Tony Crosby and Friends to play in concert November 18 at 3pm in the Sanctuary at St. Luke United Methodist Church. The program will feature Epworth UMC pastor, Tony Crosby, and daughter Natalie, along with St. Luke organist, Ken Bailey in concert together. The program will highlight piano, organ, vocal, and classical guitar music with a wide variety of secular and sacred works from both past and present. A love offering will be taken to benefit Open Door’s “Youth in Unison” children’s orchestra program. Tony says “We are excited about making music for you and raising funds to help music be a doorway to success for children.”
Open Door partnered with Mercy Med, Truth Spring, and Pierce Chapel UMC to bring celebrated author Robert Lupton to speak to a capacity crowd at the Trade Center September 6. Lupton spoke about “Toxic Charity,” when churches and charities hurt those they are trying to help and how to reverse it. More than 450 members of the community were in attendance! His inspiring comments suggested ways to serve needy and impoverished members of our community in a way that will lead to lasting change.
More than 100 attendees want to follow up to the event by participating in a “Toxic Charity” book study at Open Door, a “Seeking Shalom” group at Mercy Med, take a tour of the agencies, or all of the above!
We are so thrilled that our community seems hungry for a different way to engage with neighbors living in poverty and that we could be a part of bringing possible solutions.
Join us for a luncheon with author Bob Lupton. Click to reserve tickets.
MercyMed • Open Door Community House • Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church • Truth Spring Thursday
September 6, 2018 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Columbus Convention and Trade Center 801 Front Avenue • Columbus, GA 31901
“Toxic Charity” and “Charity Detox”
Check out the article below written by Open Door Executive Director, Kim Jenkins that was published in The Advocate (from The South GA Conference).
Advocacy: Poverty is Sexist
Each year the Advocacy team selects an area of focus from among the four members’ deepest cares and concerns. This year, the Advocacy team is focusing on ending extreme poverty worldwide.
By Kim Jenkins, Executive Director, Open Door Community House
Women and children disproportionately make up the largest population of persons living in poverty around the world and here at home. Many programs around the globe seek to alleviate the problem by offering, for example, training for women to sell items to earn money for their families, or a gift of animals to raise for milk or meat.
Statistics show and history has proven that poverty is sexist. A family, even entire communities, can be transformed when women are empowered in the home, the marketplace, and in business ownership.
In Georgia, statistics tell the story that poverty is sexist here, too, with nearly 17 percent of women living in poverty compared to 12 percent of men – and we know that the percentage is much higher in many communities in our state. Nearly 40 percent of Georgia families that are working are still living under 200 percent of the poverty line, not enough to provide essentials of daily living without outside financial assistance.
In the United States in 2018, full-time working women earn only about 82 percent of what men in the workforce earn, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Federal poverty guidelines indicate that a family of four must earn at least $50,200 to live at 200 percent of poverty.
Open Door Community House, located in Columbus, Ga., is empowering women to create financial security through employment, training, and the building of social capital or networks of people who can connect to resources including job opportunities that pay a livable wage.
As a National Mission Institution of United Methodist Women, Open Door is committed to long-term solutions to poverty for women, children, and youth. Our mission is to “empower impoverished people in our community to realize their full potential as children of God.”
About 10 years ago, a board member made a profound statement that begged us to examine how we provided services and it changed the course of our ministries. She said, “I was here as a college student serving as a lifeguard when Open Door had a pool. We are now serving fourth generations of those same families.” Instantly, we had the same sinking realization that even though our ministries had changed through the years to accommodate the needs of the community, we were still serving in ways that were not helping people move out of poverty. We were addressing symptoms (food insecurity, unstable housing situations, dependency on government and agency assistance to survive) instead of addressing the root causes of poverty in our area (such as the lack of employment opportunities that paid a livable wage, lack of a high school education or greater). It also was during this time that nearly all of our staff members were saying, “We are seeing the same people for the same things day after day. What can we do differently?”
We believed that for families to change, for our community truly to be able to move beyond poverty, we had to find new ways to empower women and families to become financially secure, find sustainable and supportive community, and be able to hope and dream again.
The board and staff of Open Door spent a great deal of time in Scripture study and prayer. We held visioning sessions around creating shalom in our community. We felt energized and compelled by God to create opportunities for real and lasting change.
The reading of Robert Lupton’s book, “Toxic Charity,” provided us with the language, tools, and structure for long-term transformation. As John Wesley had stated centuries before, Lupton’s most valuable guiding statement is, “Above all, do no harm.” He put into words what so many of us were feeling: the more we do for people, the more dependent on us they become, which in turn often fosters a sense of entitlement. We damage others unintentionally by doing for them what they often have the capacity to do for themselves.
This newfound sense of purpose, identity, and ministry direction led us to become the lead organization in Columbus for Circles in Columbus, part of a national movement to inspire and equip families and communities to thrive and resolve poverty. Circles asserts that responsibility for both poverty and prosperity rests not only in the hands of individuals, but also with societies, institutions, and communities.
We also decided to cease providing a clothing ministry and renovate that physical space into an educational program called The Open Door Institute, providing training in culinary arts, customer service, work readiness, life skills, computer classes, and GED preparation and testing.
Over the years, we at Open Door have continued to adjust our ministries to focus on long-term solutions for women and children to move beyond poverty.
Serving since 1935, Open Door currently provides eight ministries through which women and families find encouragement and restored hope. These include but are not limited to:
- The Mathews Promise Academy: an afterschool and summer program for children who live in homes of low-wealth. Focusing on reading development and academic success, the ministry also provides the Youth in Unison music education program, daily devotionals, Bible study, age-appropriate life skills, recreation, sports, arts/crafts, and educational field trips. Nearly all youth who graduate from our program attend college or enter military service.
- The Open Door Institute: a ministry of education and training to help participants obtain living wage employment. Graduates from the culinary arts program now serve in restaurants, catering businesses or even open their own business. Most all graduates are ServSafe certified which earns them a higher salary. Many serve as assistant managers or sous chefs.
- Circles in Columbus: a program ministry connecting persons living in poverty (the Circle Leader) with volunteers from the community (Allies) who work together to implement the Circle Leader’s plan to move out of poverty. There are currently two Circles sites and three training sites for Circle Leaders. The Circles community also works on a “Big View” issue (a systemic issue in the community that keeps people stuck in poverty). One result of “Big View” at our Open Door location was the implementation of FANN, Friends and Neighbors Network, a food co-op that provides one half to one third of a family’s monthly food needs. This has now expanded into other FANN sites across Columbus through community partners.
- The Virginia D. Jackson Home for Women: the oldest transitional housing program for women in Columbus, the home provides a structured environment for women experiencing homelessness to live for up to one year. During that time, women gain employment, attend school, pay off debt, and work toward their own goal of obtaining and maintaining permanent housing.
- Welcome Home: a rapid rehousing program for women and children experiencing homelessness. Following a “housing first” model, the program works with each woman to reduce or remove existing barriers to housing and long-term financial sustainability.
- Showering Program for the Homeless: this ministry offers daily devotions, Bible study, and basic needs assistance to women and men experiencing homelessness and who are unsheltered, meaning they reside in places like tents or abandoned buildings. The program offers breakfast, a hot shower, hygiene items, barber services, and access to representatives from the Department of Labor, New Horizons, and Veterans Affairs.
We are blessed by partnerships with United Methodist churches and United Methodist Women across South Georgia.
Poverty is sexist. Serving together, we will continue to empower women to hope, dream, feel secure, and move beyond poverty.
Kim Jenkins serves as executive director of Open Door Community House in Columbus. Contact her at 706-323-5518 or email@example.com. Each year the Advocacy team selects an area of focus from among the four members’ deepest cares and concerns. This year, the Advocacy team is focusing on ending extreme poverty worldwide. Learn more about the Advocacy team and its efforts at www.sgaumc.org/advocacy.
The Open Door Classic 5k walk and run to end poverty has raised approximately $80,000 to date with more gifts coming in every day! It was a beautiful day, and we had approximately 500 walkers, runners and volunteers “move to end poverty” and raise awareness of the needs of our neighbors who live in poverty and funds to address those needs—all for the ministries of Open Door Community House.
Congratulations to our award winners!
Pierce Chapel had the most participants with 215 walkers alone!
St. Luke raised the most money to end poverty at $16,740 (with more gifts expected!)
St. Luke School won the spirit award for demonstrating the most enthusiasm. Pictured also are the winners of the Fun Run: 1st, Aaron Dozier; 2nd, Oliver Pendleton; and 3rd, Jake Copeland.
Upatoi UMC won the David and Goliath Award once again for a smaller church who represented in a big way.
John Martin won the award for the individual who raised the most money—almost $11,000! He won the coveted gift certificate from Epic.
We are grateful to all who volunteered, ran, walked, raised funds for us or made a donation. Many thanks to each one of you!
Thank you, Dr. Charlene Black! She selected the ministries of Open Door to be the recipient of the proceeds from her book sales celebrating the ministry of United Methodist Women. Her generous gift will provide the Elizabeth Learning Lab for children and youth served in our Mathews Promise Academy as well as Bibles for distribution by our chaplain. We thank Dr. Black and all who purchased one of her books. The check presentation was made during the South Georgia Annual Conference of the UMC.