February 21, 2016

There will be about 600 words in this column about our St. Vincent DePaul Society, but to understand the essence of this organization, you really only need to know one:

Friends. 

That’s how they refer to the people they serve, and they mean it.

Since 2004, our parish St. Vincent DePaul Society (SVDP) has made face-to-face contact with more than 500 individuals and families who were in need of help.   And each of those people was treated with the same grace, dignity and kindness you would use with a friend in need.

The SVDP folks are pretty good at flying beneath the radar, so you may not know how they work. Here’s the short  version:

Folks contact the SVDP Society by leaving a message at their dedicated hotline (815-773-4167).  A Vincentian volunteer on phone duty takes the call and discerns the needs and the next step. If a series of checks are cleared, and it appears that the caller might be someone they could help, two visitors are assigned to meet the new Friend in his or her home.

These home visits include fact finding, sharing of resources and prayer.  The visitors come away with a real sense of what is needed to support the Friend through this tough time.

The visitors then make a recommendation to the SVDP board about the level of support needed.  The board votes, and if it is agreed, the support is given.

The Vincentian’s shared some of their meeting notes and policies with me so I’d understand their work.  Here are a few things that struck me:

Funding comes solely from donations.  Each month, we collect about $3,000 for SVDP through the use of the two envelopes enclosed in parishioners’ packets.  (You can also make contributions via Online Giving.)  The collection on Thanksgiving Day goes to SVDP, and at Christmas, people are quite generous.

All of those funds go directly to help Friends. Last year, 23 Friends were given a hand-up through the generosity of the Cathedral parish and via the careful handling of the SVDP Society.

Their outreach makes a significant difference to their Friends.  SVDP is not just throwing a glass of water on an inferno. Most of the  support that is given is in the form of rent or   mortgage payments. Generally the aim is to clear any past due payments and assure that the Friend can make a fresh start. 

They have created smart, sensible policies and procedures.  At least three people have direct contact with each Friend and the board reviews all cases, so there are significant checks and balances built into their procedures. 

They are smart money managers.  The Vincentians do all they can to use their available funds wisely.  They also make referrals to other support services to assure that the Friends have every possible resource.

They have their priorities in order.  The Society makes great effort to help St. Raymond parishioners and families with children.

Prayer is always important.  Every home visit ends with prayer and the Vincentians continue to pray for their Friends long after the assistance is given.  That spiritual presence is essential to their work. 

Every Vincentian I’ve encountered since I agreed to write this piece has said the same thing: “Make sure you tell our parishioners how grateful we are for their support.”   The Vincentians see first-hand what good can be done with your donations. You can be confident that your generosity is making a real difference to the poor and under-served in our community.

If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Kathy DelRose at skipbb1@aol.com.  Kathy is the current president, and she would be happy to welcome new members.  If you are fluent in a second language, that is always helpful.

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
straysdevelopment@yahoo.com
815-722-6653, ext. 242

 

 

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