The Frankfort Resource Office for Social Ministries (ROSM) is the 2020 recipient of the Frankfort Interfaith Council’s Ruby Layson Award.
The award is “for promoting interfaith qualities of justice, compassion, and human kindness.”
Layson helped establish the interfaith council in 2013. She was a journalist, educator, environmentalist, world traveler, tireless worker for peace and equality, and a devoted member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. She died of cancer in 2017 at age 89.
The award in two previous years was presented at the interfaith council’s annual summer picnic at Cove Spring Park. But the council voted to cancel this year’s community picnic because of coronavirus restrictions and precautions.
So in late August, council Chairman Rich Green presented the plaque to ROSM Executive Director Cindy Owen at her office, and both wore masks at the ceremony. Then council member Nathan Rome created a premiere video of the award presentation — shown virtually Aug. 31 on the interfaith council’s Facebook page. The video remains available on the council’s Facebook page and website.
At the virtual gathering on Facebook, Green said Ruby Layson and other founders of the interfaith council “adopted The International Charter for Compassion as the operating guide for our council. The Charter for Compassion is based on the Golden Rule — ‘Do for others what you would have them do for you’ — a belief wholeheartedly professed by all world religions.”
The interfaith council has members from the Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha’i and Unitarian Universalist religions.
ROSM coordinates the charity work of many local churches, organizations and agencies.
“ROSM and their supporters are where the rubber hits the road every day in taking care of our brothers and sisters in need,” Green said. “Their boots-on-the-ground contributions showcase the compassion enshrined in the Charter for Compassion.”
Owen said ROSM is a non-profit agency that partners with local area individuals, churches, agencies, businesses, and city and county governments to meet the needs of individuals and families in Frankfort and Franklin County.
“ROSM’s mission is to help people in emergency situations maintain stable living conditions,” she said. “When unforeseen circumstances create an emergency that presents individuals and families from being able to maintain stability on their own, ROSM assists by paying bills and/or providing referrals for other available assistance that will help them in their efforts to sustain themselves.
“ROSM can only assist individuals and families because of all the generous supporters who contribute to ROSM. Since January 2019, ROSM has received funding from three grants, 18 organizations, agencies and businesses, 24 churches, and 108 individuals.”
Owen said ROSM is fortunate to have generous volunteers.
“Kathy Carter, a former ROSM board member, has assisted with several needed matters, various individuals have donated office supplies, and (Cindy's husband) Ken Owen has donated his time and talents for information technology issues. We are very humbled by the generosity of so many.”
In the early 1980s, churches began to realize people in need were contacting several different churches for assistance, and one church would not know that another church had already provided help. The Frankfort/Franklin County Ministerial Association discussed the matter, and in 1982 established ROSM to act as a clearinghouse to receive, review, and assist Frankfort and Franklin County residents in emergencies regarding essential needs; and to pay the service provider directly instead of giving money to individuals.
The churches provided funding and began submitting applications to ROSM, and ROSM staff would communicate decisions to churches.
Today, ROSM works with 26 churches and agencies that submit applications for client assistance. ROSM has become a partner with the churches and agencies to offer assistance to local residents, “and has expanded service to include referrals for services not provided by ROSM,” Owen said. “ROSM also works with the Franklin County Emergency Food Pantry.
“On a daily basis, the ROSM staff processes food orders, reviews and completes assistance requests, makes referrals, and answers questions.”
ROSM also creates and maintains budgets, pays bills, balances accounts, writes reports and prepares for board meetings.
ROSM is governed by an 18-member board chaired by Dr. John Opsata, minister of First Christian Church. In addition to Owen, the financial administrator is Jane Orr, and operations administrator is Sara Barker. They’re all part-time employees, and they conduct all the business of ROSM.
The first director, the late Alene Ransdell, served more than 30 years. The late Danny Garland followed Ransdell, and Owen has been director two-and-a-half years.
For more information on ROSM, go to rosmfrankfort.org.
“It’s an honor for us to recognize ROSM with the Ruby Layson Award,” said Jim Jackson, one of the founders of the interfaith council. “Cindy, you and your staff, your board and ministerial association all work as a team. You provide tremendous services in our community. This is our opportunity to recognize you for that, so thank you.”