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Jill Pioter

Governance — Retaining Your Members: Part Two

Governance — Retaining Your Members: Part Two 1200 628 Jill Pioter

This week we offer more insightful and actionable information from the “Retaining Your Members” section of Vincentian Life: Conference.

  • Provide recognition. In the business workplace, when someone asks the question, “what do you want from your boss in your job,” the two top answers are always security and recognition.
    • Recognize long-time members (at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 year, and other anniver­saries), those who continue to be active past the age of 80, and all retiring members.
    • Recognize your pastor, priests, deacons, and nuns who provide help and support for your programs and/or your Conference. We sometimes forget who pays the electric bill for our pantry.
    • Conduct a “graduation ceremony” when a member completes the Ozanam Orientation. Recognize them in front of the entire Conference at your next meeting.
    • Use a star or other special character on your Conference membership list to indicate members who have completed the Ozanam Orientation.
    • Prepare and publish a list of Conference officers over past years. List all Vincentians who made the Quarter Century Club.
    • Put up a plaque in your pantry with the names of Vincentians who passed to their eternal reward while serving the poor. Add a new name plate each time a member dies, conducting a short prayer service.
  • Recognize the need for recovery and recuperation. Occasionally a member may become dissatisfied or bored with their present assignment. Others may get tired (especially your oldest members), and a few may experience burnout. Remember that a person’s family and job come first according to the Society’s own Rule.
    • Recognize these folks and thank them for the work they have accomplished, and show them how their involvement has helped the people the Conference served and our Society. Ask them for input on the manner in which you conduct your meetings and make assignments. They may have a different perspective, and help you to improve Conference operations. After positively dealing with the situation they find themselves in, discuss other positions which may be more attractive to them.
    • Everyone in your Conference will get tired of the “same old thing,” so keep trying new projects and changing (improving) old programs. The attitude, “but we’ve always done it that way” will only insure that your Conference remains a handful of old men and women, as you drive away new and younger people and burn out older ones.
    • A perception that an organization is dying is the number one reason why people leave or fail to join an organization. The vibrant Conference will keep existing members and attract new members.
  • Work on (and pray over) personality conflicts. Personality conflicts are inevitable in any group of humans. Yet, if these are not managed, they will cause you to lose at least one of the two protagonists. The President and Spiritual Advisor should try to help resolve any issues between the warring partners. It may be necessary to separate these people until, over time, they get to better know (and respect) each other in new ways. Change Home Visit teams, schedule the Hatfields in at times when the McCoys aren’t there. Time heals all wounds; give it a chance. And pray that the Peace of Christ descends on both of them.
  • Equip your people to do their job. 
    • Information. Your Conference does more than pass out food and money; you provide information which is often essential for guests to get back on their feet. Your members must have that information to do their job.
    • Publish a year’s calendar so Active Members, Associate Members, and regular donors, as well as your clergy, Parish Council, and other church ministries, know what the Conference is planning and when. This helps prevent conflicts, helps people reserve dates when you need their participation, and helps communicate the breadth of your Conference work.
    • Adopt and communicate Conference policies and guidelines. Home Visit teams especially must know what latitude they have when working with a family in trouble. Nothing is more frustrating than having the responsibility for a case without the authority required to act. Home Visit teams should know one of three conditions exist when they visit:
      1. That they cannot help a family financially with rent due to lack of funds, and must help in other ways — referrals, information, counseling, extra food, etc.;
      2. That they cannot help a family with rent without the approval of the Conference which meets sometime down the road;
      3. That they can help a family with rent up to “X” dollars without further approval — beyond that amount, Conference approval is requireNecessary referral forms and vouchers (for clothing, gasoline, groceries, furniture) should be available and members instructed on how to properly complete them. The Conference pays its bills faithfully and promptly so vouchers given to guests are honored by thrift stores and other vendors.
    • Necessary referral forms and vouchers (for clothing, gasoline, groceries, furniture) should be available and members instructed on how to properly complete them. The Conference pays its bills faithfully and promptly so vouchers given to guests are honored by thrift stores and other vendors.
  • Recognize the value of fellowship and friendship. Don’t forget to schedule social events. The Society’s second objective requires a friendship relationship among members. People are social beings, and personal relationships help cement one’s commitment to the common work. Sometimes this can be combined with retraining (below).
  • Retraining. Retraining should occur periodically. We all need to be reminded of basic job duties, of things that have become more important in recent years, and of how to handle new forms, procedures and program changes. Older members not kept up to date can feel “lost” and out of touch. Get all your folks together for refresher training at least every six months. A good way of handling this is to schedule a social activity and combine the two. A summer barbecue can involve socializing and eating, followed by a 90-minute refresher course, or vice versa.
  • Never forget spirituality. People joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — not the American Cancer Society, or the United Way, or the Red Cross. What separates the Society from these very worthwhile organizations is the fact that we are a faith-based organization; we bring spiritual values to the people we serve.
    Burnout is common after a relatively short time in most other volunteer agencies because the members don’t have a belief system to sustain them. We can always fall back on our faith. That is the reason we have members well into their 80’s and even 90’s who have been serving in the dining rooms, stores and other special works for more than 50 years.
    Whether old or new, your members have a “thirst” for spirituality. They need to be reminded of the spiritual aspects of their work. If you only talk about the “numbers” — boxes delivered, money raised, families visited, hours worked — you will find members losing focus.
    Even in the very best Conferences, teams experience discouraging cases. They “get taken” by fraudulent couples. And, after a series of thankless guests, greedy applicants, lazy individuals and indifferent bureaucrats, those without a spiritual foundation will be “lost” to despair and discouragement.
    Our spirituality is our anchor. Keep it present at all times. First things first. Never become a Conference of just “numbers.”

Let Us Break Bread Together

Let Us Break Bread Together 1080 1080 Jill Pioter

The Multicultural & Diversity Committee is excited to announce Let Us Break Bread Together, a program aimed at celebrating the different cultures, skills, abilities, and talents that strengthen our vocation and how we serve the poor.

We believe that by celebrating the different ways we approach feast days or why we choose one set of prayers over another we can better understand our One Society.

Let Us Break Bread Together will officially kick off at this year’s National Assembly in Baltimore. On Wednesday, August 31, when dinner is “on your own,” we invite alumni from Invitation for Renewal and past National Assemblies to strengthen our Vincentian spirit of friendship by having dinner with a first-time attendee.

If you plan on attending, here’s a guide to local dining in downtown Baltimore. We hope to see you there!

Friends of the Poor Grant Application for Mideast and Midwest Regions Now Open

Friends of the Poor Grant Application for Mideast and Midwest Regions Now Open 900 900 Jill Pioter

Grants up to $5,000 are available! Apply here May 15 – May 31!

Grants are targeted to specific, current needs of the poor, above and beyond available resources. Preferred interest areas are: rental/housing assistance, utility assistance, food, clothing, transportation, baby/children needs, and medical.

Applying is simple. Click here for the online application:

You can also download a hard copy of the application here and email the completed application to Elizabeth Martinez, at grants@svdpusa.org. You may submit either the May 2022 or the July 2021 version of the application for this cycle. For more information and to view award requirements, click here.

National Presidential Election Update

National Presidential Election Update 450 450 Jill Pioter
The SVdP National Council Presidential election process is now underway.
Each National Council Member is expected to activate the involvement of his/her Council in the nominating phase of the election. You are responsible for notifying affiliated Councils and Conferences of the pending nomination process and should invite their thinking and recommendations about potential nominees.
Questions regarding the election of the next National President should be directed to Elections Chair Ray Sickinger: RSICKING@providence.edu.

2022 National Assembly Registration Is Now Open!

2022 National Assembly Registration Is Now Open! 1089 422 Jill Pioter

Registration now open for the 2022 National Assembly! Happening in Baltimore, Maryland at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront from August 30 – September 3.

Don’t miss this amazing agenda, and the opportunity to gather together with Vincentian Family & Friends. Register today, and don’t forget to submit your ideas for the Best Practices Poster Session!

National Assembly Links

Reservation Information

  • Overnight accommodations are available at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront, $145 per room, per night, plus taxes. Reservations can be made online at Marriott Waterfront, or by contacting them at (410) 385-3000.
  • Deadline for making a reservation at the group rate is August 9, 2022; after this date, room rates will be based on the prevailing rate.
  • The Marriott Baltimore Waterfront is located in downtown Baltimore in the Harbor East neighborhood, approx. 12 miles from Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI).

Planning Your Trip to Baltimore

We hope to see you in Baltimore!

Announcing the Alice Garvey Excellence in Youth Award

Announcing the Alice Garvey Excellence in Youth Award 323 177 Jill Pioter

Don’t miss this opportunity: nominate a young person in your area today!

This year The Society of St. Vincent de Paul lost a beloved servant leader and friend, Alice Garvey.

Throughout her time with the Society she perfectly embodied the youth spirit and the Vincentian Way. Alice dedicated her time to being an advocate for youth in the Society while she served in a variety of leadership positions throughout her time as a Vincentian. As a lifelong educator, Alice was a member of the National Youth Committee and was passionate about bringing young people into the Society.

In honor of Alice, the National Youth Committee would like to introduce The Alice Garvey Excellence in Youth Award. We  invite Council presidents to nominate a young person who serves The Society in their area who, like Alice, embodies leadership, dedication, and passion towards the Vincentian charisms of spirituality, friendship, and service.

Please submit nominations to YouthAward@svdpusa.org by May 15, 2022. Click here for an application.

SVdP North Texas CEO Featured on Guadalupe Radio

SVdP North Texas CEO Featured on Guadalupe Radio 900 900 Jill Pioter

SVdP North Texas CEO Luis Gonzalez recently appeared on the Guadalupe Radio Network. He was interviewed by University of Dallas President Jonathan Sanford on The Good News program.

Luis shared with Catholic listeners many of the Society’s good works, including the power of the Home Visit, North Texas’ charitable pharmacy, and the impact of servant leadership.

Click below to listen to the full interview.

2022 Midyear Meeting Wrapup

2022 Midyear Meeting Wrapup 600 504 Jill Pioter

Last week, nearly 200 Vincentians gathered together in St. Louis for the first in-person Midyear Meeting since 2019.

It was a wonderful opportunity for the National Board of Directors, National Council Members, Executive Directors, and other Vincentian leaders to come together and share ideas after a three year hiatus.

While it was very exciting to have so many Vincentians in one place, we realize there were still those who were unable to join in-person. In order to give those not in attendance the chance to see the various presentations from the Midyear Meeting, we have created a playlist of the video recordings from the meeting. You can access them by clicking here. You will find recordings of the following:

We thank all who attended Midyear or took part via zoom. We look forward to seeing you all in Baltimore for the 2022 National Assembly!

National Safeguarding Policy Help

National Safeguarding Policy Help 900 900 Jill Pioter

New Safeguarding Policy Assistance for SVdP Councils

A national policy on Safeguarding was adopted by the National Council last August at its Houston meeting. The Safeguarding Task Force has produced a Policy Assistance paper to help Councils (and as needed, Conferences) develop their own Safeguarding policy, a recognized priority of the National Council. The document includes new sections of decisions, activities, and resources for local use included within the relevant policy paragraphs. This new material is in bold and italicized type.

To review the document, click here.

A webinar to review this resources document will be scheduled for late April; watch the e-Gazette for day and time. Meanwhile, if you have questions about the document, please contact Task Force chair Guadalupe E. Sosa.

Lenten Reflection As We Explore the Plight of Our Neighbors Who Are Unhoused

Lenten Reflection As We Explore the Plight of Our Neighbors Who Are Unhoused 900 900 Jill Pioter

Our faith teaches that safe and adequate shelter is a human right and foundational to honoring the human dignity we all have as ‘imago dei’; the Catholic bishops of the United States made this point as plainly as they could in titling their seminal letter on the issue, The Right to a Decent Home.

The amount of people living without safe housing in America is a scandal. According to the most recent data, in 2020 over 580,000 people in America were unhoused. This marked the third straight year of increases, and does not account for the pandemic (homelessness data is based on a set point in time count that occurs in January).

The Voice of the Poor Committee and the Formation Committee will lead a Lenten Reflection Series exploring the human, moral, and social effects of homelessness in America. The series will also lift up some of the inspiring work being done by Vincentians throughout the country. A tremendous amount of work is being done by Vincentians in collaboration with other organizations to serve our brothers and sisters struggling to find safe and secure shelter:

The long-term effects of the pandemic on housing and homelessness are yet to be understood. What is certain, however, is that Vincentians will be ready to serve. Join us as we pray, learn, grow, support, and inspire each other to continue this ministry.

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