By Bill Diebels, Jr.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is an international organization with over 800,000 members who typically belong to a group in their parish. The parish group forms a conference and members are known as Vincentians. Several conferences in an area form Councils which help the conferences serve their common goals and may operate thrift stores as one source of funds to aid the poor. A primary activity and charism of Vincentians is to visit people in their homes to understand their needs, and provide assistance when possible. This assistance may be in the form of service and often includes financial or in-kind aid. Nationally, there are over 4,400 conferences with nearly 100,000 Vincentians.
In the Diocese of Juneau, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Juneau (SVdP-Juneau) is a non-profit originally founded in 1984 by members of St. Paul the Apostle Parish and currently provides monetary assistance, food, clothing, housing, and services to people in need. Last year, the board of directors of SVdP Juneau, recognizing that home visits are a core component of the Vincentian identity, decided to establish a home visit team which would operate much like a parish-based conference.
After informational meetings during the summer, the first Home Visit Team (HVT) meeting was held in November. The HVT has nine Vincentians and meets twice per month. The meetings have a spiritual component where we pray and reflect on our ministry. They also have a “business” component where we discuss operations of the conference, including the people we have served. This helps us understand what we did well and where we can improve. Examples of our cases include:
- Working with a Seattle conference to help a Juneau family whose mother was medevaced
- Providing food to individuals
- Visiting a patient in the hospital
Home visits currently occur based on referrals from SVdP-Juneau. Upon receiving a referral, the client is contacted to arrange a visit by a pair of Vincentians. Based on what is learned during the visit, some direct aid may be provided, and future visits may be scheduled. The primary source of funds which allow the HVT to provide direct aid toward items such as food, rent, and utility bills come from a portion of the S.O.M.E collections from each Juneau parish and the generous donations from you, our community of faith.
We plan to expand sources of referrals to include the two Juneau parishes, Catholic Community Service, and Capital City Fire/Rescue. Anyone who is in need or aware of someone in need is encouraged to make a referral by either calling the SVdP-Juneau aid line at 907-789-5399 x4 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about the HVT or are interested in potentially joining the HVT, please contact Bill Diebels, Jr. at email@example.com. If you are interested in financially supporting the work of St. Vincent de Paul in our community, please consider donating through our website svdpjuneau.org/donate-now or mailing a donation to: St. Vincent de Paul-Juneau, 8617 Teal Street, Juneau, AK 99801.