toilet paper. Judy started seeking help from churches and organizations and twice a year that would supply the 375 ladies their hygiene needs. Trumbull closed their women’s facility and added them to Cleveland pre-release facility. Now, Judy is still helping a total of 580 women; she sees to their needs twice a year. It’s brought quite a few amazing stories. So what do you think about this mother of 4, grandmother of 13, and great grandmother of 5? Happy Mother’s Day, Judy.

Mothers Fighting Poverty: Rhonda Case, Portland, Oregon

ImageLeading up to Mother’s Day, the NCC Poverty Initiative is sharing a series of stories lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.
Prayer for Rhonda: God, thank you for expressing your love through Rhonda to women in Oregon who draw on her to discover their own resilience. Thank you for filling her heart with love of her neighbor. When times get tough, fill her with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.
Recognized by: Karen Hessel, who says “Women in or near poverty takes on many dimensions. Those of who have had to deal with the expenses of the legal system, medical and other unprotected costs can plunge women and families into near poverty quickly regardless of education and skill levels. We are all vulnerable. Thank you for doing this project.
Rhonda Case was an educator for more than 27 years. After more than a decade of struggle with legal and safety issues of protecting her own child from serious harm, she felt “called” to act on her commitment to “bring the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence down to earth with a grassroots pilot project in Portland Oregon as a way of transforming our family’s sorrow and suffering into healing for others by working to affect urgently needed social change.”  A colleague in Oregon, whose organization won a Gloria Award in May 2012, and has now become a part of Portland” Communities Inspired to SAIV, wrote, ” You are one of those people whose entire life is a contribution to the cause!”
Rhonda Case deals with issues of child protection from abusive parents, spousal and intimate partner abuse, and all related issues both in terms of protective services and public policy and training in the faith community. Her volunteer leadership in 2012-13 led to the creation of a successful pilot project bringing together faith based and community groups for strategic prevention and healing as a goal; seeking to eradicate intimate violence by transforming the societal structures from which it arises. Rhonda has served as SAIV Liasion, building communities of mutual support for strategic collaboration through “Portland: Communities Inspired to SAIV”.   This new collaborative has formed mutual partnerships to protect the human rights of women children and other oppressed groups whose rights continue to be trampled by violence that is economic, social and personal. SAIV, Portland, offers a way of empowering those whose basic human rights have been violated through intentional connections of key community people engaged in preventing and stopping intimate violence.
Rhonda Case has become a key leader to stop intimate violence in collaboration with faith communities and related non-profits through her partnership with SAIV. She deserves affirmation for her bold leap of faith to risk all for the sake of her “call” to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with her God. We are grateful that she continues with energy, intelligence, imagination and love to reach out to those who can share in this work in ways that are effective and may possibly lead to actual employment in her new vocation (as the scarce personal resources she has garnered are tapped dry). Her resilient spirit inspire me to believe that this is indeed possible!    Happy Mother’s Day to Rhonda Case!
DVMothersDay

Mothers Fighting Poverty: Rev. Traci Blackmon of St. Louis, Missouri

ImageLeading up to Mother’s Day, the NCC Poverty Initiative is sharing a series of stories lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.

Prayer for Traci: God, thank you for expressing your love through Traci to the St. Louis community in so many ways. Thank you for filling her heart with love of her neighbor. When times get tough, fill her with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.

Recognized by: Dr. Deborah Krause and Dr. Martha Robertson, Eden Theological Seminary

Rev. Traci Blackmon is a pastor ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal church and the United Church of Christ, a licensed registered nurse, and a mother of three. She currently serves as the 18th installed and 1st woman pastor in the 156 year history of Christ the King United Church of Christ. Rev. Blackmon uses her access to the profession of health care to connect people living in poverty in St. Louis, Missouri with free access to healthcare – delivering thousands of free flu shots to different centers around St. Louis each year. (This year we offered the shots in the Eden Chapel and over 500 people were served!)

As a licensed Registered Nurse with over 25 years experience in health care, Reverend Blackmon is employed as the Coordinator of faith-based initiatives for BJC HealthCare and as a senior consultant with The Praxis Group, LLC.  Reverend Blackmon has created and facilitated capacity-building workshops on such complicated issues as racism; sexism; heterosexism; classism; interfaith dialogue; congregational grief and domestic violence.

In addition to her work in community health care, Traci’s congregation offers many resources to the families and children of St. Louis – empowerment for young women and girls, an oratory contest to inspire and challenge children, many education programs, and employment help. It is a church with a real passion for social justice.

ImageFinally, Traci is one of the organizing leaders that is bringing Magdalene House to STL which is a transitional and empowerment program to help women move out of sex work and off the streets.

Traci is an incredibly powerful leader, and is the mother of three wonderful young adults: Kortni; Harold II; and Tyler Blackmon.

Mothers Fighting Poverty: Rev. Terry Kukuk of Mexico, Missouri

Image

Leading up to Mother’s Day, the NCC Poverty Initiative is sharing a series of stories lifting up, celebrating, and praying for mothers who are fighting poverty and alleviating suffering in their communities.

Prayer for Terry: God, thank you for expressing your love through Terry to the children and families who are hungry in her community. Thank you for filling her heart with love of her neighbor. When times get tough, fill her with your grace and courage. Bless and strengthen her family and her work. In good times and bad, let her life overflow with the deepest joy that only You can give. Amen.

Recognized by: Brad Sheppard, Executive Director, Our House: Caring for Callaway’s Homeless

First Presbyterian Church in Mexico, Missouri has a pastor with a passion for keeping children and families free of hunger. When Rev. Terry Kukuk of Mexico, Missouri learned in the Spring of 2012 that the Buddy Backpack program (which provides food on the weekends for eligible school children) for Audrain County, MO, would be reduced substantially due to the lack of funding, she immediately organized an event that raised over $100,000 for the program. That lead her to a broader concern for hunger in Audrain County. Next, she organized a group of community leaders to launch an effort to bring a new food distribution center (food pantry or bank) to the county; that effort is now underway.