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about us

Festa's logo

Our Mission

Ending poverty through life-changing relationships with neighbors and God.


While Festa isn’t an acronym, it helps us tell our story.




We rally over 1,000 community members every year and equip them to serve our neighbors.




We provide multi-generational educational support to help entire families escape the poverty cycle.




We strive to serve healthy meals to children all year round.




We document and teach other communities what we do and how we do it to expand and serve more people.




We help those in our community by giving them a hand up and not a hand out.

Our Vision

Festa is the catalyst bringing the community together to be a place where:

No child experiences the hopelessness of hunger.

Families working their way out of poverty are connected to resources that will meet their basic needs, so hope is restored, families are stabilized and community is built.

Local neighbors and churches partner to demonstrate the gospel through their service and by building relationships with people in need.

Staff and Board Members

Central Staff

Kim Emch

Founder and Executive Director

Jean Griffith

Director of Programs

Susan Drake

Director of Operations

Erin Arnett

Donor Relations Coordinator

Lydia Emch

Marketing Communications Manager

Emily Pierce

Senior Programs Manager

Karen Rogers

Program Manager

Tallia Booker

Executive Assistant

Tracy McManamon

Office Manager / Administrative Assistant to Programs

Carolyn Dubois

Programs Associate

Governance Board

Guru Vasudeva

Board Chairman
Senior Vice President and CIO, Program & Application Services, Nationwide Insurance

Neil Lynch

Board Member, Treasurer
JPMorgan Chase (Retired)

Michael Stauffer

Board Member
Director, Valuation and Analytics, American Electric Power

Dr. Hanadi Altawil

Board Member
Grand Canyon University, PhD
Faculty, Columbus State Community College
Faculty, Ohio Dominican University

Kim Emch

Board Member
Founder and Executive Director, Festa

Dr. Kevin Dixon

Board Member
Vice President, Community and Cultural Engagement, Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (Retired)

Melissa Johnson

Board Member
Vice President & Operating Partner, Cameron Mitchell Premier Events
Community Relations, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

Nina Spadafore

Board Member
Financial Director, Crane Group


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Strategic Advisors

Cameron and Molly Mitchell

President and Founder of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

Tom Lennox

President and Founder of DIB Brands
Former Chief Executive and Founder of Pelotonia

Larry and Linda Abbott

Advisory Team

Anne Remias

Human Resources Director
Copper Run Capital

Jim Swearingen

Founder City Vision
Christian Community Development
Association Advisory Board

Chris Nemeth LISW-S

Nemeth Counseling and Consultation

Jeff Marian

Senior Pastor
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

Tim Harman

Senior Consultant
Workforce Innovation Center

Glennon Sweeney

Senior Research Associate, Food Justice and Community Assessment and Metropolitan Change
Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

Wally Martinson

Area Director
Mission Increase Central Ohio

Kitty Allen

President, Primemovers
Owner, Built to Lead-The Allen Group

The Launch of the 3-Generation Family ESL Program

Kim learned of an existing partnership between Hilliard United Methodist Church and a local technical school who had been working together to teach English to adults for the past ten years, with 55 adult students participating in 2008.  Kim headed a children’s program, serving infants up through children in eighth grade, to the adult English program to create the very first 3-Generation Family ESL program. The student population quickly expanded and more than doubled – 121 adults were attending regularly by January 2010.

Festa (formerly Serving Our Neighbors Ministries) began running the programming for the entire family – infants through grandparent age. We believe in providing the education each family member needs to taking steps OUT of poverty and go from surviving to thriving. Adults study the English language while children participate in early literacy lessons, reading, math and homework support along with recreational programming.

Children baking
Adults in a group studying
Group of people posing for photo

The First Summer
Lunch Program

On March 3, 2007, our Founder and Executive Director, Kim Emch, prayed to ask the Holy Spirit to “light [her] heart on fire in a whole new way.”  On March 11, 2007, she learned there were 2,158 children in the Hilliard City School District – a suburban town where she lived, worked and her children went to school – who were living in poverty. She was shocked and immediately felt God calling her to love, feed and serve them body, mind and spirit, and to bring the body of Christ alongside her. She recruited eleven volunteers who also felt God calling them to feed His sheep, and together they started a free summer lunch program in their city. They asked everyone they knew to help, and 175 volunteers from the community showed up to serve 2,376 lunches to 246 children facing poverty that summer. It was an overwhelming success, and the Serving Our Neighbors Summer Lunch Camp was born!

No one had ever seen a free summer lunch camp in a suburban town – representatives from the Ohio Department of Education and the USDA even came to see it! That summer was the first hint to the team that poverty was migrating to the first-ring suburbs across the US as urban cities were being gentrified and revitalized.

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