Dear Fellow Vincentians,
Here’s to a Blessed and Happy New Year for everyone.
The SVdPD Archdiocesan Council has great plans for the New Year, some just a dream and some in the planning stage. I want to speak to you about what is perhaps the most important idea to date. Historically, the Camps and the Thrift stores have been integral parts of the services provided to our Neighbors in Need. They both will continue to be a thriving part of what we offer from a Central Office stance. What each of you offer, however, is the core of who we are as a Society. Day in and day out, you connect with those in poverty, struggling on both an emotional and physical level. We all have dealt with generational poverty, the working poor, or the unfortunate change in life status that occurs to someone.
Is there another way? The wording “SYSTEMIC CHANGE” may seem like a dream, but I believe it can be a possibility. Having worked for so many years with the poor and vulnerable, my initial reaction to this concept was negative, an impossibility, and without merit. The mission of the State of Michigan was “self-sufficiency” for a very long time. I failed to see any significant progress in achieving it for so long, for so many people.
I’ve changed my mind. I hope you can change your mind and see the possible.
Currently, there are Councils and entities that have programs that are designed to help the poor move out of poverty. A few names are “Bridges to Hope”, “Getting Ahead”, and “Changing Lives Forever”. These programs are designed with learning tools to work on changing ideas, fostering self-sufficiency, learning how to hope, financial literacy and the ability to move beyond operating in survival mode only. Classes, stipends, books and mentoring are the major components of all the above programs.
Dose systematic change work? It’s not an easy or automatic process. No one predicts 100% success. Change in daily thinking, managing one’s finances with limited income, and dreaming of a future require persistence, support and modeling to achieve such success.
As Central office staff and volunteers begin to develop this concept, I need each of you to initiate discussion within your Conferences and your District meetings to envision how applicable it could be to your work with Neighbors in Need.
Some of us have been at this a long time. Some of us have become cynical and believe that we clearly understand the cycle of poverty and all the trials and tribulations that accompany it. Don’t let yourself be blinded by your historical experience.
Remember, I believe in this concept. It may be a dream but I am hoping to see it become an integral part of our work with the poor.