Conference Connection

SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL DETROIT – COVID GUIDELINES UPDATE

SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL DETROIT – COVID GUIDELINES UPDATE 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

CONFERENCE MEETINGS

  • OK to return to regular in-person meetings effective June 2 based on the comfort level of conference members
  • Offer ZOOM option if some members are uncomfortable with in-person
  • Friendship is one of our three essential elements and it is important that we restore our focus on building friendship and relationships as we return to normal function.
  • No need for masks for vaccinated members or guests.
  • Other sanitation methods (wipes, 6 foot distancing, etc.) for the meeting at the discretion of conference members

HOME VISITS

  • OK to return to in-home neighbor visits effective June 2 based on comfort level of conference and home visitors.  In-home visits should only be made by vaccinated members.
  • It is not appropriate to inquire as to the vaccination status of neighbors we visit, although we should inform the neighbors of our vaccination status.
  • Consider having call taker ascertain neighbor comfort level with in-home visit
  • Home visitor should ask neighbor about mask/social distancing preference upon greeting at the door.  Neighbor preference must be followed and home visitors should have a mask on hand.  Check with neighbor on comfort with holding hands during prayer as well.  Have masks with you for visits.
  • During this transition time it is appropriate to continue with a “drop off” type visit, however, our ministry is rooted in personal visits with our neighbors and we must be affirmatively working in that direction.

NOTES

  • Have a conversation at your next conference meeting regarding these procedures
  • These guidelines are not mandatory and each conference should discuss and determine the best path forward for them, remembering that the safety of members and neighbors is of the utmost importance.  Conferences should continue to monitor state and CDC guidance and consider that in their decisions.
  • Remember that our Vincentian ministry expects us to work toward consensus in decision making whenever possible.

Seeing the Possible Through Storytelling

Seeing the Possible Through Storytelling 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

We all know the feeling.   We’re sitting around the backyard bar-b-que table in the middle of a lively conversation, and we have a story to tell.  We can’t wait to get it out.  The anticipation is excruciating, and when it’s finally our turn, there’s a feeling of relief and joy that we shared something about what we did, and who we are.

Telling stories is one of my favorite things to do as a fundraiser.   There’s a lot that goes into raising funds – data segmentation, mailings, prospecting, stewardship, but when it comes down to getting someone to see what’s possible, and how they can be part of making that happen, personal stories are what connects them to the work we do at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit.

Stories can be very powerful.  They kindle emotions and spark empathy for our neighbors in need, yet they all don’t have to be dramatic or heart-wrenching to do that.   Sometimes just the everyday telling of serving someone a hot meal, or helping them pick out a warm coat can serve as a catalyst to a deeper conversation that connects us to our listener and the listener to our mission.  As long as they are genuine, stories can fill a book of what’s possible.

As Vincentians, you change lives, and you have stories to tell.   Some of your stories are personal, and are filled with despair, loneliness, hopelessness and more.  It takes courage to tell those stories, but remember, you offer hope and friendship, spiritual guidance and comfort to those you visit.  And in some cases, you lift them out of poverty.  You transform lives, and SVdPD has supporters who want to know how they helped you make a difference, and how they can do more.

Your stories demonstrate the impact of their kindness and generosity.  They’re proof that they are truly making a difference in the lives of the thousands of people who come to us seeking assistance.

Telling stories is one of my favorite things to do as a fundraiser, and I need your help to do that.   As we prepare for our end of year campaign, your ongoing input will be critical to our ability to show our future and current donors the impact that their gift makes in our communities.

We are going to start sending out email newsletters and sharing impact stories in our thank you letters as well as sharing more about the work you do to assist our neighbors in need.

Tell your story.   It doesn’t have to be long, just a few sentences or bullet points.   We’ll write it up and make sure it is what you want to convey before we use it.

Together, we can help every person see the possible, and show everyone how they can help to make the possible happen.

So as you gather with your family and friends in the backyard this summer, take a deep breath and unleash the storyteller in you.   Then tell us.   You’ll be glad you did.

Send your stories to Keith at kkoppmeier@svdpdetroit.org

An Update from Nancy – July 2021

An Update from Nancy – July 2021 1000 1100 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Vincentians,

Just a few brief comments this month.  This month’s Conference Connection provides information on upcoming events and guidelines for returning to home visits to serve our neighbors in need. The hope going forward is for in person gatherings and in person interaction with those we serve.

During the pandemic, many conferences have been active in providing food distribution and meeting basic needs through telephone calls, brief visits in church parking lots or on front porches.  Many others have paused in helping anyone due to safety concerns for all.

At this point in time, as Michigan ends all Covid 19 regulations, there are many who still question the safety of moving forward and continue to maintain safety procedure for themselves and their families.  As conferences discuss the recommended SVdP guidelines, please remember that each of you should have an honest and open discussion with your conference members.  Express your level of comfort and any of your concerns for safety.  Explore   potential ways to mediate safety issues and acknowledge the concerns of those you serve regarding personal interaction.

Reflect on the mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul:

“A network of friends, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need”.  We clearly have been missing the personal relationships with our neighbors in need.

There are many of us in the Archdiocese of Detroit – 145 conferences, over 3,000 Vincentians.  Thank you all, every day, for your commitment to life as a Vincentian.

God bless,
Nancy

A Letter from Julia Hohner – Camp Ozanam

A Letter from Julia Hohner – Camp Ozanam 800 800 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Greetings! My name is Julia Hohner and I am thrilled to join the St. Vincent de Paul Detroit team as the Director of Camp Services.  While I’m new to the organization in this position, my connection with the camps extends nearly a decade—I started as a counselor at Camp Ozanam in 2012, worked there for five years, and have volunteered at the camps ever since. Taking on this role feels like coming home in so many ways and I can’t wait to work with you in the coming years to continue building and improving our camps.

For nearly a century, St. Vincent de Paul has been providing children from southeast Michigan, who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, the chance to enjoy the excitement and adventure of a summer camp experience.  More than 100,000 children have splashed in the waves of Lake Huron, learned new skills, slept under the stars, built their self-confidence, and grown in their faith. After pausing program operations during 2020, we are overjoyed to be able to safely resume serving campers this year—in no small part due to the generosity of so many Vincentians who have committed their time, talent, treasure, passion, and prayers to camp.

Camp will certainly look different this year.  There will be LOTS of cleaning, cabin groups will be smaller and spaced out, campers will wear masks during some activities, and our activity schedules will change a bit.  But alongside our fervent commitment to the health and safety of our campers (which you can learn more about here) is a promise to preserve the magic of summer camp. Even though this will look different than any other summer at Camp Ozanam, our goal is that campers will remember their excitement, laughter, and spiritual growth at camp above all else.

While the summer camping season may seem far away, with the start of April we are now less than 100 days from our first day of camp! In the next several weeks, we hope you’ll be able to support us in making this summer a success. Here’s how you can help:

  • Enroll Campers – Your Conference President has received a packet with our new enrollment procedures and a list of campers who we’d love to return in 2021.  If you’re interested in helping to enroll campers for your Conference, please connect with your President to learn more about how you can help and some upcoming enrollment training opportunities.
  • Join Us for Camp Work Day – On Saturday, May 8th from 9 AM to 4 PM Vincentians, alumni, and volunteers from across the state will be joining us at camp to clean, do yard work, and get our facilities ready for the summer. You can check out the details of the day here or click here to register for Camp Work Day.
  • Help Recruit Summer Staff – A successful summer at Camp Ozanam is always dependent upon a strong staff—passionate and capable counselors, activity specialists, team leaders, cooks, and maintenance staff are essential.  Do you know someone who would be a good fit for our summer staff?  Check out our website to learn more about available positions and learn how to apply.
  • Go Golfing – Yes, you read that right!  Even a day of golf can help support camps.  If you haven’t already, be sure to register for this year’s Annual Golf Outing to support St. Vincent de Paul’s camping program.  You can access the online registration form here.

Thank you in advance for all of your support—without you, my work would not be possible.  I can’t wait to see what this summer has to hold and to share with you the joy, love, and blessings that your hard work will make possible this year.

 

God bless,

Julia Hohner

From Sister Noreen – April 2021

From Sister Noreen – April 2021 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Could the RULE of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul be rewritten just from observing your Conference? This is a question posed in the Handbook for Spiritual Advisors and a good question to ponder.

This is even a good question to ask your Conference members. Pose the question and invite members to reflect a few moments on what in their life as an SVDP member might be evident and could be included in a Rule written for their Conference. It may be the area of Spirituality, Friendship or Service and how that is seen or experienced. Even in a Zoom meeting, as most are still doing, this could be done and shared aloud by each person.

In our International Rule, Section 2, Vincentian Spirituality and Vocation, there is an important section describing in broad terms that we “journey together towards holiness.”  How does that look in your Conference?  Be specific in your responses.

The President of every Conference has a responsibility for promoting Vincentian spirituality and works closely with the person(s) appointed as Spiritual Advisor. It is even better if a Conference can have two persons share the role of Spiritual Advisor or Spiritual “Facilitator.”  The Spiritual Advisor is dedicated to inspiring, guiding and helping the members in living their Vincentian vocation.

The Opening Prayer followed by a Spiritual Reflection period of 10-20 minutes is an expectation for each Conference meeting.  The Reflection strives to engage the imagination and intellect of Vincentians in ways that deepen personal and communal meditation and response. Responses and thoughts that are shared with our members help us to know one’s another’s hearts and grow in friendship, as well as spiritually.

Many tools and resources are available to aid the Spiritual Advisor: The Handbook for Spiritual Advisors, the Serving in Hope Modules, the Sunday Liturgy Reflection Sheets. All of these are available on the www.svdpusa.org website in the Resource Section and Tools for Members.

When we can meet again in person, there will be some training or formation workshops for Spiritual Advisors, new and experienced. Meanwhile, a current resource is offered on Wednesday evenings of Lent at 7:00 pm. These sessions are based on Module II, Serving in Hope: Our Vincentian Spirituality. You should be receiving the email invitations from the central office to Register and obtain the link to connect on Zoom.

With you on the journey,
Sister Noreen Ellison, SC

188 Years Ago in Paris

188 Years Ago in Paris 1200 800 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

One hundred eighty-eight years ago in Paris in 1833 the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is created by 7 college students; 176 years ago in 1845 in St. Louis, MO. the first Conference is established in the United States(sixteen years before the Civil War; 137 years ago in1884 the first Conference is established in Detroit, MI.; 122 years ago the Council of Detroit is established in 1899. (We keep telling young people to wait to tell they grow up before we let them do stuff.)

It was a Saturday, it was 8:00 in the evening, and a small group of seven young men met for the first time in the newspaper office of  Tribune Catholique. The publisher was an elderly fellow by the name of Joseph Emmanuel Bailly. He had agreed to serve as a mentor to the seven young college students gathered around the table. Bailly had founded a student organization called The Conference of History. They met to discuss a wide range of topics. The conference attracted a variety of individuals with differing opinions and beliefs. During this meeting a heated verbal exchange was underway, a fellow by the name of Jean Broet challenged Frederic and his friends: “ We agree that at one time your church was a great church and was a great source of good. But what is your Church doing now? What is it doing for the poor? Show us your good works.” Ozanam accepted the challenge. He and several of his friends agreed to meet again and discuss what they might do in response to this challenge.

On April 23, 1833, Frederic’s twentieth birthday, he and five other students, Auguste Le Taillandier(22), Paul Lamache(23), Francois Lallier(19), Jules Deveraux(22), Felix Clave(22) gathered in Emmanuel  Bailly’s(39) newspaper office. As our Rule, Part I Article 1.1 reminds us Ozanam’s words moved all those present: “We must do what is agreeable to God. Therefore, we must do what our Lord Jesus Christ did when preaching the Gospel. Let us go to the poor!” And so, in the Providence of God, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was born. They formed the first Conference of Charity. These very first Vincentians selected Emmanuel Bailly as the first Conference President.  The new Vincentians then sought out Sr. Rosalie Rendu(47), a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul for her assistance and suggestions in ministering to the poor in Paris. She guided and mentored them in the spirit and charism of St. Vincent de Paul teaching them how to serve their neighbors in need with gentleness, kindness, humility and respect when visiting them in their homes. (a historical fact- she was very much loved by the poor of Paris and when she died at age 69, over 50,000 folks from all walks of life in the city attended her funeral). It’s important to remember that during the time of the founding of the Society life in France was extraordinarily difficult, it was a time of bloody wars and revolutions, extreme poverty, and confusion. Frederic Ozanam brings much to the table because of his knowledge of history, law and his deep faith. His contributions, over is short life of forty years, are to numerous to delve into here. I commend a book titled Antoine Federic Ozanam by Raymond L. Sickinger, a member of our Society from Providence, Rhode Island- a great book. You can order it on the National SVdp Website.

SVdPUSA Members site, click on Shop, select Materials Shop,  then chose Heritage. Frederic was beatified by Pope John Paul ll in 1997 during World Youth Day in Paris, France. The Vincentian Family is praying for and awaiting his being named a Saint of the Church with great anticipation.

Ozanam and the other founders chose St. Vincent de Paul as their patron because his name was almost synonymous with charity. The Church has called him The Apostle of Charity and Father of the Poor as far back as the 16 century. The Rule that we still adhere to today was developed in 1835. Between 1833 and 1860 the Society grew exponentially and today provides help to “our neighbors in need” in over 150 countries on six continents, in places like Syria, Russia, China, Ethiopia, Israel, Brazil, India to name just a few. We are an independent Catholic Lay Organization,  which means we govern ourselves in all matters except faith and morals. Anyone can be a member but only active Roman Catholics can hold office. World-wide and here in Detroit we do amazing work to help our neighbors in need because no work of charity is foreign to us because we see the face of Christ in those we serve and because we see the possible. Our challenge now is for each member in each Conference and each Council to leave the Society better off than we found it.

Pray, reflect and act, and keep Frederic’s and his friend’s spirit alive. Make it happen.

An Update from Nancy – April 2021

An Update from Nancy – April 2021 1000 1100 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Vincentians,

After one year, our conferences are still holding strong, operating a bit differently than in the past, yet reaching out to neighbors in need. The number of calls is less, but the need for food has increased significantly.  The increase in food assistance on Bridge cards has helped along with the federal moratoriums on shelter and local moratoriums on utilities.

We all anticipate an onslaught of calls when the suspensions have lifted, but hopefully federal dollars through the CARES acts, will offset that onslaught to some degree.

Poverty comes in all sizes and shapes.  Our perception of poverty also fluctuates from individual to individual. It’s easy to acknowledge that a neighbor in need who has no furniture, no beds, and little else in basics in their home is impoverished.  Individuals or families who are homeless, living in shelters, or on the streets may receive our immediate care and concern.  The working poor that have lost employment and diminished any savings to zero also receive our compassion.  Neighbors in need who reflect generational poverty may not always receive the same reaction from Vincentians, nor do neighbors who have received unemployment benefits along with the supplements that accompany it. Requests for help from neighbors who have received stimulus checks and haven’t applied them to basic bills may also be on the list of those not considered as needy.

Many of us have at times in our lives experienced difficulty in supporting ourselves or our families. Perhaps it was at a much younger age, due to medical bills or lack of family support.  YET, do we understand the underlying issues related to poverty, the day-to-day struggle, the motivational issues involved, and as described by some authors, the “Tyranny of the Moment.” How frustrating is it to receive a call from a neighbor in need with the cry that the Bailiff will be out the next morning to evict them or the individual that calls or comes into the parish rectory indicating that they have a utility shutoff that day or have no food for their family?

The expectation that we may personally react and act in a timelier manner may fly in the face of those individuals who are fearful of reaching out for charity or are used to the difficulties experienced utilizing the various social service systems.

 


 

How can we as Vincentians understand the motivations or difficulties that our neighbors in need experience on a daily basis.

Ozanam Orientation has a component on poverty. Many Vincentians have served their neighbors in need for a long time and learned to cast judgement aside in the consideration of need requests.  Yet, judgmental decisions may still come into play.

Reflect on your conference actions and decisions:

  • When a request comes again from someone known to the conference, what is the reaction of your members?
  • Is empathy directed to families with young children and not as much to adults living on a limited income?
  • If you provide shelter for those homeless, do you limit it to families or include single adults?
  • When unusual requests come your way, do you automatically reject them or carefully consider whether there is a way to cover the request?
  • Are your conference members comfortable in making home visits or fearful for a myriad of reasons?

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Rule book says that no work of charity is foreign to our Society.  We serve those in need regardless of creed, ethnic or social background, health, gender or political opinions.  Does your conference live this proclamation or for the sake of convenience, judgement or fear, circumvent them?

Consider having a discussion on poverty at your conference meetings. Reflect on the attitudes and opinions from various conference members.  Review the Rule book for inspiration and guidance.  Examine your coffers and determine what your conference can reasonably provide or how can you extend yourselves when necessary.  Make the topic of poverty a part of your spiritual reflections.  Remember the concepts of charity and love and incorporate them into your discussion on your neighbor in need requests.

We are all children of God,

God bless to all of you,
Nancy

From Sister Noreen – January 2021

From Sister Noreen – January 2021 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Throughout December our liturgies and our personal prayer pleaded for the coming of God among us: “Come Lord Jesus!” In this post Christmastime, we ponder the meaning of Jesus’ baptism by John when Jesus hears the prophetic call of His Father as recorded in Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my SERVANT whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am well pleased.”

As commissioned Vincentians, already baptized into the mission of Jesus, we have pledged to know Jesus better and then serve Him in the poor, the marginalized, and the rejected.  Ponder your call and your journey as an active Vincentian. Can you hear God whispering your own affirming call?  “Here is my SERVANT (your name) whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am well pleased.” We are servants, but we do not serve alone. We serve as disciples, as follower-servants of Jesus. How, and in what circumstances, do you feel upheld?

To help us be prepared for our serving roles as Vincentians, all new members are expected to participate in an Ozanam Orientation. Conference Presidents or Secretaries, please send your new member’s names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses to: Tara Ng in the SVDP Central Office, 3000 Gratiot Ave, Det. 48207 or email her.

New member Ozanam Orientation is a five-hour ZOOM format that can be completed in one full Saturday or in two half-day sessions. Registration is necessary. Members will be commissioned at the conclusion of Part two.

Ozanam Orientation:

Part 1 Saturday, Feb. 6   9:00-11:30 a.m.
Part 2   Saturday, Feb. 6   1:00-  3:30 p.m.

Ozanam Orientation:

Part 1 Saturday, March 6   9:00-11:30 a.m.
Part 2 Saturday, March 6   1:00-  3:30 p.m.

Other programs to strengthen our Vincentian vocations and spirituality are also scheduled for ZOOM.

Please mark your calendars and then register when you receive the email invitations.

SVDP-D Lenten Reflection:  Tuesday, February 16 7:00 -9:00 p.m. with Ralph Middlecamp, our National SVDP President

Lenten Reflections with Vincent begin: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7:00-8:00 p.m. and weekly for 6 sessions

With you in prayer through 2021,

Sister Noreen Ellison, SC

From the CEO – January 2021

From the CEO – January 2021 1000 1100 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Sister and Brother Vincentians,

Peace be with you. I hope that you and your family has had a healthy, happy, and blessed Christmas season.  Despite the challenges, I hope that you chose to keep goodness in the Christmas season even if your holidays were scaled down.  This past year has been like no other in many respects.

1. Cause for Hope and Optimism in a Difficult Year

Difficult times can bring out people’s “best self.” Physical social distancing, masks? Sure.  Emotional closeness and support? Absolutely! That is precisely what has happened this past year at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit.

During this dreadful Covid-19 (COVID)  pandemic, our Archdiocese  has had so many people, good people, find themselves in dire straits.  At SVdPD, we did shutter our Central Office and retail operations for three long months; and our Vincentians were challenged to improvise on how best to assist our neighbors.  But every day this past year, whether in person or remotely, SVdPD did its best to hear and meet the cries of those in need. In the eyes of those we served, we saw the suffering Christ. We did not judge those we served. Rather, the true measure of Vincentian compassion for others was in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them. At SVdPD, therefore, we not only served those in need together, we did so willingly, cheerfully, and in a manner that helped them to restore some dignity and hope.  Moreover consistent with our Rule, we strive to grow in holiness with prayer and by expressing compassionate and tender comfort to the poor and to one another.  During a most challenging year for so many, those provided some optimism.

2. SVdPD Council – A “Difficult” Year in Review

As I have for the past two years, I present a third “year in review” from the CEO perspective of how our Central Office and Retail teams contributed to our Council’s efforts for 2020, by so many measures, a truly difficult year.

As you are aware, our Council is a business with a $14 million dollar operating budget. To function properly, accountability, efficiency, protocols, and stewardship, among other things, are essential. That is undeniable. Consistent with those realities, however, our staff also lives the Vincentian mission.  Indeed, several are Vincentians.  Our staff’s efforts are not only essential to ensuring that our Council remains fiscally strong and running smooth, but to supporting our Vincentian family and its efforts in helping those we serve.

We are so blessed to have a dedicated staff of talented, committed employees who are led by our incredible Servant Leadership Team. Together, they epitomize what can be done when a group respects one another, focuses on an inspirational mission, and works together.  We are also blessed by a dedicated Board, Foundation Board, committee members, generous donors, and many other really committed, talented people who generously share their particular expertise and/or financial support.  Heartfelt thanks to all!

OVERVIEW OF 2020 ACTIVITIES

Our motto is “See the Possible.” This past year, our Servant Leadership Team and every member of our staff saw what was possible. Here’s a sampling of what we accomplished together.

Council 

  • Notwithstanding the significant impact of COVID, we finished a third straight fiscal year in the black. With the help of PPP funds, we were able to operate from a cash flow standpoint without the need to utilize any funds from major bequests or savings.  After years of financial instability, this is a very noteworthy team success.
  • Received a $1 Million grant from DTE Energy to expand access to families needing utility assistance.
  • Received a $300,000 grant through the Emergency Food & Shelter Program Phase CARES, allowing conferences to assist neighbors with rent/mortgage.
  • Restructured our Council’s Servant Leadership Team prior to COVID, to increase efficiencies.  The decision proved providential.  With talent and commitment, Tom Butler and Mary Torok capably managed our finances and operations through COVID.
  • Successfully completed the annual audit by three + months sooner than last year’s.
  • Used summer 2020 to make significant repairs and improvements at Camp Ozanam.
  • Maintained effective, internal communication by implementing regularly scheduled Zoom meetings among our District Presidents, Board President, and CEO.
  • Hosted the first visit to our Council in seven years by our National CEO, Dave Barringer. Dave had an opportunity to visit our Dixie store and meet via
  • Zoom with our Council’s Leadership Team and Board President.
  • Arranged to deliver thousands of pounds of donated food to donor designated conferences within the City of Detroit.
  • Participated in Crain’s Annual Giving guide.

COVID- Related Activities

  • Distributed $160,000 to our Districts to help fund COVID  relief programs.
  • Implemented a COVID Safety & Response Plan based on CDC guidelines (including PPE protocols) and worked with Echo Media on COVID campaign/signage for all SVdPD locations.  The safety of our Vincentians, staff, business invitees, and neighbors in need remains paramount.
  • Distributed the very generous donation of disposable masks manufactured for essential workers to all staff.  Replacement supplies will last through next Spring.
  • Raised $137,556. through a special COVID fundraising appeal.
  • Conducted 40 Zoom meetings among our Servant Leadership Team to ensure seamless management of our Council during the three months that COVID-Executive Orders shut down our physical operations. To promote communication and coordination of efforts, our Board President attended every meeting.
  • The Energy Assistance Program (EAP) team continued to serve neighbors virtually
  • Conducted monthly Virtual Town Halls to check in and keep everyone connected.
  • Participated in weekly, national calls with SVdPD counterparts from across the country to learn and share information regarding our Council’s response to COVID.

Business Operations 

  • Obtained a COVID PPP Loan and managed the process for filing for forgiveness.
  • Focused on extensive and active cash flow management and reporting to ensure seamless management through the COVID shut-down and re-opening.
  • Adopted 18 internal financial controls recommended by an outside financial advisor.
  • Streamlined banking (e.g. improved internal controls, reduced costs) by transitioning from 6 banks/14 accounts to 2 banks/6 accounts.
  • Successfully completed the FY21 Budget.

Development & Marketing 

  • Secured $220,000 in additional grant support, i.e. in addition to DTE.
  • Created and produced our virtual Top Hat Ball Un-Gala in three months due to restrictions caused by COVID.
    • Our Top Hat virtual event featured a robust, timely panel discussion among four nationally recognized experts on community and social justice.
    • To view the Top Hat Ball Ball Un-Gala, just click on
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-W8e-x_6CE&t=163s.
    • Top Hat raised more than $175,000.
  • Raised the profile of our Council and thereby kept annual fund donations  strong with over 500 new donors and, despite COVID, donations totaled  $7,200 over last year.   Since FY18, we have increased our Annual Fund, not including bequests or memorials, by 42%.

Conference Support

We, of course, are blessed to have dedicated Vincentians; and I applaud all who sustained efforts to help those in need this past year of COVID. We continue to collect and process Annual Reports from our Conferences.  At the moment, therefore, I do not have final information to share about our Vincentians’ prodigious efforts during 2020. I plan to do so at next month’s Zoom annual meeting. Meantime, I extend heartfelt thanks to all Vincentians who helped others in need this past year.  In addition,

  • Our 2020 Annual Meeting (January 19) was held at Sacred Heart Major Seminary including an interactive spirituality component with SVDP National Spiritual Advisor Bishop Donald Hying.
  • SVdPD Feast Day Mass (September 27) was held at St. Katari Parish with SVdPD Spiritual Advisor Bishop Donald Hanchon presiding over mass.  The event was livestreamed virtually for all to attend.
  • Provided regular spirituality support to Vincentians during COVID shut down period. Also created virtual trainings and formation events.
  • A total of 8 training programs were offered prior to the COVID shutdown.
  • Created virtual trainings and formation events in order to continue supporting new and existing Vincentian members, including the kick off of Coffee With Vincent, a seven part weekly formation event that included reflection and conversation about Serving With Hope, Module 1.

Retail Operations

  • Despite the impact of COVID related shut downs for over three months, limited store hours, and a 50% loss in our workforce, YOY sales showed relative loss of only $200K.
  • Donations were up 58% YOY.  The additional product positions the stores and RRC for sales growth, especially during the winter months when donations trend lighter.
  • RRC has been “Kaizened” with new processes and cost saving improvements to streamline efficiencies in order to better serve the stores and donation bins.
  • $183,552 of goods were distributed to neighbors in need through our retail stores/conference referral program.
  • Kicked off new Manager in Training Program.

Energy Assistance Program

  • EAP and Conferences together served a total of 4,076 households with energy assistance and self-sufficiency services.
  • The nimbleness of the team allowed us to continue to serve our neighbors throughout the pandemic.  Beginning in March through September of 2019, the EAP team and SVdPD Conferences accomplished the following:
    • 808 neighbors were enrolled into energy assistance Affordable Payment Plans.
    • Provided an additional 1,418 neighbors with utility bill payments.
    • Supported 2,301 families with self-sufficiency services.
    • Created an online application which provided 707 families with safe access to utility assistance during the pandemic.

As a result of these and other efforts, our Council has continued its three year journey to get stronger and more stable.

3. Conclusion

Think back to January 1, 2020. A new year began and brought with it great promise. Certainly no one in our organization had a clue what was about to happen to our world, our nation, and our hometown. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a continuing, ferocious storm that has wreaked havoc on so many other organizations.  Who had even heard of COVID? Who had heard of Zoom?

Thanks to an incredible team effort, our Council weathered 2020 and the insidious COVID storm remarkably well. Heartfelt gratitude to everyone in our organization for your tireless efforts on behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit . Clearly, we are not yet out of this health crisis. Please continue to follow recommended safety protocols.

We have arrived at yet another New Year’s Day; and, for a variety of reasons, it brings “stirrings within us of new courage and new hope toward that future rushing at us”. Rev Gilbert Bowen. What lies ahead, of course, is still shrouded with considerable unsettling uncertainty.

No matter what the future holds, let us consider the poignant reminder by Heisman Trophy recipient, Tim Tebow, who said, “just as the moon reflects the sun, in life we are called to be reflections of the Son.” As we embrace what lies ahead, may we help one another remain focused on our inspirational mission and on those we serve.  If we allow it, love can be a burning torch in the darkness that, by its warmth and light, helps us find our way.  Let us choose to be sisters and brothers for each other.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and blessed New Year! Stay safe. God bless.

In Blessed Frederic Ozanam’s name,
Dan

An Update from Nancy – January 2021

An Update from Nancy – January 2021 1000 1100 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Over the past month or so, many Conferences have found a way to make the holidays brighter for their neighbors in need. Food distribution, gift cards/ presents and kindness and love are all examples of the outpouring of giving to the poor in one’s community.

Despite the need to be mindful of their own risk of Covid 19 infection, many Vincentians have accepted that risk in offering their time and energy to ensure their neighbors were not forgotten.

At times, I have become caught up in the administrative parts of being President.  Yet, I am brought back to the core of our mission as a member of a conference and its service to our neighbors.

Conference members know many of the people in their community that are in need. Many neighbors seek assistance on a fairly regular basis. Others may only call once, but their request can be a mighty one. In good faith, we extend our support to all.

What can we do moving forward in 2021?

First of all, our Annual Meeting will be virtual this year.  Instead of the usual – Mass, Breakfast, and presentation, we will focus on the Meeting presentation.  Postcards will be sent out prior to the meeting with all the pertinent information.

Events such as the Award Banquet and the Friends Walk are still at the undecided stage.

It is too soon to make a recommendation to initiate home visits again.  BUT we are faced with a need for patience and creativity to continue our service.

For those who have had COVID-19 or lost a family member or friend to this virus, our prayers go out to you.  Moving forward in such a difficult time can seem like an impossibility. In turn, we all have a responsibility to be respectful and supportive of anyone who faces illness or loss.

While many of us have so much, others have so little.  As we sit in our warm comfortable homes, others face eviction, homelessness and hunger.  As you reflect on this, I also ask that you contemplate the words of Frederick Ozanam:

“Yours must be a work of love, kindness, you must give your time, your talents, yourselves. The poor person is a unique person of God’s fashioning, with an inalienable right to respect.  

You must not be content with tiding the poor over the poverty crisis; You must study their condition and the injustices which brought about such poverty, with the aim of long term improvement.” – Blessed Frederic Ozanam

God Bless to all.  Please stay safe and healthy.

Happy New Year 2021,

Nancy