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Jill Pioter

How Can a Person Who Recently Lost a Loved One Cope With Christmas?

How Can a Person Who Recently Lost a Loved One Cope With Christmas? 2560 1704 Jill Pioter

Vincentian John J. Donohue from the St. Mary Magdalen bereavement group shared this with fellow members in the hopes it might help others this Christmas season.

How Can a Person Who Recently Lost a Loved One Cope With Christmas?

Many people are very happy during the Christmas season. They are filled with joy. However, there are many others who are filled with sadness because of the death of a loved one.

I can remember when my wife of 28 years died of cancer and I had three children to raise. Christmas was immensely sad for my children and myself. I did not know how to function. I did not know how to cook, do the laundry and many other things. I wished someone would have told me how to survive this most difficult time of my life. I resolved that if I ever got over all of these issues, I will do my very best to help those in a similar situation. The following are some of my thoughts.

Some Thoughts on Coping With the Christmas Season

The chances are you are not going to have a happy Christmas. As a result, you should lower your expectations. A reasonable goal would be to make your Christmas tolerable. Some of the things to consider are as follows:

  • Rest. You are undergoing the equivalent of a heart attack. Like any person who endures a heart attack, you need peace and quiet. Rest is essential and therapeutic. Create a day of self-care or a self-health day.
  • Watch what you eat and drink. There is a strong tendency to eat junk food or use excessive drugs or alcohol.
  • Exercise. Exercise helps to relieve stress. Take walks. Walks help to relieve anxiety.
  • Build yourself up emotionally. Do not be too hard yourself. Have confidence you can do certain things. If you do not know how to do something, ask for help. Friends are glad to have an opportunity to help you. Speak to your friends. Buy something nice for yourself. Have some time alone.
  • Consider new traditions – plan ahead. Determine what you can do and what you cannot do. Do something different than you did last year.
  • Discuss with your family who is doing what. Give yourself a break. This is the year you should not be overdoing anything. Let others do the work. Do not set a place at the table for the loved one. It will make the day more difficult. Consider a buffet style dinner instead of a sit down dinner. You could also consider having dinner at someone else’s house.
  • Christmas cards. Do not be compelled to send Christmas cards. Send none or a few. No one expects to receive a card from you.
  • Invitations. You may be invited to go to a party or any other social event. Do not be afraid to say no. People should understand. Only attend if you know you will feel comfortable. Generally, it is a bad idea to go to a wedding or an affair where there will be a lot of singing or dancing.
  • Shopping. Keep your shopping to a minimum. Stay out of malls or crowds. This is the time to do any online-shopping.
  • It is ok to cry. It helps to relieve anxiety. Just let the tears flow. It is therapeutic.
  • OK to be happy. Your loved one would want you to be happy. It is not disrespectful to your loved one. It gives you a break from your sadness.
  • Journal. Some people find it helpful to write out their thoughts. Do not use a computer. It is more therapeutic to write out your thoughts.

Let Christmas be the beginning of a new version of yourself. Spend time to think about Christmas more than you ever did before. Your loved one is enjoying Christ’s birthday in heaven. What a special gift! He or she will reach down from heaven and touch your heart in a way it was never touched before. You just have to ignore the commercialism and open your heart to love.

Christ came into this world as an infant and left the world a martyr. Ask yourself, do you really believe there is a God? If so, place your trust in Him. Speak to Him about your problems. Christ has said He will remove the yoke from your shoulders. I have seen a yoke and it is very heavy.

Allow Christ to be your companion on your journey. Know that you are special. Christ has given you special gifts. He does not bring anyone into the world “empty handed”. So reach out to others with love, compassion and understanding and you will have a wonderful Christ filled Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all and may Our Good Lord fill all of our hearts with love and joy and hold all of us in the Palms of His hands!

John J. Donohue
St. Mary Magdalen bereavement group
December 9, 2021

Congratulations to Our Latest Friends of the Poor Grant Winners!

Congratulations to Our Latest Friends of the Poor Grant Winners! 1200 628 Jill Pioter

We received 30 grant applications totaling $143,000. Grant awards for this round total $62,800. Thank you to an anonymous foundation for providing an additional $25,000 in grant funding.

Through a standardized, simple application process, SVdP Conferences and District Councils can apply for up to a $5,000 grant from the National Council’s Friends of the Poor® Fund. The total Friends of the Poor® Program budget is normally limited to the amount raised and/or approved by the National Council budget process. Individual grant award amounts may vary from the application amount, but will NOT exceed $5,000.

Grants are targeted to specific, current needs of the poor, above and beyond available conference resources. Preferred interest areas are: rental/housing assistance, utility assistance, food, clothing, transportation, baby/children needs and medical. No systemic change projects.


Council Responsibilities to The Society

Council Responsibilities to The Society 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Two documents on the National Council website — What Is Expected of an Archdiocesan/Diocesan Council and What Is Expected of a District Council — clearly explain what a Council should be doing. A few key reminders are listed below. As part of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Council will:

  • Accept and strive to achieve our stated missions.
  • Operate within the Rule, Manual, Nationally Approved Bylaws, and Resolutions of the Society.
  • Report annually on a timely basis on its activities and results.
  • Take part in the larger Society by attendance at meetings and participating in Regional or National Committees when asked to do so.
  • Share all best practices, processes, or procedures with other Councils whenever possible.
  • Actively promote training and formation of its members.
  • Develop a program of extending our work to those parishes within our Diocese that have no Conference.
  • Do everything possible to strengthen the spiritual life of its members.

We thought focusing attention on these expectations at the start of a new fiscal year would be helpful.

In addition to the documents linked above, another useful areas of the website that’s worth checking out is: https://members.ssvpusa.org/information-for-members/standards-of-excellence/.

9-30-21 Questions & Answers

9-30-21 Questions & Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter
Q: We have two Conference members that for the past 8 years have not done any personal contact with the poor, but they do have a say on how we help those in need. Is there anything in the Rule that states they have to be involved person to person with our friends in need? If so, where is it written and where do we go from here with that?

A:  To be an active member you must be Catholic, attend meetings regularly, and participate in the works of the Society, which is helping our friends in need. However, this does not mean that someone who, for example,  works in a pantry and doesn’t do face to face visits but is still active isn’t a member, so long as they are doing works of the Society and not just attending meetings.  If they are only attending meetings and not doing the services/works, then they are not eligible to vote.  However, if the Conference allows them to attend the meetings, then the Conference is allowing them to offer opinions.

Q: Our Conference was formed with three parishes into one at the pastor’s request because the priest was the same in all three parishes.  We are a strong Conference with lots of good works.  The President is asking if another parish five miles down the road that has its own priest can join us?  I have asked him to start their own Conference.  Can we allow another parish to join in just because they want to?

 A: Multi-parish Conferences are perfectly acceptable, and can even be advantageous, as you can draw on a larger pool of parishioners for members and officers, and increase your donor base. Building on to the foundation of an existing strong Conference is certainly easier than starting a new Conference.  Since the neighboring parish has its own pastor, you need to get the permission of that pastor, as you’ll want to raise funds there, communicate the Society’s works in their bulletin, and do an annual Invitation to Serve pulpit appeal for members. Appoint a Conference VP from that parish, and over time, ensure a good balance of officers from all parishes.  Consider rotating meeting locations so it is easy for all to attend. You might consider the new parish as a “start up” process toward building their own Conference as soon as stabilized leaders and resources allow.

P: Tenemos dos miembros de la Conferencia que durante los últimos 8 años no han tenido ningún contacto personal con los pobres, pero sí tienen derecho de votar sobre cómo ayudamos a los que tienen necesidades. ¿Hay algo en la Regla que indique que deben participar de persona a persona con nuestros amigos con necesidades? Si es así, ¿dónde está escrito y qué hacemos?

R: Para ser un miembro activo debe ser católico, asistir a las reuniones con regularidad y participar en los trabajos de la Sociedad, que está ayudando a nuestros amigos con necesidades. Sin embargo, esto no significa que alguien que, por ejemplo, trabaja en una despensa y no hace visitas cara a cara, pero sigue activo, no es miembro, siempre y cuando esté haciendo trabajos de la Sociedad y no solo asistiendo en las reuniones. Si solo asisten a reuniones y no realizan los servicios/trabajos, entonces no son elegibles para votar. Sin embargo, si la Conferencia les permite asistir a las reuniones, entonces la Conferencia les permite ofrecer opiniones.

P: Nuestra Conferencia se formó con tres parroquias en una a petición del pastor porque el sacerdote era el mismo en las tres parroquias. Somos una Conferencia fuerte con muchas buenas obras. El presidente pregunta si otra parroquia a cinco millas más adelante que tenga su propio sacerdote puede unirse a nosotros. Le he pedido que inicie su propia Conferencia. ¿Podemos permitir que otra parroquia se una solo porque así lo desee?

R: Las Conferencias multiparroquiales son perfectamente aceptables y pueden ser ventajosas, ya que puede recurrir a un grupo más grande de feligreses para miembros y funcionarios, y aumentar su base de donantes. Construir sobre la fundación sólida de una Conferencia existente es ciertamente más fácil que comenzar una nueva Conferencia. Dado que la parroquia vecina tiene su propio pastor, debe obtener el permiso de él, ya que querrá recaudar fondos allí, comunicar los trabajos de la Sociedad en su boletín y hacer una invitación anual al púlpito para los miembros. Designe un vicepresidente de la Conferencia de esa parroquia y, con el tiempo, asegúrese de que haya un buen equilibrio entre los oficiales de todas las parroquias. Considere la posibilidad de rotar las ubicaciones de las reuniones para que sea fácil para todos asistir. Puede considerar la nueva parroquia como un proceso de “puesta en marcha” hacia la construcción de su propia Conferencia tan pronto como lo permitan los líderes y los recursos estabilizados.

Owners and Stakeholders – Part Two

Owners and Stakeholders – Part Two 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Last week we discussed five groups of people who should be considered stakeholders in what we do as Vincentians. Here are five additional groups:

  • Collaborative Nonprofit Organizations
  • Governmental Entities
  • The Community At Large
  • The Local Bishop (in the case of all Catholic organizations)
  • Pastors and Clergy (in the case of any Catholic organization supported by a parish)

Other nonprofit organizations are stakeholders. We all share a common goal to some degree. All nonprofits influence other nonprofit organizations in their community. Especially important are those nonprofits that we partner with. If the Society does something to damage its reputation, then those that collaborate with it also may suffer collateral damage.

Every nonprofit needs other nonprofits to accomplish larger projects. With diversity of missions nonprofits can share the overall needs of those served by sharing our strengths with each other. For example, a person may need shelter that is provided by another nonprofit while the same person also needs clothing or food that is available from our Society.

The city, county, state and federal governments are additional stakeholders. Nonprofits and their volunteers are significant contributors to the support of the responsibilities of all these governmental entities. If federal and state governments did not allow donations to nonprofits to be tax-deductible, much of our work would be impossible to fund. If nonprofit organizations did not exist, it would be left up to the governing bodies to provide necessary services to the public. Government agencies are very interested in what is done, how it is done, and the level of effectiveness and efficiency with which it is accomplished. They are also responsible to ensure that all laws are followed and that services provided do no harm to those who are served.

The entire community is a stakeholder. It has an interest in how those in need are served. The overall community and its image are improved when the disadvantaged are taken care of. The community is then thought of as a better place to live, raise children and experience a better quality of life. Where the care of those in need is provided by nonprofits, the taxes necessary for broader social services are lessened.

Residents of the community often consider themselves “owners” of our Society. Because the people of the community see our work, some become donors, some volunteer and some know of someone who was served. Most agree with our work and readily identify with what we do
even though they may not be directly involved. They may simply know that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is in their community and helping the poor. That knowledge is important to them.

The finances of the nonprofit corporation are also more important to a wider community than the finances of a for-profit. Everyone who contributes in some way, who receives services, or who simply knows about its work consider themselves an owner or stakeholder. There is a perceived level of stewardship by the community. They expect the nonprofit to be run efficiently and that the money donated or granted to it goes toward intended programs. In fact, many people believe that nonprofit organizations should have plain, inexpensive offices and equipment. To them it is an indication that most of the donations are given to the poor and not to the people running the nonprofit. The people of the community will not tolerate what they consider to be excessive salaries. In their eyes a nonprofit employee is really a dedicated volunteer and does the work because of a love of the mission and not for a well-paid job. For many employees that is a reality.

In our Society we recognize the need to maximize the amount of our donations that goes directly to those in need. But that maximization cannot come at the expense of our employees who deserve adequate wages. The Society’s Voice of the Poor Committee has developed a policy
about a just wage for our employees. That policy has been approved by the National Council Members.

In the case of Catholic organizations, the local Bishop is responsible for all activities related to the Church in his Diocese. Because our Society is in the Diocese at the pleasure of the Bishop, he is a stakeholder. He allows us to be in the parishes because of our close relationship to the Church and the work we do for Christ’s poor. Because the way we operate directly reflects on the Diocese in the eyes of the community, and because our Society also contributes to the spiritual growth of its members and evangelizes by its members’ actions, the Bishop has great
interest in what we do. He knows that we assist in fulfilling the Church’s preferential option for the poor. This vital relationship requires regular and close attention. Keeping your Bishop informed about the activities and achievements of your Council should be a high priority.

Pastors and Clergy are stakeholders for reasons similar to those of the Bishop. Our presence in the parish helps the pastor and other clergy serve the poor and relieves the parish burden of responding to the needs of people coming to the Church for assistance. Always keep in mind that St. Vincent de Paul serves in the parish with the pastor’s permission.

The source of this article is Governance: Council and Board, the original version of which was authored by former National Vice President Terry Wilson.

Encounter the Presence of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Encounter the Presence of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Save the Date!
Encounter the Presence of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
March 31 – April 3, 2022
Online registration opens January 2022

Owners and Stakeholders – Part One

Owners and Stakeholders – Part One 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Have you ever considered the audiences you have as a Vincentian and especially as a Vincentian leader? Whether you are a Conference or Council President, a member of a Board of Directors, serve on a Committee or are an active or associate member of a Conference there are a number of people to whom you are accountable, are your audience, or have a stake in what you do and how you do it. We call these people “stakeholders.”

In for-profit companies the finances are mainly of interest to those who own the corporation or those interested in becoming owners. Nonprofit corporations, however, have many “owners,” also known as stakeholders. This week we’ll discuss five of these groups and next week an additional five.

  • Members
  • Those They Serve
  • Donors
  • Volunteers
  • Employees

Let’s talk about these one at a time:


Members are stakeholders. In the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, most Vincentians consider their work to be a vocation. They believe in the mission and have invested heavily with their time, talent, and resources to help achieve it. More than that, it is often their very way of life.

The needs of those served make them stakeholders. For example, our Society’s mission is carried out by supplying people in need with services and goods they require to live a decent life. In many cases our help is the difference between the abject poverty of living on the street or the peace of having a place of their own in which to live.

Our Society’s work goes beyond food, shelter, clothes, furniture, etc. When life circumstances such as illness, job loss or poor decisions fall heavily on a person or family, Vincentians can bring hope, share our spirituality, and provide at least for basic needs.


Donors make our work possible. They want to be sure their donations are used to achieve the greatest amount of benefits for the program to which they contributed. Even though they know it is not possible, they would like every dollar they give to go directly to those in need.

Donors give of their time and money because they believe in what we do and how we do it. They want to find a way to give to the poor or make a difference in someone’s life. Our Society and the way we operate gives them confidence that their support will achieve their desires to help those in need.


Volunteers are closely aligned with any nonprofit, especially ours. They desire to contribute to those in need and to give back to the community for their own good fortune. They see the Society as a well-run organization that knows how to reach those in need and assist them. It is not uncommon that a volunteer will eventually become a member.


Employees work for any corporation or business to provide for their own needs. In our Society they become our partners in our mission. More than that, they become believers in our work and who we are. We expect them to present themselves to those we serve and the public in the same way a member does. They are often so involved that you find it hard to separate them from our Vincentian members.

They are true stakeholders because they both support and foster the mission and because they need to earn a living. Some may even be willing to continue to work for less than they can earn elsewhere. The Society has a responsibility to pay a living wage and provide necessary benefits. All members of the Society must ask: How can we live out our mission to help others if our own employees are underpaid?

The source of this article is Governance: Council and Board, the original version of which was authored by former National Vice President Terry Wilson.

SVdP Sends Infrastructure and Budget Letter to Congress

SVdP Sends Infrastructure and Budget Letter to Congress 1200 628 Jill Pioter

On behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and those we serve, SVdP National President Ralph Middlecamp recently sent a letter to Congress, urging Senators and Representatives to prioritize programs and policies that ensure poor and vulnerable families have access to stable housing, health care, and access to economic opportunity.

Click here to read the full letter, or visit our Voice of the Poor page to learn more.

To learn more about how you can contact your own elected officials about important issues like this, please sign up for our Voter Voice program.

1099 Requirements for Services and for Rent Paid Directly to Landlords

1099 Requirements for Services and for Rent Paid Directly to Landlords 1200 628 Jill Pioter

After extensive research and consulting with both the National Council auditor and attorney, National Council believes that once the total payments made by a Council or Conference for services or for rent payments to a landlord equal or exceed $600 in a calendar year, a Form 1099 must be mailed to the recipient and filed with the IRS.

There are only a few exceptions to this requirement:

  • Payments made to corporations
  • Payments made to real estate agents or property managers acting on behalf of a landlord
  • Payments made to tax-exempt organizations (including governments)
  • Payments made via a third-party payment network (credit card, debit card or Pay Pal type service, but this does not include online bill payments)

All other payments for services or for rent payments to a landlord totaling $600 or more in a calendar year will trigger the Form 1099 filing requirement.

Keep in mind that Forms 1099 are filed together for entities sharing an EIN, and if Conferences share an EIN with their Council, the Council will be required to combine all payments made to a service provider or landlord during a calendar year. It is recommended that records be kept of all payments to service providers and landlords, and Forms W-9 be requested and retained before making any service or rent payment, even if the payment is below the $600 limit.

This is only a very brief summary of the rules. Councils and Conferences should review the complete IRS Form 1099 instructions and consult with their tax professionals for additional guidance. Additional materials and example documents are available here.

While some Councils and Conferences may receive differing opinions from their advisors, we recommend that they make sure the source is a knowledgeable professional and that the guidance is well documented and received in writing.

Our Faith in Action…Even During the Pandemic

Our Faith in Action…Even During the Pandemic 1200 628 Jill Pioter

The Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul special Pandemic episode that aired on EWTN is now online for viewing anytime! If you missed it on EWTN, you can watch it here!

Even if your Council or Conference was not featured, we encourage you to make use of this video. Ideas include:

  • Share it on your social media to show the community how Vincentians are serving neighbors in need.
  • Send to donors or prospective donors to remind them of the good work being done by Vincentians across the country.
  • Watch the video as part of a Conference meeting to gain new ideas for service.

Tell us how your Conference is using Our Faith in Action in the comments!

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