Vincentians Show Christ’s Love

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It’s been just over a year since Tasha called the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at Sts. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church in Owensboro, Kentucky. “It changed my life,” she says. “I was at the point of giving up. I was absolutely at my breaking point.”

After having made some bad decisions in her life, she was determined to make good decisions, especially because of her two boys. She was holding down a job at McDonald’s, as was her 16-year-old son Jamison, both of them working different shifts so one of them could be home with 10-year-old son Jaxon.

Try as she may, Tasha could not make ends meet. She and her boys were living at a local motel. It wasn’t the life she wanted for them, but at least it was a roof over their heads, and they were together. After living at the motel for more than a year, someone suggested Tasha call St. Vincent de Paul to see if they could help.

She was scared to call, afraid that they would not help her family. But Tasha put her pride aside and picked up the phone to call the Vincentians at Sts. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church.

The Vincentian who returned her call that day was named Braun. Desperate to get her family out of the motel and into secure housing, Tasha told Braun that she had enough money for one month’s rent, but the landlord was requiring a deposit of another month’s rent. She wondered if St. Vincent de Paul could help her with the deposit.

Braun told her, “Do not give up. There is a way for St. Vincent de Paul to help.” With the amount of the deposit, he called a couple of other local churches to see if they could contribute. After securing the deposit funds, he called Tasha and told her she could go ahead and move into her rented home.

More good news was to come for Tasha. Braun called her again and offered her a job at Kentron, a metal stamping company where Braun works. Tasha said “I could not believe it. I was so excited and could not believe this was happening to me.”

There were more challenges to come, but Tasha and Braun didn’t give up.

Remembers Braun, “She did not pass her physical the first time, but there were extenuating circumstances. Her car broke down, so she ran all the way to the doctor’s office in the rain and was so out of breath she could not pass the physical exam. We had her take it again and she passed with flying colors. She wanted this job, this opportunity to change her life.”

During her probationary period, Tasha got sick and had numerous doctors’ appointments and tests, but the company stuck with her. Another hurdle came when the home she had rented went up for sale, so Tasha and her family would have to move again. Fortunately, she found one she loved. Her landlord has even entered a contract for deed sale, which will allow Tasha to buy the home.

“This is the beauty of being a Vincentian: Being able to help break the bonds of systemic poverty,” says Braun.

Tasha wants people to know, “There is a chance. There is hope that life can get better. But you must want to change your life. There is a power greater than us that can help if we want it to, and let it. My plans are to keep moving forward every day, to stay focused, to not give up, and to get up every day trying to do the right thing.”

Thank You for Being a Friend to Those in Need

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In 2019, Peggy Veltri joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at her St. Catherine of Siena parish Conference in West Dundee, Illinois. She and fellow volunteers struggled through the pandemic as requests for help came from more neighbors in need.

The National Council awarded two Friends of the Poor® Grants to Peggy’s Conference over the past two years. That funding helped them provide critical, even life-changing, aid to dozens of area neighbors struggling in the wake of lost wages and rising prices.

Here are two stories of lives that were changed by those Friends of the Poor Grants.

Mary is a mother of two grown sons who both cope with mental health issues that limit their ability to support themselves. The family was evicted after Mary’s work hours were cut. The Society’s local Conference was able to move the family from an extended stay hotel to a permanent home in a less expensive town nearby. The new residence was also able to accommodative their grandmother. The grateful family of four is now thriving in a financially sustainable living arrangement.

Every call for assistance is different. Peggy’s Conference also recently helped a retired couple who became the guardians of their grandkids after their parents, like many Americans, fell into addiction. This husband and wife wanted to provide a better life for their grandkids, but soon after they moved in the grandfather lost his job.

With school about to start and no money for clothes and school supplies they called the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Thanks to you, they got the kids everything they needed to start the school year. When people find themselves at the end of their rope and have nowhere else to go, they often call the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for help.

“These grants are important in more ways than just helping with their current crisis,” Peggy says. “Of equal or greater importance, they provide us a stepping off point for discussions and planning that will have a more lasting impact. It shows the people we serve that SVdP is invested in their progress and success.”

Problems don’t go away overnight, but thanks to your support, Peggy and 90,000 Vincentians across the country are there to serve their communities.

Our Faith in Action Returns for Second Season

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The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to announce the premiere of season 2 of “Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul” with a special one-week event on EWTN Global Catholic Network beginning on November 28 at 5:30 PM Eastern/4:30 PM Central. Five episodes will air over five nights.

The series follows SVdP members, known as Vincentians, on their spiritual growth journey through service to people and families in need. From the Society’s traditional Home Visits (where we bring friendship and aid to neighbors in need), food pantries, and assistance with rent and utilities, to innovative health care, financial and mentoring programs, Vincentians see the face of Christ in those we serve.

In this series, Vincentians volunteer across the country to bring effective, personalized help to people in poverty and share their stories of Christ’s love along the way.

“We are very excited for the premiere of season 2 of Our Faith in Action. Creating this show has been a labor of love and collaboration between the National Council and our Councils and Conferences across the country,” said SVdP National President Ralph Middlecamp. “We hope that in seeing the work being done by their Vincentian brothers and sisters, individuals will find inspiration to put their own faith into action and join the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in their communities.”

The one-week event of Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul will air daily on EWTN cable channels from November 28 – December 2 at 5:30 PM Eastern/4:30 PM Central. Click here to find the EWTN channel in your zip code. Click here to view the program schedule.

Episode Descriptions

  • Episode 11: Finding New Beginnings
    In this episode, join Vincentians as they prepare kids for the upcoming school year, offer returning citizens a new career path, and work to shrink barriers for friends in need through the Bridges to HOPE program. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit)
  • Episode 12: Feeding Minds and Bellies
    In this episode, join Vincentians as they tutor children in need, help feed their neighbors in need at a food pantry, and offer scholarships and mentorship to promising high school students. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Orlando, Madison, Phoenix)
  • Episode 13: Homelessness and Home Visits
    In this episode, learn how thrift store shoppers can find affordable hidden treasures, and join Vincentians as they take on homelessness in one of the country’s biggest cities and visit with a neighbor in need. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (St. Louis, Los Angeles, Huntsville)
  • Episode 14: Helping Friends in Need Find Success
    In this episode, Vincentians offer bilingual services to help friends in need build a new life, a Family Success Center supports struggling families, and those targeted by predatory lending are helped by the Society. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Seattle, Louisville, Austin)
  • Episode 15: Building Faith in People of All Ages
    In this episode, Vincentians put their woodworking skills to good use to help neighbors in need, while others make sure no food goes to waste, and Vincentians build a home for the homeless youth in their community. Tune in to learn how Vincentians put their faith in action every day across the country.
    (Fort Wayne, Atlanta, Lane County)

Five additional episodes of Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul will air on EWTN in early 2023. Stay tuned for airtimes and dates! In the meantime, catch up on Season 1 here.

Click here to download bulletin announcements, for use in your parish bulletin or Conference Facebook page.

03-11-2021 Letter From Our Servant Leaders

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After five years of driving through my neighborhood, I thought I knew it pretty well. But when my wife worked briefly for the U.S. Census, she would point out small shops I had never realized were nearby. She could show me the home with an insane number of people living in it, and which were rentals or owned residences. The neighborhood took on a completely different perspective because she had walked the streets instead of driving while focused on traffic lights, bikes, and pedestrians.

This, my friends, is why the Society conducts Home Visits.

During the pandemic period, many Conferences adjusted to not visiting homes with counter-top services and phone interviews. Most Vincentians will quickly tell you that they miss the stronger relationship of a true visit in someone’s home or even visiting with them in a nearby public place. You see different things, and people often share a bit more not only about their specific problem, but also about their family and their life. There is understanding and empathy, not just a transaction.

It is also difficult to understand poverty until you at least see it, if not experience it yourself. In many ”rich” neighborhoods, we drive by and see the opulent lawns and large homes, assuming easily that everyone in that neighborhood must be wealthy. If you spent real time there, however, you would see that so many neighbors bought much more house than they could afford. The homes are often empty of furniture and the owners have trouble paying their bills. They tried to buy status through their house or their fancy car. The neighborhood’s true millionaires often have the used car and a modest home, but also money in the bank and a lot less stress.

Likewise, people in poverty live in or around these homes. They may have service jobs for the wealthy, or they operate the small businesses sprinkled around the opulent neighborhoods. They are often the invisible underclass that keeps our economy going, the working but underemployed families that we encounter in our Vincentian service.

During the past year we changed our service delivery as needed to be safe and legal. It was not usually our choice, but we did this because of our love for those we serve. We did not want to deny them whatever we could bring to demonstrate our, and God’s, love in these tough times.

We have all heard about not understanding someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. As Vincentians, we know that we don’t understand someone until we at least walk through their neighborhood. As Springtime comes, and pandemic restrictions slowly lift, let’s take that walk. Let’s get to know our neighborhoods, and our neighbors, once again as we venture together out of the darkness.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer

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