Dear Vincentian Friends,
Disasters have made the headlines frequently this year. Fires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes have left suffering and damage in their wake in the United States and throughout the world. We are being told that this will be a very intense hurricane season, which is following a very active summer of fires. I ask you, your Conference and Council to consider contributing generously this month to our National Council Annual Disaster Appeal. This is the best and most effective way to get disaster aid to our members working in the United States, in cooperation with our Disaster Services Corporation and to provide disaster relief throughout the world through our international structure. This appeal allows us to respond quickly to requests. It also provides funds for disasters that may not make the headlines in your local media. Our Conferences in those areas often need our help just as much as those located where a major hurricane strikes.
We all have been saddened by the devastation left by the fire in Maui this month and the earthquakes in Syria earlier this year. Many Vincentians inquired about providing funding for these disasters but we have no Vincentian presence in those locations. However, there was a major hurricane in Florida, record setting floods in Nigeria, and major flooding in eastern parts of the United States. We have Conferences and Councils present in these locations and they did receive our help. This illustrates the reason why we need to have one annual collection that can then be used as we learn the actual needs our Vincentians identify after disasters.
The Society’s Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) gives us excellent capacity to serve after a disaster. DSC constitutes a knowledgeable team to provide training for our members and to secure private and governmental grants that greatly expand the ability of the Society to serve in these situations. The support the National Council provides for DSC’s efforts is largely funded by this Annual Disaster Appeal. In the past year, DSC has helped Councils in every region of the country respond to floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and hurricanes. The success of this appeal last year meant that we did not have to keep sending out fundraising requests for every one of these efforts. I suspect you would become annoyed with the National Office if we did that.
This appeal will also support the international relief provided by the Society through the Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD). My position as a vice president on the International Board of Directors is responsible for these grants, and I can assure you that this assistance is very much needed to support the work of our members throughout the world. I also can assure you that the use of the funds is monitored closely, with appropriate reports for accountability. Again, a single appeal allows us to fund response to many disasters you will never hear about. The single appeal also avoids funds being designated to a country without the capacity of members there to use donations that well-meaning Councils might otherwise send.
Before committing funds to a particular disaster, it is important to be certain the local councils have the people and capacity to put our donations to work. When major disasters strike, the need for assistance can last for many years. Long after the reporters have left, our Vincentians will be there helping their neighbors.
Please be generous in supporting this campaign. Frédéric Ozanam saw the Society as a network of charity. The network he envisioned has come to embrace the world. It is at its strongest and most caring when we support the work of Councils and Conferences of our Vincentian sisters and brothers faced with relieving the unforeseen suffering of a natural disaster.
Serviens in spe,
National Council President