By Paul Ainslie, President
In another chapter of my life, I worked in the automotive industry for 30 years. I saw lots of good times and bad, highs and lows, record profits and bankruptcies. All in all, it was a good career. In the car biz, we used to talk about the “daily miracle” when thousands of parts came together with hundreds of workers and machines to build a car or truck. This would happen as often as once per minute in a factory—an amazing achievement. But this isn’t a miracle. It’s simply logistics and engineering. Just people doing their jobs.
The real daily miracles are the ones we see each day at St. Vincent de Paul—people in need coming to us and meeting one of our amazing volunteers who addresses their needs. Whether the need is food, clothing, household goods or whatever, our volunteer has something to offer to meet the need.
Generous donors have helped put food on our shelves, clothes on our racks and numerous household items in our Distribution Center. It is this one-to-one connection of our volunteer with someone in need that makes SVdP special and distinguishes us from so many other organizations.
Vincentians at Council and Conference Level
Our volunteers are the lifeblood of all we do. Until 2016, we were an all-volunteer organization, but times have caught up to us, and now we have some paid leadership and store help. But volunteers still make up the vast majority of the help we have on a daily basis. And this doesn’t just happen at the Council level with our food pantries, Distribution Center and Mission 27 stores. It also happens at the Conference level—with all of our participating parishes who join us in our mission. Together our Council and Conference members exemplify what it means to be a Vincentian.
Being a Vincentian is a special calling from God. It’s when SVdP members put their faith into action in a personal and direct way. In fact, practical translation of faith into action, meditating upon it and adapting it to our changing world is the key life of every Vincentian and the very life of SVdP.
We are truly grateful for all our volunteers who can see Christ in those in need and respond to His call “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me” (Matt. 25:40).
Special Blessings During Pandemic
The pandemic has been tough on everyone: families are stressed to the limit over jobs, school, food, rent and a hundred other things. Businesses are struggling in many cases to stay viable in this now yearlong crisis. And SVdP has been challenged, too, as described so well by Peter Zubler here. As our hours, processes and policies have changed, it is our volunteers who have stepped up. The pandemic has also caused many of our volunteers to stay home, which was certainly the right thing to do. Though we miss them, we know we will see them again when it is safe for them to return. In the meantime, many others have come forward, working longer hours or standing in the cold to put food in cars in the drive-through pantry. We have been blessed by help from the Indiana National Guard, contract workers from Reliable Staffing paid by a grant given to Gleaners, and many non-Catholic organizations such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormons.
It is the volunteers who have done the needed work to help SVdP meet the challenges of this pandemic. This is truly our daily miracle. Thank you volunteers!