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09-29-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

09-29-22 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 720 720 SVDP USA

Dear Vincentian Friends,

It is the time of the year when hurricanes make headlines as they leave suffering and damage in their wake. I ask you, your Conference, and your 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.

Once again, this month in Puerto Rico, such a hurricane struck. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will be working through our members there to provide assistance to their neighbors in need. We are just starting to get communications from our members in Puerto Rico and are waiting to hear how we can help.

But, as I was writing this, another hurricane was headed toward Florida — with unknown consequences. This illustrates the reason why we 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. The 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 the DSC’s efforts is largely funded by this Annual Disaster Appeal.

In the past year, the 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. Days before Hurricane Fiona stuck Puerto Rico, a Southeast Region team — led by John Berry, Isabel Darcy and Pam Matambanadzo — were on the island working with our members to strengthen our presence there. While they were in Puerto Rico, they observed that people still have not recovered from Hurricane Maria five years ago.

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. Finally, let us all be committed to praying regularly for the safety and emotional health of all those who are suffering from the results of these storms and those who are dedicated to bringing them aid.

Serviens in spe,
Ralph Middlecamp
National Council President

Disaster Services Update

Disaster Services Update 940 788 SVDP USA

DSC SVDP-USA is elected to top leadership positions with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

 The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD), is an association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters, provides a forum promoting cooperation, communication, coordination, and collaboration; and fosters more effective delivery of services to communities affected by disaster across the United States and American Territories. The NVOAD movement has been making an impact across the country for over 50 years. DSC is also a founding member of National VOAD.

The hard work of NVOAD’s members and volunteers, is reflected in the impact that was made last year:

  1. 9,907,071 – Volunteers
  2. 48,129,263 – Volunteer Hours
  3. $1.3 BILLION – Value of Volunteer Hours

These appointments not only allow DSC to have a pivotal role in recovery nationwide but illustrates the trust and faith other partner organizations in NVOAD have in Disaster Services Corporation’s team and its work.

This year DSC core management members are so honored to be elected to the following top leadership positions with NVOAD:

Kevin Peach- Chair of the Advocacy Committee- group advocates to Congress to change unjust systems that impact survivors. Networks with local, state, and federal policy makers.

Anthony Pluchino- Chair of the Disaster Case Management Committee– sets policy standards for the nation and points on consensus on the best practices for Disaster Case Management Programs across the country. In addition, Mr. Pluchino will network with FEMA and Emergency Management across the nation.

Elizabeth Disco-Shearer- Chairperson of the Board for NVOAD– first time a Catholic is in this role in its 50+ year history and only the second time a woman has been in this role. The Chair oversees a diverse Board of Directors representing all the major disaster nonprofits in the nation and state and territory representatives. FEMA and the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives leadership also serve as ex-officio members of this Board.

Disaster Services Update – March 10, 2022

Disaster Services Update – March 10, 2022 2000 1501 SVDP USA

The following update was provided by Dick Reimbold, DSC Mideast Regional Disaster Representative.

Disaster Services Corporation - Society of St. Vincent de Paul USA (DSC SVDP-USA), hosted a Parish Recovery Assistance Center at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Carlisle, Kentucky this past week.   

In the Summer of 2021, the residents of Carlisle, experienced a record-breaking flooding event throughout their county.  Per Governor Andy Beshear, the flooding impacted over 80 homes and at least 29 businesses as well as the city’s wastewater treatment plant, fire station, and city garage. The estimated damage to infrastructure, along with the cost of debris removal, totals more than $3.8 million.    

One resident shared,  “I have lived in Carlisle my entire life, for 45 years, and within 43 minutes the flood waters rose and caused me to lose everything in my home, my cars, my pictures, my keepsakes, and my memories.” Another family, a single mother with three children, not only lost her belongings, but her vehicle. Due to the lack of transportation, including public transportation, she lost her job and had to take a job at the local family dollar, which doesn’t cover her monthly expenses.   

However,  for DSC to be able to witness by our presence, not only to the survivors, but to volunteers who had no knowledge of the Society, and its works was a beautiful experience. Less than ten percent of churches in the Diocese of Lexington have a St. Vincent de Paul Conference. The pastor of the church had no knowledge of the Society; but again, being able to witness by our presence, ignited him and several parishioners to start the groundwork to open a Conference and join the Vincentian family.   

The other fruits the trip bore were being able to meet and collaborate with Jim Garrett, the volunteer and donations manager with the state of Kentucky VOAD, Meg Campos, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Lexington, a representative from HOPE, Animals Assisted Crisis Response, and Rhonda Curran Koft from the Carlisle Chamber of commerce and leader of the long-term recovery group.   

We were able to assist and provide intake for over 20 plus families, conduct several Home Visits, and meet with the local Judge, who is the executive of the county, Steve Hamilton, to coordinate partners to help with remediating homes, demolition, and other manual type of assistance.   

Lastly, one of the residents shared one of the most pressing issues for the residents of Carlisle, not just the loss of homes for the survivors whose homes were flooded, but the loss of their local grocery store. The residents have to drive about 30 minutes away to buy groceries and that is problematic for some of the 2,000 residents of Carlisle. 

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