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 Helping Others Serve the Poor

 Helping Others Serve the Poor 1200 628 Jill Pioter

(Excerpted from Vincentian Life: Conference)

When someone considers reaching out to help the poor and calls the parish office for a contact person or organization, the name given is usually someone involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Conference. Why? It is because they are active, visible, and available. They are the ones to contact who will channel the desire to serve or volunteer in the right direction. For it is by our visibility within the parish community, not our anonymity, that we help others come to serve the poor.

At the Conference Level

Being Active

Active Members of the Society are actively involved in the works of the Conference, and at least knowledgeable if not involved in the work of the District and Diocesan Councils. We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” That busy person may not be able to help, but he or she usually will know where to send someone to get help.

Being Visible

Each of us, regardless of the talents God has given us, can be a leader. We lead by example. Even the most introverted among us can lead by doing — doing the Conference food and clothing drives, bundle Sundays, Christmas programs, and all the other activities that the parish Conference is involved with.

Through the parish bulletin let your fellow parishioners know what you are doing and how you are serving the poor. This gives others ideas on how they can help. Monthly news items in the parish bulletin about Conference activities are recommended. Monthly news items, consistently appearing over several years, begin to make a lasting impression.

Give the people in your parish a name (a person to contact) or a telephone number (office or Conference number – not a member’s personal number) and repeat that often. If you have a good thing going (and we do), tell the world. People like to join an organization that is active, with lots of things happening.

You also need to make known the needs of the Society as well as the Conference, along with the opportunity to help the poor. We have a message of hope for the poor. We also have a way to help, for those who aren’t poor.

Being Available

To be available is to make a great gift — the gift of your time. The work of the Society is, according to the Rule, subordinate to your commitments within your family and job. So your “available” time comes out of your recreation or “fun” time, and that’s the sacrifice.

Many Conference members are available to the poor but aren’t willing to talk about what they do for others. Some of us aren’t instinctively saleswomen and salesmen, but we must all become communicators. There are people in the parish and outside world who want to know the what, why, where and how of what we do. We need to tell them. Everything we do requires volunteers to make it work and enthusiasm to make it happen. Once others hear about these things, they too can be a part of it.

At the Upper Council Level

The work of the Society often meshes with the objectives of other groups, even commercial organizations. Mutually-beneficial activities can be scheduled that serve the needs of these groups and the poor at the same time. Even activities which appear self-serving (e.g., the professional athlete showing up to serve in a charity dining room) can have many beneficial effects. The poor can thrill to see the star, and the athlete can have his heart touched by what he sees and begin to take a deeper interest in the poor and the work of the Society.

Other community groups, such as those dealing with domestic violence, can find their efforts flower when they join with the Society to serve those who are suffering. In a synergistic effect, Vincentians are able to do their work better and more productively while the other groups can extend their assistance into more troubled homes.

Contacts with CEOs or large business interests are probably out of the reach of the average Conference. However, if that CEO or business executive is a member of your parish community or a personal friend, who knows what can be achieved?

Who knows what initial contact got Eddie Basha (owner of a food store chain), Bill Keane (popular cartoonist), Joe Garagiola (baseball player and commentator) or Mohammed Ali (champion boxer) involved with the Society? Perhaps it was simply a Vincentian enthusiastically talking about our work with someone they knew only as a friend or neighbor.

Leadership by example. Active. Visible. Available. You can do all four.

How to Run a Good Meeting

How to Run a Good Meeting 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Among the group leadership skills that come into play for Conference and Council Presidents is knowing how to run a good meeting.  Here are a few tips for use whether you are a new or veteran President:

  1. Never hold a meeting without an agenda; send a tentative agenda in advance to everyone who is expected to attend.
  2. Make sure that copies of all reports to be discussed are sent out in advance of the meeting.
  3. It does not hurt to have a consent agenda for matters like prior meeting minutes and financial reports with discussion or reporting needed only if there is a question or correction.
  4. Begin every meeting with prayer, a spiritual reflection and brief discussion on the reflection. Business can wait for prayer and spiritual reflection.
  5. At the beginning of your meeting have those in attendance approve the tentative agenda so that it then becomes theirs.
  6. Stick to the agenda and politely keep those who are present on topic. Remember to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and remind them that we discuss matters, not argue about them.
  7. Provide an opportunity at the end of a meeting for new business to be brought up for discussion at that time or at a subsequent meeting.

We hope these basic suggestions help your meeting run smoothly.

So You’ve Been Elected President…

So You’ve Been Elected President… 1200 1200 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.

Reach out to other Vincentians — even if they are not from your area — for advice and support. We will share useful information relevant to your new responsibilities in these Frederic’s e-Gazette articles throughout the year. 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.

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.

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