Fall 2020 Newsletter

Page 1

St.Vincent’s Way FALL2020

Becoming a VVC is a huge commitment. With Covid-19, this year’s cohort is presented with even greater challenges—and opportunities.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul—Cincinnati District Council

DEAR FRIENDS, I know we still have a few months to go, but I think it’s safe to say that, in hindsight, 2020 has been a pretty challenging year for all of us. Here at St. Vincent de Paul, the pandemic has required us to think outside of the box. We had to rework how we distribute food from our food pantries and medicine from our pharmacy. We had to stop home visits and take all inquiries for assistance over the phone. We had to come up with a Plan B for our golf outing, Celebration of Service and RetroFittings events. And we still aren’t done. In the upcoming months, we have to devise new ways to help out families with holiday dinners, winter coats and Christmas toys.

and received over 4,500 in total. Through it all, we’ve been able to meet the challenges and the increased need thanks, in a large part, to you. While we were without support typically garnered through fundraising events, you filled in that gap with generous donations. When restaurants and businesses closed and our food pantry supply chain dried up, you bought cases of peanut butter and tuna on Amazon and had them shipped to us. You cleaned out your closets, basements and attics, and then flooded us with donations to our Thrift Stores.

understand the difficulties and struggles that our neighbors face. By living in solidarity with our neighbors in need, the VVCs can serve more effectively in their roles. It takes a special person to become a VVC. Voluntarily agreeing to live in simplicity so you can better understand the plight of those less fortunate than you takes a person with a special heart. St. Vincent de Paul served in that spirit and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that he would be proud of the VVCs. Their story is on pages 4-5, and I encourage you to read it. At a time when many are facing challenge and uncertainty, they offer a ray of hope for our future.

Beyond all of that, with many people out of work and dealing with other effects of the pandemic, the need for help accessing basic necessities has skyrocketed. For assistance through one of our various holiday programs, for instance, we usually receive about 1,000 applications. This year we got 2,400 applications—on the first day

Our team has put your support to work. The staff’s hard work and commitment have been tremendous. But there’s another group of people who have been both critical to our success and unheralded. I’m thinking of members of our Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC) program. Each year, 5-10 young people forgo getting a full-time job or entering grad school and commit to spending the year volunteering for St. Vincent de Paul. They share a house in the West End and intentionally live in simplicity so they can better

Name: Janet Deters

Your role in the Society: Conference President

How long have you been a Vincentian? At least 15 years.

How did you become a Vincentian? From meeting someone in my parish whom I admired and was a member. I also attended a workshop where people spoke about their home visit experiences.

Conference: St. Michael’s in Sharonville

Dan Long Cincinnati District Council President

What’s your most memorable home visit: There have been many. I remember walking into a mother’s apartment and there was no furniture and very little food. She and her two young children were sleeping on the floor with just a pillow and a couple of covers. Also, seeing a family of six living in one motel room for weeks.

Vincentian Spotlight: Janet Deters Biggest lesson you’ve learned as a Vincentian? Be humble and grateful and not judgmental. There but for the grace of God go I. What has made you stick with the ministry? The grace of God. The belief that I am a “modern day Apostle” doing God’s work as he has asked us to do. Knowing that I am serving Him in a positive way. Also, seeing the faith and kindness of the neighbors I serve as well as my dedicated Conference members. Prayer is very important both at our meetings as well as our visits with our neighbors. See more Vincentian stories online at SVDPcincinnati.org. 2


LIFE LESSON For Gil and Joan McLean, living their faith was the greatest lesson in life The McLean household was at times, well, chaotic. In fact, with four rambunctious boys running around, chaos might have even been considered the norm. Bumps and bruises, scrapes and grass stains were often the rule of the day. For the parents, Gil and Joan, the pandemonium was really just background noise. What was more important for them was that they ingrained in the boys a passion for faith, love and helping others. Sure, they took the boys down to their Parish, St. Jude’s in Bridgetown, every week so they could soak in the lessons from priests and nuns. Yes, they put them through Catholic grade schools and Elder High School. But they knew if they were to be truly successful in instilling these values, they were the ones who would have to provide the lessons. They would be the ones the boys were watching. They would have to provide the examples of selfless behavior and love of neighbors. So they did.

There’s never an adequate way to thank parents for instilling these kinds of values into a life. But when Gil died in 2017, it left a void and the family began thinking how they could honor their parents. Terry and his wife, Suzzy, landed on making a donation to St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) in their honor. Now, the Gil and Joan McLean Choice Food Pantry Processing Center is a hub for service in the new Neyer Outreach Center, as volunteers sort and process food donations in this 6,000 sq.ft. space. As it bears their names, this space serves as a constant reminder of the values Joan and Gil held close and instilled on their family. The Gil and Joan McLean Choice Food Pantry Processing Center has played an especially important role during the pandemic, as food is currently distributed curbside to neighbors in need directly from its back doors.

and personality. He was a people person and loved to connect with others one on one, especially when it involved faith. He was involved in countless discussion groups and Bible-study groups. He was a long-time RCIA leader. Nothing made him happier than helping others on their spiritual path. Joan came from a family of five teachers and spent 15 years teaching at St. Jude School. She was the “joiner” of the two, always involved in some philanthropic group or service organization. There was the Oak Hills Junior Women’s Club and the Westwood Women’s Club. In 1976, she served as an officer in the American Federation of Women’s Clubs and was a longtime officer in the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs. But all of the groups she belonged to had one thing in common: They all sought ways to contribute to their respective communities through volunteer work, fundraising and scholarships. Before Joan passed away in July of 2020, she attended the dedication and opening of the Gil and Joan McLean Choice Food Pantry Processing Center in November, 2019, along with her family. She beamed as she saw the space and understood the impact it would have. It aligned perfectly with her and Gil’s lifework and commitment to service.

“Our parents were selfless their entire lives and put the well-being of their children and “When each of our parents died, others ahead of themselves,” we sons had an astounding says Terry, the youngest of the number of people who came up four boys. “From simple selfless to us or wrote to us and deeds to never saying no to a Joan visits SVDP with Terry & Suzzy McLean & family. essentially said the same thing: child who wanted to play ball to Your mother and father had a more meaningful moments “As everyone seeks meaning in the tremendous positive impact on my like my mom volunteering to teach loss of a loved one, we were life,” says Patrick. “We heard it from poor Native American children in New searching for a way to honor our families that Dad had mentored during Mexico.” father’s memory for ourselves and their Catholic discernment. We heard our mother,” says Terry. “I originally it from Mom’s students. We heard it “Our parents were both people of connected with SVDP out of from friends that had known Mom and great faith,” adds Patrick, the oldest charitable work for helping those in Dad for 50 or more years. I personally son. “But it was never enough to need of fans during a very hot simply express that faith. They summer. That initial connection led to heard from three separate women that ‘Your Mom was my best friend.’ They believed in acting on that faith, in a desire to memorialize our parents’ truly touched people. They didn’t just living a life that expressed that faith connection to the work they did over know people; they loved people, they in deeds. In many ways, it was less the years with SVDP.” cared for people.” what our parents told us verbally that mattered; it was their actions and Gil was a Vincentian at the Our Lady And they would be happy knowing their life examples that spoke louder of Lourdes Conference of SVDP. It’s they ingrained it in their kids as well. than words.” a mission that fit with both his faith SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG



For any VVC cohort, a year of service is a unique experience. For this year’s group, serving under the constraints of Covid, it’s the experience of a lifetime. Hannah Broermann was laserfocused when she enrolled at Mount St. Joseph University in the fall of 2016. Academics were her first priority, of course. After that, it was athletics. She was a two-sport athlete—tennis and softball—so there wasn’t going to be time for anything else. No extra-curricular activities, no sororities, no organizations.

Maybe it was providence. Who knows? They exchanged information and Hannah went back to books and sports. Three months later, her phone rang. It was Charissa. She was leading a mission trip to New Orleans and was calling to see if Hannah wanted to go. She did.

So during her orientation, when she was led into the cafeteria that was filled with groups and clubs and ways to get involved, she wasn’t sure she needed to be there. She also wasn’t sure why she stopped in front of the campus ministry table, where Charissa Qiu was standing.

During the trip, they talked about a lot of things—college, sports, life. Charissa mentioned her own career path, which included a year of service through St. Vincent de Paul’s Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati (VVC) program. It was a casual mention, but for some reason it left an imprint on Hannah. She filed it in the back of her mind and kept marching on.

“It was totally different,” Hannah says. “Everyone else wanted to tell me about their group. Charissa wanted to talk about me, about who I was and what my interests were.”

Tennis continued nonstop—on both the men’s and women’s teams—but softball got dropped to make way for student teaching and an internship with St. Vincent de Paul. College life

Via Zoom, the VVCs learned about the history of the VVC program and how it came to be from the creators of the program, Maura Carpinello and Alison Zlatic. 4


was progressing and graduation was growing near. Then, once again, her phone rang. It was Charissa. She recently became manager of the VVC

program—the same program she went through at the end of her college career—and was calling to see if Hannah was interested in following in her footsteps and participating in a year of service after graduation. She thought about it and then nodded. She was. Conversations turned into commitments, and Hannah became

living community, sharing chores, groceries, meals and quality time. VVCs earn modest living stipends and receive health insurance, as well as bus passes and cell phone stipends. But they do agree to live on the margins. They apply for food stamps when they arrive in August, and learn the ins-and-outs of the assistance arena, just like many of the neighbors served by St. Vincent de Paul. They learn how to navigate the bus system to get wherever they need to go, and where free events and activities are. the first person to agree to join this year’s VVC cohort. Under normal circumstances, it takes a special soul to agree to commit a year to serving others, says Charissa, especially with pressure to find a job or enter grad school. Yet Hannah and six other young adults, Presley, Eddie, Nicolette, Aaron, Ruthey, and Conner, made the brave commitment to become VVCs this year, despite the additional challenge of doing so under an umbrella of uncertainty and confinement brought on by the pandemic. “Every group of VVCs is unique,” says Charissa. “They all have different experiences. But this group has the added dimension of the pandemic. What I’m trying to do is not look at it as a challenge, but as an opportunity. This pandemic is going to be a historical event, just like 9/11. You are going to look back and ask what were you doing at that time? This group will remember this year. They will remember the people they walked through the year with. People’s social circles have been minimized, so when this group thinks back to what they were doing in 2020, they will think of each other, and that is something that will connect them throughout their lives.” Yes, she admits, there has been some rearranging of plans and scrambling to come up with a Plan B for a number of events. Formation and training activities that typically take place in the community have

been cancelled. They’ve missed out on social events, festivals and gatherings, such as the Labor Day fireworks on the riverfront that other VVC cohorts have enjoyed. In their place, they’ve huddled inside, watching movies, playing board games or reading. “It’s given us the opportunity to be closer,” says Hannah. It’s also given them the chance to expand their learning options. “Since so many events are now being held virtually, we’ve been able to expand the events we can participate in,” says Charissa. “We attended the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference this year because it was virtual. In the past, we would not have had the travel budget to attend something like that.”

Overall, it helps them better understand the people who visit St. Vincent de Paul seeking help. It also stretches and grows them personally, helping them see others differently and gives them a different perspective on life, work and the world. But it isn’t easy. And finding those special souls for next year’s VVC cohort is going to be a challenge, says Charissa, since all in-person college recruiting efforts have been cancelled. Like everything else, recruiting has gone virtual. She shrugs. It gives her a chance to have a presence at places she might not have gotten to, she says. “Besides,” she says. “At the end of the day, I think all of our efforts to find people or have them find us are dependent on providence.”

Reflecting on social justice issues, both locally and nationally, is part of the overall VVC experience, along with serving neighbors through full-time roles at St. Vincent de Paul’s Neyer Outreach Center and through involvement in a St. Vincent de Paul Conference. The VVC program intends to help participants live in faith, grow in friendship and serve in solidarity throughout the 11-month term. VVCs live together in the KohlerHubert House, a West End home owned by St. Vincent de Paul, just blocks from the Neyer Outreach Center. They create an intentional

If you know a young adult who you think would be interested in learning more about VVC, please contact Charissa Qiu at 513-562-8841 ext. 239. SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG



For more photos, go to SVDPcincinnati.org.

MAY--AUGUST: FAN AND AC DISTRIBUTION We helped nearly 1,000 neighbors beat the heat this summer by giving away free fans and air conditioners. Because of Covid, it was handled through a drive-up-and-pick-up model, but everyone was cool with that, so to speak.

JULY: OUTLET STORE OPENING What do you do with merchandise that doesn’t sell in a thrift store? Give it one more shot—at a deep discount. That’s the concept of the new Outlet Store. It’s like a garage sale on steroids, and people are loving it.

AUGUST: DAY TO DREAM Each year we throw a party and give away 50 beds to kids who don’t have one. Because of the pandemic, we had to put on our delivery hats and drive from home to home. In the end, everyone still slept happily ever after.

FILLING THE NEED—AND SAVING A LIFE Sitting in a chair just outside of the Charitable Pharmacy pick-up window, Leroy glances over his shoulder at the pharmacists filling prescriptions. “I’ve been here four times,” he says, “and every time has been a lifesaver. Literally.” Three years ago he was making a living wheeling a semi over the interstates when the results of a blood test came back. He was diabetic and required insulin. If that wasn’t enough of a shock, laws prohibit anyone on insulin from driving for a living, so he lost his Class A Commercial Driver’s License as well. With no job and no insurance, Leroy had to dip into his modest savings just to be able to afford his medication—and stay alive. It was just a matter of time, though, before he found himself both broke and in the hospital. “I started off paying $200 a month for the insulin,” he says, “but over time it quadrupled. I was paying $800 a month, and that was not sustainable. I tried stretching it by only taking half doses. I tried to manage it by what I ate. Well, that didn’t work. My face got gray and lips got purple. I ended up in the hospital.” It’s an all-too-common problem. Each year the Charitable Pharmacy fills more than 60,000 prescriptions for people who can’t afford their medications, with 60 percent of the patients being diabetic and needing insulin. “Fortunately, by the grace of God, I met someone who told me about the Charitable Pharmacy. I must admit that, at first, I let pride get in the way, because I thought there were people who needed help more than me. But you helped me. I’m living proof that what you do saves lives.” 6



Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, scheduled events may change. Please check SVDPcincinnati.org for the latest information.

NOVEMBER, DECEMBER, JANUARY: WLWT COAT DRIVE As the weather turns cold, our neighbors look to us for help staying warm.Each year, we collect new and gently used coats around the city, and give them away to those in need. Donate a coat (or two or three). Interested in hosting a Coat Drive at your Church, business or school? Contact Renee Berlon at 562-8854. Providing neighbors in need with a warm coat makes you feel warm all over.







NOV. 10 NOV.12

NOVEMBER 10 DOUBLE YOUR DONATION DAY As the holidays approach like a speeding train, many neighbors are feeling the stress of providing for their families with limited resources. With your support, SVDP will assist thousands of families this holiday season. Each November, we hold our Double Your Donation Day— when your gift is matched, dollar for dollar, by generous sponsors. Save the date and please give at svdpcincinnati.org/donate. NOVEMBER 16 – DECEMBER 25: FOOD FROM THE HEART Each winter, we partner with Kroger and Fox19 to collect food that helps keep the shelves of our food pantries stocked during the winter. This year, we’re moving into the digital age and hosting a virtual food drive. Provide a meal for a neighbor simply by visiting Fox19.com/donate. Our goal is to generate the support needed to provide 50,000 meals.

NOVEMBER 24: THANKSGIVING FOOD DISTRIBUTION Thanksgiving is a holiday built around gathering family at the dinner table and giving thanks. Many of our neighbors wouldn’t be able to enjoy the celebration without a little help, so we fill that need by distributing the fixings for a complete turkey dinner to 1,300 neighbors. We’re handing out our dinners utilizing a drive-through method this year, but volunteers are still needed. NOVEMBER 29: ADVENT BEGINS How can SVDP help you grow in your faith and spirituality as you prepare for the coming of Jesus on Christmas? Consider joining a Conference, participating in our Ozanam Center for Service Learning virtual programming or attending virtual First Friday Formation. For more information, email Ozanam@SVDPcincinnati.org.

DECEMBER: CHRISTMAS TOGETHER Christmas Together matches families in need with sponsors, according to the sponsor’s preference for family size. Sponsors receive the family’s Christmas wish-list and provide gifts for little ones, as well as household necessities. Families experience the joy and magic of Christmas morning. Sign up today by emailing: ChristmasTogether@SVDPcincinnati.org

DECEMBER 5 AND DECEMBER 12: ANGEL TOY SVDP’s Neyer Outreach Center is transformed into Santa’s workshop! Hundreds of toys collected through drives and donations are distributed to families in need. Parents typically have the opportunity to hand pick gifts for their children during this event, but in the interest of everyone’s health, this year, volunteers will hand select gifts for families based on wish-lists. DECEMBER 22: CHRISTMAS FOOD DISTRIBUTION Opening presents on Christmas morning is a great family event, but so is the Christmas dinner. That’s why we give out ham and all of the ingredients for a great Christmas dinner to our neighbors in need. This year we’ll be distributing dinners through a drive-through model, although volunteers are still needed.



Non Profit Org US Postage Paid Cincinna�, OH Permit #1106 1125 Bank Street Cincinnati, OH 45214-2130

When you donate a vehicle, you’re helping feed a hungry family, giving a kid a bed of his own, helping a single mother pay her utility bill. Proceeds from all donated cars, trucks, motorcycles or RVs go to support our neighbors in need. Call 513-421-CARE to schedule a pickup. Follow SVDPcincinnati on

Get thrifty this holiday season J

Shop our Thrift Stores and save on: Stocking stuffers • Party supplies • Decorations • Ugly sweaters • Beautiful sweaters Toys • Gifts • Jewelry • A lot more

Colerain: 8269 Colerain Ave. • Winton Hills: 4530 Este Ave. • Evendale: 9864 Reading Road • Mason: 1065 Reading Road Milford: 813 Main St. • Mt. Washington: 2300 Beechmont Ave. • Western Hills: 3015 Glenhills Way • Outlet Store: 4545 Chickering Ave.

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