An Update from Nancy – October 2020

An Update from Nancy – October 2020 1000 1100 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Vincentians,

The recent passing of a long time Vincentian, Larry Fredendall, has led to significant reflection on the life of such a good man.

A funeral was held for him the day before the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul.  He was the father of 10 children, a founder of St. Mary Parish in Port Huron, and a  founder of the SVdP conference at that parish and the Blue Water Community Food Depot. The TOP HAT award was presented to him in 2008 for his 40 years of service and initiatives for the poor in his community.  Despite the pandemic, his funeral mass was attended by many family and friends – celebrating a life of giving and a legacy that will live on in so many ways.

The words described of him were kindness, generosity and responsibility. Hospitality, acceptance and love were extended by him to those who were quite marginalized as if it were the most normal thing to do.  One quote says a lot of this Vincentian – “From Dad I learned to err on the side of generosity and I was deeply moved taking food to homes throughout the city”.  For family, friends and neighbors, he was unassuming with a sparkle in his eye as he gave of himself to those in need.

His life exemplified that of a devoted family man, Catholic and Vincentian. He was introduced to me as clearly someone to emulate in my beginning work in the conference.

How many in your conference have a similar sparkle as they make a home visit, distribute food at a food pantry or listen to a neighbor’s troubles on a telephone call?

How many other Vincentians in our Archdiocese are similar in their commitment of generosity, acceptance and kindness to those they serve?  We are 145 Conferences strong.  Just think of the power of our spirituality, friendship and service demonstrated in our daily life.  Not power over people, but the power of what so much kindness and love can do for those who are in need.

Please remember the phrase, “the Face of Christ”, as you go about your Vincentian life. Seek out those in your conference that also have that light of giving in their eye and honor them for their good works.


Together, let’s say, “The Prayer for the Faithful Departed”

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, Amen.

God bless to all of you.


A Letter From Your Servant Leaders: What This Moment Means to Me…

A Letter From Your Servant Leaders: What This Moment Means to Me… 695 695 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

These are difficult times for our neighborhoods, cities, nation, and the world at large. I have felt and continue to feel exhausted, while at the same time extremely energized. As a person of color, I cannot aptly put into words the rawness of what this year has been, let alone the weeks following George Floyd’s death. In all, I have learned gratitude that I have had avenues to drive my emotions to safety. I am also grateful for my fellow Vincentians who have taken the time to not only learn but to attempt empathy.

The “Hope in the Face of Racism” webinar series was in itself a difficult lesson for me, personally. Within the cradle of my faith, I faced the uncomfortable reality that there were some with whom I broke bread that did not see the injustices towards people of color. I asked the Lord simply “why?” Why would the way He made me would bring out such ugliness from my fellow brothers and sisters?

I am truly thankful to our President, Ralph Middlecamp, and to my fellow Vincentians on both the African American Task Force and the Voice of the Poor Committee for our work on the webinars. I struggled with how I could be asked to help people understand a 400-year-old problem of racial injustice. The vulnerabilities within me were struggling to quieten the raging pain. If people could not have learned from giants like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, or St Vincent de Paul, why would they hear little old me? Then it came to me: I am but a vessel that has been brought here. A mere conduit so that we do not lose our way as we journey.

What this moment asks of us as Vincentians is not to examine the whys, but instead to hold the hands of our communities while we go back to the basics. To teach by our ways. “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I believe racism is not something one is born with, but rather a learned behavior. We can teach our families, fellow parishioners, and the communities we live and serve in that it is possible to “unlearn” through love. For our nation is “the traveler who has been stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road.” To come to the aid of others does not diminish who we are.

If we are to live out our Gospel values, can we also preface our actions with a question of whether we should answer the call or not? If no work of Charity is foreign to us, what is it that we are seeking at this moment? Should we not just get to work? COVID19 has robbed our communities of so much. From an inability to mourn our dead to the total disconnect brought about by the shelter in place and social distancing at a time when we need to simply hug. The emotional hunger that so many are struggling with is exacerbated further by job losses.

In the weeks ahead as the moratorium on evictions are coming to an end, the calls for help will be overwhelming. The brunt of these evictions will be carried by the very groups who have the most Coronavirus infections, the most deaths. Our energies should be towards learning. If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through creating a safe space to get to know one another better, there will be no limitations to what we can achieve. This “space” will allow us to refocus our gaze on Christ and the work He beckons us to be present for.

We need to open our hearts and then expand them. Today the plight of the African Americans is front and center, but there are still children that are separated from their parents. Children still living in deplorable conditions. The problems that have riddled Native Americans for generations are still in play. We cannot be complacent when the need is so great. Our Vincentian family is a large one with many talents that the Good Lord has graced us with. Let our “Hope in Action” have the courage to work towards facilitating the changes to policies that discriminate.

Pam Matambanadzo
Chair of the African American Task Force

From the CEO – May 2019

From the CEO – May 2019 600 600 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Sister & Brother Vincentians:

Peace be with you. Thanks to each of you, our Council continues to stabilize and make measurable progress as, day by day, we engage in our modest version of God’s work.

From a business standpoint, I am pleased to announce that we have hired Megan Witty as our new Director of Store Operations. Megan has extensive management experience running thrift store operations for Goodwill Industries. She starts Wednesday, May 8th. Welcome aboard, Megan!

I. The Important Art of “Story Telling”

We just completed our annual Lenten season and Easter celebration. The miraculous transformation that occurs from Good Friday to Easter Sunday is the very essence of our faith.
As we embrace what lies ahead, no matter where you may find yourself or what you may be facing, let us remember that in just three days, the family and followers of Jesus Christ went from abject hopelessness and profound despair to great hope and eternal joy.

During his remarkable life as a man, Jesus Christ used the art of “story telling” to share His core messages. In fact, He left behind no writings of his own. Instead, the gospels are stories trying to convey the messages of Jesus. It is this collection of stories, passed down from generation to generation, that help capture what Jesus taught.

In that spirit, I briefly reference four, well known gospels recently read at Mass that touched me deeply. Two dealt with Lent and two with Easter.

II. Lent

a) Unwillingness to Forgive – the first gospel from Matthew spoke of a Master who had compassion and forgave a significant debt of one of his servants. In turn, the servant then refuses to forgive a modest debt owed to him. Instead, he has his debtor severely beaten. Jesus taught that we should strive to “do unto others as I have done to you.” Every Mass before communion, we confess that “Lord, I am not worthy.” Nonetheless, like the Master, Jesus forgives us. For as long as we possess the gift of Life, we have the capability of acting “God-like” by choosing to treat others as Jesus treats us. In that regard, do we go to Mass, profess our unworthiness, discover that we are accepted by God “as is”, and then choose to treat others with disrespect and no compassion? How often are our actions like those of the unforgiving servant?

b) Being Judgmental – the second gospel from John told the story of Jesus and the adulteress. During Passover, under the watchful eye of Roman soldiers perched atop the city walls, a crowd gathered in Jerusalem’s Temple square and confronted Jesus with an adulteress. Curiously, the story makes no reference to the alleged adulterer. The crowd wanted her stoned to death. But, in response to Jesus’s challenge, no one in the crowd was willing to cast the first stone. Instead, the accusing crowd quickly left. After it dispersed, Jesus found
himself alone with the woman. He could have lectured her about her sin and judged her. Instead, he simply said, “go and sin no more.” How often do we lecture another in need as we help them? How often do we comment to others whether those we serve deserve our help?

People help us every day. They see us “as is”. When we choose to judge or lecture others, we are succumbing to temptations like those Jesus faced in the desert. When we do, even as we help another, we exhibit a close-mindedness that has been described as an “imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he/she is locked up.”

Everyone walks in different shoes. Every day, we choose between acting God-like – e.g., forgiveness, acceptance, selfless love of another, “unworthy” soul – or surrendering, once again, to un-God-like temptations. Shouldn’t we strive to help others in need without judging them? After all, our Vincentian Rule (1.9) provides as much; and we are all in need.

The gospels, our stories, are profoundly rich signs if only we “slow things down” and reflect upon the messages they contain. Until one does, we may find ourselves stuck in a personal desert of unwillingness to forgive, judging all others with whom one disagrees (e.g. morals police), and general loneliness and discontent. Collectively, these are characteristics commonly attributable to our journey of darkness that the Lenten season asks us to reflect upon.

III. Easter Life Is A Process

The miracle of Easter reinforces our belief in Jesus as well as the need we have for others – all others. By it, we segue from darkness to light and from despair to joy and peace. In that essential sense, Easter is a process of how we view our Lord, our world, and each other. Two recent gospels, in particular, capture this reality.

a) Resucito! (He has risen!) – On Easter morning, we heard the gospel of John. It told the story of three people going to Christ’s tomb on Sunday morning, three days after His murder. Mary Magdalene goes first “while it is still dark”. Upon noticing that the tomb is empty, she does not enter it. Perhaps she was frightened. Perhaps it had to do with then prevailing norms for women. Instead, she shares the news with others. Peter and the “favored disciple” then go to the tomb and enter it. Peter, the leader, assesses the situation, but does not comprehend what has happened. One can be blinded by power or status and not “see” the situation. The “favored disciple”, on the other hand, sees and concludes that Jesus has risen. How interesting that two people can see the same situation and draw such different conclusions!

b) Those Who Have Not Seen, But Believe – The Sunday after Easter, we heard another gospel from John. In it, Jesus appears to some of the disciples, but Thomas was not among them. “So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’ ” Later, Jesus appears before His disciples again: “Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’. (emphasis added).

Easter is not just a day in the year. Rather, according to my inspirational Pastor, Msgr. John Zenz, Easter life commenced from the very beginning of Christ’s earthly days. It is a saving light that radiated through Him even in His darkest moments of abandonment.

“Easter life” dwells within us, too. It is seeking to radiate through us. It gives us the capacity to accept, forgive, and love all others. It is that light that creates a strong sense of community among those who believe. So often we say to ourselves, if only I had a sign from Jesus. Let us look inside ourselves to find that sign by choosing to share generously our Easter life.

Clearly, the road to salvation can be difficult and most challenging. At times, it may seem not unlike carrying a heavy cross. As we struggle and continually fall short, we should be heartened by the assurance that Jesus will never abandon us. We should not be afraid no matter how bleak life might seem. Therein lies precisely why spiritual formation should be communal in nature.

From a salvation standpoint, we need God, above all. But we also need one another in at least two, quite distinct ways.

First, when one chooses to see and accept “imperfections” in others (just as Jesus does with us), one miraculously converts crisis into opportunities to grow and thereby develop into a more loving human being. In that sense, how one chooses to deal with another’s “imperfections” are some of the most important choices one can make. When confronted by the imperfections of others, are we living our Easter life, or are we choosing instead to live as self-appointed, unforgiving “referees” who criticize, judge, and condemn others for “being human”?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do we?

Easter life offers a second, entirely different promise. Clearly, one’s understanding of God and His world is limited. According to noted Christian author, Katelyn Beaty, “I need the insights of others in order to fill in what I, owing to ignorance, sin, or immaturity, cannot see.” Consider it this way. Assume that understanding of God is a seven billion piece jigsaw puzzle. Each of the seven billion people on Earth is a “piece”. How many pieces have you assembled? So, we should be striving for inclusion. Instead, for a variety of reasons, we tend to remain huddled in our comfort zones.

These days, a significant, practical challenge to inclusion is that many of us tend to listen only to those who share similar views. Moreover, a growing number of social media sites caters to those who wish to remain ideologically narrow. That mindset can have serious ramifications for the individual and for a pluralist society and religion like ours.

We need others, all others, to grow in love and to grow in understanding. Doing so involves that currency of selfless love about which Fr. Steve Hurd, S.J. so eloquently spoke at our Evening of Reflection.

IV. Conclusion

Our world is being seriously challenged in many ways. One could say it is still working its way through a desert of its own. Easter life offers the remedy to those who embrace it. While truly glorious, it is not easy. We must overcome temptations like unwillingness to forgive, harshly judging others, jealousies, and even hate to “get there.” Only then can one truly emulate the Risen Lord and believe even though one has not seen. After all, faith should not be about everything turning out ok. Rather, it should be about being ok no matter how things turn out.

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love. Herein lies why we need God and each other. That is precisely what our Vincentian values promote.

Just as humans are flawed, we have discovered, painfully, that human institutions can be as well. To the extent possible, we should apply these same principles to our relationship with our institutions, especially our Church. It is not always easy to do. But making time for prayer and reflection reminds us of who we are living for. In that regard, the President of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. John I. Jenkins, had this important reminder about, in the final analysis, what really matters.

“Yet genuine faith is not founded on a confidence in the goodness of human ministers, but on the mystery of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. The Church is the sign and instrument of that mystery, but we hold the treasure in the earthen vessel of human fallibility. True faith calls us not to be discouraged by human sin, but to focus more completely on the hope offered by Christ. If we do this, we can deepen our prayer, strengthen our commitment to live good and holy lives, and foster a hope that will shine more clearly.” Thank you, Fr. Jenkins. Well said. After all, while vitally important, “field hospitals after battle” are, like the noble patients they serve, hardly models of perfection. Rather, they are earthen vessels of human fallibility. Notwithstanding plenty of hypocrisy in our world, Easter life is still rock solid and available to all those who seek it.

May our collective, selfless service for all in need as well as our “Easter life” serve as the inspirational, spiritual antidote to the senseless, shocking barbarism we continue to witness. Let our prayers especially include the poor victims and their grieving survivors in Pittsburgh, Poway, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere who were savagely murdered as they worshipped. Lord, have mercy.

I look forward to seeing many Vincentians at this year’s Awards Breakfast on May 19th at Sacred Heart Seminary. It promises to be an enjoyable celebration. God bless.


An Update from Therese – April 2019

An Update from Therese – April 2019 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Fellow Vincentians.

Hopefully spring is actually here. As I get older, it seems winter lasts longer. Winter can be beautiful but, I think everybody is ready for spring to be here!

With a the new season, comes many new opportunities for we Vincentians to not only be of service to our neighbors in need, but provides us with new challenges within our organization.

The Vincentian Life Committee has been discussing several issues that will have an impact on us as we continue to assist those we serve. The first issue deals with providing rent assistance to individual landlords. In order to maintain our good standing with the IRS, we are developing a new reporting structure in order to be in compliance. We are currently working on a process that will be the most efficient and least cumbersome for conferences. We will keep you posted as we move along.

The next topic is “review of the books” by conferences. Good governance dictates that any organization such as ours has an accounting of its resources to protect its integrity and good standing. Our Central Council undergoes an annual audit by an outside accounting firm. The results of this audit are published for not only our Vincentians to review but also our donors and the general public. These audits are extensive and expensive. Conferences are not going to be required to incur a costly formal audit by engaging an accounting firm, rather, conferences will have someone other than the signatures on their checking accounts review the financial activity the conference has had over the past year. If no one in the conference is able to complete this task, conferences may ask someone within their community whether it is a parish member or someone from our SVDP Financial Review Committee who would be more than happy to assist.

More information on these issues will be forthcoming soon.

Spring also brings opportunities for Vincentians to come together in the Spirit of Friendship as well as fun and friendship at Service. On May 19th, we will gather to celebrate at our Annual Banquet. It is a great event celebrating Vincentians who exemplify their commitment to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Those bring honored will be recognized either their length of service or those individuals who are true models of the Vincentian vocation.

Now that we are experiencing warmer weather, we think of Camp Ozanam . On March 23rd we held Camp Jamboree at Sacred Heart Seminary. Over seventy Vincentians started to make plans for enrolling children for this camping season. We would like to send five hundred boys and girls to enjoy this life changing experience. Please consider inviting the children you met this year during your home visits to enjoy a week of Camp. Also, please send your Camp donations to the Central Office at 3000 Gratiot with “Camp Donation“ in memo section.

On June 18 and 19 we will have the honor and privilege of hosting the International President of St. Vincent de Paul Renato de Lima Oliveria. His visit will be a true blessing. His full schedule is being developed but, he definitely wants to meet our Vincentian community. Part of our planning will include an evening of a meet and greet. We will keep you apprised of the plans for this truly event.

The election of a new Archdiocesan Council President is underway. The Nominating Committee is working through the process as prescribe by our bylaws. Serving in the position of President has been a true honor. I will not lie however, it has been challenging at times but as I always say “ it is all good people doing good things”. I am continually amazed and inspired realizing how generous, giving and committed each of you is. Vincentians continue to give and give. You don‘t care how old your car is, what private club you belong to, how many toys you have. What is most important to you is growing in holiness through helping your neighbors in need. .Know when I leave office, I take with me your goodness and kindness that will continue to be a source of light in my life.

God Bless,

From the CEO – March 2019

From the CEO – March 2019 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Sister & Brother Vincentians:

Peace be with you. It has been a busy month! When viewed collectively, it reflects that our Council is making progress and heading in a positive direction. Thanks so much to all who are contributing!

1) Developments & Events

The following is just a sampling of what has happened within the past few weeks.

  • Top Hat Ball – October 12, 2019 – Cardinal Joseph Tobin

I am thrilled to announce that on Saturday, October 12, 2019, we will be hosting our inaugural Top Hat Ball. His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey will be our very special Guest of Honor and Keynote speaker. Cardinal Tobin is the first and only Detroit born and raised priest who has ascended through the Catholic Church to the rank of Cardinal. This milestone event will take place at the Cobo Hall Riverview Ballroom. In honor of Blessed Frederic Ozanam and the incredible organization he founded, we will don top hats to celebrate his legendary personae.

  • Bishop Donald F. Hanchon – SVdPD Spiritual Advisor

We are so pleased and deeply appreciative that Bishop Donald Hanchon has accepted our invitation to be Spiritual Advisor for our SVdPD Council. Bishop Hanchon has served as Pastor for several parishes that serve the Hispanic community including, St. Joseph in Monroe, St. Gabriel in Detroit, and Most Holy Redeemer in Southwest Detroit. In September 2009, Archbishop Vigneron appointed him an episcopal vicar with responsibilities as moderator of the Central Region of the archdiocese (encompassing the City of Detroit as well as Hamtramck and Highland Park). In May 2011, he was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit.

  • Sister Noreen Ellison – SVdPD Associate Spiritual Advisor

In addition, Sister Noreen Ellison has segued gracefully from 60 years of service in education and healthcare to being Associate Spiritual Advisor for our Council. Among many other things, Sister assists many within our organization and among those we serve with spiritual needs through her formation work among our organization and our community.

Our Council is blessed to have these remarkable individuals as spiritual advisors. Welcome both! Their counsel, together with our talented and dedicated Spirituality Group, positions us well to have a spiritually growth-filled year.

  • Evening of Reflection – Fr. Steve Hurd, S.J.

On February 27th at Sacred Heart Seminary, our Council hosted its annual Evening of Reflection. It featured a delicious dinner and wonderful opportunities to celebrate friendship. In addition, Fr. Steve Hurd, S.J., a gifted and dedicated Jesuit and superb public speaker, spoke with passion about Lenten reflections. He ended his presentation by sharing with the 75 Vincentians in attendance “questions to ponder”. That was followed by an opportunity for each table to discuss the questions among themselves and then to report out to the general assembly. It was a most enjoyable and worthwhile event.

  • Crain’s Detroit Business

On February 11, 2019, Crain’s Detroit Business published a lead article on our Detroit Council. If you have yet to see the piece, please contact our office for a copy or click this link. We have received very positive feedback from the community regarding the article’s apt description of our Council’s overall promising direction (i.e. we are on the right path). In addition, I was delighted that the piece provided an opportunity to showcase our Development Director, Keith Koppmeier, whose talent, energy, vision, and determination has resulted in our development efforts being considerably improved over last year. Thank you, Keith!

  • Birmingham Senior Men’s Club

On February 22nd, I made a presentation to the Birmingham Senior Men’s Club. Approximately 130 members attended. It provided an excellent opportunity to raise our SVdPD profile to our community. Interest level was high; and the response among attendees was very positive when they heard about the numerous community outreach programs SVdPD offers neighbors in need. Heartfelt thanks to Foundation Board member, Cliff Snedecker, for arranging my invitation to present. Matchan Nutrician Center was also represented at the gathering by Frank Schmid and several others who actively participate at Matchan.

  • Royal Oak St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Saturday, March 16, 2019

On a much lighter note, the Selection Committee of the 2019 Royal Oak St. Patrick’s Day Parade has selected me as this year’s Grand Marshall! This year’s parade through Downtown Royal Oak will take place on Saturday, March 16th at 11:00 a.m. It will be an opportunity to celebrate the green as well as to showcase our Society of St. Vincent de Paul Detroit. All are invited!

2) Our Living Word – Recent Scriptural Passages of Particular Note

Have you noticed that there has been a particularly fertile offering of Gospels and scripture passages recently? I, of course, am not trained as a religious. But like each of you, the Living Word “speaks to me”. In light of both our National and Council Strategic Plans expressly referencing supporting Vincentians’ “spiritual Journeys”, I share some of my reflections herein. I do so not because I am right, but rather in the interest of advancing our goals of Spirituality and Friendship. I encourage any of our Vincentian members so inclined to do the same. Here is just a sampling during the past few weeks as they relate to our SVdPD Council.

  • The Book of Genesis – Creation Continues

We heard two readings from the Book of Genesis about Creation. It described how God created our world. But the readings left me more mindful of how our world is not static. It is continually evolving and, in some respects, being created. In fact, the only thing that seems to remain constant is change. We have the capability of impacting how our world evolves.

Last month I mentioned our great Nation’s steady, albeit at times stymied, march toward greater inclusion and the noble belief that all men and women are created equal, a noble notion that finds ample support in our Vincentian Rule. In a similar vein, we should look at Creation as a continual process as well. From a Vincentian standpoint, we should see those who have become invisible to so many and hear their cries for help. We should speak for those who have no voice. We should see the possible, especially when we work together toward a common good. Let us do so together.

  • Who Do You Say I Am?

Recent gospels of Mark and Matthew speak of Jesus, Peter, and James walking into a small village. The villagers were buzzing among themselves as the three of them approached. Jesus then asked his companions, “who do those people say I am?” They responded, “Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah.” And then Jesus asked looked directly at them and asked, “who do YOU say I am?” Simon Peter answered “Christ.”

In a real sense, each of us answers that profound question each day by how we choose to live and how we choose to treat others. I continually fall short of where I would like to be. We all do. That is why laughter, gratefulness, compassion, friendship, and when necessary, forgiveness can help us and others to grow immensely. Let us commit to promote these admirable qualities and help others do the same.

If we serve our neighbors in need with dignity, compassion, and respect, we should surely extend the same to each other. In that critical respect, our road is communal, e.g. helping and encouraging one another, and not individual. We are on this amazing journey of service together.

  • Walking on Water – Do Not Be Afraid

We also heard the gospel of Jesus summoning Peter to walk to Him across the water. As he began to do so, Peter froze with fear. Jesus comforted him by saying, “Do not be afraid. Have faith in me.” Jesus summoned Peter out of his boat – out of his comfort zone. Like Peter, we leave our comfort zones when we make a home visit or engage in many other Vincentian programs.

Jesus sends the same message – be not afraid – to each of us no matter how rocky or tortuous the road may seem. He may not keep us out of Life’s fires. He never promised that. Rather, Jesus promised never to abandon those who believe; and He will not. Clothed with this comfort, let us go forth with courage and conviction together.

  • Eight Beatitudes – How Can One Help Neighbors in Need?

We then heard about the eight beatitudes. How can we help our neighbors in need? Our Rule reminds us that “no charity is foreign” to our organization. Last year, we served so many in need. Thank you! But we can and should do more. For example, during the recent federal employee furlough, we could have supplied food baskets to those who suddenly found themselves in need. Likewise, during the recent, brutally cold weather, we could have opened our Central Office doors to the homeless. While we serve hundreds of thousands each year, may we encourage each other to remain open to the growing needs of so many others. Please help us to hear even “non-traditional” calls. We should put our faith in action by living the beliefs set forth in our Rule to the fullest extent possible. Let us commit to doing so together.

  • Luke – Love Your Enemies.

Last Sunday, we heard the gospel from Luke wherein Jesus tells us to love our enemies. In a world as polarized and challenged as ours, that is a tall order! In other columns, I have referenced perhaps the most well known lesson from Jesus: love thy neighbor. That commandment is considered one of the two greatest. However broadly or narrowly one chooses to define the term neighbor, it can be read to mean “love those who you like.” It is my sincere hope that each of you has an army of people in your life who fall into that category. Each of us likely have others in our life with whom communication has broken down. This gospel encourages us to reclaim those relationships through dialogue, tolerance, and forgiveness.

But how in God’s name, we may ask ourselves, as truly flawed souls, can we possibly love our enemies? It seems to me that our best chance is to help one another by freely recognizing that we all have flaws. The natural reaction to those with whom we struggle – and we all have people in that category – is to think, “He/she has problems. It is his/her fault that we do not get along.” Perhaps. But those flaws and vulnerabilities should not separate us. Rather, they should connect us! Indeed, the teachings of Jesus Christ urge us to see one another in a new light. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do we?

In the gospels where Jesus restores sight to the “blind” or “hearing” to the deaf, perhaps that is what really occurred – people spiritually seeing and hearing one another in a new light. Easier said than done. Moreover, consider this. The same person can be a neighbor one moment and an “enemy” the next (e.g. frenemy). Therein lies why Luke’s gospel should resonate so deeply with us. In effect, Jesus taught us to Love one another, all others, warts and all.

We are not here to see through one another, but to see one another through.

In that important sense, are we spiritually “blind” and “deaf”? If so, do not be afraid. According to Liesl Schwabe, “compassion can be taught, and forgiveness fostered. If we can learn to confront the existence of suffering not as a sign of hopelessness, but as an opportunity for love, we are all better positioned to take responsibility for that suffering. If we understand the necessity of truth, we can seek justice.”

Jesus did not build a church during His time among us. Rather, he taught a new way based upon love. He taught that our love should not discriminate between neighbor/friend and enemy. What a radically new light! To merge one’s love for friend and foe alike requires mercy. Is mercy a “way of life” for us or an attitude that surfaces only occasionally and conveniently?
So long as we have the gift of Life, we can continue to contribute a Vincentian verse to this glorious story of Mankind. What kind of verse do we wish to contribute – love for one another, or more judgmental competition? Let us commit to helping each other love neighbor and enemy alike.

  • Isaiah – Here I am, Lord   

A final, recent passage is a personal favorite: Isaiah 6. Written from the perspective of God, the verse first recognizes that His people, all people, are suffering. So God solicits help to care for them. Frequently, at Sunday Mass, we sing a moving song based upon this passage.

“I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry, All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.

I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” Lovely.

Help those in need? Including enemies? That sounds so challenging, perhaps too challenging. Understandably, many may not feel up to that prodigious task. At those moments of personal doubt, please remember “the vision of Isaiah, who saw himself in the temple, where the Lord was sitting upon a throne, attended by the seraphims with six wings which cried out the Sanctus: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ And in the presence of that holiness, Isaiah was keenly aware of his own shortcomings and of the shortcomings of his people; and he said; woe is me, because I am a man of unclean lips.” But when he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah said, simply, “Here I am. Send me.”

Like Isaiah, each of us is flawed and vulnerable – people of unclean lips. But every day, the call comes: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” The late, great law professor, John Reed, once keenly observed that “Isaiah did not say ‘I’ll find someone to work on it.’ He didn’t offer to ‘form a committee’. He didn’t say, ‘How can I as one person, one flawed person, possibly help when the problems are so complex and interrelated?’ He said, simply, “Here I am. Send me.”

Are we people of unclean lips? Of course. If so, then who will go for us? I hope that you and I – one by one, by one, by one – will say with a strong voice and a clear eye and firm hand, ‘Here I am, send me.’ “

Our inspirational Rule invites us to do precisely that. Let us commit to doing so together.

All of these gospels and passages were read at Mass within the past few weeks alone. Remarkable!

3) Conclusion

Today, marks my first anniversary as CEO of the SVdPD Council. Heartfelt thanks to those who have very ably and willingly assisted me along this new, rather formidable path. In the spirit of the message contained herein, thanks too, to those who, for whatever reason, have chosen to be less supportive. All are in my prayers. In that regard, like you, I believe in the power of prayer. Please add to your prayer list my dear, dear friend, Christine, a truly remarkable young Mother who recently discovered that she faces a daunting medical challenge. As she embraces what lies ahead, may she feel God’s love and the full support of her incredible family, her army of friends, and our entire Vincentian community. Heartfelt thanks.

It has been a challenging year that has required a new skillset. As a team, I believe that we have made measurable progress. While doing so, our Council served more than 300,000 neighbors in need last year alone. I make reference to that number not as an impressive statistic, but rather as a reflection of the staggering need that still exists in our Archdiocese. Together, we need to do more; and we will. Thanks so much to all whose ears remain open to the cries of those in need.

In Isaiah 43, the prophet says, “Behold, I am making things new: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Together, we are making great strides at SVdPD. Can you perceive it? See the possible. God bless.

In Blessed Frederic Ozanam’s name,


What’s in a Name? Who is my Neighbor?

What’s in a Name? Who is my Neighbor? 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Is it all too familiar language we hear from Jesus? “Love your neighbor as thyself.” It seems to take a long time to go from my mind so it can fully “convert” my heart! Sometimes my heart becomes hard, suspicious, or just plain tired. How about yours?

As Vincentians we care a lot about our neighbors. Folks come to us, or sometimes we even look for them, and they have great need. Sometimes the expressed need is just the “tip of the iceberg” of what we see to be the real needs. We may feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes a person in need sees SVDP as just another agency that may give help to “fix” the immediate problem. Are we just another agency? Do we sometimes see our help to a neighbor-in-need this way, albeit, a charitable agency? We have even grown, over the years, to call these neighbors, “clients,” truly an agency term. And, truthfully, sometimes we may even feel like over-worked social workers.

Who are we, really? What is this vocation that names each of us, Vincentian? If our SVDP Conference had no money, no food, no clothing nor furniture, no vouchers nor bus tickets, what is it that a neighbor-in-need would receive from you and me? What would it be? What could possibly happen?

I encourage us to take this challenge to prayer, reflect on it, and share your response with those in your Conference. I will pray with you during the coming weeks. May the Holy Spirit give us listening hearts open to change and renewal.

Peace be with you!
Sister Noreen Ellison, SC
Associate Spiritual Advisor

Eternal God, out of whose great mind
came this great cosmic universe, we bless thee.
Help us to seek that which is high, noble and good.
Help us in the moment of difficult decision.
Help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world,
a better distribution of wealth, and a brotherhood
that transcends race or color.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

January 2019 Update from Therese Frye, Board President

January 2019 Update from Therese Frye, Board President 206 321 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Fellow Vincentians,

At this special time of year, I hope each of you has felt the peace and joy that the Christ Child brings. It is a time of reflection of holidays past, people who shared these special times and traditions you have created. A tradition we at St. Vincent de Paul have established is our Annual Meeting held in January. This year we will soon meet on Sunday, January 20th at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. At this year’s Meeting, we will be focusing on our Vincentian Spirituality. Our Spirituality Committee has drafted several questions we will be discussing. These questions are found on the Annual Meeting postcard you received recently. In looking at these questions, they have really made me stop and think and reflect on my past twenty-six years as a Vincentian.

Just looking and answering question one, “In what way have you changed or grown since becoming a Vincentian I know that my experience has helped me to see more of “real life” as my neighbors live it. What a great opportunity and gift to walk with my friends as they allow me to be part of their journey.  My neighbors in need have afforded me the opportunity to do God’s work. I am grateful to them for allowing me to serve.  By sharing their experiences, my life is richer and more fulfilled. And if that isn’t growth I don’t know what is. The second question posed is “What will help you stay committed to SVDP and grow spiritually?  My spiritual journey has always been very personal because it is my relationship with God. But SVDP  has helped me grow through my Vincentian vocation. For the longest time, I did not realize that being a Vincentian was a vocation. I was not sure I had that strong feeling of suitability for being a true Vincentian but, as the years go by, I find that God put the St. Vincent de Paul Society into my life as a tool for my spiritual growth and renewal. Sometimes, I get tired and find myself slightly jaded but, my commitment to the Society remains intact because it is part of God’s plan for me making it more relational with Him.  I can only hope and pray that my spirituality through the Society grows as the Lord intended. Question number three asks “What will help SVDP remain effective in living our Mission and Value? What can we do to sustain St. Vincent de Paul in the future?”  I feel that through prayer, adhering to our core values and the relationships we establish and maintain, the Detroit Council with continue to grow and flourish for years to come.

Now that I have shared my thoughts, I ask you to review the same questions and be able to share your thoughts when we all meet at the Annual Meeting because your input is one of our most valuable assets. You are St. Vincent de Paul!!!!!

God Bless,


From the CEO – January 2019

From the CEO – January 2019 260 286 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Conference Connection – January 2019


Dear Sister & Brother Vincentians:

Peace be with you. My hope is that each of you and your families had a safe, enjoyable, and blessed Christmas holidays and that each of you has a healthy, happy, and peaceful new year. But those experiences do not flow for all simply because the calendar suggests they should. Indeed, the passing of a loved one, illness, loss of a job, depression, and countless other realities can temper, if not extinguish, the hope and joy that Christmas and a new year brings among both our neighbors in need as well as within our ranks. In that sense, while we celebrate a sacred holiday collectively, everyone’s experience is unique. It is my hope that, no matter your personal experience, all felt God’s love and the renewed hope that our annual celebration of Jesus’s miraculous birth offers.

Year-end also tends to be a time of reflection, e.g. lessons learned from last year, resolutions and goals for what lies ahead. Individuals tend to make resolutions. Organizations should, too.

1. Collective Beliefs

Frederick George Marcham taught at Cornell University for seventy years. He was brilliant and yet very compassionate and patient with those less gifted (like me). During his extraordinary tenure, he taught tens of thousands of students and mentored thousands more. I was truly blessed to know him. Indeed, to this day, he was one of the most influential people I have ever met. After suffering and surviving a massive, internal hemorrhage, Professor Marcham would begin each new year by sitting down with a few sheets of blank paper and write an essay that began with the words, “I believe.” He called it his annual, personal act of creation (e.g. was it consistent with prior years or different?). Doing so provided him with serenity in a world that so often seemed spinning out of control.

Organizations, even nations, create collective beliefs. In the spirit of Professor Marcham’s annual exercise, it seems fitting to begin our new year of “Seeing the Possible” by briefly reviewing certain core concepts that we as Vincentians and as Americans believe, i.e. our collective acts of creation. In a real sense, these collective beliefs help provide both wholeness and belonging no matter where one may currently find herself or himself. They also serve as guideposts for charting the course ahead. So, in the spirit of Professor Marcham, let us pause and briefly reflect upon the core beliefs of our Society and of our Nation. Doing so helps lay a solid foundation for the new year.

a) Core Vincentian Beliefs

By design, our truly inspirational Vincentian beliefs have remained virtually intact for centuries. How truly blessed we are to be temporary custodians of an organization so fully dedicated to helping neighbors in need and each other.

The following has been excerpted verbatim from Part 1 of our Rule. Everyone is encouraged to make a new year’s resolution to read our Rule in its entirety. You’ll be glad you did.

Our Society remains an international Catholic voluntary organisation of lay people, men and women. Our members follow Christ through service to those in need and so bear witness to His compassionate and liberating love. We serve in hope. No work of charity is foreign to our Society.  It includes any form of help that alleviates suffering or deprivation and promotes human dignity and personal integrity in all their dimensions.

Our Society serves those in need regardless of creed, ethnic or social background, health, gender, or political opinions.  In fact, Vincentians strive to seek out and find those in need and the forgotten, the victims of exclusion or adversity. Our Society constantly strives for renewal, adapting to changing world conditions.  It seeks to be ever aware of the changes that occur in human society and the new types of poverty that may be identified or anticipated.  It gives priority to the poorest of the poor and to those who are most rejected by society. Vincentians serve the poor cheerfully, listening to them and respecting their wishes, helping them to feel and recover their own dignity, for we are all created in God’s image.  In the poor, Vincentians see the suffering Christ.

Vincentians endeavor to establish relationships based on trust and friendship.  Conscious of our own frailty and weakness, we strive to have our hearts beat with the heartbeat of the poor.  We do not judge those we serve.  Rather, we seek to understand them as we would a brother or sister. We endeavor to help the poor to help themselves whenever possible and to be aware that they can forge and change their own destinies and that of their local community.

Vincentians are sincerely concerned with the deeper needs and the spiritual well-being of those we help, always observing profound respect for their conscience and the faith they believe in, listening and understanding with their hearts, beyond both words and appearances. We serve in hope.  We rejoice in discovering the spirit of prayer in the poor, for in the silence, the poor can perceive God’s Plan for every person.

Each generation of Vincentians has relied on these core beliefs for guidance and for spiritual and personal formation.

b) Core American Beliefs

By design, our nation’s core beliefs, which are also truly inspirational, continue to evolve. That is entirely understandable given our pluralist nation with its incredible diversity of thought. Briefly, the teachings of three noted historians also shed additional light on why our core beliefs continue to evolve.

First, Gordon S. Wood, observed that America is constructed on the idea that all are created equal. In our nation, that idea has stood for the proposition that equality should transcend ethnic, racial, religious, or any cultural tribalism. In 1776, that idea was in stark contrast to other nations. In some respects, it still is.

Secondly, John Meacham, referencing Professor Wood, observed that when Thomas Jefferson first enunciated that profound concept of equality, not all men (or women) in America were equal – obviously.

Finally, our Declaration of Independence provides, in pertinent part, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our nation’s collective belief is that all are equal and have inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that “we hold these truths to be self-evident”.

Professor Patrick Allitt of Emory University claims that one might believe in those rights. But he rejects that they are so self-evident as to be indisputably true. According to Professor Allitt, these propositions were and apparently still are highly contentious. He concludes, therefore, that the introductory words, “We hold” are critically important.

When viewed collectively, therefore, our nation’s core beliefs should be read to mean that, whether, in fact, they are beyond dispute, our nation believes these noble concepts to be true. Moreover, as explained, the development of these core beliefs has involved a mighty, several century, collective struggle to become more inclusive. That struggle continues.

Currently, we are the temporary custodians of these inspirational, evolving collective beliefs. They should be viewed in a historic arc. Notwithstanding a lack of universal acceptance or a full application of these noble “inalienable” rights, our nation has since its birth remained committed to expanding these collective beliefs. We can contribute to strengthening them or to allowing them to weaken. How consequential our actions become! We, therefore, must remain ever mindful that the very foundation of our collective beliefs are the structures upon which we have steadily built our constitutional republic and the core beliefs upon which that system of government is based.

This collective legacy has been handed down from our nation’s ancestors. Those beliefs have been advanced and defended at enormous personal and collective sacrifice. And yet, at any given time, our republic may be more fragile than we imagine. Accordingly, we need to be ever vigilant in our protection of it. Indeed, whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, our democracy is lubricated by our collective trust, our faith in our nation’s core beliefs, and our firm belief in our system of government.

Practically speaking, how then do we best combine these two above-referenced essential belief systems – one constant for centuries and the other continually evolving? I believe that the answer is Social Justice.


2. The Voice of the Poor Committee – Rule 7.5

A recent Washington Post Op-Ed offered advice on how best to embrace what lies ahead. It referenced an observation that was drafted and delivered more than 150 years ago. When seeking a meaningful resolution for the new year, the Op-Ed recommended that one should visit the Lincoln Memorial. There, inscribed on a wall for all to see and ponder, is the following excerpt from President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds . . . and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Herein lies a brilliant guiding light for merging the two above-referenced essential collective beliefs. Furthermore, we have a vehicle for converting these inspiring concepts into practical, transformative action.

Our Rule 7 is dedicated to social justice. In particular, Rule 7.5 provides, “A voice for the voiceless. The Society helps the poor and disadvantaged speak for themselves. When they cannot, the Society must speak on behalf of those who are ignored.”

In late November 2018, pursuant to Rule 7.5, our Detroit Council’s Governance Committee adopted a resolution that creates a Voice of the Poor Committee. Our Board has adopted it as well. Doing so is both timely and potentially very impactful. It provides, in pertinent part, that our Council “believes that Social Justice is the work of every person. It believes that persons baptized in the Catholic tradition have a special obligation to foster Social Justice. It continues by clarifying that Social Justice means ‘changing policies, structures, and institutions’ so they work on behalf of the common good.” Equality and justice – for all. Let us as Vincentians continue to expand the collective, national beliefs declared by our Founding Fathers.

Vincentians should act as agents of social change. Our Rule demands no less. We surely should continue to give material assistance to neighbors in need. But we should also help those we serve to take ownership of their futures by helping to address and eliminate institutional barriers (e.g. policies, structures, and institutions) that effectively prevent them from improving their overall condition. Indeed, Pope Francis has said that “No one must say that they cannot be close to the Poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas. None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and social justice.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 201).

Our efforts should be based upon what we learn from the everyday experiences of our neighbors in need. Indeed, to truly follow Jesus is to walk with our sisters and brothers who are poor, not just to talk about them. We should feel challenged to identify and confront the underlying causes of poverty as being an integral component of our fundamental commitment to following Jesus. Our neighbors in need are extraordinarily vulnerable. We should strive to find innovative ways to help. Pope Francis also urged that we always listen to the lives of the most vulnerable in our society and use our voice on their behalf.

In our incredibly diverse nation, perhaps the greatest commonality we share is vulnerability. How we choose to deal with it can be restricting. It can also be life changing! Accepting “vulnerabilities” miraculously converts crises into opportunities to grow. When we see and accept shortcomings in others, we allow God to manifest Himself through us and for us. Likewise, when we accept our own flaws, we tend to see others through more compassionate and forgiving eyes. As the late Leonard Cohen aptly put it,

“. . . there is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

There is a crack in everyone, too. Our willingness to see ourselves and others “as is”, flaws and all, is how God’s light gets in – for each of us. Choosing to do so will also help make compassion contagious.


3. Conclusion

From both a Vincentian and national standpoint, we face many barriers. But for those who commit to inclusion, the above-referenced beliefs can play undeniably crucial roles in one’s spiritual growth through acceptance of others, particularly those who are somehow different. Embracing both sets of core beliefs is precisely how we discover God’s real presence by making us ever more aware of and inspired by His infinite nature and profound love.

In addition to belonging to our Vincentian and national communities, each of us has a personal relationship with God. To advance that relationship, spend time alone to pray and reflect. Rather than pray for others to change, seek change within yourself, e.g. God asks each of us “who do YOU say I am?” What is your answer? Everyone has a story to share, but only if we are willing to listen. Choose to listen. It can involve not much more than saying, “Welcome neighbor. You matter.” However you define the term neighbor, struggle to make that concept for you more inclusive. Choosing to do so will be entirely sympatico with our core Vincentian and national beliefs.

May 2019 be the year when, collectively, we see the possible and serve even more in need for the greater glory of God. I look forward to seeing you at our January 20th Annual Meeting. Meantime, when your schedule permits, consider taking out a few sheets of paper and writing an essay that begins with the words, “I believe.” God bless.


In Blessed Frederic Ozanam’s name,

Daniel P. Malone

An Update from Therese – November 2018

An Update from Therese – November 2018 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

With Thanksgiving here, I am once again reminded on how grateful I am for the life God has given me. As I see how some of our neighbors struggle to even acquire the most basic needs it makes me more aware of how God has blessed me.

As we enter into the holiday season, we Vincentians continue our service to our friends. Holiday baskets, giving trees, coat drives making the holidays special for those with the greatest need. Our gospel mission continues to strengthen our spiritual growth. Your Vincentian leadership not only continues the outreach but, continues the responsibilities as leaders in the Council. We recently held an Archdiocesan Board Meeting and I would like to update you on the topics discussed. Minutes from the Executive Committee, Vincentian Life Committee and Governance Committee were approved. Resolutions were presented by the Governance Committee to establish a Finance Committee to work with our Executive Committee, CFO and CEO in financial matters. With all the changes in government reporting, we are extremely grateful to have the expertise of these three volunteers: Laurie Horvath, Robert Rock and Mark Lezotte join Mark Gilroy our Archdiocesan Treasurer, Rose Paczkowski our CFO, and Dan Malone along with our Executive Committee in being the best stewards of the resources we so graciously receive. Other areas the Governance Committee presented are resolutions covering CEO Limitation Policy, Position Description  for Council Board of Directors, Council Board Member Roles and Responsibilities, Voice of the Poor Committee Charter, Sex Offender Policy-Conference and Council, Harassment Policy, Contingency Committee Charter, Donor Privacy Policy, Gift Acceptance Policy and Board Chair and CEO Partnership Policy. We welcomed two new District Presidents to the Board, Sheila Cassett represents the Monroe District and Elina Munoz is representing the Mid City.  Your Board of Trustees is working to keep the Detroit Council one of the strongest in the Nation. Another topic was the approval of the Archdiocesan Council budget.  Many thanks to all staff and volunteers who keep our Council operating at such a high level. 

As I mentioned in a previous article, at the National Meeting SVDP approved a Strategic Plan. Since we here in Detroit had not developed our own since 2012, we have embarked on creating a vision for our future as well. Working in conjunction with the National Plan of Expanding and Strengthening Our Network Of Friends, Encouraging and Supporting Vincentians On Their Spiritual Journey, Advocate For And Work Towards A More Just World, Promote Deeper and Meaningful Relationships With Those We Serve and Develop, Improve, and Expand Services we have formed a group to bring to us a plan that will enhance our Vincentian Vocation. We owe thanks to fellow Vincentians Nancy Szlezyngier, Bob Saltsman, Althea Graham, Nalani Miller, Tom Reiss, and Dan Malone as this project gets underway. We will keep you posted on the progress. 

I have been asked to remind conferences that if you find yourselves in a strong financial position please consider a twinning opportunity. Maybe you would be able to share your good fortune with a conference with limited resources. If you think you could make that commitment, please give Debbie Jackson a call at (313) 393-3014 and she will be able to inform you of the conferences with the greatest need.

With under a year left in my second term as Archdiocesan President, we  are  in the process of succession planning. We have a nominating  committee comprised of past Council Presidents who will soon be accepting nominations. After the holidays, you will be invited to submit the names of possible candidates, after obtaining the potential candidate’s approval. Please pray for this as we consider new servant leadership. 

God Bless,


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 at the Thanksgiving 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 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 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. This summer we launched our “Making it Personal” campaign, and asked for your stories about how SVdPD has helped our neighbors in need. As we move into the next phase of our development and marketing plan, 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 will be 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.

I would like to hear from you before December 1. 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 around your Thanksgiving table, take a deep breath and unleash the storyteller in you. Then tell us. You’ll be glad you did.