As the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and gold and the air grows crisp and cool, November arrives with its unique charm and significance. It’s a time when we come together to reflect on our blessings and show our gratitude.

Thanksgiving, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, is a holiday dedicated to giving thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year. It’s a time when families and friends gather to share meals and express their gratitude for one another. In a similar spirit, November is a time for all of us to pause and reflect on the many things we are thankful for, both personally and as part of our larger community.

November provides the perfect opportunity to extend our gratitude to those in need. It’s a month when we can turn our thankfulness into action by making donations to causes and organizations that make a difference in the lives of others. Your support and generosity can have a profound impact on those who may be less fortunate.

Why November?

Historically, November has been associated with the harvest season. Farmers and communities gather their crops, and it’s a time to share the abundance with those who may not have enough. The holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and continuing through December, fosters a sense of generosity and goodwill. It’s a time when people are more inclined to give.

As we count our blessings, we also recognize the importance of helping others in need. November’s reflective spirit reminds us of the value of sharing our good fortune. November 28 is Give Big Pittsburgh, and we invite you to express your gratitude through generosity. Whether it’s volunteering your time at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul or making a financial contribution towards our mission, every act of kindness counts!

Your donation at any time during this season of giving—whether during Give Big Pittsburgh or directly to us through mail, online, phone, or another giving vehicle—fuels our assistance and outreach programs and sustains our activities in service to our neighbors in need. If you feel moved to give financially today know that your contribution makes a significant difference.

Many people consider making end-of-year charitable donations in November to maximize their tax deductions for the current year. This can be a win-win for both donors and recipients. Many in our community give stock, make grants from Donor Advised funds, or make Qualified Charitable Distributions – all of which are more “tax-smart” than giving cash. For more information about tax-smart giving, please contact your financial advisor, or Director of Development Jennifer Thoma at or 412.321.1071×1204.

Whether big, small, or somewhere in between, everything we have is from God and when we share it generously, we mirror the heart of Our Heavenly Father who gives without measure. As Catholics, let’s embrace this spirit of stewardship and continue reflecting God’s love through our actions.

Have you been enjoying the beautiful fall colors this year? I marvel and contemplate the good Earth God so lovingly created for us! If we pay attention, nature can reveal much about God’s ways, which are always higher than ours! (Isaiah 55:8-9). As our landscapes transform from lush greens to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, we are reminded in a gentle and beautiful way that the Earth and all life within it are transitioning. The busy, long, bright, warm, days of summer are now in the past. The crisp, cool air of fall signals preparation for the coming of a dark, still, and quiet winter. 

Just as the change of seasons in nature is inevitable, so too are the changes of seasons in our life. One of the reflections that has been on my heart during this change of season is that of the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-42). In this passage, Martha is active and busy! She occupies herself with the practical daily tasks of caring for herself and those around her by attending to the very real physical needs of life. What a beautiful gift it would have been to physically prepare a meal or sleeping place for our Lord Jesus and His disciples! Yet, we see that it is Mary who has chosen the better part. What is she doing? Simply sitting at the feet of Jesus! Her state of physical rest allows her attention to focus solely on Jesus. This posture and place surely allow for profound spiritual growth and deepening in personal relationship with Jesus. And how wonderful that this “better choice” of Mary is still available to us each day!

As Vincentians, we are called to many Martha-like moments. We are busy, working hard to ensure our neighbors have food, clothing, housing, heat, and all their basic needs met. What a beautiful gift of self-giving to those around us! Particularly, in our Vincentian charism, it is not only neighbors and friends we serve. We see the face of Christ in the poor! (Matthew 25:37-40). Despite the 1,990 years since Christ’s death and resurrection, we still care for the very real and ongoing physical needs of the body of Christ on Earth as we care for the physical needs of the least of our brothers and sisters. This is AMAZING and BLESSED work! It is truly a calling by God! However, it is not the only way to know and serve Him. We are all called to have both Martha and Mary moments in our lives. 

As the physical seasons change and move towards physical dormition, it provides an opportunity to reflect. What is your current season in life and where is God calling you? Have you had many Mary-like moments of just sitting with the Lord in stillness recently? As nature transitions towards the silent and still season of winter, could God also be calling you towards a season of more moments of just being at rest in His presence? Intentionally creating silent space, both exterior and interior, simply to spend time together with the Lord, is a beautiful spiritual work! By sitting at the feet of Jesus we come to better know and trust Him who is Love itself. This will only deepen our Vincentian spirituality and allow us to better serve in charity our friends and neighbors!

Bethany Smith has always had a heart for serving others, but when a friend told her about the SVdP program at Duquesne University that helps the homeless, she got a chance to put that to work.

Arian Hajihassani decided to focus his career after school on cancer research to help persons with the same disease that afflicted his mother.  But while he tends to his studies with that goal in mind, he also fulfills his innate desire to help others by tending to the homeless within his local community.

Each Sunday night these co-presidents of the SVdP program, along with their fellow students who volunteer to participate, venture into the world of the homeless in Pittsburgh’s downtown area.  

Bethany and Arian have found that they have been inspired by the long standing SVdP program in this area.   Bethany says it “has opened my eyes to the experience of homelessness and the various struggles that they face”.  Through his experience, Arian has come to understand “how homelessness removes opportunities for the basic things most of us all enjoy and take for granted”; a roof over our heads and a bed to sleep in, for sure.  But also, the chance for adequate medical care, money to buy things we need, personal hygiene items, simple food needs, and even to be treated in a civil and humane manner by others.  They have come to see these people as fellow human beings who most often suffer from circumstances beyond their control. 

Arian says that his faith has reinforced his sense that he has been “called to do this”.  He notes that the Bible points us to do such things and that the words and actions of Jesus direct us to help the needy.  Bethany says that aiding the homeless has brought her closer to Jesus as she encounters Him in each person they serve.  And these students are often moved by the faith of the needy who often ask if they can pray for the students who help them. 

The SVdP program is sustained solely by its means of support through Duquesne University.  However, Bethany and Arian feel that, in a better world, more people would come to see the many homeless and their needs more clearly.  Their hope is that, in doing so, people would be moved to help this ministry further through donations from beyond the limited resources of the school.

So, each Sunday night, give some thought and prayer for all the homeless and for those students who venture out to provide them with a little help and a lot of love.  Maybe we will all be inspired by their example!

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh, Off the Floor Furniture Bank, and Skyline Recovery Pittsburgh are excited to announce SOS Collab, a groundbreaking collaboration aimed at strengthening community support for individuals and families in need. By joining forces, these three charitable organizations aim to address the interconnected challenges of poverty, homelessness, and addiction, and provide comprehensive assistance to those seeking to rebuild their lives.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh has a long-standing commitment to serving individuals experiencing poverty and hardship. With a network of dedicated volunteers and community partners, they provide practical support, including emergency assistance, food programs, and housing supplements. The organization focuses on promoting social justice and compassion by fostering solidarity and providing hope to those most vulnerable in our community. 

Off the Floor Furniture Bank has been a pillar of support for families transitioning from homelessness, individuals escaping domestic violence situations, and others in need of basic furniture and home essentials. Through their generous donations of furniture and household items, they help create comfortable living environments, thereby restoring dignity and stability to individuals and families in crisis. 

Skyline Recovery Pittsburgh specializes in helping individuals on their journey to recovery from substance misuse. With a comprehensive approach that combines residential treatment, counseling, vocational training, and ongoing support, Skyline Recovery Pittsburgh empowers individuals to rebuild their lives and reintegrate them into society. They believe in fostering a supportive community that promotes personal growth and lasting recovery. 

Recognizing the shared vision and complementary missions of these organizations, SOS Collab seeks to maximize their collective impact and create a seamless continuum of care for individuals facing multiple challenges. By combining resources, knowledge, and expertise, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh, Off the Floor Furniture Bank, and Skyline Recovery Pittsburgh will enhance their capacity to meet the complex needs of those they serve. 

The collaboration will focus on key areas of synergy, including: 

Holistic Support: Through coordinated efforts, the organizations will provide comprehensive assistance, addressing not only immediate needs but also long-term goals such as stable housing, employment, and mental health support. 

Referral Network: The collaboration aims to establish a robust referral system, ensuring individuals receive timely access to the most appropriate services available within the partnership, as well as external resources when necessary. 

Advocacy and Education: By leveraging their collective voices, the organizations will advocate for systemic changes, raise awareness about the issues of poverty, homelessness, and addiction, and promote education and prevention initiatives within the community. 

The combined strength of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh, Off the Floor Furniture Bank, and Skyline Recovery Pittsburgh will create an inclusive and compassionate support network, offering hope and practical assistance to individuals and families in need. SOS Collab represents a significant step towards a more resilient and equitable community, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. More information can be found at or by emailing Ricardo Luckow. And listen to the recent local podcast Yinz are Good to hear an interview with Off the Floor Executive Director Stephen Crary and more about the SOS Collab.

Planned giving is a noble and impactful way to ensure that the values you hold dear are perpetuated beyond your lifetime. One such avenue for making a lasting difference is by designating a bequest to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh. This act not only reflects your commitment to helping those in need but also serves as a beacon of hope for the less fortunate in our community.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh (SVdP) has long been a steadfast presence—171 years young—extending a helping hand to individuals and families facing adversity. Through its dedicated volunteers and compassionate initiatives, the organization has touched countless lives, providing essential resources, support, and comfort to those navigating challenging circumstances.

The process of making a bequest is relatively straightforward. After consulting with your legal and financial advisors, you can include a provision in your will outlining the specifics of your bequest. This might involve a percentage of your estate, a specific dollar amount, or even the residue of your estate after other obligations have been fulfilled. The bequest can be directed towards a particular program or initiative that resonates with you, ensuring that your values and intentions are honored.

Planned giving through a bequest holds several advantages. It allows you to make a significant impact on an organization you care deeply about while potentially providing your estate with tax benefits. Moreover, it provides a sense of fulfillment, knowing that your commitment to the SVdP will endure and continue to make a positive impact for generations to come.

As you embark on this journey of planned giving, take the time to reflect on the values that have guided your life and the legacy you wish to leave behind. By designating a bequest to the SVdP, you are extending the reach of your compassion and ensuring that your commitment to serving the less fortunate remains an enduring force well into the future.

In a world where challenges persist, your planned giving becomes a catalyst for transformation. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh, through its commitment to our neighbors in need, is ready to honor your legacy by continuing to uplift and empower those who need it the most. Please let us know about your intention to honor SVdP through a planned gift. You will be able to guide the impact of your gift during your lifetime and ensure your values and commitment to St. Vincent de Paul are recognized. Your bequest is more than a financial contribution; it’s a testament to the enduring power of compassion and a tangible way to shape a better future for all.

Please contact Jennifer Thoma, director of development, at 412.321.1071×1204 for more information on how you can include the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in your future philanthropic and spiritual legacies and ensure their transformative impact.