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Kristen Blacksher

04-11-2024 Questions & Answers

04-11-2024 Questions & Answers 1200 628 Kristen Blacksher

Q: I am bothered by something that happens at our Conference meetings fairly regularly. We have a lot of parishioners who have shown interest in the Society, and it is pretty common to find one or two new faces at most of our meetings. During the meeting, they are allowed to vote on issues just like everyone else. Our President says he wants them to feel welcome and part of the group. Is this a good practice?

A: The answer is “no.” We welcome new people to be part of the Society, but there is a process to follow. In the current version of the Rule/Manual of the Society, there is a promoted procedure for bringing new members into the Society. This procedure includes introduction, training, active participation in works, discernment by the candidate and ultimate approval by the Conference. This process works and should not be short cut in order to bring more people into the Society. The decisions of Conferences are to be made by Active (Full) Members only, usually by consensus.

Q: Our Conference has just approved a set of bylaws. Now that they are approved, what is the next step?

A: The bylaws you approved must (should) correspond to the newly revised bylaws for Conferences approved by the National Council. Be sure that you have a record of the approval and copy of the bylaws in your Conference minutes. Next, send a copy of the bylaws through the organization chart to District and Diocesan Councils for their approval, recording and filing. The District and Diocesan Councils should also record their approvals in their minutes.


P: Me molesta algo que sucede en nuestras reuniones de la Conferencia con bastante regularidad. Tenemos muchos feligreses que han mostrado interés en la Sociedad, y es bastante común encontrar una o dos caras nuevas en la mayoría de nuestras reuniones. Durante la reunión, se les permite votar sobre temas como todos los demás. Nuestro Presidente dice que quiere que se sientan bienvenidos y parte del grupo. ¿Es esto una buena práctica?

R: La respuesta es “no”. Damos la bienvenida a nuevas personas para que formen parte de la Sociedad, pero hay un proceso a seguir. En la versión actual de la Regla/Manual de la Sociedad, existe un procedimiento que se utiliza para invitar a nuevos miembros a la Sociedad. Este procedimiento incluye la presentación, la formación, la participación en los trabajos, el discernimiento por parte del candidato y la aprobación final por parte de la Conferencia. Este proceso funciona y no debe de haber un atajo para atraer a más personas a la Sociedad. Las decisiones de las Conferencias deben ser hechas únicamente por los Miembros Activos (en Pleno Derecho), generalmente por consenso.

P: Nuestra Conferencia acaba de aprobar un conjunto de Estatutos. Ahora que están aprobados, ¿cuál es el siguiente paso?

R: Los Estatutos que ustedes aprobaron deben corresponder a los Estatutos para Conferencias recientemente revisados y aprobados por el Consejo Nacional. Asegúrese de tener un registro de la aprobación y una copia de los Estatutos en las actas de la Conferencia. A continuación, envíe una copia de los Estatutos a través del organigrama a los Consejos Distritales y Diocesanos para su aprobación, registro y archivo. Los Consejos de Distrito y Diocesanos también deben registrar la aprobación de sus Estatutos en sus actas.


Am I A Vincentian?

Am I A Vincentian? 152 152 Kristen Blacksher

In June 2008, I attended the Western Region Meeting in Boise, Idaho. I was not alone. There were 225 other Vincentians along with me. During the time I spent there, I met with many Vincentians and discussed a wide variety of topics. I also put on a workshop and facilitated two open forums where anything and everything could be discussed. One theme came up over and over again in those discussions. This is also a theme which is continually asked today as well. How do you get the Conferences and the members to adhere to or comply with the Rule?

This is a tough question. And it requires a tough answer. People, in general, have mixed feelings when it comes to rules and regulations. They usually will admit to the value of them. They usually will admit to the need for them. And they normally agree that compliance is necessary; that is, until they want to do something that does not really correspond to the rules. Then it becomes harsh and too restrictive. They did not join the Society to follow the rules. They joined the Society to do some good and do not want to be bogged down with meaningless do’s and don’ts. We hear this stuff all the time! I can go into a long, drawn-out dissertation on why rules and regulations are important, but that will get us nowhere. I can take a military point of view and say that if one soldier steps out of line the war will be lost. Nobody is going to buy that. I can talk about unity of thought and action, but that cup only holds a limited amount of water.

It truly boils down to one thing. Ask yourself one question: Am I a Vincentian? To be a Vincentian you have to make a commitment. Here is where the rub comes in. Commitment! Being a Vincentian calls for a number of things to be accepted and come into play. Being a Vincentian means accepting who we are, what we are about, what we do, and how we do it. Being a Vincentian means more than helping people in need. It means growing in holiness, striving to grow closer to God. It means growing closer to our fellow Vincentians. It means serving God through serving those in need. It means a blend of all of the above.

A number of years ago, when searching for the answer to a question, I was referred to John Simmons, former National President of the Society, the guru. If you wanted to know anything about the Society he was the man to go to. John said that if you call yourself a Vincentian, you want to meet as often as possible with your fellow Vincentians, you want to learn about the Society, you want to understand what this is all about, and you want to help it grow. It is that simple.

If I want to do my own thing, follow my own rules or no rules at all, I can start my own special work or organization. Then all I have to do is get other people who want to join me to follow my rules. I am a Vincentian. I am committed to who we are, what we do and the way we do it. Complying with the Rule not only makes sense, it is something I want to do.

Mike Syslo
Member and Past Chair
National Governance Committee

3 Ways to Build a Dream Team and Keep Rockstar Employees

3 Ways to Build a Dream Team and Keep Rockstar Employees 1080 1080 Kristen Blacksher
By Brooke Trick-Senior Director of Retail Operations
North Central Region – District Council of Madison

Hiring and retention are hurdles for many organizations as we navigate this modern work environment. Businesses are becoming more creative in how they hire and retain employees. Employees’ views and expectations of the work environment are shifting. Burnout and dissatisfaction at work are high. As employers, we need to change course to a more people-centric work culture.

Here are three ways to keep your employees engaged, increase morale and improve loyalty while adding to your bottom line:

1. Maintain competitive salaries and wages

  • Evaluate your local market every 2 – 3 years and adjust the pay schedule to ensure your employees feel valued and are fairly compensated.
  • Know the cost of living in your area and surrounding communities. Employees’ wages should cover their basic living expenses so that they themselves do not need to use your charitable services.
  • Factor in an employee’s experience, skills, performance, tenor, reliability and productivity in salary and wage discussions.
  • Be transparent with your salary structure. Employees should know and understand their earning potential and growth opportunities. If employees do not see attainable promotions or advancements, they will look elsewhere.

2. Keep open lines of communication

  • Provide regular performance feedback and set clear expectations.
  • Employees crave feedback! They want to do an excellent job and know that they are appreciated. Regular performance reviews allow managers to outline employees’ opportunities for growth and development.
  •  Welcome employees into discussions and decision-making processes.
  • Team building and collaboration give employees the opportunity to be heard — one of the most powerful motivational forces in human nature! When employees don’t feel like they’re being heard they may feel resentment, withdraw from work or disconnect from coworkers. Employees who are actively involved in their organization have an increased sense of belonging and a more positive view of their workplace.

3. Invest in workplace happiness and employee wellness

  • Have a supportive management team that encourages open communication and transparency. Hold weekly departmental meetings where you can update employees and hear feedback.
  • Offer opportunities for professional development and career growth within the organization.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ achievements in a variety of ways: in-person, individually, and in front of their peers. Some ways to celebrate an employee’s achievement are highlighting an “Employee of the Month,” acknowledging work anniversaries, or having an incentive program for when sale/production goals are met and/or exceeded.
  • Provide mental health resources and quality resources to employees. Consider hosting workshops for departments or groups that will help foster teamwork and create a positive work culture.
  • Organize events or projects that promote employee participation and camaraderie. Have a company picnic or celebration once a year where everyone involved in the organization gets the opportunity to talk with one another. Include staff in a group project like a special advertisement or other public facing information.

When you have open communication, include employees in work processes, and show that you care for employees’ well-being, you cultivate a work environment that not only attracts and retains top talent but creates a committed workforce to help drive business.

THANK YOU to those who attended the Mid-Year meeting in St. Louis, MO. We hope you are planning to join us in August when we gather for the National Meeting in Phoenix, AZ!

If you have a topic that you would like addressed in a future Stores Corner article, please e-mail our Director of Stores Support Jeff Beamguard.

04-04-24 Questions and Answers

04-04-24 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Kristen Blacksher

Q: Do all new programs of a Conference have to be approved by the Council, or can a Conference Board approve new programs, without the approval of Council? I ask this question because in the Governance: Council and Board handbook it reads, “No program should be allowed to start without Board approval. This includes both those started by Vincentians and those started by employees.”

A: For most Conferences (those using Bylaws document 1), the Board of Directors of the Council (if no formal Board of Directors exists, then the Council itself) is the governing body and should give formal approval of new programs within the Council. The term “Board” is sometimes used informally among Conference members to refer to the slate of officers. Conferences generally do not have Boards. The handbook does not use the word that way. The handbook refers formally to the Board of Directors.

For some Conferences that are separately incorporated (those using Bylaws document 2 or document 10), the Conference is the governing body and does not require Council approval for its programs. The bylaws define the governance responsibilities.

Q: Are employees of St. Vincent Thrift Stores allowed to be voting members at the local Conference?

A: Thrift store employees are not allowed to vote at Conference meetings unless the store employee is also an active member of the Conference. They are not to vote on issues that may affect their jobs.


P: ¿Todos los programas nuevos de una Conferencia tienen que ser aprobados por el Consejo o puede la Mesa Directiva de la Conferencia aprobar nuevos programas, sin la aprobación del Consejo?
Hago esta pregunta porque en el Manual de Gobernanza: Mesa Directiva del Consejo se lee: “No se debe permitir que ningún programa comience sin la aprobación de la Mesa Directiva. Esto incluye tanto a los iniciados por los Vicentinos como a los iniciados por los empleados”.

R: Para la mayoría de las Conferencias (aquellas que utilizan el documento 1 de los Estatutos), la Mesa Directiva del Consejo (si no existe una Mesa Directiva formal, entonces el Consejo mismo) es el órgano de gobierno y debe dar la aprobación formal de los nuevos programas dentro del Consejo. El término “Mesa Directiva” se utiliza a veces de manera informal entre los miembros de la Conferencia para referirse a la lista de funcionarios. Por lo general, las Conferencias no tienen Mesas Directivas formales. El Manual no usa la palabra de esa manera. El Manual se refiere a la Mesa Directiva Formal.

Para algunas Conferencias que se incorporan por separado (aquellas que utilizan el documento 2 o el documento 10 de los Estatutos), la Conferencia es el órgano rector y no requiere la aprobación del Consejo para sus programas. Los Estatutos definen las responsabilidades de gobernanza.

P: ¿Se les permite a los empleados de las tiendas de segunda mano de San Vicente ser miembros con derecho a voto en la Conferencia local?

R: Los empleados de las tiendas de segunda mano no pueden votar en las reuniones de la Conferencia a menos que el empleado de la tienda también sea un miembro activo de la Conferencia. No deben votar sobre temas que puedan afectar sus trabajos.

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