Vincentians

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) – November 2019

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) – November 2019 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

As we enter our 2019/2020 grant year of utility assistance, I would like to close out the previous grant year by sharing some successes of the 2018/2019 Energy Assistance Program (EAP).  According to the MEAP final report provided to the Michigan Public Service Commission by Sharon Lynch, together we were able to serve 5,582 households with utility assistance!

  • Almost 99% of all new households we served received one or more self-sufficiency services.  Such services support our neighbors in need by providing assistance aimed at stabilizing the household, and moving them away from a state of crisis and onto a path of long-term change.
  • Energy education is an essential component of creating this pathway.  80% of all new households we served received some form of energy education, and according to our customer satisfaction survey, 95% of these households found St. Vincent de Paul’s energy education services helpful to their circumstances.  Furthermore, 78% of those we served indicate that our EAP program provided their first ever encounter with any type of energy education.
  • The EAP program also supports families by providing assistance with preparation of a household budget and financial budgeting tips.  91% of those receiving this assistance found this information helpful to them.
  • As a result of our work, 75% of those that we enrolled into the utilities’ Affordable Payment Plans were able to make consecutive on-time payments towards their energy bills.

Thanks to the collaborative effort of Sharon, SVdPD staff and Vincentians, the 2018/2019 EAP program made a tremendous impact in the lives of those we served.  Thank you for making a difference!  We look forward to kicking off another great year of service!

An Update from Nancy – November 2019

An Update from Nancy – November 2019 1200 800 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear fellow Vincentians,

As the weather grows colder and wetter, there is less opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and outdoor activities. We all know that as the darkness of the day grows longer, dreary days are upon us.

Our moods can change with the change in weather, but other things in life can have a significant impact on our energy level and love of life.

As a Vincentian, are you weary?  An odd and unexpected question perhaps, but one that pertains to those who spend time helping others, our neighbors in need.

Listening to accounts of homelessness, unpaid bills, illness, and stories of sadness and trauma can lead to dreading your participation as a Vincentian.  Making decisions on how to help and how much can your conference afford can bring to the surface many different emotions.

Some may find themselves wanting to help everyone, others become more cynical.  Our selfishness can kick in as we try to protect ourselves from being emotionally involved with a neighbor’s situation. Do we look for additional resources, do we adhere strictly to conference guidelines without exception, or are we abrupt, judgmental or condescending to those seeking assistance from SVdP?

As we look forward to the glorious days of winter, we need to find that same level of glory in our lives.

Reach out to the Vincentians in your conference.  Address the issue of emotions and involvement in our neighbor’s lives. Acknowledge your weariness and in turn draw strength from your fellow Vincentians. Rely on the friendship and spirituality that flows within your conference.  Think of ways that as a group you can celebrate what you do together. Contemplate how you can bring new people in as members. Work together to find the positive in helping others, rather than focusing on your reaction to their requests.

Our commitment to helping those in need is one to be treasured. What a wonderful way to serve the Lord!   As always, we are all God’s children.

God bless all of you as you carry out the mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,

Nancy Szlezyngier

Vincentians in Action

Vincentians in Action 800 800 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

I have attended three  National Assemblies. This past one in Colorado proved to be the most fulfilling. This assembly made such an impression because I experienced the power of youth. Recently, I received the position of the Mideast Region Representative for the African American Task Force (AATF).  At our meeting during the assembly, Mr. Middlecamp encouraged us to move beyond the AATF table into other committees needing diversity in age, race, etc. His assessment perfectly aligned with my intentions so I knew God had me on to something.

Initially, I struggled with what it meant to be an AATF member. In Colorado, I realized what the Lord had called me to do. He wanted me to take my new position, make it my own and lead the youth this year. I jumped right in with four little black girls from the City of Detroit in tow. Our first encounter happened after we checked into the conference. The youth experienced a plethora of greetings. I couldn’t attribute the warm acceptance to race or age but everywhere the  four young black girls went they encountered warm greetings of acceptance.

At the Assembly, we experienced a poverty simulation where participants understood how adverse circumstances could influence a solid plan. After that, we heard from both immigrants and refugees. They shared their life experiences and how advocacy programs helped influence their situations. Then Monsignor East held a private session with the youth since we would miss his keynote. We sang, praised the Lord and even jumped up and down at some points. The following day, we enjoyed a visit to the mountains. Frightened at times, we embraced the experience climbing the mountains, beautiful scenery and the stories of how the Mother Cabrini Shrine came to exist.

After that, we made hygiene and welcome kits for refugees entering the U.S. That evening the girls experienced a three course meal and helped distribute information about the upcoming 175th anniversary initiatives for the Society .
Overall, the girls had an awesome experience to help position them for leading a youth  program in the City of Detroit. In addition, they saw the other side of SVdP. For years, they have been by my side setting up for and organizing conference meetings. They have helped organize our Conference Thanksgiving and Christmas initiatives.

Colorado offered a fresh perspective to introduce my little workers to new friends doing the same work across the nation, a chance to grow in their own spirituality with a diverse  African and Hispanic twist during the masses at the Assembly and a way to see the impact of service for refugee families.

Overall, we loved Colorado and can not wait until St. Louis 2020.

An Update from Nancy – October 2019

An Update from Nancy – October 2019 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

As the newly elected Archdiocesan Council President, I extend a huge HELLO to all of you.

Our Council is 145 conferences strong.  What an amazing number of Vincentians serving our neighbors in need.  I am so lucky to have this opportunity!

Having been asked what my vision is going forward for the Council, I have spent time reflecting on what is the core issue for all of us.

The community of spirit that joins us in our individual conferences and deepens our spiritual growth simultaneously is central to being a Vincentian.

At each conference meeting, we come together in prayer, reflection and sharing of news regarding our neighbors in need. The friendship and bond that grows among Vincentians is a critical part of understanding the reference of those we serve.  As we grow in spirit and holiness, it is much clearer that our neighbors in need are as we are – children of God.

As a career social worker, I have made thousands of home visits to those in need. It wasn’t until I joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, that I came to realize that I was seeing the “Face of Christ “in those we serve.  It has taken time to assimilate this realization into practice.

Throughout the Archdiocese, our neighbors in need exemplify a broad spectrum of ethnicity and race, levels of poverty, from the working poor to the homeless on the street and needs that are as diverse as the population of six counties.  Each conference provides assistance in a myriad of ways, dependent on community resources, donated funds and the ability of the members of the conference.

SO…As you go about the work of helping the poor, please remember:

We are not here to judge, we are here to love and give to others.  As different or difficult someone may be, we need to put ourselves in their “shoes” and come to understand and accept them as they are.  Whether we offer material goods, time or a part of ourselves, let us reach out to others without bias or fear. We are all God’s children.

God Bless,

Nancy Szlezyngier

Camp Update

Camp Update 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Vincentian Camp Contact/Enroller/Conference President,

Hello!  As we close out our 96th summer we truly appreciate your continued support of our camping program.  We are very grateful for all that you do and know we couldn’t do it without you!

In making sure we provided an unforgettable camp experience we have mailed the camper and parent evaluations forms, along with the Bug Bites Newsletter, directly to the families this week.

For those Conferences that enrolled campers, included is a list of campers that attended through your Conference.  As part of the Enrollment Process it is now time to do follow up with them if you haven’t already.  Follow up can be done with a phone call, home visit, or when they stop in at the food depot/pantry and should take minimal time as you listen to the stories from the campers about their experience.   As part of the follow up with the camper and their families please mention that they should return their evaluation forms.  Their feedback is really important to us as we continue to improve the quality of our camp program.  If they could respond as soon as possible that would be fantastic.  And as a friendly reminder, when you are through with your camper list we ask that you shred it so others are not able to use the information inappropriately.

Thank you again for your time, gifts and talents in helping us enroll campers for the 2019 summer.  If we can be of any service to you feel free to call the Camps Office at 810-622-8744.

Peace in Christ,

Caroline Krucker
Director of Camp Services

An Update from Therese – September 2019

An Update from Therese – September 2019 400 400 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Dear Fellow Vincentians,

This will be my final Conference Connection article as we transition into our new leadership. As you may be aware, during the August 12, Board of Trustees Meeting, Nancy Szlezygier was elected the new president of the Detroit Council.  I congratulate Nancy and offer her my full support. I know each of you will show Nancy the same kindness you have shown me.  I would like to thank all the candidates for stepping forward as nominees who place St. Vincent de Paul at the center of all they do. Thank you to Roger Playwin, Mike Casey, and Bernard Onwuemelie for your dedication to the Society. Each of you  offered your unique talents in  support our mission.

In the six years I have served as President,   it has been my honor to experience the support of a talented, committed staff at our Central Office as well as those who have served on our Archdiocesan Board and committees. I am grateful and thankful that each of you gave so much of your time and talent.

To you, my fellow Vincentians, my deepest gratitude for all your hard work and the inspiration you have given to sustain me in my role. Through your spirituality, service and friendship, we have journeyed together in our “mission of charity.”   Know that you will continue to be in my prayers and thoughts.

God Bless,

Therese

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) – September 2019

Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) – September 2019 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

We have some MEAP funds remaining so you can continue to send in applications through September 6.

As we prepare for 2020 suggestions for improvement are always welcome – please either call or email me. The 2020 MEAP Grant Proposal was submitted on August 16. We will communicate our award amount when notified – hopefully by mid-September. We are making plans to strengthen the self-sufficiency services provided through MEAP but of course all plans are contingent on the award amount. More details to come!

For all MEAP questions/information please contact Sharon Lynch at 313.393.2692 or slynch@svdpdetroit.org, or Jasna Leova at 313.393.2801 or jleova@svdpdetroit.org

Conference Connection – Spiritual Reflection

Conference Connection – Spiritual Reflection 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Friends, this month we publish a spiritual reflection from longtime Vincentian, Catherine Bradford, who recently shared this with our Spirituality Group. Perhaps read it with your Conference and have your members reflect and pray on what this means to them.

God bless each one as we serve others striving to see the face Jesus as we meet those in need.

Sister Noreen Ellison, SC
Associate Spiritual Advisor


Life into Life

This is how and when the SVDP role of serving spiritually brought more understanding to me. Once we answer and open that door to serve, we must handle each person who reaches out to us, as if they are a beautiful and delicate flower. Not wanting to break or crush their spirit.

We never know what another person is going through or has gone through to end up on our steps or make that call to us. As we open our doors, let us take the very first steps of walking with Jesus. We welcome them with a greeting of love as bright as the sunshine, grabbing their attention so that the nurturing of our brothers and sisters will automatically begin to uplift them. When they leave us and wind down for the day, as the sun is setting, followed by the glowing moon, letting us all capture these signals from God. Let us leave the issues of this day behind, letting the tasks for that day, fill the giver and receiver with the spirit that God is always able.

We often hear we were born to die. Have you ever really dug so deep in your hearts, minds, and souls to only discover that it is life into life. Once we let our ungodly ways die, we can truly live and serve. The funny thing about this is, we have to to live our life in this imperfect world, discovering love, hurt, pain and suffering. In the meantime we wonder and discover how to keep moving through all of it. The answers come from our Creator and the people He wants us to share time and space with, in this life, gaining an insight of what is really important at the end of the day.

The knowledge and wisdom we have acquired through our works of faith and trusting in a merciful and loving God, spiritual nourishment is also shared. We now know, with a joyful heart, it is all good because we were able to do the best we could with what we had and that becomes a great start. Many times making it just enough for both of us to begin our journeys.

By taking each step, carrying and acting out the Fruit of the Spirit:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

God’s gift to us is keeping us mindful of our experiences. This enables us, to continue with confidence to walk the walk and talk the talk, realizing we can still learn from one another. And never a doubt of how we got where we are.

These steps let us play out our greatest role in this life. We understand a little clearer each moment, as God is maneuvering and providing us with what is needed to serve each individual, resulting in truly serving Him. Our baby steps have become giant steps, propelling our spirits to peacefully soar, because we know we are not breaking any laws on earth and certainly not in Heaven, as God is completing us. ????????????   The Lord let me be in the midst of it all.

Catherine (Shelly) Bradford (Vincentian)
Detroit, Mi

Conference Connection Retail Edition August

Conference Connection Retail Edition August 1000 1000 St. Vincent de Paul Detroit

Hello Vincentians and happy summer! I hope that everyone is having a blessed fun summer and enjoying all our beautiful state has to offer.

I know many of you have reached out in regards to the concerns you have had with the temporary closing of our Grand River Store. First off, I would like to say that I hear you loud and clear and also have had struggles over the last two months not having the store open. As many of you can imagine summer is a very busy time for our retail locations for incoming donations. We have struggled at many of our locations to absorb the sheer volume of donations coming through the donation door, especially with fewer stores to send goods to.

I have already spoken to several Conference Presidents and ran by the idea of “pop up stores” as an interim solution. So far the response has been extremely positive. My thought would be to run the pop up stores in various locations each week with pulled product from our retail stores at deeply discounted prices. As of now I am thinking we would offer mostly clothing, household items, and furniture. Our shoppers would also be able to use referral labels as needed.

This is where I need your help! If you happen to know of any available retail locations or outdoor parking lot space that might be willing to host us on a short term basis, please reach out to me directly. I would also love feedback on areas that would be easiest for our neighbors in need to get to, days and times that are best, as well any other specifics you might think of. I really am committed to thinking outside the box and doing what we can to provide mission services to those in need.

I am hoping to get our first “pop up store” up and running ASAP. I just need to shore up some final logistic details, and well, find a location.

I have listed my contact information below. I would love any help that you could provide in the way of feedback or even volunteers to help run the store when we get to that point.  Lastly, if you get a minute stop by the Dixie store and check out their backroom to see all we were able to accomplish at our Kaizen event last month.

That’s all for now… be blessed and continue to “see the possible” of today’s SVDPD!

Megan Witty – mwitty@svdpdetroit.org

541-501-1203

An Update from Therese – July 2019

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

Dear Fellow Vincentians,

Summer is finally here! We Michiganders have been waiting a long time for warm weather. I have vowed, that no matter how hot it gets I will not complain!!!!!

This past month has been extremely busy. First, I attended The Sister of Charity Federation Assembly in Chicago. There were over five hundred and fifty Sisters of Charity and Associates representing many congregations all of whom are part of the Vincentian Family. It truly amazing the reach St. Vincent, St Louise and Blessed Rosalie Rendu  has had throughout the world. The Charity charism shared by all member of our Family is alive and well .

On June 17th we hosted our Annual Golf Outing benefiting our camping program. I would like to thank not only the players who participated but, all the Vincentian volunteers who spent many hours assuring that all attendees enjoyed their day. Many thanks to all the sponsors for generously donating to this great event.

The day following the golf outing, we were privileged to host The President General of the International St. Vincent de Paul, Renato Lima de Oliveria. Of all the places in the world he could visit, he chose to come to Detroit. What an honor.  Renato visited the Matchan Nutrition Center, attended Blessed Rosalie Rendu Conference meeting and made a home visit in Detroit. Renato gave a truly inspiring talk to over two hundred Vincentians gathered at The National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica. Renato spoke about how as a teenager he became a Vincentian and even with his schedule today,  he continues to  attend  conference meetings at his home parish. He is truly one of the most committed Vincentians one can meet. He retains a full time job, has a family in Brazil and travels the world representing St. Vincent de Paul on his own vacation time. Renato recognized the Servant Leadership of the District Presidents present by presenting them with a special pin from the SVDP International. From Detroit, Renato attended the Canadian National Meeting in Windsor. I, along with Sr. Noreen Ellison our Associate Council Spiritual Advisor, Bill and Barb Brazier were the guests of the Canadian National St. Vincent de Paul and we attended the instillation of their newly elected President. It was an honor to be included in such a wonderful event.

The election of our Archdiocesan Council President will be held in August. This past Monday evening the Council Board was introduced to the candidates running: Nancy Szlezyngier, Roger Playwin, Mike Casey, and Bernard  Onwuemelie. All candidates had an opportunity to present their philosophy and thoughts about representing our Vincentians as they continue to move us forward in “ Our Mission of Charity.”  Please pray for all the candidates and for our entire Council that true discernment will prevail and that “ The Spirit “ will guide us to the person, pure of heart, who will be the best servant leader of our Council.

God Bless,

Therese Frye