Volunteer Highlights and Opportunities
A good part of the blessing for those in need that comes from SVdP begins with a simple request for assistance. And whether it’s a need for a bed and some furniture, being behind a few months in back rent, mounting unpaid utility bills, hungry children, or an eviction notice, those friends in need who contact us are, for the most part, initially responded to by our volunteers.
Besides direct contact with churches, or referrals through the Findhelp program, the new SOS Collab network, or the SVdP website itself, most contacts reach us through phone calls to the Council Office. Those calls are often more than just requests, they are pleas for help filled with distress and desperation from persons whose stories can tug at your heartstrings.
These calls are met with empathy, compassion, patience, and understanding from our volunteers who respond to over 1,000 calls we receive monthly. Sr. Jan Franklin and Joe Mulvaney are regular volunteers navigating the many calls and resources we offer to friends-in-need. Student intern Dominque Jetter is pitching in during the school year and Pete Hutchinson also helps (prior to this, Rick Musser did this job all week long, all by himself!).
When we return these phone calls, the potential clients receive the needed personal connection, but volunteers must also determine which SVdP Conference covers the area where the person lives. From there, clients are directed to a local parish along with the explicit message that we will try to help them in their time of need. If there is no Conference located in the area in which they live, or help is unavailable, our volunteers attempt to find other resources or organizations which might be able to assist the friend in need.
From that point, the Vincentians (who are also volunteers) in each Conference follow up and, if they are able, provide assistance. Sometimes a moving story will trickle back to the Council Office volunteers, but mostly we just pray that those who are struggling have had their burdens relieved, even if just a little bit. Sadly, those thousands of calls are likely the tip of the iceberg since our voicemail is limited to 100 messages at a time and, until those calls are responded to, others calling for help after the phone bank is filled may be shut out.
It would be a great blessing if there were a few more volunteers to help us meet the tremendous need that is out there. Doing this volunteer work is a rewarding experience. The people you help will often let you know how much your service means to them. Besides that, the staff at the SVdP Council Office will never let you forget how much your work is appreciated. And finally, the Holy Spirit knows and will, in some way, let you know how much it matters.
If you are inspired to volunteer some of your time for this, please call the Council Office and leave a message with anyone there (412-321-1071) or you may email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get back to you right away!
In addition, we need another kind of volunteer. Are you organized and good at planning events and connecting people? The Help Thy Neighbor Walk Planning Committee meets year-round to plan, enhance, and grow the annual Walk in North and South Parks, calling attention to the important work of Vincentians in the fight against poverty and social injustice, and in the growth of their commitment to their faith and Christ. The next planning meeting will be held on January 29, 2024, at 11am, by Zoom. Please contact director of formation, Karen O’Keefe, at 412.321.1071 x 1203 or email@example.com with your interest. If you have even just a couple of hours to give each month, we need and welcome your involvement.