Vincentians in Action

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As you know, SVdP Detroit believes the person to person contact through home visits is the core work of our volunteer Vincentians and allows us to best serve our neighbors in need. A communication will soon be emailed to all conference presidents asking for regular submissions of good news/success stories we can share that demonstrates how our Vincentians are fulfilling our mission each day.  We’re specifically interested in focusing on the home visit and follow up assistance, however any examples of Vincentians at work are welcome!

See the Possible

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For over 130 years, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit has heard and responded to the cries of those we serve, regardless of creed, ethnic or social background or gender. All are welcome at our door.

Through our unique home visits, we are privileged to see our neighbors in need differently, with our heart, and share the promise of a better tomorrow.

see the possible

No matter who we are or where we come from everyone deserves an opportunity to better their future. Through this campaign, we want all of our audiences to feel an attachment that they too can “see the possible.” Those we serve will no longer feel lost or forgotten, we can help them feel like they do have promise and a better future. Our sponsors can envision their partnership with us as truly enriching the lives of those in our community. Our board, leadership and staff can also imagine the possibilities of continuing our work in even more impactful and meaningful ways.

June 2018 Update

June 2018 Update 1000 1000 echomedia

Dear Fellow Vincentians

On May 12th, more than 270 Vincentians gathered for our annual Awards Banquet to recognize and honor numerous volunteers in our ranks for their extraordinary service to those in need. During the Mass that preceded it, Fr. John Riccardo performed a commissioning ceremony that officially welcomed me to the ranks of the Vincentians. In that regard, I deeply appreciate your prayers as I embrace the challenges that each day brings. Overall, our Awards Banquet was a wonderful celebration made possible by an overall team effort. What was especially touching about the evening was that none of the recipients we honored served others so that they could receive an award. Their decision to serve arose from a genuine interest in helping. Indeed, every person who attended our banquet was an honored guest for their contributions to our mission, the spirit of our Vincentian community, and for their sustained commitment to volunteerism. Collectively, the Society served over 300,000 people in need throughout southeast Michigan last year alone. What an incredible team effort! Thank you, All!

Our Society has an extraordinary sense of community. It traces back to Blessed Frederic Ozanam. Pope John Paul II referred to him as a gift to our Church: “We must thank God for the present he has made to the Church, in the person of Ozanam. One never ceases to wonder at the amount of work he was able to undertake for the Church, for the community, for the poor.” (27 April 1983). Our Vincentian values are clear: Spirituality, Friendship, and Service. At the end of the day, our mission must matter most. When we choose to allow our inspirational mission to guide us to helping those in need, we become transformed into what our Holy Father recently described as “saints next door.” Hearty congratulations to all who were recognized on May 12th and for all who contributed to advancing our mission in some meaningful way.

In 1848, Blessed Frederic Ozanam taught that God hears the cry of the Poor and responds by moving good people to act out of genuine charity and justice to help their neighbors. He urged people to make equality and human dignity as operative as possible, and to make charity accomplish what justice alone cannot do. In 2018, while remaining entirely consistent with Frederic Ozanam’s teachings, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (U.S..A.) revised its mission statement. It provides that our Society is:

“A network of friends, inspired by the gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.”

It is both humbling and motivational to know that our collective efforts to help those in need are part of an unbroken chain of service that dates back hundreds of years. How truly inspirational.

By choosing to help those in need, we have forged a strong Vincentian community. Noted Catholic theologian, Richard Rohr, had this to say about community. “Living in community means living in such a way that others can access me and that I can get “out of myself” and serve the lives of others. Community is a world where brotherliness and sisterliness are possible. By community, I don’t mean primarily a special kind of structure, but a network of relationships. On the whole, we live in a society that’s built not on community and cooperation but on individuality, greed, and competition – . . . “ Our Society offers a community where brotherliness and sisterliness are possible. Indeed, according to Pope Francis, “a community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present.”

Volunteerism is a fundamental expression of caring for another. It involves one’s decision to help others in some meaningful way. At its core, volunteer work is critical to individual and community well-being. It promotes values like solidarity, mutual trust, and a sense of belonging. These are feelings that contribute significantly to one’s quality of life. Whereas mainstream economics fosters values of self-interest and competition to achieve maximum satisfaction, compassion and cooperation are both core values of volunteerism. Referencing Fr. Rohr’s comments, once again, “individuality, greed, and competition” should play no role in our collective, team effort to help those in need. Values such as solidarity, mutual trust, and community have been on display at each Vincentian District meeting I have attended. Witnessing such group behavior renews my spirit. Thank you to all in our ranks who choose to subordinate their personal interests in favor of our inspirational Vincentian mission. It is our mission that matters.

I also share two important events. First, I am delighted to advise that Keith Koppmeier has joined our team as our Society’s new Director of Development. Among other things, Keith is busily preparing a comprehensive development plan, exploring possible impact investing opportunities, pursuing a proactive action plan aimed at generating development funds as quickly as reasonably possible, and overseeing Golf Outing preparations. If you know of good prospects or funding opportunities that our Society should pursue for support of our mission, please do not hesitate to reach out to Keith, kkoppmeier@svdpdetroit.org.

Secondly, on June 18th, we will host our 27th “Red” Martin & Msgr. Gerald Martin Annual Golf Outing. As you know, all proceeds from this event go to support our Camp Ozanam program. Since 1923, (i.e. 95 years), our Council and Conferences have sent more than 175,000 deserving girls and boys free of charge to them to beautiful Camp Ozanam on Lake Huron. Free transportation is provided from Detroit. What a remarkable, collective effort! Even if you cannot participate in our golf outing, anything that you can donate to this most worthwhile, near century-long, effort will be most appreciated. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

In closing, I extend heartfelt appreciation to the warm welcome I received at each of the District meetings I have attended. In some respects, each District is unique. But a commonality that each shares is a steadfast commitment to our Vincentian mission. A common message that I have shared with each District is my intent and determination to build a stronger, more collaborative bridge between Central Office and each District and Conference. Let our shared commitment to our mission be the bond that continually brings us closer and more in harmony as we serve all those in need. God bless.

In Blessed Frederic Ozanam’s and Blessed Rosalie Rendu’s name,


Journey to Housing Presents “An Evening of Hearts III”

Journey to Housing Presents “An Evening of Hearts III” 150 150 Beth Ransom

Tickets are now on sale for Journey to Housing‘s 3rd annual Evening of Hearts Fund-raiser supporting homeless families.  This year’s event will be even more exciting than last with an opportunity to dance to the music of Steve King and the Dittilies!


ServWare Database for Conferences

ServWare Database for Conferences 150 150 Beth Ransom

ServWare Database Information – 
ServWare is a web-based application designed to support charitable conferences by providing a secure, easily accessible location for conference members to collaborate on charitable activities.
ServWare Training Video
ServWare Training Video – Abbreviated 
ServWare Demo Video
ServWare Website 
ServWare Key Features
Servware Conference Sign-Up
What is ServWare video – https://youtu.be/OU3yZcniRbg
ServWare Conference Capability Video – https://youtu.be/5eaz8d9KDB0
YouTube Training Videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOMSC8bCFKR0Wmd4NXs82nC7B3-muvJV8

Urgent Message

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Dear Friends,

In times of real need, you’ve been one of our most loyal and generous supporters. You’ve been a true friend to the poorest and most vulnerable in our community…

Today, I’m turning to you with confidence, hopeful that you’ll help us through a difficult moment. Please, will you?

We are experiencing a serious shortfall of supplies at food pantries where we help. We’ve been assisting more people than ever with hot meals and food to take home, but in the middle of summer, needs grow and our resources get depleted.

Keeping up this summer has been a difficult challenge and we must restock our shelves.  Some of the families turning to us really don’t know where their next meal is coming from. If their utilities will be shut off. If they’ll have a roof overhead…

We all have worries, I know, but these families are literally on the edge. I wish you could meet just one. I know your heart would be moved and you’d take immediate action if you met someone like Dan*…

Dan, a veteran who bravely served our country, was struggling to provide his family with the basics since he’d been laid off.

He explained that the family’s gas and lights had been turned off because they couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

Dan did odd jobs to help make ends meet, but times had gotten even tougher since his wife, Sharla, had caught pneumonia and been hospitalized. More medical bills were the last thing they needed…

Things got so tight that they feared losing their small house.

When Dan came to St. Vincent de Paul for help, he seemed weak and was obviously in distress. We learned that in a desperate effort to make their house payment, he had not been eating enough… he’d been skipping meals.

Dan was so, so relieved to find out that we could help. By providing Dan and his family not only with food but with understanding and genuine concern in a dark moment, we were able to share hope.

All this is YOUR compassion at work.

But, as I mentioned above, this has been a particularly difficult summer. Our resources have been stretched to the limit and beyond.

Will you think of families in our community who are coming to us on the verge of despair? Will you help us to help them so they don’t have to skip meals or take other desperate measures to make it through?

My greatest concern now is keeping up with requests for help. God bless you for caring – and for acting – today.


Therese Frye
Archdiocesan Council Board of Trustees

Join me in welcoming Shelly Robertson, our new Director of Development. Please read her message below…

Join me in welcoming Shelly Robertson, our new Director of Development. Please read her message below… 150 150 christachappelnewriver


Dear Friends,

I can’t tell you how happy and honored I am to join our Executive Director, Deacon Chris Stark, and the rest of the St. Vincent de Paul staff and volunteers to serve the poorest and most vulnerable of our community.

And though I know it won’t be easy keeping up with the needs of struggling individuals and families who are counting on us, I begin this important work filled with great hope…


Because I know we have an incredible, unfailing resource behind us… YOU.

I know how kind you’ve been in lifting up our neighbors.
And now, in the dead of winter when needs are extra high, I’m asking …

Please, will you make a gift so we can care for all in need of our help this winter?

Your compassion is making a real difference…

Thanks to you, our very important mission is being carried out through a variety of programs and services. All told last year, we helped more than 300,000 of our neighbors in need.

Without friends like you, that level of outreach simply wouldn’t be possible!

Whether providing the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter… or emergency financial assistance, energy assistance, educational programs, disaster relief… or helping someone regain their smile at our dental clinic, YOU stand with us in changing lives.

And when our tireless Vincentian volunteers carry out home visits to assess the needs of the poor and vulnerable, YOU, in a very real way, stand beside them. Without your prayers and support, you see, the needs they identify simply couldn’t be addressed.

But as grateful as I am for all the good you make possible, there still is much to do, many still in need, and we cannot rest on our laurels…

Some turning to us this winter are suffering without a decent coat.

Some don’t have enough to eat.

Some worry if their utilities will be shut off.

Some don’t even have a roof overhead…

They are in tremendous need, and I don’t want to fail them.

And with your help today, we won’t.

Every gift – large or small – makes a difference and will be rushed into action right here in our community. Please, will you make the most generous gift you can to share help and hope this winter through St. Vincent de Paul?


Shelly Robertson, Director of Development





P.S. Many of our neighbors find themselves suffering without the basic necessities of food, clothing or shelter. But your prayers, gifts and support make St. Vincent de Paul’s good work to help them possible. I’m so glad to be working with you on this most important mission of mercy and hope!


Your generosity at work in 2017…

Your generosity at work in 2017… 150 150 christachappelnewriver

Dear Caring Friend,

Thank you for all your support in 2016! You’ve been a great friend to our most vulnerable neighbors through St. Vincent de Paul. Because of you, we’ve been able to help many in our local community who had fallen on hard times this past year.

But as I write today, many are still in need. Will you help us to help them in 2017?

I pray you’ll see the need and respond with love. The cold winter months are upon us and the demand for our programs is high. Many are in need of warm meals, warm coats and a warm and safe place to sleep at night.

These are the gifts your kindness makes possible.

So please will you make a gift today?

Sometimes those in need are people who have worked their entire lives and always believed they’d be helping others… rather than needing it themselves! “It’s what we mean when we say, “there but for the grace of God, go I..”

I’m thinking of someone like Lynette.*

Lynette is 70. She owned three beauty shops during her career and raised two daughters with her husband…

But once the girls had grown up, Lynette’s husband ended the marriage.

The divorce left Lynette reeling, both emotionally and financially. Lynette lost her salons and was left with almost nothing…

She tried to make ends met by working multiple jobs in retail and hardware stores.

But still she struggled… She’s now on a fixed income and any hiccup can be devastating. Just getting through winters, having enough money to keep her heat on is hard.

Lynette was grateful to find a job at a senior center, but when her car broke down she was unable to get to work and lost her job. From there, she started falling behind on utility payments and even stopped taking some much needed prescription medication as a way to cut corners.

But she couldn’t go on that way. And, very frankly, Lynette didn’t know what she was going to do… until parishioners at her church told her about St. Vincent de Paul.

After a home visit to assess the situation, we calmed her down and let her know she as not alone. We helped pay to get her car repaired and drove her around during the time it took to get it fixed.

She was able to get her job back and is grateful and “back on track,” she says.

Because of the generosity of friends like YOU, we are able to be there for Lynette and many others this year – and we’ll be there for others and continue lifting up the least of our sisters and brothers.

This is the gift of YOUR kindness – it’s YOUR mercy in action.

I pray that you’ll make  a gift to support our neighbors in 2017. Please will you?

God bless you for recognizing the need, but also for caring enough to act today!

With all best wishes in 2017,

Deacon Chris Stark

Executive Director


Our 2016 Year End Campaign is underway…

Our 2016 Year End Campaign is underway… 150 150 christachappelnewriver

Will you finish the year with a final act of kindness?  Please help a neighbor in need by making a tax-deductible gift today. It’s your last chance to make a year-end gift and give us a jump start on our good works for 2017 – and your generosity truly makes a difference!

This past year friends like you allowed us able to help so many in need. Neighbors like…

… Laurie, a mother of three. Laurie was living pay check to pay check, until her work hours got cut. The family had no way to keep up with all their bills and eventually received an eviction notice. Laurie was desperate, worried about how she would feed her children and keep a roof over their heads. But, with your assistance, St. Vincent de Paul-Detroit saved the family from eviction and helped them through a terrible time.

… and Chris and Jennifer and their two children. Both parents worked at a local hotel, but when it closed down, the family had hardly any savings. Before long they lost their home and were living at a motel when they found help through St. Vincent de Paul-Detroit.

But thanks to you, we were there to lift up the family and help them secure new jobs. We also found a safe home for them and provided them with furniture to begin again.

… and Sharon and David and their three young children*.  A terrible fire destroyed everything they possessed in the world: furniture, toys, precious family photos… everything. The family was left with nothing but the clothes on their back. They were in shock, no insurance, no one to help. But thanks to you, we were there for them. We helped them move in to a new apartment, paid their first month and security deposit. We also provided them with clothes and furniture from a St. Vincent de Paul family thrift store.

Thank you for all your support in 2016! Please be a part of changing lives in 2017 with a last chance, tax-deductible year-end gift today!

Thank you and Blessings for 2017!