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By Paul Ainslie, President of SVdP Indy

This past year saw St. Vincent de Paul Indianapolis challenged in new ways, and our response was notable. We had many successes in our programs, along with a few setbacks. Many volunteers returned after the COVID quarantine, but many did not. Our donors have been as generous as ever. Our costs have gone up from both inflation and new programs. Overall, I think it has been an outstanding year!

When we returned to inside shopping in September 2021, the number of shoppers served was down significantly from pre-pandemic numbers. The number of shoppers continued to increase steadily, and we matched the pre-pandemic average this September. Since then, the number of shoppers has continued to climb, with many new shoppers added each week. Now we serve well over 3,200 households each week, including 380 home deliveries. We passed over 100,000 families served in October.

The cost of food has risen with inflation, and the amount of free food we receive has decreased. But we have been able to provide fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs and milk regularly. We expanded our home deliveries with a program in conjunction with Door Dash and the Faith, Hope and Love Community. We also added a diaper program in a partnership with the Indiana Diaper Bank, which supplies monthly diapers to many households with small children.

Our Changing Lives Forever program has returned to in-person classes, with new graduates and classes across the city. We are anticipating adding classes in Richmond soon, too. Our CLF graduate classes have been very well received, with a focus on expanded skills and abilities that have helped several graduates get better jobs.

We recognized the need for better quality beds for our neighbors, especially children sleeping on the floor. With our Dream a Little Dream Program we have regularly had twin beds available for those in need; larger beds will be available soon.

Our Mission 27 stores continued their growth, with sales exceeding our expectations. The quantity and quality of donations we receive has grown, giving us better goods to hand out, quality goods to sell, and enough to share with other stores in the Council. Clothes we cannot use—and even rags—can be baled in our new baler and sent overseas for use there. This generates additional revenue from our store operations.

We started down a new path of supporting our unsheltered neighbors with our Love Your Neighbor Center. As we prepare it for opening soon, we know that it will be both challenging and rewarding.

We have received grants and gifts, bequests and memorials; held a very successful Gala and a fun 5K run; and even chucked pucks at an Indy Fuel game— all to raise funds to pay for our programs. We ended our fiscal year a little in the black, which was good enough.

My heartfelt thanks goes to all the staff, volunteers, donors and supporters who have made this year a success. Not our success, but a success for those who were hungry, and we had food; those who were cold, and we had coats and boots; those who were unsheltered, and we offered hot meals and snacks; and those who were yearning to change their lives and we offered hope. Our success is measured one individual at a time.

May you have a very Merry Christmas and may God bless you and yours in the New Year.