St. Vincent de Paul: a reliable neighbor helping thousands
Perhaps you’ve noticed volunteers for The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the community, as they provide help in nearly unlimited ways to their neighbors across Maricopa County as well as western and northern Arizona.
But the organization’s No. 1 goal is to treat every person with respect and care.
“We provide help for people’s physical, mental, and spiritual needs,” the organization says on its website.
The Society began in Paris in 1833, and came to the Valley in 1946. Worldwide, as well as in Arizona, St. Vincent de Paul serves families of any and all backgrounds, and relies on private donations to provide a host of services to those in need.
In central and northern Arizona today, there are 81 SVdP Conferences of Charity, over 3,000 specially-trained members — called Vincentians — and more than 10,000 volunteers serve annually at SVdP’s Dan O’Meara Campus, located just South of downtown Phoenix.
It’s difficult to help someone you don’t know, which is why for Vincentians, much of their work starts with a visit. Visiting and serving in homes and communities makes the aid about forming friendships as much as providing any tangible benefit. Visits also help Vincentians learn what help is needed.
“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is dedicated to feed, clothe, house and heal individuals and families in our community who have nowhere else to turn for help,” the organization says on its website.
These are just a few of the ways SVdP Phoenix helps:
- Services for the homeless: A Homelessness Prevention program helps people avoid utility shut-off and eviction, and Ozanam Manor offers transitional housing.
- Arizona’s largest charity medical and dental clinics provide care for the working poor, and a Center for Family Wellness that supplies solid fundamentals for family health.
- Five charity dining rooms that serve 4,500 meals every day of the year.
- More than 200,000 food boxes delivered to homes of families in crisis.
- A Food Reclamation Center that processes and directs food donations where they’re needed most.
- The Rob and Melani Walton Urban Farm that provides thousands of pounds of fresh produce for SVdP’s kitchen and other programs to provide solid nutrition.
- Seven Thrift Stores across the Valley and eight others Statewide that recycle gently-used merchandise that provide families super-value for clothing and household goods.
- An approach that follows its founder’s direction that “No charity is foreign to the Society,” as Vincentians help families with costs and arrangements for medical help, transportation, education and other needs of nearly every description.
No small part of the mission for the Phoenix Council of SVdP is to provide ways for people and businesses in the community to give be meaningful participants to “give back to others,” something which is regarded as essential to its purpose.
“We want to be a magnet to attract those who wish to serve our community,” says Phoenix SVdP Executive Director Steve Zabilski. “Service to others improves the quality of life for everyone who participates in that equation, and we are honored have our programs link those in need with those whose compassion and ethic to serve can meet– with benefits for all. SVdP in Phoenix has provided meaningful opportunities for volunteers to serve their neighbors with love and compassion, for nearly 75 years,” Zabilski concludes.
Loving your neighbor could mean helping someone next door or a family across town. Not every family faces problems like homelessness—there are innumerable, complex, needs to be met, and when we provide help for those less fortunate, everybody benefits.
“We are the Society of Where There’s a Will There’s a Million Ways,” the Society says on its website. “That means all we need is your will and your desire to make a difference.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides many ways to participate, including volunteer opportunities for many different skillsets and schedules, and a way to donate to the programs it offers. Learn more at StVincentdePaul.net.