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1-10-2022 to 1-15-2022 News Roundup

1-10-2022 to 1-15-2022 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

January is Poverty Awareness Month

January is Poverty Awareness Month 940 788 SVDP USA

According to Poverty USA, more than 38 million people in the United States currently live in poverty.

The month of January is dedicated to bringing awareness to this crucial issue that is at the forefront of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s mission. January is Poverty Awareness Month.

Who Lives in Poverty?

Individuals and families that earn less than the Federal Government’s poverty threshold are considered to be living in poverty. There are two main classifications of poverty:

  • Absolute Poverty: When a household income is below the poverty threshold making it impossible for the individual or family to meet their basic needs including food, housing, safe drinking water, education, healthcare, etc. For those living in absolute poverty, their situation remains unchanged no matter the economic state of where they live.
  • Relative Poverty: The condition in which people are deprived of the minimum amount of income needed in order to maintain the average of standard living in their community. Those that fall in this category have money, but not enough to “keep up with the Joneses.” This type of poverty can change with economic growth in the country. This category, while it may not seem as extreme as absolute poverty, can still be permanent.

Poverty can also be broken into two groups called “Generational Poverty” and “Situational Poverty.”

  • Generational Poverty: A family that has lived in poverty for at least two generations. Those experiencing generational poverty often deal with hopelessness, tend to focus on survival over planning, have different values and patterns than those who have not grown up in poverty.
  • Situational Poverty: A individual or family’s income and support is decreased due to a specific change – job loss, divorce, death, etc. Those coping with situational poverty tend to remain hopeful, considering it a temporary setback.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Poverty in the U.S.

In the years leading up to 2020, poverty had gradually been declining in the United States. In 2019, the poverty rate was at 10.5%, the lowest since 1959. Then, COVID hit.

According to Human Rights Watch, since the start of the pandemic, 74.7 million people have lost work, forcing them to dip into savings, depleting individual reserves.

Census Bureau data shows how households with different incomes are coping with the pandemic and that low-income households are disproportionally struggling for their social and economic needs to be met. Among households with incomes below $35,000, 47% of adults report being behind on housing payments, and 25% say they struggle to put food on the table.

While stimulus checks, and tax credits have offered a little help over the past two years, the problem persists.

SVdP Is Here to Help

Our mission is: “A network of friends, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.”

Vincentians around the world have dedicated themselves to offering our suffering brothers and sisters a hand up in their time of need. Through a combination of spiritual and material aid, we seek to help those suffering from poverty. While we do assist with food and rental assistance – the things you picture those living in poverty to be most desperate for – SVdP’s goal is to help make a “systemic change.”

Systemic Change is a key facet of the Society’s work to end poverty. It goes beyond addressing immediate needs and instead, partners with the poor to identify the root causes of their poverty and remove the barriers that keep people impoverished.

“The money or assistance in-kind that we give to those who are poor will not last long. We must aspire to a more complete and longer lasting benefit: study their abilities … and help them get work to help them out of their difficulties.” – Blessed Rosalie Rendu

To learn more about how SVdP helps those living in poverty, click to visit our website.

Resources for Poverty Awareness Month

Contemplation – To Give and Receive with Joy

Contemplation – To Give and Receive with Joy 940 788 SVDP USA

There is an old saying about gift-giving, that “it is the thought that counts.” In a similar way, the assistance, or gifts, that we offer to the neighbor must be more than “appeals from below,” but instead gifts of true love, of putting the needs of another before our own.

As so often is the case, Blessed Frédéric offers us a wonderful example. On New Year’s Day of 1852, Frédéric was unable to relax and enjoy the day with his family, unable even to eat the candies his beloved daughter Marie offered him. He couldn’t stop thinking of the young family that had sold their chest of drawers, the young mother’s treasured family heirloom, so that they could pay other bills.

When he told his wife Amélie of his desire to bring them the chest as a gift, she reminded him that the husband, suffering some health issues, might not be able to work in coming weeks, and it would be more practical to give them the money that would have purchased the chest in smaller amount in coming weeks.

Although he first agreed that this was indeed practical, he remained unconsoled, explaining to Amélie that even a fraction of what they’d spent on their own amusement and gifts could have brought true joy to that poor family. She agreed, and urged him to go.

Frédéric left his home, purchased the family’s chest, and along with a porter he’d brought with him, delivered it to them. When he returned home, all sadness had left him; his face was glowing with his own joy.

When we make our home visits, we often help the neighbor to prioritize needs, so that we can care for the most urgent of them first. Like Frédéric, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the most urgent needs are not always material; that when we are refreshed by joy and by love, our burdens become lighter.

We are called to form relationships based on trust and friendship with the neighbors we serve; not coldly assess the books, but to seek their good, even before our own. In doing so, we will receive in joy exactly what we give.

It is truly better to give than to receive, and better still to be a cheerful giver. With joy we will drink the waters of salvation!

Contemplate

How can I bring not just assistance, but joy to the neighbor?

Recommended Reading

The Gospel of Luke

Contemplation – The Primitive Spirit

Contemplation – The Primitive Spirit 940 788 SVDP USA

”Ozanam is no longer with us to remind us of our primitive spirit,” remarked President-General Adolphe Baudon after Frédéric’s death in 1853. [Baunard, 407] Indeed, from the Society’s earliest days, Frédéric urged fellow members not to encumber themselves with restrictive or bureaucratic structures, nor to praise ourselves for our accomplishments, which might make us, he explained, “more eager to talk than to act… to forget the humble simplicity which has presided over our coming together from the beginning…” [310, to Amélie, 1841]

He urged his friends to imitate the life of our Patron Saint, “as he himself imitated the model of Jesus Christ.” [175, to Lallier, 1838] It is in imitating Christ that we capture the primitive spirit, the spirit that animated the early church. As Frédéric explained, “the faith, the charity of the first centuries … is not too much for our century.” [90, to Curnier, 1835]

Vincentians seek this primitive spirit by living our Vincentian Virtues, and especially the first three: simplicity, humility, and gentleness. These three, St. Vincent explained, come directly from Gospel teachings, and from the life of Christ. “The first,” he further explained, “concerns God; the second, ourselves; and the third, our neighbor.” [CCD XII:249]

Vincent often said that simplicity was his favorite virtue. In simplicity, we are dedicated to the truth, because God Himself is truth. In serving the truth, then, we serve both God and the neighbor. In serving the neighbor, Vincent taught, “how careful we must be not to appear wily, clever, crafty, and, above all, never to say a word that has a double meaning!” [CCD XII:246] Simplicity is faith, unencumbered.

Our humility reminds us that “all that God gives us is for others and that we can achieve nothing of eternal value without His grace.” [Rule, Part I, 2.5.1] We act as God’s instruments in serving the neighbor, unconcerned with receiving any credit or reward, because all the glory goes to God. Humility is hope, unencumbered.

Finally, we act with gentleness; with a tender love for all of our neighbors, as well as our fellow Vincentians. Gentleness, in our hearts and in our acts, means being kind, being patient, taking no offense when others may return our patience with impatience, our courtesy with rudeness. Gentleness is love, unencumbered.

This simple, humble, gentleness embodies the primitive spirit of the church and of our Vincentian vocation, as it was in the beginning, unencumbered.

“For God is especially pleased,” Frédéric wrote, “to bless what is little and imperceptible: the tree in its seedling, man in his cradle, good works in the shyness of their beginnings.” [310, to Amélie, 1841]

Contemplate

How can I unencumber the primitive spirit in my service and in my Conference?

Recommended Reading

‘Tis a Gift to be Simple

Disaster Services Corporation Update Regarding Recent Tornado Outbreak

Disaster Services Corporation Update Regarding Recent Tornado Outbreak 940 788 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentians,

Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) is coordinating its response to the recent devastating tornado outbreak in six states with its South Central, Midwest, North Central, Mideast, and Southeast Disaster Representatives which are part of the DSC Board’s Disaster Operations Committee. DSC is monitoring to meet the needs of survivors by working through state, local, and tribal governments and is actively coordinating with affected states to address unmet needs. We are on daily VOAD calls and conducting Coordination Calls with the Disaster Reps in the regions where the tornados hit.

DSC works through its Disaster Operations Committee and its Regional Committee Members for all disaster relief and recovery efforts. Our Regional Disaster Reps work with their local Vincentian Councils and Conferences, the local Diocese, and the state VOADs to determine the unmet needs of the impacted disaster areas. Disaster recovery takes years, and it is important to have funding for the second stages of disasters like the Parish Recovery Assistance Centers (PRACs) which help disaster survivors get registered for state and federal benefits and where Vincentians can provide spiritual and emotional care. DSC will be providing Rapid Response Grants to Councils that have unmet needs and are working to help their Diocese recover from this very tragic series of tornados.

Please continue to pray for all the families impacted by disasters during this Advent Season and if possible, please volunteer or donate to the relief efforts.

DSC Response Actions 

  • Damage assessment teams, additional staff, and resources are positioned and ready to deploy to Kentucky or any other affected areas.
  • DSC is in contact with state VOADs and state emergency management officials as tornado damage reports come in from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee.
  • Working with the National Council to ensure funds are available for Rapid Response Grants.

Staying Weather Aware and Safe Before, During, and After Tornadoes 

Residents from east-central Mississippi to extreme southwestern Virginia should stay vigilant as this storm system moves east. Damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes will be possible, mainly early in the day. Isolated strong wind gusts cannot be ruled out over parts of the Mid-Atlantic during the late afternoon and evening.

In any emergency, always follow the instructions given by state, local or tribal emergency management officials. Follow these tips to stay safe after a tornado.

  • Stay out of the area if possible. Emergency workers may be assisting people or cleaning up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Enter areas that have sustained damaged only after your local officials have said it is safe to do so. Always follow the direction of your local officials.
  • If you suspect any damage to your home, shut off the electrical power, natural gas, and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions, if you know how to do so safely.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or any objects that are in contact with downed lines. If you see a downed power line or other electrical hazard, report it to the police and the utility company.
  • If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or fire departments, or State Fire Marshal’s office. Do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your house until your local officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Be careful when cleaning up. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy thick-soled shoes. Do not try to remove heavy debris by yourself. Use an appropriate mask if cleaning mold or other debris. People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

If you lost power, avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.

  • Use a Generator Safely! Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators far away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices should never be used inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any partially enclosed area. These should only be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.
  • Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
  • For additional safety tips before, during or after a tornado visit https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please contact Disaster Services Corporation:

  • DSC Media Point of Contact: Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, Chief Executive Officer at (214) 717-1802 or at ldisco@svdpdisaster.org
  • Vincentian Support and Operations: Kevin Peach, Chief Operating Officer at (202) 924-6212 or at kpeach@svdpdisaster.org

Follow Us

Follow DSC on social media at:  @svdpusadisaster on Twitter, @DisasterServicesCorp Facebook, , and via @disastersericescorp on LinkedIn.

DSC Mission

To model the charism of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul by providing quality programs and services to families and communities impacted by natural and manmade disasters across this great nation.

In Service,

Elizabeth Disco-Shearer
Chief Executive Officer
Disaster Service Corporation

Dec. 13 – Dec. 16 News Roundup

Dec. 13 – Dec. 16 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL

NATIONAL

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

Contemplation: A Conference in Heaven

Contemplation: A Conference in Heaven 940 788 SVDP USA

The Society is united by our three Essential Elements of spirituality, service, and friendship. [Rule, Part III, Statute 1] Frédéric once remarked that perhaps friendship was “the reason that in Paris we wished to found our little Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and it is also for this reason perhaps that heaven has seen fit to bless it.” [142, to Curnier, 1837] Like the Communion of Saints, bound together in baptism and in Christ, our Vincentian friendship, bound by charity and friendship, remains unbroken by death.

The very first Rule explained that the Society’s unity “will be cited as a model of Christian friendship, of a friendship stronger than death, for we will often remember in our prayers to God the brothers who have been taken from us.” [Introduction, Rule, 1835] We continue to honor this tradition, praying at every Conference meeting for our departed Vincentian Brothers and Sisters.

Our primary purpose is to “journey together towards holiness… perfect union with Christ…” [Rule, Part 1, 2.2] so we have good reason to hope that our departed Vincentians continue to pray for us, as well!

Indeed, while trying to establish a new Conference in Siena shortly before his own death, Frédéric wrote to the pastor, telling him of the many Conferences that had been established around the world, adding also that “we have certainly one in Heaven, for more than a thousand of our Brothers have, during the twenty years of our existence, gone to the better life.” [Baunard, 394]

We should never forget that one of the corporal works of mercy, alongside feeding the hungry and giving alms to the poor, is to bury the dead. When our fellow Vincentians depart this earth, we should always offer comfort to their families, while also celebrating their entrance into “the better life.” Our Vincentian Celebrations book includes several ceremonies to help plan these occasions.

We serve in hope! Not merely the hope for material comforts, but the eternal hope that we may be united with Christ and with each other in heaven. And so, we pray with and for each other, including, always, the departed. As confident as Blessed Frédéric’s assurance of a Conference in heaven may have been, he asked his fellow Vincentians, in a will written on his 40th birthday, not to cease in their prayers for his own salvation, saying:

“Do not allow yourselves to be stopped by those who will say to you, he is in Heaven. Pray always for him who loves you dearly, for him who has greatly sinned. If I am assured of these prayers, I quit this earth with less fear. I hope firmly that we are not being separated, and that I may remain with you until you will come to me.” [Baunard, 386-7]

May we honor our founder with our own unceasing prayers for all our Vincentian brothers and sisters!

Contemplate

Do I pray regularly for departed Vincentians, and ask their prayers for me?

Recommended Reading

Book of the Sick

12-09-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

12-09-2021 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 168 191 SVDP USA

At the age of seven, I began my lifelong journey of service as an altar server at St. Luke Catholic Church in River Forest, IL. I remember the purpose and pride I felt in being a part of the Church and the feeling that it brought me closer to God. Since then, I have endeavored to continue to find meaningful ways to serve God and my community.

One such opportunity came in 2019, when I joined the Disaster Services Corporation as the Chief Operating Officer. Over the past three years, I’ve come to learn much about what it is to be a Vincentian and to be a part of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Never have I met more dedicated people serving the most vulnerable through Christ.

For those who are unaware, the Disaster Services Corporation is the disaster arm of the National Council . After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Society responded to the needs of Katrina survivors, developing a long-term recovery plan and coordinating with other agencies to locate necessary resources and ongoing support. For several years thereafter, the nation looked to the Society to provide more and more support in the face of frequent and severe disasters.

In 2017, the Disaster Services Corporation was founded to meet the needs of the nation and to provide disaster relief at a scale we had never seen. Given the reputation of the Society’s work in disaster relief, the federal government sought out Vincentians to augment support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and began to award millions of dollars’ worth of federal contracts to help communities recover. Recognizing the importance of these opportunities, the National Council made the prudent decision to create Disaster Services Corporation as a wholly owned subsidiary to fulfill the Society’s disaster mission, while minimizing the risk and liability to the National Council.

Disaster Services Corporation strives to achieve a unity of effort with the National Council in fundraising activities, Council and Conference support, and messaging to the Vincentian community and the nation. Disaster Services Corporation, in partnership and with guidance and oversight from the National Council, has had a monumental impact on Vincentians and the nation, managing over $15,000,000 in federal and state contracts and provided over $100,000,000 in value of services. In 2021 alone, Disaster Services Corporation served communities in California, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin in response to floods, hurricanes, winter storms, wildfires, the pandemic, and the Afghan Refugee Resettlement efforts.

To effectively respond to the needs of so many communities nationwide, the Disaster Services Corporation relies on its robust Disaster Operations Committee, comprised of regional and state Vincentian representation, and in partnership with the National Council’s National Vice Presidents, to grant Councils and Conferences Rapid Response and Long-Term Recovery Grants. This committee regularly trains with FEMA, National VOAD, and other disaster relief organizations to ensure a holistic and integrated disaster response and recovery.

The Disaster Services Corporation also provides Council and Conference Support, including preparedness, response, and recovery online and in-person trainings. This year alone, Disaster Services Corporation supported the Archdiocesan Council of New Orleans with a hurricane simulation, the Council of Rockford with a tornado simulation, and trained Council and Conference leadership from across the nation at the National Assembly.

The work we do is important, and I’ve seen the outcomes first-hand. This past spring, Disaster Services Corporation deployed to the poorest communities of Kentucky to set up Parish Recovery Assistance Centers (PRAC) to provide Walmart gift cards, food and nutrition products, cleaning supplies, and stewardship to those families requiring FEMA support.

I remember the day when a mother and her child Sawyer visited the Disaster Services Corporation PRAC and spent two hours talking with Vincentians and receiving the resources and support they needed to begin their family’s recovery. An hour or so later, I went to the local Walmart, where there was a Subway, to get lunch for our Vincentian volunteers. As I walked in, I saw the mother, with little Sawyer in the shopping cart, along with groceries and diapers, that were being bought with the gift cards we had provided no more than an hour earlier. I reflect on that experience often, thinking that we never truly know how desperate people are, and feeling the pride that through the National Council, Disaster Services Corporation was able to be there to help a neighbor in their very real time of need.

Disaster Services Corporation not only has an impact on disaster survivors, but also on our Vincentians. One volunteer’s experience who answered the call to serve during the West Virginia floods in particular stands out, sharing his experience through a day in the life of a Vincentian volunteer. Recounting his experience, he wrote, “Bright and early, had breakfast, let’s head to the site. Rural southwestern WV looks a lot like where I live. Small community center. Ok let’s get eight tables and some chairs, this is how we get set up. Ok, first disaster survivor. My what a story they have about the flood. Household income? What!? A family can live on this small amount? These people need all the help they can get. But they are smiling, thankful, and appreciative. How can anyone be in such a good mood, when their lives have been torn up so bad? Reminds me of our opening prayer…Where two or three gather in my name…I felt Jesus watching down, smiling that we were doing his work here on Earth.”

To conclude, I want to share a passage that has guided me throughout my life. “Your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God, you cannot say, “But I was told by others to do thus.” Or that, “Virtue was not convenient at the time.” When I think about this passage, I can’t help to think how it relates to the important work and sacrifice of our Vincentians and how I remain grateful and honored to be a part of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul family through the Disaster Services Corporation.

 

 

Contemplation – True Charity is Always Poor

Contemplation – True Charity is Always Poor 940 788 SVDP USA

Conferences, following the example of St. Vincent de Paul, are expected to keep detailed and accurate records of contributions, donors, and assistance provided to neighbors in need, and to report them periodically to their Councils. There can be a temptation, looking back on the numbers, to puff up our chests about all the good that we’ve done, but these reports are only a testament to accountability; they are not a measure of the success, much less the value, of our works.

Writing about the loss of the earliest records of the first Conference in 1835, Bl. Frédéric mused that while those records might have been a source of pride, “God, who wishes that the left hand not know what the right hand has given, permitted us to lose title to what might serve only to bestow on us ridiculous vanity.” [Letter 90, to Curnier, 1835]

“Charity,” he continued, “must never look behind it, but always before, because the number of its past benefits is always very small, and the present and future misery it solaces is infinite.”

In his Circular Letter of 1837, Secretary-General François Lallier (one of the Society’s founders, and a close friend of Frédéric’s) sounded a similar note, describing those that “throw at random a few handfuls of money that the poor despise as mere crumbs and are of no avail.” [VHJ, Vol 36, Iss 1]

Works of charity are works of love; we measure their value first in our own transformation; our growing closer to Christ. Through this, we also hope to draw others closer to Christ; “to stir up irresistible questions” by our witness, as Pope St. Paul VI said. “Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them?” [Evangelii nuntiandi, 21]

Christ Himself recognized that the smallest of material contributions can be the very largest when they are the most that we can give. And as Our Rule teaches, “our tender interest, our very manner, will give to our alms a value which they do not possess in themselves.” [Rule, 1835 Intro]

Our Conference Annual Reports, of course, are vital documents. They represent our commitment to accountability – to each other, to our donors, to tax laws, and most importantly to God Himself, who calls us to this ministry. But the totals at the bottom of the page, whether they are large or small, represent only our circumstance, not the degree of our success.

As Lallier explained, we “offer very little, because we are little and because true charity is always poor like those whom it relieves. But we have the charity of the heart that can multiply our mite a hundredfold, and the poor who feel such things welcome us with honour.” [VHJ, Vol 36, Iss 1]

Contemplate

Do I ever feel ashamed when I can’t “do more?” Am I tempted to boast about how much we’ve “spent?”

Recommended Reading

The Rule – especially Part I

11-24-2021 News Roundup

11-24-2021 News Roundup 1200 1200 SVDP USA

With 100,000 Vincentians across the United States and nearly 800,000 around the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering. Read some of their stories here:

INTERNATIONAL:

NATIONAL:

Help us share the good news of the good work being done in your local Conference or Council! Email us at info@svdpusa.org with the subject line Good News.

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