We are still waiting for the onslaught of calls to our help lines from those neighbors facing eviction and utility shutoffs. Federal dollars have come through to assist those in need and primarily given to Social services groups, shelters and Community Action agencies. The amount dispersed to
SVdP in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will help but falls short of the anticipated need of our neighbors. Monroe, St. Clair and Lapeer counties face even less dollars coming their way.
So, what is our purpose? We are not social workers, caseworkers or emergency responders. As a social worker throughout my working career, personal information was private, friendship with clients was unethical and religion discussion was verboten. Fear, anger and both defensive and offensive measures were daily encounters.
HOWEVER, we have received a calling from God to the mission of helping the poor, in a way far different than most helpers.
Our neighbors are not clients. Our conferences are not driven by written policy, rather general guidelines and consensus decision making.
How do your neighbors see you? As Vincentians we bring friendship, spirituality and hope to our neighbors. Those elements make such a difference in our daily encounters, even if we are not able to help with financial means.
Should we be mentors? Should we share our personal lives or information at all to our neighbors in need?
Let’s not be afraid to share a part of ourselves as we move forward from this Pandemic. This is not a suggestion that we reveal ourselves in any way that could possibly harm us, but accept those who call as our neighbors, not clients.
We talk about systemic change as a means of changing lives. Whether it’s through an official program or your intervention, we can effect great change in keeping the essential elements of our Society, spirituality, service and friendship present in our work as a Vincentian.
In reflection on the founders of our Society, Frederic Ozanam, Blessed Rosalie Rendu, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise Marillac, their commitment of life work to the poor is the foundation of our daily work.
I ask that you reflect on your approach and attitude towards your neighbors. Our calls will increase, our help will be needed. Our opportunity will be there.
Remember, as Vincentians we have chosen the vocation of serving the poor.
God bless to all,