Travel Log: Cleveland
Sister Robbie Pentecost, OSF
October 20, 2018
The journey of Nuns on the Bus is all about lifting the stories of real lives, concrete challenges, responsible programs and policies that support them. What we heard at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) in Cleveland broke our hearts but lifted them up to the abundant possibilities for good. This is Tricia’s story:
“I have lived a pretty normal life. Two active children and a house with the white picket fence. My son is a soccer star. My daughter is involved in cheerleading. You could say I was the typical soccer mom. I had a good job with benefits. Then the fateful day came when the sheriff came to the door. Our house was being foreclosed on. I was frantic. After I got myself together I went into the boxes in the basement that contained our financial papers only to discover that my husband had not been paying anything. I couldn’t believe it. What I discovered was that he had a gambling addiction and had emptied our banking account. How could I not have known about this? Then I made a very bad decision — I embezzled funds from the company I worked for. This landed me in federal prison. But with the help of Lutheran Metro Ministry (LMM)I have possibilities for my future!”
Tricia’s story is only one of many that Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry has transformed through its incredible programming. Through its innovative Chopping for Change Program, LMM collaborates with the Ohio prison system to prepare motivated female inmates to enter the workforce after they have served their time. While only two years old, Chopping for Change has served 100 women and had a 90% graduation rate and a 95 % non-recidivism rate.
Chopping for Change not only gives participants an intensive training and certification in food services, but also provides job readiness skills such as resume writing and interviewing. Perhaps its most essential component is the 3-month therapeutic phase which includes a creative element. In addition to Chopping for Change (a workforce development initiative) LMM also operates a large shelter for men and helps coordinate available shelter space, an adult guardianship program, youth services, and a health and wellness program.
Not only does Chopping for Change impact the women in the training program, it also impacts others in the Cleveland community. Through its culinary arts program, the women help feed over 2,000 a day for the homeless and in the summer an additional approximately 7,500 lunches for kids.
The success of this program has garnered the attention of an independent film production company who is working on a documentary that will feature some of the women we met. It will air next year.
Not only were tears shed by those of us on the tour, but we were encouraged by the dedication and commitment of everyone involved. It is programs such as these that propel Nuns on the Bus to get on the road as such programs depend on federal, state and local funding. Most importantly, they are effective!
Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry is an example of the responsible programs that need responsible revenue to continue. These very programs are most at risk of being defunded by the GOP tax bill. Who We Elect Matters!