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Conference Collaborations: Enhancing Our Network Of Charity

Conference Collaborations: Enhancing Our Network Of Charity 1198 1198 Julie Witzel

By Phoenix Diocesan Council President Shirley Smalley

In August of 1833, Leon Le Prevost, a member of the first Conference who later went on to establish the Religious Order of St. Vincent de Paul, wrote: In this moment there is a great movement of charity and of faith…” The same could be said of our time and our place in this world. Although we are often distracted by negative forces, influences and movements, we must never lose sight of the hearts of our non-Vincentian brothers and sisters who like us long to help others. We witness that concern and compassion flow out of the actions of individuals, families, corporations, faith-based groups and civic organizations as they respond to natural disasters and other large-scale tragedies.

From the very early days of the Society, our founders understood the need to work collaboratively with the government and other organizations in order to better assist the poor and suffering. In December of 1833, the first Conference accepted the role of “Commissioners of Charity” for the administrators of the La Bienfaisance neighborhood. While our present-day Councils often enter into collaborative agreements and relationships, our local Conferences tend to function primarily in cooperation with other Conferences and Councils, seldom reaching out to other groups in their local area.

If Conferences are isolated and do not interact and cooperate with other local faith-based groups and charitable organizations, we are overlooking resources including potential volunteers who can assist us in providing assistance to our neighbors in need.  By joining forces we not only increase our ability to help others but we also engage the community and provide others with the opportunity to be actively involved in helping those in need. Additionally, our outreach efforts help spread knowledge about the Society and our mission of charity and love.

On the Conference level, most collaborative relationships do not require a formal contract but more of a mutual understanding based on agreement in protocols and policies. Identifying groups in your area should be the starting point followed by outreach and relationship-building. Such relationships should start by sharing with the group’s leaders or members our history and mission, as well as letting them know how we currently serve those in need in our community.

The process must include a two-way conversation that provides us with an understanding of who they are and how they currently serve the community. Once that relationship is built, we can begin a conversation on how we can work together to benefit the needy, always keeping in mind that we can only function within the Rule of the Society. Just as we honor who they are and their procedures and guidelines, they must honor ours. For example, potential collaborative partners need to understand early on we cannot share funds with them or any project that our members are not involved in through person-to person contact with the poor.

When Frederic Ozanam helped to establish the Society, he envisioned a network of charity that would encompass the world. Vincentians are only part of that network. Our vocation calls us to reach out and serve beside other people of goodwill to help relieve poverty and injustice. By reaching out to them we can enhance the work of our Conferences and provide opportunities for them to join us in service to the least among us.

Such collaboration can make a huge difference. Ask yourself, “How can our Conference build relationships with other groups and churches?” With the help of others, we can do more and experience the love of Christ in those whom we serve and in those whom we serve beside.

2024 Friends of the Poor Grant Award Winners Announced

2024 Friends of the Poor Grant Award Winners Announced 1600 652 Kristen Blacksher

Congratulations to the winners of the Friends of the Poor Grants from the North Central, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic Regions! The National Council received 131 grant applications totaling $632,250. Grant awards for this round total $83,500.

SVdP Conferences and District Councils can apply for up to $5,000 from the National Council’s Friends of the Poor Fund. Individual grant award amounts may vary from the application amount, but will not exceed $5,000. Grants are targeted to specific areas of need, above and beyond available Conference resources: assistance for rent/housing, utilities, food, clothing, medical, transportation, and baby/children needs.

Do People Trust You? Advice for Building Trust and Inspiring Confidence

Do People Trust You? Advice for Building Trust and Inspiring Confidence 1198 1198 Kristen Blacksher

By John R. Stoker
President of DialogueWORKS, Inc.

One afternoon as I was passing through the airport on my way home, I ran into a colleague of mine, Stephen M. R. Covey, the author of the book “The Speed of Trust.”  We stopped and exchanged a few pleasantries.  I could tell that he needed to get through security, so I bid him safe travels.

As he was hurrying away, I yelled after him, “I know something faster than the speed of trust.”  He yelled back, “What’s that?”  I responded, “Distrust.”  He laughed as he hurried away and responded, “You’re probably right.”

Think about it for a minute.  Some people will trust you from the beginning of your relationship without having any experience with you.  Others won’t trust you no matter what you do; you really have to work to earn their trust.  Still others begin their relationship with you in a neutral position.  They will wait to see what you say and do before they trust you.

No matter where the trust in any relationship begins, what we know for sure is that it doesn’t take much negative behavior to diminish the trust that people have in you.

Here are a few tips to help you assess your trustworthiness and to increase the confidence people have in you.

  1. Do you walk the talk?

There is probably nothing that erodes trust quicker than saying one thing and then doing another.  The first time this happens, people will take a closer look at your behavior.  But if it happens repeatedly, people will come to distrust you and not believe anything that you say.  You will appear as if you just say what you think people want to hear.  This seeming lack of credibility will cause people to question your intentions and can cause lasting damage to your relationships.

What to do?  Stop and think about what you are about to say, or what purpose your message needs to convey, and then say what you truly mean.  Being deliberate and intentional about your message will increase alignment between your message and your behavior.

  1. Do you keep your commitments?

This is closely associated with the previous question.  Sometimes we make commitments and things change.  When this happens, it is important to acknowledge your commitment and make necessary adjustments.  If you let another commitment take priority over a previous commitment and don’t manage that dynamic, then people will learn to not take you seriously and may not keep their commitments to you.

What to do?  Keep a calendar of your commitments and manage them.  If something changes, then be sure to communicate those changes and make new arrangements as soon as you can.  Don’t blow people off or forget to keep your commitments.  Using some kind of planning or calendaring software will help you to keep your commitments while strengthening the trust that others give you.

  1. Is your behavior consistent?

If you have wild mood swings and are unpredictable, your erratic behavior will lead people to distrust you.  In one of my first corporate positions, I had a manager who had broad swings in behavior and mood.  You never knew if your performance would be celebrated or trashed in front of others.  The first person to arrive in the morning would test the waters and then alert everyone at the coffee machine if we could engage with our manager or should make ourselves scarce that day.  Consequently, few people felt that they could fully trust him.

What to do?  Notice if people approach you and ask for your input or support on their work.  If you are not approached by others, perhaps you could find a respected colleague and ask for feedback about how you come across.  If someone will be honest with you, listen to what they have to say.  Ask for examples and thank them when they finish.  If you find that people are unsure about how to approach you, strategize some ways to manage your behavior and mood so it is more predictable and consistent.

  1. Do you misrepresent the truth?

This happens more frequently than people would like to admit.  People are often afraid to speak up and tell it like it is, fearing the perceived negative consequences that could occur.  This perception will have a negative impact on behavior.  When people don’t keep their commitments or meet expectations of performance, then they feel forced to cover their mistakes to justify their behavior.  This leads others to avoid interacting with those individuals and to distrust the stories they offer as excuses for their behavior.

What to do?  If you find yourself misrepresenting or exaggerating situations, then you are at risk to not be taken seriously and are setting yourself up to be distrusted.  Stretching the truth and making excuses can become a habitual response.  If this is often your first reaction, recognizing your tendency to do it, determining your motivation behind this response and correcting it will go a long way toward building trust.

  1. Do you withhold information from others?

This is usually a power play of sorts where people make themselves the gatekeeper of what others need to know to do their work.  Such behavior leads to frustration on the part of others and also can lead to people not sharing information that you may need.  Withholding information also leads people to figure out how to work around you so they have as little interaction as possible.

Sometimes, for legal reasons, you may not be able to tell others what you know.  When this is the case and others press you for information, you simply need to tell people that you can’t tell them about a certain situation because of legal ramifications to you and your company.

What to do?   Ask people what information they need and, specifically, identify deadlines.  Look to offer support and address others’ needs and concerns to increase the success of those that rely on you in some way.  When people ask you for information that you can’t share, simply manage the situation and tell them that.  They will understand.

  1. Do you gossip about others?

Nothing will erode trust quicker than talking about others behind their back.  Unfortunately, people often talk about others rather than to others.  When you gossip, your behavior tells your listener that if you would talk about someone else, then you would also talk about them.  Although they may listen to you and engage in the gossip, they won’t trust you.  This kind of behavior ruins relationships, destroys company culture and creates emotional drama that everyone would rather avoid.

What to do?  Stop it.  If you have an issue with someone, talk to the person you need to talk to and avoid the rumor mill that puts people on negative alert but never solves the problem.  Otherwise you will just get more of the same – poor results and no trust.

  1. Do you throw others under the bus?

This behavior usually takes place when someone is trying to avoid responsibility or accountability for the results that were created.  Sometimes, when others have not kept their commitments to you, their behavior has a direct negative effect on your results.  When this is the case, ask yourself, “Did I manage the situation in such a way that kept them from being successful?  Did I do my part to help them to be successful and to achieve the desired results?”  Sometimes we become so busy and have so many things to do that we fail to manage a person or a situation in an optimal fashion.

What to do?  Be responsible and take accountability for managing others, facilitating activities that will produce the desired results.  When things don’t go as planned, examine your part in the process and accept ownership.  Doing so will go a long way to creating and strengthening trust.

  1. Do you keep confidences?

Someone once told me that there is no such thing as a secret until the person you told it to is dead.  If someone shares something sensitive and important with you in confidence, unless there is a specific and legal reason not to, you should keep those things confidential.  If you are going to share something important with another person, you should assume that sometime or somewhere what you share will be shared with someone else.

  1. Are you supportive of others?

Nothing increases trust like being sincerely interested in and supportive of others and their efforts.  If you are a leader and you frequently ask people what they need from you and how you can help and support them, they will feel the satisfaction that comes in knowing someone cares about them and their success.  That care and concern will translate into increased trust.

What to do?  Check in frequently and offer support.  This will afford you the opportunity to get to know them, how they are doing and what you can help them with.  Making interpersonal connections such as these will improve their work and their performance.

Our interactions with others serve either to build trust within our relationships or call it into question.  Recognize that what you do and say is the first step in building and strengthening trust.  As you consciously work to increase others’ confidence in you, your interactions will improve and you will achieve greater results.  And, you’ll never have to worry about the speed of distrust.

Connect with John R. Stoker on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. 

05-09-2024 Questions & Answers

05-09-2024 Questions & Answers 1200 628 Kristen Blacksher

Q: One of our Conferences organizes a group of volunteers, some Vincentians and some not, to cook an evening meal once a month. Another Conference undertakes a “Christmas Giving Program” at its church, whereby parishioners take a tag to donate a gift. The gifts are returned and the Conference delivers the gifts to a community agency, who will distribute them to the needy. There is no Vincentian visit with the ultimate recipients. How are these reported on the Conference annual reports?

A: These can be considered Vincentian activities, but only the hours of the members should be recorded. If funds of the Conference are used to buy food or gifts, then the expenditures can be recorded also.

Q: Under the “Total Hours of Service: Members,” would you please clarify the instructions for including the time members spend attending meetings?

A: All meetings attended by members in their capacity as Vincentians should be counted as service hours, with no distinction of the type of meeting attended.


En Español

P: Una de nuestras Conferencias organiza un grupo de voluntarios, algunos Vicentinos y otros no, para preparar una cena una vez al mes. Otra Conferencia lleva a cabo un “Programa de Donaciones de Navidad” en su iglesia, en el que los feligreses se llevan una tarjeta para donar un regalo. Los regalos se recogen y la Conferencia entrega los regalos a una agencia comunitaria que los distribuirá a las personas en necesidad. No hay una visita Vicentina con los destinatarios finales. ¿Cómo se incluyen estos informes en los informes anuales de la Conferencia?

R: Estas pueden considerarse actividades Vicentinas, pero solo se deben registrar las horas trabajadas por los miembros. Si fondos de la Conferencia se utilizan para comprar alimentos o regalos, también se pueden registrar en los gastos.

P: En la sección “Total de horas de servicio: miembros”, ¿podría aclarar las instrucciones en las que se indica que se debe incluir el tiempo que los miembros dedican al asistir a las reuniones?

R: Todas las reuniones a las que asistan los miembros en su calidad de Vicentinos deben contarse como horas de servicio sin distinción del tipo de reunión a la que asistan.

Wage Justice

Wage Justice 1500 1125 Kristen Blacksher

By Lori A. Malcom, Director of Retail Operations
Northeast Region – Council of Boston

Employee wages are one of the store’s largest budgeted expenses. How do you know if you are paying a just wage?

Overpaying for a position is just that, overpaying, the cost for which is quantifiable. If you know what the wage should be.

Underpaying a position can be even more costly. High turnover rates have a negative effect on the bottom line, as well as employee morale. So, what should you do?

First you need to understand that for most of our non-exempt positions, minimum wage is not meant to be a living wage for our employees. Minimum wage fluctuates throughout the USA. States adjust the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) for cost-of-living considerations within the states however, many states use the federal minimum wage for their state. This can make determining where you stand with your wages very daunting.

Thankfully, there are resources if you are open to the objective data they provide.

Recently the Council of Boston subcontracted a comprehensive wage survey of all positions and targeted the mid-range for all positions.

Job descriptions including job duties, responsibilities and accountability were produced, and submitted to the contractor. The contractor used a very comprehensive and detailed approach, including national, regional, and local employment databases.

The result was a compensation report for each job description. In our case, we were a little more than 10% under the midrange, overall.

Some positions were close to the midrange, where others were under.

This was quite a revelation. We used this tool to make recommended changes to our wage scale, and budgeted increases beginning October 1, 2023.

Our employees have been very gracious, and the atmosphere is incredibly positive. We have reduced our unfilled positions by 75% and our employee turnover has almost disappeared.

The cost for this wage survey was $6,000 for sixty-six employees, which may seem like a lot to spend, but it has been an extremely helpful tool for us.

Although some best practices can be regional, this one applies to all regions regardless of the demographics surveyed.


We hope you are planning to attend the National Assembly in August in Phoenix, AZ.  The National Stores Committee is actively planning for a great program for you.

In addition to our daylong program on Wednesday, we will have opportunities to visit a store and have workshops planned for Thursday.

Topics may include small and large store issues like merchandising, budgeting, POS, advertising, training, store layouts, budgeting, staffing, volunteers, productivity, vehicle tracking, E-Comm, loyalty cards and voucher processing, vehicle tracking.

We encourage you to talk to your store managers and leadership about attending the National Assembly. It is a wonderful opportunity to network with and meet others around the country to share best practices.

05-02-2024 Questions & Answers

05-02-2024 Questions & Answers 1200 628 Kristen Blacksher

Q: What are the guidelines for an internal Conference audit?

A: The Rule and Bylaws emphasize the need for an annual Conference audit. An SVdP audit should cover more than just the Treasurer’s financial portion of Conference operations. It should include a basic review of the overall operations of the Conference. Audit guidelines and forms are on the national website under the Growth and Revitalization officers training page. Click here to learn more.

Q: Our Conference reached out to the Council for financial assistance to help someone in need and the Council advised they could not help because the person in need contacted the Conference for assistance and NOT the Council. What is the purpose for having a Council?

A: A Council primarily exists to support its member Conferences. This consists of many resources which may or may not include financial help. If the Council has available funds, financial assistance to Conferences in need may be considered.

En Español

P: ¿Cuáles son las directrices para una auditoría interna de la Conferencia?

R: La Regla y los Estatutos enfatizan la necesidad de una auditoría anual de la Conferencia. Una auditoría de SVdP debe cubrir más que solo la parte financiera del Tesorero sobre las operaciones de la Conferencia. Debería incluir un análisis básico del funcionamiento general de la Conferencia. Directrices y formularios de auditoría en el sitio de la red nacional en la página de Capacitación de Oficiales, Crecimiento – Revitalización, aquí está el enlace: https://members.ssvpusa.org/growth-revitalization/conference-officer-training/.

 P: Nuestra Conferencia se dirigió al Consejo en busca de asistencia financiera para servir a alguien en necesidad y el Consejo informó que no podían ayudar porque la persona en necesidad se comunicó con la Conferencia para obtener asistencia y NO con el Consejo. ¿Cuál es el propósito de tener un Consejo?

R: El propósito principal de la existencia de un Consejo es apoyar a las Conferencias que lo componen. Esto consiste en muchos recursos que pueden o no incluir ayuda financiera. Si el Consejo dispone de fondos, se podría considerar la posibilidad de prestar asistencia financiera a las Conferencias que lo necesiten.

A Council’s Job One: Serve The Conferences

A Council’s Job One: Serve The Conferences 1198 1198 Kristen Blacksher

(Excerpted From Vincentian Life: Council)


Conferences should have a voice in every major decision.  No Voice, no Vote, no Vincentian will be at the meeting or activity.  It is important that every Conference is represented at the District Council and that the Conference President (or his/her designated representative) is there to speak for them.

Most Council bylaws have a clause that will remove a Conference President from Council membership/voice/vote if the President misses a certain number of meetings.  This removal is a tragedy for the Council, the Conference and the people we serve.


Conferences should be aware of all conditions and circumstances both local and global that will impact them or the Council.  Conferences should be especially aware of any major situation that threatens the well-being of the Council.  Therefore, it is an obligation of the Council to keep the Conferences well-informed and in a timely manner.

The Council should strive to develop a fabric of communication.  One that goes up and down the normal channels but also goes sideways from Conference to Conference and from Vincentian to Vincentian.  A strong fabric of communication will strengthen the Council and avoid the problems of it relying on a few people to make it run.  If those few leave the Council for any reason it can take weeks or months to learn all that needs to be known on how the Council operates.  A fabric of communications creates an informal communications network that helps keep the members informed.


Conferences should be involved on a regular and frequent basis in the operation of the Council.  This can be accomplished by involving them as Council Members, as volunteers, as committee members, on special projects, on fundraising, in special works, in general membership meetings and in every other way that may be appropriate.


The Council should provide formation and training to all members of the Council especially new Vincentians.  The National Formation and Spirituality Committee has developed formation/training programs that are available across the country.  The National website (https://members.ssvpusa.org/)  has many documents, presentations, etc. available that should be used to form and train Vincentians.

By a resolution of the National Council, all new members of the Society have to attend an Ozanam Orientation within their first year as a member.  Also, any member, who is elected to or appointed to be an officer at any level in the Society, must have attended an Ozanam Orientation or must attend one within the first year as an officer. It is highly recommended that all members of the Society attend the Ozanam Orientation at least once.  Attending the Ozanam Orientation every three to four years as a refresher is recommended for all members.

This places a burden on the Council.  The Council must provide the Ozanam Orientation formation program within the Council area as often as is necessary to fulfill the requirements for training prescribed by the National Council.  If the District Council lacks the resources to provide the Ozanam Orientation on an as needed basis, it should seek assistance from the next higher Council to provide this training.


Conference visitation by a District Council (District Council visitation by a Diocesan Council) is an extremely important responsibility of the Council.  The Officers and Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director should each attend one Conference (Council in case of Diocesan Council) meeting each month to facilitate communications and solidarity with them.  That means that five meetings a month could be attended if the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director each participate.  In many District Councils, this would mean that each Conference is visited at least twice a year.  For Diocesan Councils, coverage depends on the frequency of District meetings.  A staff person should come along on some of the visits to explain what that department or special work does and how they can assist the Conference/Council.


A planned program for youth involvement is very important.  Many aids are available for recruitment, involvement and understanding how we can utilize one of our greatest assets.  There are so many aids now available, such as brochures, outlines of how to start a youth conference, Power Point recruitment and many more.   There are Regional Youth chairs you can contact that are eager to offer ideas and assistance.  With no intent to overuse an old cliché, “youth are our future.”


The United States is a melting pot of race, creed, language, and culture.  It is important that our Conferences reflect the diversity of our local community within its membership.  Councils should emphasize awareness of community demographics and assist Conferences to build their membership based on who comprises their community.  Councils should also strive to develop diverse leadership both within the Conferences and Councils themselves.

The Eucharist and Social Mission: May 30th Webinar

The Eucharist and Social Mission: May 30th Webinar 1600 651 Kristen Blacksher
The Eucharist and Social Mission

Join us on May 30 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time to reflect on The Eucharist and Social Mission: Body of Christ, Broken for the World during the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Together, we will break open the Theology of the Eucharist and consider how our liturgical practice calls us to be missionary disciples, going forth from the Eucharistic meal to accompany those who are poor and vulnerable. This webinar will also provide practical examples, resources, and tools to help our Eucharistic communities live the call to transform all that degrades human life and dignity and create systemic change. This virtual event is co-sponsored by the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Register here


En Español

Acompáñennos el 30 de mayo de 2024 a las 7:00 p.m., hora del este, para reflexionar sobre La Eucaristía y la Misión Social: El Cuerpo de Cristo, Partido y Entregado por el Mundo durante la Solemnidad del Corpus Christi. Juntos, profundizaremos sobre la Teología de la Eucaristía y consideraremos cómo nuestra práctica litúrgica nos llama a ser discípulos misioneros, saliendo del alimento eucarístico para acompañar a los más pobres y vulnerables. Este seminario web también proporcionará ejemplos prácticos, recursos y herramientas para ayudar a nuestras comunidades a transformar todo lo que degrada la vida y la dignidad humana y crear cambios sistémicos. Este evento virtual es copatrocinado por el Departamento de Justicia, Paz y Desarrollo Humano de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos, la Asociación Nacional Católica de Directores Diocesanos para el Ministerio Hispano, el Consejo Nacional Católico para el Ministerio Hispano, Caridades Católicas de los Estados Unidos, Catholic Relief Services y la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paúl. Regístrense aquí.


Governance Update: Councils And Their Conferences

Governance Update: Councils And Their Conferences 1198 1198 Kristen Blacksher

Councils And Their Conferences

(Excerpted From Vincentian Life: Council)

This document is about Councils; yet, the starting point of this document is Conferences. Why is that? As you will see below, Councils don’t exist without Conferences and the Council’s primary role is to support the Conferences.


This is an important principle to keep in mind: Conferences that do not want to participate with the Council have not been convinced they receive anything of value from the Council and its activities. Councils should never be formed simply for the sake of forming a Council. Councils have a particular purpose and the Conferences must understand what that is.

In the Rule that was in effect prior to 2003, there was a statement that was a clear definition of the purpose of any Council. This statement was in Part II of the Rule, Article 15:

• Councils are responsible for animating and coordinating the work of SVdP units within their respective jurisdictions.

• They serve the Conferences. All Councils are first and foremost at the service of the Conferences with a view to furthering charitable activities. Because every Council gathers information about human needs and services from a variety of sources – the community at large, as well as the Conferences – it keeps Conferences in touch with changing social problems and new programs for helping people.

• … each year, each Council obtains and compiles a consolidated annual report of all the Conferences and Councils attached to it. The Council’s report is then forwarded with any comments to the next higher Council for the preparation of the annual report of the (National) Council of the United States.

• Councils encourage initiatives and strive to bring about the establishment of Conferences, Councils and new works, and the revival of dormant or defunct Conferences.

• A Council reviews and evaluates applications for aggregation and institution that are submitted by its affiliated SVdP groups. If approved at District and Diocesan Council levels, the application is forwarded to the National Council for transmittal to the Council General (International).

• Councils organize, to the fullest possible extent, training and formation sessions for members and potential members on spiritual themes, the Vincentian vocation, and problems of social action and justice.

• To coordinate Vincentian work, Councils keep in regular contact with their Conferences and Councils and inform them of the activities of the Society.

• The Council represents its constituent units in contacts with religious and public authorities.
• Each Council determines the expected contribution (solidarity) from attached Conferences and Councils in order to meet its necessary expenses and assist needy Conference and Council groupings attached to it.

• Special works of the Society conducted by the Councils must rely on the Conferences for support, personnel and funds.

In the current Rule, these responsibilities have not changed. They are also spelled out but not in so compact a form.

The fact of the matter is that all Conferences should be aware of what the Council is doing for them. Conferences should be receiving benefits from the Council that clearly provide value to them. It is the responsibility of the Council to ensure that Conferences understand this clearly. Ultimately, it is the Conference members themselves who make up the Councils and who make the decisions in support of the Conferences.


Strong Conferences make a strong Council! It is the Council’s responsibility to assist and guide Conferences in fulfilling the mission of the Society. The best way to do this is to ensure that Conference leadership and members understand what the Society is all about, what the role of the Conference is and what is expected of members.

When Conferences get into trouble (begin to decline or get into some other difficulty), it is far better to be proactive rather than reactive. It is recommended that each Council form a Conference Resources and Concerns Committee to:

1. Promote understanding and compliance with the Rule, Bylaws and Manual;

2. Develop resources that will help Conferences to understand and fulfill their roles in the Society;

3. Provide training materials for Conference leadership;

4. Monitor Conference activity and act to assist Conferences who are in trouble;

5. Promote and assist in establishing new Conferences;

6. Assist in revitalizing existing Conferences, where needed; and

7. Mediate Conference concerns where needed.

A well-formed Conference Resources and Concerns Committee can monitor Conference activities and offer many aids to make a Conference more effective.


The following special conditions should be monitored regularly and addressed as necessary:

1. Conference President’s term of office is limited to two consecutive three-year terms. After the two terms, the President must be out of office for at least three years before being elected once again. Technically, as soon as the six years expires, the President is no longer in office and the Conference operates under the leadership of the first Vice President until the election of a new President. In the case of violation of this rule, the Council must ensure that an election is held to replace the outgoing President as soon as possible.

2. Each Conference is to have at least four officers: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Each office must be held by a separate person. No one person may hold multiple officer positions. In addition, Statute 12 of Part III of the Rule indicates that a President must not appoint his/her spouse or other closely related individual to an officer position.

3. Service area comes into conflict often within the Society. The District Council should ensure that Conferences provide service only to those people living within the boundaries established for the Conference. These boundaries should be established as a formal agreement between the Conferences in the Council. In some cases, the boundaries will simply be the parish boundaries. In other cases the boundaries may be more extensive, as long as they are agreed upon by the Council. This way, people seeking service cannot simply go from Conference to Conference seeking help. The Conference covering the area where that person or family lives is the one that makes the decision as to help or not help.

A second excerpt from the “Conferences” section of Vincentian Life: Council will appear next week.

April Advocacy Update: Child Tax Credit, Affordable Connectivity Program, and a Supreme Court Case

April Advocacy Update: Child Tax Credit, Affordable Connectivity Program, and a Supreme Court Case 1600 615 Kristen Blacksher
Please read the April Adovocacy Update below by Voice for the Poor Chair, Bobby Kinkela:


Fellow Vincentians,

I wanted to share what we are working on and what we are watching.

First, as a member of the Circle of Protection, a broad faith-based coalition, President John Berry signed a letter to members of the U.S. Senate urging them to pass the Child Tax Credit.  The House passed their bill with an overwhelming majority. The Senate is bogged down over politics and not on the merit of the issue.  Thank you to the 2,700+ Vincentians that have sent emails to Congress on this issue.  If you have not weighed in, you can still send your message!  Because the legislative calendar is compressed due to the November election, if the Senate does not act soon, the bill will die.

We are monitoring the Affordable Connectivity Program.  The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a $30 discount on internet bills to income qualified households.  This is one of many programs that helps to reduce the internet costs for individuals. While funding for this program is in jeopardy, several similar programs remain including programs that provide cell phones to people who meet certain requirements.

The Supreme Court is hearing a case this week regarding criminalizing homelessness – Grants Pass v. Johnson.  The city argued that the ordinances merely bar camping on public property by everyone, while the challengers contended that the laws effectively make it a crime to be homeless in the city and therefore violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Monday’s arguments mainly focused on a 1962 Supreme Court ruling Robinson v. California which held that the 8th amendment forbids states from making laws punishing those addicted to drugs. The current challengers to the Oregon case likewise contend that the city’s ordinances, like the state law in Robinson, punish people who are involuntarily homeless.  We anticipate a decision will be made in late June.

Thank you for your advocacy and prayers.

In Christ,
Bobby Kinkela
Chair, Voice for the Poor Committee

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