In the 16 months that I’ve been the Executive Director at SVdP, I continue to learn something daily—each time gaining more understanding of SVdP’s collective ministries and how to bring them together organizationally.
Many of our ministries have operated independently of each other for many years. Our dedicated volunteers would recognize an unmet need in our community and would set about to address those needs. SVdP’s homeless ministries are a great example. Volunteers saw a need to help this underserved population and just stepped in and made it happen.
My major focus has been to understand our various ministries and bring everyone together under one umbrella so that we have a better idea how we might help each other. It also affords us the opportunity to collect unified data about the populations we are serving. This kind of information is imperative when requesting financial support from potential funders. The more access we have to this data, the more likely we are to be awarded grants that help us further our mission and dedication to the poor. Thanks to John Ryan, Council President, and Wendy Harlow, Director of Philanthropy, we now have a strategic direction being enacted to attract more donors of all sizes.
Significant improvements have been made at the Pratt-Quigley Food Pantry to further our goal of increasing the amount and variety of nutritious food offered each week. A new commercial cooler for produce was added with funding from St. Vincent Ascension. This has allowed us to store more produce and to keep it fresh before distribution. Alongside this addition, an anonymous donor stepped forward to purchase the installation of a new walk-in commercial freezer. This new freezer allows our “food procurement wiz,” Pete Withey, to leverage opportunity buys since we now have the storage space. As a result, Pete has been able to negotiate lower per pound costs, saving us money and stretching our dollars further. The fact that both of these needed investments were enabled by donations simply amazes me. I am awed by the level of commitment, kindness and generosity that exists in our community.
Building Structural Procedures
With the hiring of Chief Financial Officer Lynne Tromble and Food Pantry Operations Director Skip McCulley, we’re evolving into a more formally structured organization. There is so much talent that exists within SVdP that when that talent leaves, sometimes knowledge leaves too. By developing institutional knowledge housed within our organization, we are creating a more seamless transition when someone new fills a previously-held position. SVdP employees provide a framework for continuity so that we can meet the ongoing needs of our organization when volunteers have personal matters to tend to or when they want to go on vacations. Our volunteers are so dedicated and hardworking; they are the glue that holds the organization accountable to our mission. We want their volunteer experience to be rewarding for them and not burdensome in any way, or for them to bear undue responsibility over the ever-present workload. This is where a permanent structure has merit for all.
I feel truly blessed to be a part of SVdP. Until this role, I have never witnessed what John Ryan refers to as “the work of the Holy Spirit” and it is truly extraordinary to witness day in and day out.