Poverty Programs

Immersing Neighbors in Love and Mercy

Immersing Neighbors in Love and Mercy 2560 1490 SVDP USA

You might imagine that the day someone is released from prison would be the best and happiest day of their incarceration. But that’s not always the case.

Many agonize over leaving. Why? Because they’ll walk out to freedom with no more than that. No clothes, money, phone minutes, or even a valid ID. No job — and often not a single friend or family member they can go back to. Alone on a bus at the end of the line, they have no idea where to go or what to do next.

Having the right kind of help in those first hours and days is critical to making a successful return to society. So is having ongoing help for weeks, months, and even years to come.

Thanks to generous support from donors to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentian volunteers are receiving the spiritual formation and training they need to serve neighbors in need with the most effective person-to-person assistance possible. The success of the Society’s Immersion Reentry Program is one example.

Begun in early 2019, Immersion provides citizens returning to their communities with caring and compassionate support from Vincentian volunteers along every step of their journey. Immediate help includes providing transitional services during the first 72 hours after release, as well as basics like food, clothing, and shelter. Longer-term support includes mentoring, employment assistance, education, help reconnecting with loved ones, advocacy, and securing permanent housing.

“We are following in the footsteps of our founders,” says Peter Kortright. He and Diana Reeves co-founded Immersion in their Attleboro, Massachusetts Council. Frédéric Ozanam and the first Vincentians encountered these same situations nearly two hundred years ago. The first Home Visits they carried out eventually became the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. They offered practical and prudent ways to reflect God’s mercy.

“Visiting the prisoner who is preparing to reenter the community is quite like a Home Visit, God is asking us to pay special attention to those least of us who may need it.”

“Nobody anywhere gets paid to accompany someone so closely for so long in their journey back to self-sufficiency,” Kortwright says. “Vincentians do it for love, with the traditions, mission, and zeal of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and guidance from the Holy Spirit.”

The power of praying together, listening, empathizing, organizing, and taking action means the world to brothers and sisters who are rebuilding their lives.

Over 2019 – 2021, volunteers accompanied Christine step-by-step following her release from prison. Along the road they offered grocery gift cards, bus passes, clothing, and rent to enter a “sober house” for two months. There were empowerment classes, job applications, and help to regain custody of her children. There were shared tears and cheers, and many prayers of gratitude.

Last July, with the Society’s assistance in funding a security deposit, Christine moved into her own space — the biggest step so far in her journey forward. “It’s small and it’s kind of ugly, but it has a lock on the door and it is mine,” she said with a smile.

Legislative Action: Get Ready to act on the Child Tax Credit

Legislative Action: Get Ready to act on the Child Tax Credit 900 900 SVDP USA

With the mid-term election over, Congress is back in Washington beginning to wrap-up their 2022 legislative session. Congress is expected to take up a corporate tax bill. While reducing taxes for corporations is very popular and usually passes, it will take 60 votes to pass in the U.S. Senate. We need your senators to agree that the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion should be part of that broader tax package.

Before we send an action alert, we wanted to share some facts and show why this issue is critical to our mission.

Here are some facts about the Child Tax Credit:

  • The American Rescue Plan Act expanded the 2021 Child Tax Credit (CTC) to almost 90% of children in the U.S.
  • The CTC cut child poverty by 46 percent last year.
  • The CTC monthly payments helped parents afford necessities such as rent, food, gas, utilities, childcare, and clothes for their kids.
  • The CTC monthly payments lifted more than 3 million children from poverty each month they went out.
  • The CTC expansion in the American Rescue plan has expired.
  • Without the expansion of the CTC, child poverty is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels

Are Vincentians in this alone?

No, we and other faith and anti-poverty organizations are in this fight together. That said, advocacy is a team sport. We are more effective when everyone plays a role. Nobody should sit on the sidelines.

What can you do now?

Sign up to be an advocate! Go to our Advocacy website and go to the top right part of the page where it says Sign up for alerts and add your email address and zip code.  You will be notified when we send out the action alert for you to send to your U.S. Senators in the coming weeks.

Also, add this website to your favorites. We will need your help to contact your legislators during key issues!

If you are interested in learning more about the Child Tax Credit and it’s effect on Childhood Poverty, tune in to an informational webinar on Thursday, December 15 at 2:00 PM CENTRAL. Register here

SVdP National Council Welcomes National Director of Poverty Programs

SVdP National Council Welcomes National Director of Poverty Programs 1080 1080 SVDP USA

The National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to welcome the new National Director of Poverty Programs, Steve Uram.

Steve will be work as the Society’s representative among Catholic groups including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other national nonprofit groups regarding public policy. He will serve as the national staff support person for national committees including Systemic Change, Voice of the Poor, Housing, Immersion / Reentry, Back2Work / Workforce Development, Bridges Out of Poverty, and others.

“As a life-long Catholic, I am truly excited to join the National Council where I can live my faith and make a difference each and every day,” said Steve.

Prior to joining the National Council, Steve spent 15 years in the Washington, D.C. area serving as a Senior Advisor for Grassroots Advocacy for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). He also served as a legislative aide to Illinois Congressman, John Shimkus. Upon his return to the St. Louis area in 2014, Steve served as the manager for Grassroots Advocacy and Leadership Programs for the National Corn Growers Associate.

Steve has his master’s degree in Communications from the University of Illinois and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Southern Illinois University.

Steve is part of a big, Catholic family and is a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan!

If you would like to contact Steve, he can be reached at (314) 576-3993 ext. 215 or by email at suram@svdpusa.org.

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