Gary Steigerwald is no stranger to SVdP Indy. In fact, he’s been cheerfully volunteering his time for nearly four decades. He’s been “all in” for a while—serving in the food pantry, delivering food to the homebound, making home visits, working in the Distribution Center, driving a truck and, currently, serving as President of the St. Jude Conference. But his newest venture with SVdP takes his volunteerism to a whole new level.
Now Gary is heading up the referral team for the home visitor program. The full-time volunteer position was a natural fit for him, given his career experience. Before he retired, Gary had spent many years in retail management with companies like Sears and Whirlpool. He’d been involved everything from sales and customer service, to training and inventory management—all skills that help make the referral process at the Distribution Center more organized and efficient.
“There are many similarities between retail and what we do here through referrals,” Gary explains. “The #1 focus of both is customer service and helping those we serve. Secondly, standardizing processes and inventory management are critical to both—they directly impact how we respond to neighbors.”
Responding quickly to neighbor needs
One of the areas where Gary hopes to improve efficiency is with initial neighbor contact. Once the referral team receives a neighbor’s name and list of needs, the goal is to contact the neighbor within two days. Currently, we’re able to meet that goal about 80% of the time.
Once the referral team receives a neighbor’s name, a team member calls the neighbor to share how SVdP will be able to help and what items we can provide. From there, they schedule a time for the neighbor to come to the Distribution Center and pick up items. The most needed items are new mattresses, furniture, bedding and especially appliances, particularly washers and dryers.
Funding for the purchase of new mattresses is of urgent need as the referral team is dedicated to providing children and families with new, comfortable beds with frames so they no longer have to sleep on the floor. Donations to support this program can be made via the SVdP Indy Giving Page
It takes a village
While Gary oversees the team, he’s quick to give credit to the 18 volunteers who comprise the team, working in two-hour shifts to call neighbors, schedule appointments, manage paperwork and prepare baskets for the neighbors. Together, the team responds to about 200 referrals a month.
Additionally, Gary gives a nod to the housewares and linen teams who sort and clean items and prepare them for neighbor pick-up. “They support us and the neighbors we’re trying to help,” he says.
For the pleasure of helping others
Some may wonder why Gary devotes so much time to SVdP. It’s simple: he enjoys helping others. If you want to get involved in serving others, Gary encourages you to get involved at the SVdP Conference level with a local parish.
“We need people for home visits, but also for prayer and fellowship—which is equally important and necessary for this work,” he says.
To get involved at the Conference level, call a neighborhood Catholic parish for the contact info of the President of the SVdP Conference. Or to sign up to work at the Distribution Center or Food Pantry, visit www.svdpindy.org, click on I Want To Help > Donate Time, and sign up for a day and time that works for you.