March 15, 2022

Hello Nune,

Before letting you know what Santa Maria is working on, I would like to take a moment to ask you to keep the people of Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers. Not only do we hope for a quick, peaceful resolution to this war, but we honor the courage and resiliency of the Ukrainian people during this devastating time. As Victor Hugo said, “Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.” 

Closer to home, Santa Maria continues honoring the mission of Sisters Blandina and Justina Segale, our co-founders, as we celebrate 125 years of helping families help themselves.

At our Cancer Screening Health Fair last month:

  • We had 46 registrants for the Cancer Awareness portion of the fair, plus about 20 guests, so approximately 66 people now have a notion of cancer awareness.

  • A total of 20 people got COVID vaccines.

  • We served 100 meals to our participants.

  • 17 volunteers served a total of 53 hours between them.

We have also received three generous grants so far in 2022. The Galvin Family Fund Quasi-Endowment awarded Santa Maria funds for our Wellness program and SC Ministry Foundation awarded Santa Maria funds for our Promoting Our Preschoolers program. In addition, Santa Maria was awarded a mini-grant by the Ohio Department of Health’s Vaccine Education and Outreach program to hold two health fairs in February and April. The spring health fair will be held on April 23, 2022 at the Price Hill Recreation Center from 11-2 p.m.

As we prepare for spring to begin in just a few days, Santa Maria has a renewed sense of optimism. We continue celebrating our 125th anniversary this year with three events planned for the summer and fall. Save the dates: June 18 (Summer Safety Fest in Lower Price Hill) and November 3 (Santa Maria's birthday party at the American Sign Museum). Stay tuned to learn more and find out the finalized date for The Sharing Table at ARCO (Price Hill Will) in September!



H.A. Musser, Jr.

President and CEO

Santa Maria Community Services, Inc.

Make a Donation to Santa Maria

Sierra is Putting her Plans into Action with the Help of Santa Maria

Sierra Page is a 24-year-old mother of three boys, ages 3, 2, and 9 months. She is hardworking and motivated with dreams of becoming a Doula/Midwife. Sierra’s Santa Maria Career Coach, Melissa Velez, said that Sierra is driven to make that dream a reality, “She has impressed me since the beginning with her vision for her future and how she is always willing to work together on whatever we need.”

Recently, Sierra found herself struggling, without work, official childcare, or motivation, so she sought Santa Maria’s help. She enrolled in the Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP) program. That’s when she started working with Melissa. “Sierra has shown me that circumstances are only half the battle--motivation and work ethic will always get you far. She is an example to young mothers in Price Hill that your dreams are always worth pursuing,” Melissa said.

With three young children still in diapers, Sierra’s first hurdle was getting assistance with baby needs. Through a partnership with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, Santa Maria was able to provide assistance with diapers and other supplies. After that, and once she was able to obtain stable childcare, Sierra’s next big step was schooling for herself.

Sierra reported that her biggest struggle is with self-doubt. “I doubt myself a lot,” she said. Melissa agreed that self-doubt can be Sierra’s own worst enemy. She said, “I think her biggest barriers are within herself, like motivation and self-confidence.” Sierra puts her children first, Melissa said, and often sets her personal goals aside. But now Sierra is gaining self-confidence, taking control of her future, and is ready to pursue her dream of becoming a Doula/Midwife with Santa Maria’s help.

Sierra recently achieved a major goal along her career path by completing a six-week training program and becoming a certified Doula. Santa Maria was able to pay for her Doula certification through funds from Project Lift. Project Lift is a United Way program that helps families remove barriers to securing sustainable income and achieving financial stability. Sierra credits Melissa with helping her achieve her career objectives. “My coach has been truly amazing and very helpful with me achieving my goals, and helping get into classes,” she said.

“Santa Maria had helped me a lot because it finally helped me put my plans into action,” Sierra said. She credited Santa Maria with giving her the little extra push that she needed. “Without them I don’t know when I would have started because I am a big procrastinator.” Sierra and Melissa are now weighing Sierra’s options and will eventually be looking into nonprofits or Community Health organization where she can put her new-found education and skills to work. Perhaps Sierra may even want to be self-employed and have her own Doula/Midwife business! With a fourth child on the way, Sierra is certainly well-prepared!

Santa Maria has helped hundreds of deserving youth like Sierra work toward their dreams. Please help us continue our mission by donating to Santa Maria Community Services at santamaria-cincy.org/donate/

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Blair Schoen Reflects on her Over 40 Years of Service at Santa Maria Community Services for its 125th Anniversary

I have worked at Santa Maria and served the Price Hill and Lower Price Hill communities for over a third of Santa Maria’s 125 years, and during that time I’ve felt uplifted and inspired by the many remarkable people and cultures I met along the way. 

I grew up learning from the people of Lower Price Hill, and indeed, felt energized every day by the community leaders and young people who lived in the neighborhood. I worked with a team who felt the same way, and we were able to collaborate with community leaders to see amazing results. One such event, ultimately becoming an annual tradition, was the Lower Price Hill Appalachian Minifestival, proudly organized by community leaders, musicians, craftspeople, and the Lower Price Hill Mothers’ Club (Blair is pictured with Jim Holmstrom, above). 

At the same time, I was able to carry out my job advocating for teenaged girls in the neighborhood. Out of that work emerged the need for support for teenaged mothers, and thus, the Mothers-Toddlers Group of Lower Price Hill was born. The Mothers-Toddlers Group had a life of its own and was again the product of a collaboration between community leaders. An entire series of projects, and even a community center, grew out of the Mothers-Toddlers Group, and many long lasting relationships. 

I recently spent some time catching up with one of my (s)heroes, a young mom who, at that time, joined the group for young mothers and their children, referred because her new baby was failing to thrive and the relationship with the baby’s father had become violent. That young mom became the corner stone of the group, and she, like many of its members, slowly conquered her demons and began to flourish. She became an administrative assistant at Santa Maria (happily, MY administrative assistant!) and eventually a home visitor in our Every Child Succeeds program. Her life was and at times continues to have challenges, but she remains my hero – calm, intelligent, witty, a proud mother of three wonderful daughters.

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