SVdP What We Do
We're MUCH more than just food drives!
Our mission is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. No need is foreign, and we are called to seek out the needy around us. To meet the needs of our neighbors, we are involved in many activities.
While we do many collection drives (school supplies, food, blankets) one of the main activities of our conference is to do Home Visits with neighboring families, ensuring they have the basic necessities of a household.
For information, email Dcn. Dick Martin or call 608-268-2956.
Each day, families in the area can register at the SVdP Service Center on Fish Hatchery Rd., where they show identification and request service from a Home Visit team. The district then distributes the lists of those families to the conference nearest to them. Therefore the families that we visit are truly our NEIGHBORS in need.
Then each week (normally Saturday mornings) a team of two people goes to the home of the family. We visit with them and find out from them what basic needs we can help with. For example, through the District, we are able to give the family a voucher for a home's basic necessities - beds, kitchen utensils, couches, clothing, etc. Through our generous parish financial collection, we sometimes supply Payless gift cards so that their kids can get shoes or boots. Sometimes we distribute bus passes, or toys for the kids. We always provide them with a list of other local agencies that can help them - from prescription assistance, to job mentoring, to interview clothing, to energy assistance; we tap them into the resources that can help them get back on solid footing. (And we always bring some of Glorianne's homemade cookies!)
When you start out on home visits, you will go along with an established team to observe and learn, and determine if that is your calling. We won't send you out as a lead visitor until you're comfortable - don't worry! Each month, our home visitors attend our business meeting to share their experiences with us, and so that we can pray for the families that have been visited by our conference. As one of our members recently recounted at our meeting, she has most felt the presence of Christ when she is doing home visits with our neighbors.
And by giving roughly two to three hours of your time every month or two, you can help a child sleep in a bed tonight, rather than on the floor. What an awesome way to spread Christ's love!
Each summer we gather school supplies and monetary donations so that our neighbors can start out the school year on the right foot. The monetary donations are used to purchase some of the bigger ticket items for the kids (calculators, backpacks, etc.) and the supplies are then distributed to the schools right in our neighborhood, and to the SVdP food pantry. Our members organize and advertise the event, and then collect and distribute the supplies. We are always happy to have help in either organizing the drive, or with the actual drive itself. Help the children in our area receive the tools they need to aid in the education that can help lift them out of poverty!
The St. Vincent de Paul service center operates the largest food pantry in Dane County. Once a month, clients in need can utilize the food pantry to receive three days of groceries for their families. The pantry is a client-choice model, where the families are able to select the foods that fit their family's needs and tastes, to help preserve dignity and reduce waste. While the food pantry operation is able to purchase many items in bulk from a food bank, not all items are available through those channels, and there is little to no variety of products. The SVdP food pantry relies on conference food collection drives to provide variety to the shelves as well as items not purchased from the food bank (personal items, baking supplies, etc.) Our dedicated coordinators of these drives are currently retiring from service after many years, and we are currently recruiting new coordinators for these very important events. (The framework is all laid out for you, and they'll train you.) If you're not called to coordinate the drive, you can help by staffing the trucks during drop-off times - even families can work together on this activity!
Through the home visits that our conference performs during the year, families are given vouchers to receive free household items that they are lacking. One of these items is bedding, and as you can imagine, providing families with the bedding they need takes a large inventory of items.
To help gather this inventory, each January, the SVdP organization organizes a “Recycle the Warmth” blanket drive. Our parish collects new and gently used sheets and blankets during this drive, and our members help to collect and organize the donations for pickup. Part of this drive also includes a partnership with local Shopko stores, where blankets are offered to the general public at a greatly reduced price for donation to the drive.
Our members staff the entrances at the Shopko stores during this weekend, and simply encourage people to purchase the blankets by making the suggestion with a friendly smile, and answering any questions people might have.
The public is overwhelmingly generous during these events, and it is a great project to participate in with a friend, where you can stand around visiting for a couple of hours while watching God's spirit work ... awesome!