I do what I can, but mostly I just BE.
Onie Johns grew up on a farm in rural Mississippi, and although she lived in the suburbs for most of her adult life, it was in the city of Binghamton, TN that her understanding of the word "neighborhood" was born.
In 2000, Onie co-founded a non-profit, intentional Christian community called the Caritas Community. Caritas is a Latin word that means, "love for all people," a philosophy Onie holds close to her heart.
Later that year she put her faith into action when she moved from the suburbs to the inner city to be a ministry of presence in the neighborhood. Someone once asked Onie what she hoped to accomplish by moving into Binghamton; she replied, "Whatever I can!" Her devotion to the neighborhood and to the friends she has made there is still based on that simple wisdom…."I do what I can, but mostly I just BE."
In 2006 she founded The Caritas Village, which is a community center, coffee shop, and cultural art center located in the heart of Binghamton. The mission of the Village is to break down the walls of hostility between the races, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those less fortunate, and to provide a positive alternative to street corners for the neighborhood children.
Caritas Village is not easily described; it has to be experienced. Everybody eats at the Village regardless of their ability to pay. The Village offers an after-school program, a free medical clinic, an art gallery, art workshops, and yoga, and is a venue for the Latino cultural arts center. The true beauty of the Village comes from the faces of the people who are drawn to it. Some people come to give, and some come to receive - but all are touched by the feeling that is Caritas.
Onie is an advocate for youth justice, and over the years she has mentored pregnant teens, provided spiritual and psychological support for persons living with AIDS, and has helped terminally ill patients reflect on their life and record their stories.
Onie is a woman who believes in the power of consistently showing up, and she encourages and empowers those around her to discover and share their own gifts. Her friend Christy Waldkrich will be joining her on the cruise.