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Ground Rules for Visitation

Ground Rules for Visitation 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Today’s Article was Written by Mike Syslo, Chair of the National Governance Committee

There are a set of basic ground rules that should be kept in mind before visiting with those who have requested our help. It is a good idea to review them on occasion, understand them and put them into practice.

1. If you are on a witch hunt, stay home.

One of our purposes as members of the Society is to bring the love of God to those who are in need. You cannot do this if your personal expectation is that the people you visit are on the take, that they are out to get us for whatever they can. If you believe that the people you are going to visit are going to give you a phony story, if you believe before you actually meet with them that they “are only going to sell the food to get money for cigarettes or alcohol or drugs,” then you have prejudged them and shouldn’t be participating in the interview. Our role as helper obliges us to keep as open a mind as possible. Give those we serve the benefit of the doubt – at least until you have heard their story and can make a reasonable judgment as to the validity of the need. Remember, it is the need we are judging – not the people.  So, the first ground rule calls for you to judge yourself – not the circumstances, not others. What is your reason for going on this visit? If you are on a witch hunt, you have no Vincentian reason for being there. Stay home.

2. If you are an expert on life, stay home.

Have you ever heard the comment: I’ve lived a long, difficult life and I’ve never had to ask for help. (Better yet, have you said such?)  Some people (Vincentians) have a tendency to feel that they know the answers, they’ve heard it all before, they know the circumstances, they know what questions will be asked, and they know what they are going to do to resolve the request before the visit occurs. The problem with being an expert is that experts have the answers before the questions are asked. The problem with experts is that they are ready with what needs to be done while the words of the request are still being formed in the mind of the one asking. The problem with experts is that they don’t listen. And, that is exactly what is expected of Vincentians: Vincentians must be good listeners. Vincentians should go on a call with no preset plans in mind. Vincentians should visit those in need with the spirit of a servant asking their masters “what is it that we can do for you?” Our Lord has called out to us. It is He whom we are serving in the person of the poor. We must go to Him humbly asking what it is He seeks. But He does expect us to say “yes” when appropriate and “no” also when appropriate. Be a good listener. If you are an expert on life, stay home.

3. If you cannot smile and be pleasant, stay home.

Let’s face it, everyone has a bad day once in a while. It happens to the worst of us. It happens to the best of us. However, as Vincentians we represent Christ to those we serve. We must be pleasant, loving and caring when we encounter those in need. Our Lord asked us to love one another as He has loved us. That’s a tall order and we need to represent Him well. What this means is that if you are having a bad day, you can’t show it. And, if you can’t not show it, stay home. You are doing no one any good – including yourself.

If your normal personality matches the movie title “Grumpy Old Men,” then you shouldn’t be going on home visits. Grumpy people never provide those they encounter with feelings of love and renewed hope. That’s part of what we are doing when we go to those in need. We are showing them that God cares. He cares so much that He sent us to try to help. So, if you are a grumpy old man or woman, stay home.

Burn out often reflects itself in rude, crude and downright ugly behavior. Unfortunately, we never recognize it in ourselves. It’s always some else who sees it. And it is worse if the one who sees it is the one you are supposed to be helping. If you see this in your partner, make sure he/she stays home.

4. We are responsible for our effort, not for success.

It would be great to point to every home visit that we make and be able to say, “This is one of our finest success stories. We did such and such and it really turned things around for this family. They’re doing great now.” Well, in doing a reality check, we know better. We know, in fact, that very few of the families we visit for the first time ever even take the good advice we give them. That’s part of human nature and we should not expect much more. So then, what is our role if it is not to change people’s lives and get them on the road to heaven? Our role in serving those in need is twofold. First, it is to show those who are in need that God cares about them; He cares so much that He sent us to do what we can to help. Second, our role is to make life a little bit better for them right now, this moment, to give them some hope. If we can do more, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too.

We are responsible for making the effort to help. We are responsible for our attitudes, for the amount of love we put into the visit, for the amount of love we put into the advice we give. We are not responsible for making it all work. We can give advice but we cannot force those we are trying to help to take the advice and run with it. We cannot place conditions on the help we give; so we should never refuse to help because they didn’t follow our last advice. Christ asked us to love one another as He loved us. His love was unconditional. Focus on what you can control and that is your effort. You may walk away from a visit feeling like you have made a real difference or you may feel like you were not able to change anything. The impact of what you do today may not show up for months or years. If you are going to make an evaluation of the visit, then evaluate yourself, your effort, the impact of the visit on you, and not whether anything is different for the family you visited.

5. Judgment not judgmental!

Everyday we are faced with making decisions and everyday we make a choice on each one of those decision points presented to us. Some of those choices are good, some are bad and some are inconsequential.  We hope for the most part that our decisions are good ones. When we are faced with what our Lord presents to us on our visit to Him (in someone’s home), we are asked again to make a decision, a choice, a judgment.

We are asked to judge the validity of the need and the level of resources that are available to us. We are asked to listen to what is presented, observe the surroundings, analyze the circumstances, and evaluate what we have to work with. It is the need that is important. Is this real? Do they really need the groceries? Do they really need the rent help or is the rent not even due for another two weeks? Do we have enough money to pay the portion of the bill that they cannot cover? We are asked to make a judgment – period.

Don’t make your decision based on any one of the many varied lifestyle choices that people make: are they living together instead of being married; is it a mixed marriage; are they just going to take our help and use their own money to buy cigarettes, beer or drugs; is the house filthy and the kids as well; does the whole place smell of stale cigarette smoke or urine; is the old man just lounging on the sofa? These and a thousand other questions are based on lifestyle choices and cause us to be judgmental.

We are asked to make good judgments about whether to help or not. We are not to be judgmental about lifestyle choices. It’s not easy. We have to deal with mind and heart issues as well as all our life experiences. Our Lord told us to love one another as He loves us. Don’t deny someone your help because you disagree with how they choose to live. Make the judgment – don‘t be judgmental.

6. Who owns the groceries? Let go!

Letting go is something that has been promoted as a necessary part of maintaining both a good mental and emotional balance. Essentially the saying is “let go, let God!” Within our Vincentian way of life we are asked to do the same thing but from a slightly different aspect.

Often our members place a tremendously high value on the material things that we give to those in need. Often we are judgmental about the people we serve based on how they deal with the things we give them. Jesus told us to love one another as He loves us. And He loves us unconditionally. He doesn’t attach any strings to the gifts He gives us. He doesn’t ask us to dance to a particular tune in order to receive the gifts He gives out of love. And He certainly is not going to withhold any future gifts because we didn’t care very well for what He gave us in the past.

The same should be applied as Vincentians give their gifts to those in need. There are no strings attached. Our gifts are unconditional. When we give a person or family a box of groceries, who owns the groceries? They do. When we give a person or family some clothing or some furniture, who owns the merchandise? They do.  They have ownership. How they handle it, how they dispose of it is their business.

We are asked to make a judgment about the need that is presented to us. We are not asked to be judgmental about the actions of the people we are about to help.  Let go. Judge each case on its own merit. “The measure with which you measure will be used to measure you.” (Matthew 7:2)

7. Work within the guidelines of the Conference.

It has been stated in many ways in many St. Vincent de Paul publications: the basic unit of the Society, the most important unit of the Society is the Conference. It is the Conference that has the resources. It is the Conference that does the works of charity. It is the Conference that decides what will and what will not be done. In the United States, all Conferences are run democratically. All decisions are made by the group. No individual member has a right to override what the Conference decides. Every Conference establishes a set of guidelines upon which the members may operate as Vincentians. Assuming that the guidelines do not contradict the Rule of the Society, it should be understood by all members of the Conference that the guidelines must be followed.

For example, a Conference guideline may allow for any visiting team to spend up to $150 based on their own evaluation of the need and circumstances. If more than $150 is needed, then it must be brought back to the Conference for a decision. It would be improper for any visiting team to simply approve payment of or pay a bill for $220.

If the Conference as a group decides not to give any further assistance to a specific family (regardless of reason), it would be wrong for an individual member or visiting team to assist the family in spite of the Conference decision. All members must work within the guidelines of the Conference.

8. Your decision is the right one.

The visiting team must have confidence in themselves and their decision-making ability. They are being asked to make a decision that will affect not only the person/family they are working with but also the Conference. The visiting team members are the only ones present to hear the story, to ask the questions, to understand the circumstances and to formulate a resolution to the problem. Their decision is the right one. The only exception to this is if their decision contradicts a Rule of the Society or a prior decision/guideline made by the Conference.

No one within the Conference has a right to criticize the team for the decision they made. Other members may make recommendations as to other questions that may be asked in similar circumstances next time, other resources that may be referred, other paths that may be suggested. But criticism is out. Our role as Vincentians during the meeting is to bolster, encourage and assist each other.

Always remember: unless you are doing something contrary to your Conference’s prior decisions or contrary to the Society, your decision is the right one.

Conclusion

Take a moment and review all eight of the ground rules. Essentially, they all deal with attitude. Attitude is what you bring to the visit. It affects the way you think and the way you act. It truly is your contribution to the encounter. Our Lord presents us with opportunities to serve Him by serving those in need. It is not so much the material things that we give that are important as what we bring from our hearts. Let us close with an excerpt from Praying With Frederic Ozanam (pages 92-93, Ron Ramson, C.M.).

Frederic’s Words

On 21 October 1848, Frederic wrote a remarkable article in his newspaper, the New Era. The article was entitled “Help Which Humiliates and Help Which Honors.” 

Help is humiliating when it appeals to men from below, taking heed of their material wants only, paying no attention to those of the flesh, to the cry of hunger and cold, to what excites pity, to what one succors even in the beasts.  It humiliates when there is no reciprocity, when you give the poor man nothing but bread, or clothes, or a bundle of straw – what, in fact, there is no likelihood of his ever giving you in return. . .  But it honors when it appeals to him from above, when it occupies itself with his soul, his religious, moral, and political education, with all that emancipates him from his passions and from a portion of his wants, with those things that make him free, and may make him great.  Help honors when to the bread that nourishes it adds the visit that consoles, the advice that enlightens, the friendly shake of the hand that lifts up the sinking courage; when it treats the poor man with respect, not only as an equal but as a superior, since he is suffering what perhaps we are incapable of suffering; since he is the messenger of God to us, sent to prove our justice and our charity, and to save us by our works.

Help then becomes honorable because it may become mutual, because every man who gives a kind word, a good advice, a consolation today, may tomorrow stand himself in need of a kind word, an advice, or a consolation; because the hand that you clasp clasps yours in return; because the indigent family whom you love loves you in return, and will have largely acquitted themselves towards you when the old man, the mother, the little children shall have prayed for you.

05-19-2022 Questions and Answers

05-19-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: How important is it to get a receipt for rental payments? Most landlords send receipts, but some do not. Is an electronic copy of the check from our bank a sufficient record of the transaction?

A: Every effort should be made to get a receipt. If not possible, a note from the Vincentians involved with the transaction saying that the receipt was not given should be used in place of the receipt. This should also be recorded in the case record.

Q: In the Rule and Manual it talks about receiving a plenary indulgence at festival meetings. How do you define a festival meeting, and could a Morning of Reflection be considered as such?

A: The Manual is explicit about what are considered festival meetings. According to Society’s tradition, Vincentians celebrate “Festival Meetings,” which is gathering for Mass and a meeting on one or more of the following: Ozanam Sunday (the last Sunday of April, in honor of the April 23rd birthday of Frederic Ozanam), the Feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam (September 9th), the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul (Sept. 27), the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), and the Feast of Blessed Rosalie Rendu (Feb. 7).

Members may gain a plenary indulgence on the day of their admission to the Society, and when participating in a Festival Meeting, provided they make their Confession, receive Communion, pray for the intentions of the Pope, and promise to observe faithfully the Rule of the Society.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Qué tan importante es obtener un recibo de los pagos de alquiler? La mayoría de los propietarios envían recibos, pero algunos no lo hacen. ¿Es una copia electrónica del cheque de nuestro banco un registro suficiente de la transacción?

R: Se debe hacer todo lo posible para obtener un recibo. Si no es posible, se debe usar una nota de los Vicentinos involucrados en la transacción que diga que no se entregó el recibo en lugar del recibo. Esto también debe notarse en el registro del caso.

P: En la Regla y el Manual se habla de recibir una indulgencia plenaria en las reuniones festivas. ¿Cómo defines una reunión festiva, y podría considerarse como tal una Mañana de Reflexión?

R: El Manual es explícito sobre lo que se consideran reuniones festivas. De acuerdo con la tradición de la Sociedad, los Vicentinos celebran “Reuniones de Festival,” que consiste en reunirse para Misa y una reunión en uno o más de los siguientes: Domingo de Ozanam (el último domingo de abril, en honor al 23 de abril, cumpleaños de Frederic Ozanam), Fiesta del Beato Federico Ozanam (9 de septiembre), Fiesta de San Vicente de Paúl (27 de septiembre), Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción (8 de diciembre) y Fiesta de la Beata Rosalía Rendu (7 de febrero).

Los miembros pueden obtener una indulgencia plenaria el día de su admisión a la Sociedad, y cuando participen en una reunión festiva, siempre que se confiesen, reciban la comunión, oren por las intenciones del Papa y prometan observar fielmente la Regla de la Sociedad.

How to Run a Good Meeting

How to Run a Good Meeting 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Many newly-elected presidents will soon take office and put their leadership skills to work. Among the group leadership skills that come into play is knowing how to run a good meeting. Here are a few tips for use whether you are a new or veteran president:

  1. Never hold a meeting without an agenda; send a tentative agenda in advance to everyone who is expected to attend.
  2. Make sure that copies of all reports to be discussed are sent out in advance of the meeting.
  3. It does not hurt to have a consent agenda for matters like prior meeting minutes and financial reports with discussion or reporting needed only if there is a question or correction.
  4. Begin every meeting with prayer, a spiritual reflection and brief discussion on the reflection.  Business can wait for prayer and spiritual reflection.
  5. At the beginning of your meeting have those in attendance approve the tentative agenda so that it then becomes theirs.
  6. Stick to the agenda and politely keep those who are present on topic. Remember to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and remind them that we discuss matters, not argue about them.
  7. Provide an opportunity at the end of a meeting for new business to be brought up for discussion at that time or at a subsequent meeting.

We hope these basic suggestions help your meeting run smoothly.

05-12-2022 Questions and Answers

05-12-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: For transparency, should capital campaign funds being held by a thrift store for a future building project be included on the annual report and carried over each year, or only in the year that funds are collected? 

A: Only the capital campaign funds received during the year are reported. The Council or Conference that owns and operates the store reports the fund balance from the end of the prior year in its beginning balance on its report.

Q: Two Conferences pooled their funds and wrote a check to a third non-profit who then paid a motel for two weeks for a neighbor in need. Does the Rule support this transaction?

A: Yes. What you describe is not a donation to a non-profit. It is a valid co-pay, and the Conferences should record this in their case records.

Spanish Translation

P: Para mayor transparencia, ¿los fondos de una campaña capital, retenidos por una tienda de segunda mano para un futuro proyecto de construcción, deben incluirse en el informe anual y transferirse cada año, o solo en el año en que se recaudan los fondos? 

R: Solo se informan los fondos de la Campaña Capital recibidos durante el año. El Consejo o Conferencia que posee y opera la tienda informa el saldo de fondos desde el final del año anterior en su saldo inicial en su informe.

P: Dos Conferencias juntaron sus fondos y escribieron un cheque a una tercera organización sin fines de lucro que luego pagó un motel para un vecino con necesidades a quedar por dos semanas. ¿La Regla permite esta transacción?

R: Sí. Lo que describes no es una donación a una organización sin fines de lucro. Es un copago válido, y las Conferencias deben registrarlo en sus registros de casos.

A Duty To Delegate: Guidance For Vincentian Leaders

A Duty To Delegate: Guidance For Vincentian Leaders 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Webster defines the verb “delegate” as “to entrust to another.”  It seems simple enough but isn’t always so when human nature intrudes.

Delegating is a core principle of sound management and our Rule expects Vincentian leaders to practice it.  Yet we frequently hear stories of Conferences and Councils unable to function effectively because presidents want to do everything their way and don’t delegate even basic responsibilities.  We also hear about leaders stepping down because they were “burned out” from placing undue and unwise burdens on themselves. Sadly, fulfilling our mission is often short-circuited by such misguided ideas of how to lead and manage those who share a vocation of service to God and His beloved poor.

Strong collaborative leadership is essential to making our Society a more effective source of help to the needy.  It brings fresh ideas into the operation of Conferences and Councils and moves us forward by promoting our Rule, forming members, and advancing goals and objectives.

Our Rule (3:11) tells us that “Following Christ’s example, the presidents at all levels of the Society endeavor to be servant leaders.  They provide an encouraging atmosphere in which the talents, capacities and spiritual charism of the members are identified, developed and put to the service of the poor and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”  Such a focus on personal development also can provide a significant boost to a Conference’s or Council’s succession planning efforts.

There is abundant evidence that without effective leadership our service to the poor suffers and the viability of individual Conferences and Councils becomes a concern.  It is a time-tested truth that leadership is as important to the service of the poor as any other role in our Society.

Among the concerns expressed for not stepping into leadership by running for Conference or Council president is that it is too time-consuming.  That can be the case if leaders do not depend on others to assist them.  As a first among equals and as a servant leader, presidents should help others grow into leadership roles by appointing officers, board members and committee chairs – and using them – so it becomes a team effort.  Delegating duties to officers and making use of committees shares a Conference’s workload and enables others to become vital parts of the leadership team.  Presidents do not need to attend all committee meetings.  Committee chairs report back to them and to the membership.  Committees also provide an opportunity to identify and develop capable candidates to move into leadership positions.

Some key points to ponder:

  • Leaders are not expected to act alone – leadership is inherently a collaborative effort.
  • Our Rule recognizes that family and job responsibilities come first.
  • Leadership is not a personal mission but a team mission and God’s mission.
  • There is a need to build a leadership team – officers and committee heads.
  • The basic idea is to spread the work around – let others report to the president.
  • Leaders need to put their trust in God and not lose sight of the spirituality of our mission.
  • Leaders must use the God-given talents of others.

Our mission calls us to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the poor and needy in the tradition of our founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.  Serving as the president of a Council or Conference provides an ideal platform from which to enhance one’s own spiritual life.  A great privilege of leadership is the priceless opportunity to nurture the spirituality of fellow Vincentians while inspiring them to be ambassadors of the mission of St. Vincent de Paul in our communities by bringing the love and mercy of Christ to His suffering children.

Since our founding, Vincentians have been bolstered by an unwavering trust in the providence of God who has demonstrated during the past 189 years that He attaches a high priority to the success of our Society.  We have, after all, said “yes” to His call.  He wants us to succeed, whatever role we play in His plan for our personal ministry of love and compassion.

t and officers take office and soon afterwards, they should take advantage of the training programs and resources available to help them understand their roles.  There are many resources in this area that can be found on the National Council website such as Conference President Training, Servant Leadership Workshop and others.

Succession planning is not difficult but it does require effort.  Putting it off is easy but not wise.  You do not want to come to election time and only have one candidate – the one who steps in because no one else will and who may not be the right person for the job.

05-05-2022 Questions and Answers

05-05-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: If a Conference is working to help an individual and is lacking all the funds to do so, can members raise money for this purpose?

A: Yes, the Conference can raise such funds (for this purpose) but in a special way. When soliciting funds for this purpose, a reference should be made to help individuals like this one; but no indication should be made that the fundraising will be earmarked for a specific individual.

Conferences must be very careful that those who contribute to this cause do not specify any individual or family’s name with the donation. They may specify for rent or utilities or whatever purpose as an appropriate general category. If the name of the individual is specified, the donation becomes a gift and is not tax-deductible. It also restricts the Conference’s giving to the named person. In some cases, more is raised than needed, while others still have needs that the Conference can’t help with those donor-restricted funds.

Q: Is there a difference between a Conference paying rent to a “regular” landlord and paying rent for someone who is living in group home for addiction recovery or is this giving money to another organization which is against the Rule?

A: This is not a violation of the Rule. It is not a contribution to another organization. You are paying someone’s rent and need to create a case record for each rental payment. The fact that the landlord is a non-profit has no bearing on assisting the neighbor in need.

Spanish Translation

P: Si una conferencia está ayudando a una persona y faltan los fondos para hacerlo, ¿pueden los miembros recaudar dinero para este propósito?

R: Sí, la Conferencia puede recaudar tales fondos (para este propósito) pero de una manera especial. Al solicitar fondos para este propósito, se debe hacer una referencia para ayudar a personas como esta; pero no se debe indicar que la recaudación de fondos se destinará a una persona específica.

Las conferencias deben tener mucho cuidado de que quienes contribuyen a esta causa no especifiquen el nombre de ninguna persona o familia con la donación. Pueden especificar para alquiler o servicios públicos o cualquier propósito como una categoría general apropiada. Si se especifica el nombre de la persona, la donación se convierte en un regalo y no es deducible de impuestos. También restringe las donaciones de la Conferencia a la persona nombrada. En algunos casos, se recauda más de lo necesario, mientras que otros todavía tienen necesidades que la Conferencia no puede ayudar con esos fondos restringidos por los donantes.

P: ¿Hay alguna diferencia entre que una Conferencia pague el alquiler a un propietario “normal” y pague el alquiler a alguien que vive en un hogar grupal para la recuperación de adicciones o está considerado como dar dinero a otra organización que está en contra de la Regla?

R: Esto no es una violación de la Regla. No es una contribución a otra organización. Está pagando el alquiler de alguien y necesita crear un registro de caso para cada pago de alquiler. El hecho de que el propietario sea una organización sin fines de lucro no tiene nada que ver con ayudar al vecino con necesidades.

So, You’ve Been Elected President…

So, You’ve Been Elected President… 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Thank you for sharing your time and talents with fellow Conference and Council members as well as those in need.  As with all involvement in the Society, we hope your work as a Vincentian servant leader will lead you to greater faith, an increased desire to serve and stronger friendships.

Do you feel some anxiety about taking on a Vincentian leadership role?  Let’s take a look at a few common myths behind that anxiety.

Myth #1:  You need to know everything now.

No Vincentian has taken a leadership role already knowing everything; to be honest, no current Vincentian leader knows everything now.  What most Vincentian leaders do learn is where to look to find information, where the resources are and who in the Society has experiences and wisdom to share.

Truth #1:  You will learn and grow during your time as a Vincentian leader.

Myth #2:  You are now in charge of everything.

A Vincentian leader is a servant leader who understands the role of God’s providence.  Your ultimate role is to harness the gifts and spirit of your members and direct them to growth in holiness and increased love for one another, and in ways of service to others.  To do this you will need to allow God to direct you.

Truth #2:  God is in charge of everything.  You are called to discern where God is leading and to follow through – and help your members do the same.

Myth #3:  You are all alone in figuring things out.

This myth could not be further from the truth.  The Society is truly a global network of charity.  Fellow Vincentians in 155 countries are serving those in need, as you are, and desire to do so with love and in an effective manner.  As you attend regional and national gatherings, or reach out to other Vincentian leaders, you will find that many people are more than willing to share their knowledge.  You will only feel all alone if you do not participate in such interactions and relationships.

Truth #3:  Most Vincentian leaders love to talk about their experiences and help each other.

We will share useful information relevant to your new responsibilities in these E-Gazette articles in the coming weeks.  Reach out to other Vincentians – even if they are not from your area – for advice and support.  Thank you for being willing to serve through leadership, and may you be blessed through your witness of following God’s lead in your Conference’s/Council’s service while encouraging others to do the same.

We remind you of the valuable resources on the National website and urge you to review the Governance Page (https://members.ssvpusa.org/governance/) where the Governance Training DVD and the other material the National Governance Committee has prepared can be found.  Then make plans to use these tools.  Your Conferences and Councils will be better off if you do so.

04-28-2022 Questions and Answers

04-28-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: Do we need to put the non-discrimination policy in the Bylaws or keep it with other policies such as the Conflict-of-Interest policy? 

A: Conferences must define the non-discrimination policy and include it in the bylaws. The Non-Discrimination Policy is found on the national website. Click here: https://members.ssvpusa.org/information-for-members/policies-procedures/. Also check with local legal counsel to be sure it is valid for your state and local government requirements.

Q: Our Conference (Conference A) has been requested by a friend in need to provide payment for their motel stay. They are located in Conference B’s area. We contacted Conference B and were told by the President that they helped this family with one week’s stay at the motel.  No red flags were indicated. Conference A told Conference B that they told the family one week was all they were getting, and they would not receive assistance from our Conference (Conference A). Is this proper? 

A: When encountering someone requesting help who lives in another Conference’s (Conference B) boundaries, it is appropriate and common courtesy to contact the other Conference to seek advice and any cautions they may want to share. It is then up to your Conference (Conference A) to decide what you will or will not do in the way of assistance. Conference B cannot speak for you or direct you about what kind of help to give or not give. It is your Conference’s decisions on if, when and how much to help those who come to you.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Necesitamos poner la Política de no discriminación en los estatutos o mantenerla con otras políticas, como la Política de conflicto de intereses? 

R: Las conferencias deben definir la política de no discriminación e incluirla en los estatutos. La Política de No Discriminación se encuentra en el sitio web nacional. Haga clic aquí: https://members.ssvpusa.org/information-for-members/policies-procedures/ . Consulte también con un abogado local para asegurarse de que sea válido para los requisitos de su gobierno estatal y local.

P: Un amigo con necesidades solicitó a nuestra Conferencia (Conferencia A) que pague su estadía en un motel. Están ubicados en el área de la Conferencia B. Nos pusimos en contacto con la Conferencia B y el presidente nos dijo que ayudaron a esta familia con la estadía de una semana en el motel, sin problemas. La Conferencia A le dijo a la Conferencia B que le dijeron a la familia que una semana era todo y que no recibirán asistencia de nuestra Conferencia (Conferencia A). ¿Es esto correcto?

R: Cuando se encuentra con alguien que solicita ayuda y que vive en los límites de otra Conferencia (Conferencia B), es apropiado y de cortesía común comunicarse con la otra Conferencia para buscar asesoramiento y cualquier advertencia que deseen compartir. Después, es para su Conferencia (Conferencia A) decidir qué hará o no en cuanto a la asistencia. La Conferencia B no puede hablar por usted ni indicarle qué tipo de ayuda debe brindar o no. Son las decisiones de su Conferencia sobre cuándo y cuánto ayudar a aquellos que acuden a usted.

The Need for Risk Management – Part 3

The Need for Risk Management – Part 3 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

We conclude our series of excerpts from an article in the Smart Risk Management Manager’s Training Workbook on the five core principles of Risk Management.  This week’s focus is on the fourth and fifth of those principles – Empathy and Fairness.

Core Principle #4 – Empathy

Managerial empathy is the ability to identify with your employees so you can understand their feelings and needs.  Smart Risk Managers always try to place themselves in their employees’ shoes.  Remember – employees are not just numbers, write-offs or sources of risk, but valuable team members who, like you, have fears, needs and hopes.

Managers who fail to practice managerial empathy tend to experience higher turnover, increased risk and more wrongdoing.  Smart Risk Managers understand that:

  • Most employees view their job as important. Employees are sensitive to decisions that affect their job.
  • Even a minor incident can have a significant effect not only on an employee’s job or career, but also on his or her personal life.
  • Employees have concerns – real or imagined – regarding their jobs, and these should be routinely addressed.
  • Employees fear reporting wrongdoing, especially when they believe that reporting may place them at risk or, in some manner, significantly impact them. A Smart Risk Manager takes great care to keep a report of wrongdoing confidential by telling only those who have a “need to know.”

Core Principle #5 – Fairness

Fairness begins with respect and dignity for all employees.  A Smart Risk Manager understands and values the importance of all employees, regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability or position on the organization chart.  Fairness in the workplace demands that you:

  • Uniformly and consistently apply laws, regulations, rules, policies, procedures and practices to all employees. No employee is above or below the law or your organization’s rules and policies.
  • Put aside your personal prejudice, bias and fear when managing employees.
  • Make objective
  • Never consider an employee’s physical, mental, ethnic, racial, social or religious background, characteristics, capabilities, beliefs, gender or age when making management decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotions, raises, benefits and training.
  • Eliminate unfair management practices, even if such practices have occurred in the past.

We hope you have found this information on Risk Management to be helpful.

4-21-2022 Questions and Answers

4-21-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Michelle Boyer

Q: What process, i.e., Board voting, Executive decision, etc., does the Society take to endorse any legislative efforts?

A: The National Voice of the Poor Committee identifies legislation that affects the Society and the people we serve.  The Committee takes into account the positions held by other Catholic organizations as well: USCCB, Catholic Charities, etc.  The VOP Committee makes recommendations to the National President about what legislation to support or not. The President is free to confer with others.  Only the National President can speak for the Society in the USA.  Local legislative concerns follow the same process under the local Diocesan President.

Q: Can a Deacon serve as chair for the Council’s Voice of the Poor committee?

A:  The VOP is a committee, and committees can be headed by a deacon.  There is nothing that prevents a deacon from being a committee chair.  Being a committee chair does not give the deacon a vote on the board or Council. A deacon who is the committee chair can vote on committee matters since committees do not make final decisions, serving only as advisors to the local Board and President.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Qué proceso – es decir – votación de la Junta, decisión ejecutiva, etc., toma la Sociedad para respaldar cualquier esfuerzo legislativo?

R: El Comité Nacional de la Voz de los Pobres (VOP) identifica la legislación que afecta a la Sociedad y también a la gente a la que servimos. El Comité también tiene en cuenta las posiciones de otras organizaciones católicas: USCCB, Caridades Católicas, etc. El Comité VOP hace recomendaciones al Presidente Nacional sobre qué legislación apoyar o no. El presidente es libre de consultar con otros. Solo el Presidente Nacional puede hablar por la Sociedad en los Estados Unidos. Las preocupaciones legislativas locales siguen el mismo proceso bajo el presidente diocesano local.

P: ¿Puede un diácono presidir el comité Voz de los Pobres del Consejo?

R:  El VOP es un comité, y los comités pueden estar encabezados por un diácono. No hay nada que impida que un diácono sea presidente de un comité. Ser presidente de un comité no le da al diácono un voto en la junta o el Consejo. Un diácono que sea el presidente del comité puede votar sobre los asuntos del comité, ya que los comités no toman decisiones finales, sirviendo solo como asesores de la junta local y el presidente.

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