Society of St. Vincent de Paul-Indianapolis Archdiocesan Council, Inc.

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Changing Lives Forever (For All of Us)

By Paul Ainslie, President, SVdP Indy

It is December of the year 2020. What a year we have all had. Each of us has a personal story of change, loss and recovery; of struggles and triumphs; and of the community coming together to prioritize what truly matters.

Most volunteers are happy to help and feel rewarded in doing good work. After all, doing God’s work here on earth is what we are supposed to do. But many of us also know that finding a more permanent way to help—one with a lasting impact—will ultimately be more satisfying and useful to our neighbors in need.

Since 2014, we have offered the Changing Lives Forever program (CLF), first in the Indianapolis area and more recently in other conferences in the Archdiocese. (See article about the Columbus CLF program.) We have nearly 360 graduates to date. I have personally been a part of CLF programs at Immaculate Heart of Mary Conference and have seen the impact of this program on so many lives. The dedication of the participants and facilitators is heartwarming. The testimonies of the graduates often bring tears to my eyes. For many graduates, their lives are truly changed forever. My life has been changed because of these classes, too.

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained our ability to offer CLF programs, but many conferences have found ways to complete classes and have a graduation. Some conferences are beginning to experiment with virtual classes (like the St. Simon/VA class.) and have received national SVdP grants to acquire the technology to do this. Like all other businesses, nonprofits and organizations, SVdP has learned how creative and resilient people can be.

As I look forward to the New Year, I know this pandemic will continue, that political divides will remain an issue, and that the social injustices we see all around us will not magically go away. But if I may be so bold to say, I believe that all of our lives have been changed forever by 2020. We all have a better focus on what matters most in our lives, and where we must improve our society and democracy.

Thank you for being part of our Vincentian family this year. My wish for you is that this holiday season brings you joy, peace and rest. May God bless.

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