May 18, 2018

Shelby County parishes form new St. Vincent de Paul Society

Paul Pavey of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County speaks after accepting a check for $8,044.80 from a tea party and quilt raffle that has jumpstarted a new St. Vincent de Paul Society to help the poor in Shelby County. He stands in front of the quilt that was donated to help raise money for the society. (Submitted photo)

Paul Pavey of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Shelby County speaks after accepting a check for $8,044.80 from a tea party and quilt raffle that has jumpstarted a new St. Vincent de Paul Society to help the poor in Shelby County. He stands in front of the quilt that was donated to help raise money for the society. (Submitted photo)

By Jennifer Lindberg (Special to The Criterion)

SHELBY COUNTY—Sometimes it takes a grain bin, a quilt and numerous dedicated souls to start something that will help the poor.

The newly formed St. Vincent de Paul Society of Shelby County is a fresh idea that has united two parishes linked through the Connected in the Spirit archdiocesan planning process: St. Joseph in Shelbyville and St. Vincent de Paul in Shelby County.

Jim Carrier, president of the new society, said that many of the food pantries in Shelby County only let people visit every 30 days, and sometimes require people to be members of those churches.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society is different, said Carrier, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

“We go visit our clients,” said Carrier. “Everyone makes the poor come to them. We go to the poor.

“This one guy thought it was unreal,” Carrier said. “He said no one has ever come to my house to help me.”

It’s that hands-on approach that has garnered wide support for the project and seen it come to fruition in a relatively short time. Meetings were conducted in December, and the group hit the ground running in March.

It has already served 30 clients, Carrier said.

St. Vincent de Paul societies are part of an international effort to assist those in need on a person-to-person basis. According to its website, at least 12 million people are helped yearly by the Vincentians in the United States. The organization is operated by lay people.

Currently, Carrier’s grain bin is the group’s warehouse for hard furniture, such as beds and appliances that clients might need. They have also helped with paying bills of those in need. Carrier proudly had his grain bin stamped with SVDP letters (an acronym for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul) until the group can find a temperature‑controlled storage place.

Franciscan Sister Joan Miller, St. Vincent’s parish life coordinator, said the response to the project has been overwhelming.

“Most [councils] are very small, 10 people or less,” she said. “We are very different. About 30 people showed up for that first meeting. I can’t get over how many people are working toward helping us.”

The original idea came from Father Michael Keucher, pastor of St. Joseph Parish and St. Vincent’s sacramental minister. After receiving numerous requests for help, Father Keucher wished aloud for a St. Vincent de Paul Society to Sister Joan.

“Folks want to give, they want to help, they want to be Christ to others,” said Father Keucher. “I think this is helping us grow in our faith. We’ve got lots of volunteers making home visits, donating things, answering phones and so on. Everyone is doing his or her part, and it’s working beautifully.”

The project keeps bearing fruit. This year, the annual tea party at St. Vincent Parish donated all its proceeds to the society. By raffling a quilt and from the ticket sales to the tea party, it raised more than $8,000.

Joan Knight, president of the tea party committee, said the raffling of the quilt earned about $2,000. It has been a quilt that keeps giving to good causes.

The quilt was originally won by Mark Rosenfeld, a St. Vincent de Paul parishioner, at a cancer society raffle. Rosenfeld recently died of cancer, and his siblings donated the quilt—which was never used—to SVDP.

Knight said the family wanted the quilt to continue helping people, and it was donated for the new endeavor.

The tea party has been raising money for local Shelby County charities for 15 years, Knight said. In all, it has raised more than $30,000 for the community through the years.

This year’s tea party was its best ever. “It’s just a small tea party,” said Knight. “But we made that much money with this small, little tea. People are amazing.”
 

(Jennifer Lindberg is a member of St. Joseph Parish in Shelbyville. To donate, receive assistance or volunteer with the group, check out their website at: svdpshelby.org, call 317-995-7027 or e-mail shelbycountysvdp@gmail.com. Donations are accepted through St. Joseph Parish or St. Vincent de Paul Parish.)

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