Getting Ahead In addition
to helping people avoid the downward spiral of poverty, St. Vincent de Paul is also increasing its efforts to help them get ahead and move to the next level
Society of St. Vincent de Paul—Cincinnati District Council
DEAR FRIENDS, The year 1962 was, in many ways, quite a memorable one. President Kennedy led us through the Cuban Missile Crisis, John Glenn orbited Earth, Sean Connery became the first 007, Johnny Carson began hosting The Tonight Show and Pope John XXIII convened Vatican II. I bring it up because it was also the year that St. Vincent de Paul – Cincinnati converted a 19th century mattress factory into its food pantry and Outreach Center. The building has been repaired, renovated and restored over the last 57 years, and has served as a good home. One thing the building hasn’t been able to do, though, is keep up with our growth. With the addition of an expanded food pantry, the charitable pharmacy, the re-entry program, the eye and health clinics, space has grown tight—too tight, in fact, for us to serve
How long have you been a Vincentian? 1.5 years Conference: Bellarmine Your role in the Society: I organize our truck ministry to provide deliveries
our neighbors in an effective manner. That’s why a few years ago we started planning for a new building across the street, one that will allow us to better serve our neighbors. The Don and Phyllis Neyer Outreach Center will be finished sometime this fall, and we’re extremely excited about all of the possibilities it brings. There will be enough room that our neighbors can receive all of the services they need at one time. It’s no coincidence the opening of the new building coincides with our 150th anniversary celebration. I think the two events go well together. Throughout the year, we are holding different events to commemorate our efforts to make an impact on our neighbors in need. We are also offering different ways that you can get involved. On the back cover of this newsletter, for instance, there’s a way for you to buy a brick paver that will be placed in the plaza of the new building. You can help “pave the way for the next 150
years.” We’re looking to bring on board 150 new Vincentians this year—so if you aren’t one, become one. Or if you know someone who has the heart to serve, please introduce them to us or give them a copy of this newsletter so they can read about the wonderful services we provide. If you haven’t noticed, the newsletter also has a new look. Like our old building, we’re trying to keep it modern. However, some things never change or get old—doing what is right and good, for instance. So I encourage you, as you read the stories about our Vincentians and all of the good programs that we offer, look at the calendar in the back and find a way to get involved.
Dan Long St. Vincent de Paul Board President
of beds and furniture for neighbors who are unable to pick up what they need for their household. I also take my turn with the phones and I take neighbors to the food pantry, doctor’s appointments or elsewhere as the need occurs. I also collect sheets, pillows and towels from friends so that we can give them out when we deliver beds. Most memorable Home Visit: So many memories stand out, such as each time a neighbor leads us in prayer. Their strong faith and the words that capture their faith, hope and love fill me with awe. Biggest lesson you’ve learned as a Vincentian? Wherever I take a neighbor (for an ID, appointment, trip to see a landlord for a signature, etc.) there is always a WAIT. I used to think of Advent as a time to cultivate patience in waiting, but now I see the realities of our neighbors’ lives. They wait for buses, for food
Vincentian Spotlight: Marie Hill
stamps to arrive, sitting in eviction court, more minutes to become available on their phones, criminal checks to come through or a call from a prospective employer. So many are one step away from the next crisis. I see in them the face of Jesus on the way of the cross or the resurrected Jesus in their hope and faith. Anything else that you’d like to add? I am so impressed by the Vincentian spirituality and my own faith has been deepened. Our weekly Conference meetings are an inspiration to me. We pray together, make our visits and then return to share our stories. If we struggle with judgment or need resources, there is always a supportive response. These are the most dedicated people I know. See more Vincentian stories online at SVDPcincinnati.org. 2
And leaving poverty behind
Anna and Tabitha were sharing a ride to a meeting across town when a commotion caused them to slow down and take notice. A group of boys were in the middle of a fight, piling on and punching someone in the middle of the scrum. Wise by age and hardened by life in poverty, the women pulled the car over and jumped out. “Stop it,” they shouted. “Stop it now.” They reached into the pile of bodies and began pulling them out, one by one. With the knot of boys untangled, they sent them on their way. In the end, the fight was about stuff. A watch. A belt. Maybe a pair of shoes. For many people, it wouldn’t be worth the violence, but in life within the world of poverty, stuff is important. And if someone is trying to take it, it’s worth fighting for. How life works on the lower end of the economic spectrum is different than the middle class, which is
different from the upper class. The lifestyle is different. The priorities are different. The language is different. And most of those differences are hidden barriers that keep people from moving up—an issue especially challenging for those living in poverty. That’s one reason why St. Vincent de Paul – Cincinnati offers “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World.” While St. Vincent de Paul most often acts as a safety net to help people from getting sucked into the downward spiral of poverty, part of the mission is to help educate and assist those looking to break out of the cycle of poverty. The program has proven to be so successful that Director of Conferences and Service Learning Sunnie Lain is now offering it five times a year, helping 50 people break through the barriers.
To get into the program, people are chosen for their ability to learn and their desire to succeed. They go through 10 modules over 15-20 weeks before receiving long-term mentoring after graduation. “What the program tells us is that we are most impacted by our economic class, not race,” say Lain. “People hang out in the same economic class. But when they graduate, our goal is that something has changed inside of them.” Maurice, another Getting Ahead student, looks at his notes and shakes his head. “When I write this out and I see it, I look at it and think, ‘You’ve got some changes to make. A lot.’” The program isn’t easy. Then again, neither is poverty. For more, go to SVDPcincinnati.org. SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG
The Resurrection of a Conference Church of the Resurrection sits on the northern portion of Price Hill, deep into a neighborhood lined with single family homes that have seen better days. It’s a small church, built toward the end of WWI as a “mission” church to serve the nearby community. From the St. Vincent de Paul perspective, it’s an ideal church for a Conference, a place designed for neighbors helping neighbors. And for a while, it was. But a lot has changed in recent years. The diehard Irish and German Catholic families who founded the area died off, and the people who moved in stayed away. Numbers dwindled. Gradually, all of the Vincentians that held together the Conference faded away as well, leaving Fr. Bob Keller as the lone thread holding together the Conference. Until this year. An increased need for assistance in the neighborhood and the need for additional support spurred nine of
the parishioners to step forward, become Vincentians and revive the Resurrection Conference. “I, for one, felt compelled to join, because of how well Fr. Bob treated me for the past 25 years,” says new Conference President Chris Noel. “The other Vincentians must have felt the same. We all wanted to help Father. He does everything in the parish by himself, and he can have a little free time for himself now.” In the six months since they have been together, they’ve averaged handling four calls for assistance a week, either through home or parish visits. “I think the biggest joy is knowing that we are there to be able to help,” says Noel. “The smiles and tears our neighbors have shared with us make us realize they are truly grateful that there is somebody who wants to walk down their path and understand their experience, and just give them some sense of hope.” The goal, says Director of Conferences and Service Learning Sunnie Lain, is to help members grow their faith life through serving our neighbors.
Jackie Neumann describes herself as a classic Cincinnati “West sider.” She went to Mother of Mercy High School and the University of Cincinnati for undergraduate and graduate school. Though she originally rejected her father’s encouragement to study accounting, she eventually found she liked it. She worked in accounting for many years, recently concluding her career as a Director at Deloitte. As a lifelong volunteer, Jackie stays busy in retirement, especially as a Vincentian at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Westwood. She says the neighbors she meets on home visits help her see God more clearly. “When I’m on a home visit, I always ask if the family wants to pray, and rarely does anyone turn me down. I am continually amazed at people’s gratitude, joy and trust in the Lord, even when struggling.” When Jackie made her will and estate plans, she wanted to ensure her family was taken care of. But she also wanted to leave a gift to an organization that makes a difference in the lives of others. She immediately thought of St. Vincent de Paul. “St. Vincent de Paul is unique in how it helps people get back on their feet. I want to make someone else’s life better, and St. Vincent de Paul helps this happen.” SVDP is grateful to Jackie and many like her who have pledged to sustain our next 150 years of service through gifts in their wills and estates. Join Jackie today. Contact Daniel Flynn at 513-345-4994 or dflynn@SVDPcincinnati.org to learn more.
Donations come in all shapes and sizes…
Older generations liked to hide valuables in areas thieves wouldn’t think to look. Coincidentally, families cleaning out a loved one’s home typically don’t look there, either, before donating the items to St. Vincent de Paul. That makes life interesting for thrift store employees, who have learned to conduct thorough searches of every item while processing donations. People donate furniture unaware that there’s an envelope of money taped to the drawer. Or take, for instance, the box of Raisin Bran that was donated. Inside was $8,500 in cash.
Wheels Hundreds of cars are donated each year, although some are too valuable to simply put up for auction, particularly the classics driven onto our lot: a Rolls Royce, a 2004 Chrysler Crossfire, a 1967 split-window Volkswagen bus, a 1970 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible. Cars such as these are sold through Hemings Motor News, a trade
Every so often, much to the horror of those who process the donations, there’s a gun in the middle of a donations pile. In all cases, the guns are turned over to the police, who don’t find those donations quite as humorous.
“We tried to track down the donor, but couldn’t find where it came from,” says Director of Operations Prentice Carter. “You find a lot in garments, too. People put cash or jewelry in pockets and forget about them.” While most donations are processed and put out on the floor of one of the seven thrift stores, some require special handling. For instance: Parting Gifts Occasionally someone gives a gift that keeps on giving—from here to eternity. Such as a casket. Several of those have been donated to SVDP over the years, gifts from funeral homes with excess inventory. They are then turned around and given to the county to bury those in need.
Surprises One family donated items they gathered converting their son’s old bedroom into a guest room, not realizing the canister from his closet was actually filled with small baggies and chopped up leaves that, well, let’s just say it wasn’t tobaco. The police were called and, after they stopped laughing at the fact that someone donated it to St. Vincent de Paul, they came and took it away.
publication for classic automobiles. But more than just cars are donated. Currently for sale is a BMW motorcycle with sidecar. There have also been sailboats, snowmobiles, motorhomes, fishing boats with trailers. “We park them in front of the stores with a For Sale sign,” says Carter. “You could drive them off the lot and put them into the water.”
House and Home Occasionally that vase that Mom had sitting on the shelf turns out to be a piece of historic Rookwood Pottery. Or that cast iron skillet Grandma used is a vintage Griswold that can be worth $1,000. Other gifts include a baby grand player piano. Perhaps the largest single donation ever made was a condo, along with all of its contents. Whenever valuable surprises are found, the staff tries to determine who donated the items and ask them if they want it back. If not, they do some research to determine the value. The goal, says Carter, is to price the items as close to their value as possible—but just a little bit lower so they sell quickly. The funds raised, after all, support the organization’s mission. For more, go to SVDPcincinnati.org. SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG
THE BOTTOM LINE Alisha walks through the front doors of the Liz Carter Outreach Center with son Kaiden in tow. Wanting to get back to work after giving birth to Kaiden eleven months ago, her hope is to get a clothing voucher to a thrift store. If she can get some new work clothes using a voucher, she reasons, she can divert that money to another financial need, particularly the purchase of diapers for Kaiden.
“You can get hand-me-downs,” she says, “but you can’t get hand-me-downs on diapers.” Diapers are one of the costliest expenses of having a baby. One child can go through six to 10 diapers a day, pushing the cost, on average, to about $70 per month. That’s a lot for any family, but a particular challenge for those living
on the edge of poverty.
As Alisha fills out the application for a clothing voucher, Christiana Tabugbo asks her if she knows about St. Vincent de Paul’s diaper program. Tabugbo is a Vincentian Volunteer working in the social services department, which oversees a program that provides families in need with 50 diapers a month for a year. The only requirements are having a child under the age of 4 and the ability to pick up the diapers each month. It’s not enough to completely fill the need, but it certainly helps offset the costs. Alisha is shocked. “I wasn’t aware of anything like it,” Alisha says. “Had Christiana not told me, I wouldn’t have known. I wouldn’t have imagined I could get diapers.” Alisha keeps her sons in mind when making financial decisions, and felt that even with a new baby she could meet their needs—except, possibly, diapers. “That was my worry,” she says. “Money is hard. It’s an everyday struggle, it’s a balance. Everything has to go to whatever is due and that’s it.” Saving money with the clothing vouchers is one solution to the diaper expense challenge.
But finding out about this gives her hope that she can make ends meet. Currently, St. Vincent de Paul serves 47 children from 35 families through the diaper program, with several families on a waiting list. Neighbors in need are also referred to other agencies that provide diapers. St. Vincent de Paul also provides emergency diapers at walk-in appointments. The Society supplies the program by receiving diapers through the Sweet Cheeks diaper bank in Cincinnati. It is considering expanding the program to double the amount of diapers it buys—and families it can help. The need is there. Social Services Director Mary Reid says it ultimately comes down to space. “Once we have more room we’ll be able to reconsider.” As the program grows, coordinator Christiana Tabugbo worries about others in need. “What happens when someone isn’t lucky enough to live in an area with a diaper bank?” Alisha also wonders about others who are in a similar situation to hers. Getting diapers through the program gave her some hope, so she tells everyone she can that this is a service St. Vincent de Paul provides. “I remember thinking, ‘Thank God they have this!’ ” she says. “I am thankful every day.”
MARCH-APRIL WGRR FISH FRY TOUR
Each Friday during Lent, WGRR packs up its magical musical machine and heads out to a different parish, where it adds some jams to a Friday Night Fish Fry. It also promotes St. Vincent de Paul to anyone within earshot of its speakers. Check our Facebook page to find out where the Fish Fry Tour is each week.
APRIL 21 EASTER SUNDAY
“How consoled you will be at the hour of death for having consumed your life for the same reason for which Jesus Christ gave His life — for charity, for God, for the poor.” -St. Vincent de Paul
MAY 9 CELEBRATION OF SERVICE
For the past five years, we’ve honored someone who has had a significant impact on St. Vincent de Paul and the City of Cincinnati. This year, that honoree is Bob Castellini. Join us as we celebrate Bob and his impact on the city. Tickets can be purchased at SVDPcincinnati.org/COS.
MAY 31-JUNE 1 STRIKE OUT HUNGER REDS FOOD DRIVE
Each year, we partner with the Cincinnati Reds and WLWT to strike out hunger. It’s simple: we gather outside of Great American Ball Park, and each person who brings us three non-perishable food items gets a free ticket to a future Reds home game. Volunteers are needed. Call us at 513-562-8841.
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST FAN AND AIR CONDITIONER DISTRIBUTIONS
As the summer heats up, we partner with Huntington Bank, WCPO and Braun HVAC to try to cool things off by handing out 900 or so free fans and air conditioners in June, July and August. It’s an 18-year tradition that we think is, well, cool. Volunteers are always needed. Watch our website for specific dates.
JULY 29 12TH ANNUAL PRESCRIPTION FORE FUN GOLF OUTING
Medicine and pharmaceutical care are so expensive that many of our neighbors go without. In order to help provide free medication, we partner with Protective Life and 700 WLW and take to the links each summer. We drive, we chip, we putt, we putt again, and again, all in an effort to raise the resources needed to offset what we spend on purchasing medicine.
AUGUST DAY TO DREAM
Some kids sleep on blankets or couch cushions or the floor. It’s a tragedy, which is why we created Day to Dream. Along with Morris Home Furniture and WCPO, we give away beds to 50 kids who don’t have one of their own. It’s a magical event. Bring tissues and join us. Watch our website for the date and details.
SEPTEMBER 27 FEAST DAY MASS
“Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most in need of encouragement or assistance.” Live in the heart of St. Vincent de Paul’s vision and go provide a random act of kindness to someone who could never repay you.
Non Profit Org US Postage Paid Cincinnati, OH Permit #1106
1125 Bank Street Cinti., OH 45214-2130
Call 513-421-CARE and give a vehicle of hope. Your donation could be tax deductible. We make it easy and handle everything from pick-up to paperwork. Follow SVDPcincinnati on
Help lay the foundation for St.Vincent de Paulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next 150 years. Personalized bricks will be featured in the plaza of our new Don and Phyllis Neyer Outreach Center. Purchase a brick and help build a pathway to hope for our neighbors in need.
Use the enclosed envelope to purchase a brick, or order online at SVDPcincinnati.org/bricks.