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Jill Pioter

02-23-2023 Questions and Answers

02-23-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter
Q: We have a spiritual advisor who is an ordained deacon. What is his role in the Conference? Can he participate in Conference discussions? Can he be elected as President or appointed as an officer?

A: It is stated in the Rule (Part III, Statute 15) and the Manual (pages 26 and 48) that ordained ministers (deacons and priests) can only serve as Spiritual Advisor of a Conference or Council. Their role is to provide spiritual guidance to Conference members related to their own personal growth and ministry. They can participate in discussions and can also go on Home Visits if they choose to. They are not the decision makers. In fact, ordained ministers may not vote or hold office or be a signor on Conference accounts.

Q: Our diocese is merging five churches into one parish. Each church has a SVdP Conference and they are merging into one Conference. In accordance with the bylaws, the Conferences that are closing need to turn the funds over to their respective district. Can they transfer the funds to the new Conference or is this against the Rule?

A: The Conferences are merging — not dissolving, as the bylaws passage describes. The funds from all of the affected Conferences should be merged into one.

Spanish Translation

P: Tenemos un Consejero Espiritual que es diácono ordenado. ¿Cuál es su papel en la Conferencia? ¿Puede participar en las discusiones de la Conferencia? ¿Puede ser elegido presidente o designado como funcionario?

R: Está establecido en la Regla (Parte III, Estatuto 15) y el Manual (páginas 26 y 48) que los ministros ordenados (diáconos y presbíteros) sólo pueden servir como Consejero Espiritual de una Conferencia o Consejo. Se les pide que brinden orientación espiritual a los miembros de la Conferencia en relación con su propio crecimiento personal y ministerio. Pueden participar en cualquiera de las discusiones y también pueden realizar visitas domiciliarias si así lo desean. Ellos no son los que toman las decisiones. De hecho, los ministros ordenados no pueden votar ni ocupar cargos ni ser signatarios de las cuentas de la Conferencia.

P: Nuestra diócesis está fusionando cinco iglesias en una parroquia. Cada iglesia tiene una Conferencia SVdP y se están fusionando en una sola Conferencia. De acuerdo con los estatutos, las Conferencias que están cerrando deben entregar los fondos a sus distritos respectivos. ¿Pueden transferir los fondos a la nueva Conferencia o esto va en contra de la Regla?

R: Las Conferencias se están fusionando, no están disolviendo como describe el pasaje de los estatutos. Los fondos de todas las Conferencias afectadas deben fusionarse en uno.

So You’ve Been Elected President…

So You’ve Been Elected President… 1200 628 Jill Pioter

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 Frederic’s 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, 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 Conference and Council will be better off if you do so.

1-19-2023 Questions and Answers

1-19-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: Some of our Conferences have pantries where people come in and pick up food on a regular basis. Other Conferences take food to the homes during a Home Visit. Other Conferences deliver food as needed and not part of a true Home Visit. In the past, our reporting of these activities on the Special Works form has been somewhat inconsistent. We’d like to correct that. We’d appreciate any clarification.

A: Anytime a Vincentian takes food to a family, it is not a special work, it’s part of what we do with Home Visits. We take food with us or deliver groceries on Home Visits. However, if there is a pantry operation or onsite food distribution center where food is picked up, then it is a special work. These are two different services provided. Therefore, there is no conflict.

Q: Our Conference has a few questions. We want to help our school children. The principal has a few suggestions. I want to know if we can do any or all of these.

  1. What’s the best way to give school supplies to the children in need at the school?
  2. How can we supply clothing (hoodies) for the children who do not have appropriate clothing, as suggested by the school nurse?
  3. The third suggestion to help the family in need is for Conference to contact them directly.

A: In all three cases you describe, the school should be able to contact the families and ask them to either contact SVdP for assistance or give the school permission to give SVdP contact information about the family in need. Otherwise, by strict interpretation of the Rule, any purchases specifically made to give to the school to give directly to the children in need at the school, is prohibited by the Rule.

Spanish Translation

P: Algunas de nuestras Conferencias tienen despensas donde la gente entra y recoge comida regularmente. Otras Conferencias llevan comida a los hogares durante una visita domiciliaria. Otras Conferencias entregan alimentos según sea necesario y no forman parte de una verdadera visita domiciliaria. En el pasado, nuestro informe de estas actividades en el formulario de “Obras Especiales” ha sido algo inconsistente. Nos gustaría corregir eso. Agradeceríamos cualquier aclaración.

R: Cada vez que un vicentino lleva comida a una familia no es un trabajo especial, es parte de lo que hacemos con las visitas domiciliarias; llevamos comida con nosotros; o entregar comestibles en visitas domiciliarias. Sin embargo, si hay una operación de despensa o un centro de distribución de alimentos en el lugar donde se recogen los alimentos, entonces es un trabajo especial. Estos son dos servicios diferentes proporcionados. Por lo tanto, no hay conflicto.

 P: Nuestra Conferencia tiene algunas preguntas. Queremos ayudar a nuestros escolares. El principio tiene algunas sugerencias. Quiero saber si podemos hacer alguno o todos de los siguientes.

  1. ¿Cuál es la mejor manera de dar útiles escolares a los niños necesitados en la escuela?
  2. ¿Cómo podemos proporcionar ropa (sudaderas con capucha) para los niños que no tienen ropa adecuada, como sugiere la enfermera de la escuela?
  3. La tercera sugerencia para ayudar a la familia necesitada es que la Conferencia se comunique con ellos directamente.

R: En los tres casos que describe, la escuela debería poder comunicarse con las familias y pedirles que se comuniquen con SVdP para obtener ayuda o que le den permiso a la escuela para brindar información de contacto de la familia a SVdP. De lo contrario, por interpretación estricta de la Regla, cualquier compra hecha específicamente para dar a la escuela para dar directamente a los niños necesitados en la escuela, está prohibida por la Regla.

Stores Corner: Redeeming Vouchers Can Be an Emotional Journey

Stores Corner: Redeeming Vouchers Can Be an Emotional Journey 1200 628 Jill Pioter

By Mike McClanahan, Council of Phoenix, AZ

Redeeming vouchers at SVdP stores is an important way that stores support Vincentians in their vocation of helping those in need, and every Council has different ways of doing this. Here’s one way they do it in Phoenix.

“Bringing Hope Home” helps homeless families that get a new place to live with furnishings. Donors sponsor these families, and those funds are used to purchase an SVdP care cards. The care cards are then given to the families, and they shop the Phoenix stores to buy what they need and want. The transportation team will then pick up the items selected by the families and deliver those to their homes.

Please see this flyer for more on the “Bringing Hope Home” program in Phoenix, AZ.

Please contact your local National Store’s Committee representative for examples of successful centralized processing retail operations. More detailed information and tours can be arranged.

Connect with a Region Rep to learn more about what they are doing in your area – list of committee members can be found under the Resources drop down at https://www.svdpusa-thriftstore.org/.

The Meaning Of Good Governance

The Meaning Of Good Governance 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Good governance. What does it mean anyway?

Governance means:

  • Responsible use of assets and funds.
  • Ensuring the group/organization is fulfilling its mission.
  • Openly communicating with others and listening to others at all levels of the organization.
  • Accurate recordkeeping for the benefit of the organization and those we serve.
  • Maintaining good legal standing through compliance with IRS section 501(c)(3) requirements.
  • Serving as a good role model: In the Vincentian world this also includes embracing servant leadership.

Governance does NOT mean:

  • The leader cannot share responsibilities.
  • Numbers are more important than people.
  • Opinions of others do not matter.
  • Turning the organization/group into something distant from its mission.

Basically, good governance means good leadership. It means taking good care of the Society; it means taking good care of those we serve. It means taking care of each other, encouraging the spiritual growth of all members and friendship among members, and person-to-person service. It means serving with integrity, accountability and in a trustworthy manner. Taking advantage of ongoing learning opportunities and identifying helpful collaborations can help Vincentian leaders govern and lead with great effectiveness and joy.

St. Vincent de Paul once said, “There is great charity — but it is badly organized.” Let us be inspired by St. Vincent’s good governance and leadership and allow the generosity of others to be put to good use.

2022 Systemic Change Grant Awards Announced

2022 Systemic Change Grant Awards Announced 900 900 Jill Pioter

The National Council is pleased to announce the 14 Councils and Conferences who have been awarded Systemic Change Grants in 2022.

Systemic Change is a core value of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Systemic Change is not a substitute for meeting the “demands of charity” that Vincentians undertake, but rather a complement to that work. Systemic Change projects target root causes of poverty to achieve a transformation in the lives of those struggling with poverty and in the community.

Please join us in praying for the success of these systemic change programs!

07-07-2022 Questions and Answers

07-07-2022 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: Our local electric company demands a deposit of $300 for two years of a new resident at one of our rental apartments. Because of the legal concerns, after two years, that deposit is sent back to the resident if they pay their bills during the two years (even if SVDP pays the deposit). It is my contention that this is a deposit that should be returned to us. Some of our conference members feel that we should not ask for a return of these monies. What is the position of National?

A: Two things to keep in mind: first, the utility company may not keep track of a third party to whom the refund should be given.  Second, when we give assistance to people, it is given as a gift – not a loan; so, we should not look for a return.  One of the things we have always promoted within the Society is that “once given, the gift belongs to the recipient.” They can do with it as they please. That goes for food, clothing, furniture, rent, utilities, gift cards, vouchers, etc.

Q:  Does the Rule allow two members to serve as Conference Co-Treasurers?

A: The Rule requires a designated treasurer. The treasurer can have assistants who do various aspects of what is required. One person must be the responsible person for the position.

P: La empresa de luz local exige un depósito de $300 por dos años de un nuevo residente en uno de nuestros apartamentos de alquiler. Debido a las preocupaciones legales, después de dos años, ese depósito se devuelve al residente si paga sus facturas durante los dos años (incluso si SVDP paga el depósito). Es mi opinión que este es un depósito que debe ser devuelto a nosotros. Algunos de nuestros miembros de la conferencia sienten que no debemos pedir la devolución de estos dineros. ¿Cuál es la posición de Nacional?

R: Dos cosas para tener en cuenta: primero, la empresa de servicios públicos no puede realizar un seguimiento de un tercero a quien se le debe dar el reembolso. En segundo lugar, cuando brindamos asistencia a las personas, lo hacemos como un regalo, no como un préstamo; por lo tanto, no debemos buscar un retorno. Una de las cosas que siempre hemos promovido dentro de la Sociedad es que “una vez dado, el regalo pertenece a quien lo recibe.” Pueden hacer lo que quieran con el regalo. Eso se aplica a alimentos, ropa, muebles, alquiler, servicios públicos, tarjetas de regalo, cupones, etc.

P: ¿La regla permite que dos miembros sirvan como co-tesoreros de la conferencia?

R: La Regla requiere un tesorero designado. El tesorero puede tener asistentes que hagan varios aspectos de lo que se requiere. Una persona debe ser la persona responsable del puesto.

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.

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