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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.

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

11-2-2023 Questions and Answers

11-2-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: I know that Conferences are expected to follow federal, state, and local laws but I can’t find in the Rule where it states that.

A: It is not stated in the Rule. It is located in the Nationally Approved Bylaws for Conferences in Article 2. You will also find this in the Manual on Page 30 under two sections: “Legal and Financial Realities” and “Tax Laws and Financial Records.”

Q: What is the difference in bylaws between a Conference with an integrated board and a Conference with a separate board?

A: Conferences that are not incorporated are to use Document 1. They do not have a Board of Directors.

Conferences that are incorporated have two choices:

  1. Document 2 is Bylaws for a Conference with a Separate Board of Directors. This option provides for the President selecting/appointing the members of the Board. In this case, the Board has the authority to define policy. However, the Conference as a whole has the authority to override decisions made by the Board.
  2. Document 10 is Bylaws for a Conference with an Integrated Board of Directors. This option provides for all Conference members to be on the Board of Directors plus some appointees by the President. All members of the Conference are already on the Board, so there is no overriding authority.

Spanish Translation

P: Sé que se espera que las Conferencias sigan las leyes federales, estatales y locales, pero no puedo encontrar en la Regla dónde se establece eso.

R: Está en la Regla, Parte I, 5.2. También se encuentra en los Estatutos Aprobados a Nivel Nacional para Conferencias en el Artículo 2 y en el Manual en la página 30 en dos secciones: “Realidades Legales y Financieras” y “Leyes Tributarias y Registros Financieros”. A menudo hay una referencia a seguir las leyes estatales en sus Artículos de Incorporación.

P: ¿Cuál es la diferencia entre una Conferencia con una Mesa Directiva integrada y una Conferencia con una Mesa Directiva separada?

R: Las Conferencias que no se incorporen deben utilizar el Documento 1.  No tienen Mesa Directiva Separada.

Las Conferencias que se incorporan tienen dos opciones:

  1. El Documento 2 son los Estatutos para una Conferencia con una Mesa Directiva Separada.  Esta opción prevé que el Presidente seleccione/designe a los miembros de la Mesa Directiva.  En este caso, la Mesa Directiva tiene la autoridad para definir la política.  Sin embargo, la Conferencia en su conjunto está facultada para anular las decisiones adoptadas por la Mesa Directiva.
  2. El Documento 10 son los Estatutos para una Conferencia con una Mesa Directiva Integrada.  Esta opción prevé que todos los miembros de la Conferencia formen parte de la Mesa Directiva, además de algunas personas designadas por el Presidente. Todos los miembros de la Conferencia ya forman parte de la Mesa, por lo que no existe una autoridad superior.

10-26-2023 Questions and Answers

10-26-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: At a recent multi-Conference gathering, someone suggested that if a neighbor requests assistance more than once, the neighbor will be asked to perform “community service” in order to be served beyond the initial time. Is this in keeping with either the spirit or the letter of the Vincentian Rule?

A: The works of the Society have always been in imitation of Jesus. The assistance provided by Jesus was unconditional. He did not require those He helped to do anything in order to receive His assistance.

Once you require someone to do work in order to receive something in return (food, clothing, furniture, rent payment, utility bill payment, etc.), it falls into the realm of an employer-employee relationship with laws that have to be followed in that respect. What you are describing is not something the Society endorses.

Q: We are having our annual awards banquet and I am the Awards Nomination chairperson. Which award is the very highest, which award next, etc.? Is there someplace I could find this defined?

A: Awards are unique to each Council and Conference granting them. There is no set order defined by the National Council or an order defined by tradition. Each Council and Conference grants their own awards and decides the order of importance.

Spanish Translation

P: En una reciente reunión de varias Conferencias, alguien sugirió que, si un prójimo solicita asistencia más de una vez, se le pedirá a esa persona que realice “servicio comunitario” para que se le sirva más allá del tiempo inicial. ¿Está esto de acuerdo con el espíritu o lo que dice la Regla Vicentina?

R Los trabajos de la Sociedad siempre han sido a imitación de Jesús. La ayuda proporcionada por Jesús fue incondicional. Él no requirió que aquellos a quienes ayudó hicieran nada para recibir Su ayuda.

Una vez que requiere que alguien trabaje para recibir algo a cambio (comida, ropa, muebles, pago de alquiler, pago de facturas de servicios públicos, etc.), cae en el ámbito de una relación empleador-empleado con leyes que deben seguirse a ese respecto. Lo que usted está describiendo no es algo que la Sociedad respalde.

P: Estamos teniendo nuestro banquete anual de premios y yo soy el Presidente de la nominación de premios.  ¿Qué premio es el más alto, qué premio sigue, etc.? ¿Hay algún lugar donde pueda encontrar esto definido?

R: Los premios son únicos para cada Consejo y Conferencia que los otorga. No hay un orden establecido definido por el Consejo Nacional o un orden definido por la tradición. Cada Consejo y Conferencia otorga sus propios premios y decide el orden de importancia.

10-19-2023 Questions and Answers

10-19-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: Can a person join more than one Conference?

A: A Vincentian can hold membership at two Conferences. The member should disclose dual membership status information to both Conferences. Active Membership is defined by the Rule. Although allowed, it’s not often that one person is a member of more than one Conference, so duplication of numbers reporting is not significant.

Q: Recently, it was stated that “Twinning” was officially defined by the Society as: an arrangement between Conferences; A: to send a specific amount of money each month to Conference; B: which have need of additional income on a regular basis. Is this correct? If so, what do we call any help one Conference provides another Conference for a neighbor on a one-time basis?

A: The specific definition you gave is reasonable; however, it is not limited to monthly contributions. Twinning qualifies anytime one Conference or Council sends money to another Conference or Council to help with Society works. Giving money to another Conference to help in a particular case, qualifies instead as a co-pay because you are helping an individual through another Conference. In this case, both Conferences establish a case record for the person or family helped.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Puede una persona unirse a más de una Conferencia?

R: Un Vicentino puede ser miembro de dos Conferencias. El miembro debe revelar información sobre el estado de doble membresía a ambas Conferencias. La membresía activa está definida por la Regla. Aunque está permitido, no es frecuente que una persona sea miembro de más de una Conferencia, por lo que la duplicación de los informes de números no es significativa.

P: Recientemente, se afirmó que el “Hermanamiento” fue definido oficialmente por la Sociedad como: un acuerdo entre Conferencias; A: enviar una cantidad específica de dinero cada mes a la Conferencia; B: que tiene necesidad de ingresos adicionales de forma regular. ¿Es esto correcto? Si es así, ¿cómo llamamos la ayuda que una Conferencia proporciona a otra Conferencia para un prójimo por una sola vez?

R: La definición específica que dio es razonable; sin embargo, no se limita a las contribuciones mensuales. El Hermanamiento califica cada vez que una Conferencia o Consejo envía dinero a otra Conferencia o Consejo para ayudar con las obras de la Sociedad. Dar dinero a otra Conferencia para ayudar en un caso particular, se considera como un copago porque usted está sirviendo a un individuo a través de otra Conferencia. En este caso, ambas Conferencias establecen un registro del caso para la persona o familia servida.

Members Portal Upgrade

Members Portal Upgrade 1080 1080 Jill Pioter

We’ve made important changes to the Members Portal, providing a more secure space for member data, bringing us inline with current data security measures, and providing administrators with faster access. At the request of national leadership, the following changes have been made to the Members Portal.

  • Only Administrators shall have login permissions. Members will no longer be able to log in. This change limits the number of logins with access to member information.
  •  Administrators will only see member information for groups they have administrative access over. They will not be able to see member information of other groups. Grouping contact information and leadership remain available to administrators.
  • Password requirements have been changed to meet current minimum standards. All passwords must be 12 characters or more in length and have the following: one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one numeral, and one symbol. In order to ensure all passwords meet this standard, administrators will be required to reset passwords at the first post-upgrade login. This reset will only be required once and applies to administrators at all levels.
  • A ‘Forgot Password’ feature has been added, allowing administrators to reset their password at any time. The function sends the user a link via email to reset the password and requires administrators to have an email in their member record.
  • To emphasize data privacy, a privacy policy has been added. The policy is available for review at any time. Administrators must agree to the policy each time they login.
  • Minimum member data required has changed. The number of required fields to add a member has been reduced. First name, last name, member type and member status are the only fields required to add a member. Administrators have additional required fields (email, username, and password) that are essential for logging in and resetting passwords.
  • When adding new members, administrators must confirm that members are aware that their information is being entered into the Members Portal and that the new members are aware of the privacy policies governing the application. A template policy is available on the Need Help? page within the Members Portal for local administrators.

We thank you for your patience during this process. If you have any questions, please email the National Council Information Technology department at techsupport@svdpusa.org.

10-12-2023 Questions and Answers

10-12-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: We have a Conference reporting more than $100,000 in the annual report. The balance includes a checking account and investment account. They are reporting the investment gain or loss on line 5E Other Misc. Receipts. Since we report on a cash basis, how should the accounting of gain or loss be reported in the annual report? Should it be considered an adjustment to the beginning balance?

A: The Annual Report is a cash report. Any interest you gain from the checking account is real cash and should be reported under 5E. Only the change in cash should be reported on the Annual Report. If the investment account includes stocks and bonds, they have the original cash value. If cash dividends are received, they are reported under 5E also. A value increase or decrease is not reported until cashed in.

Q: Our Conference received some McDonald’s stock a few years ago, and we would now like to convert this stock to cash. How do we do this?

A: Stock received by a Conference can be converted to cash; however, members should obtain financial advice related to how to handle this process. Please contact Nancy Pino (npino@svdpusa.org), National Council CFO, for initial assistance.

Spanish Translation

P: Tenemos una Conferencia que reporta más de $100,000 en el informe anual. El saldo incluye una cuenta corriente y una cuenta de inversión. Están reportando la ganancia o pérdida de inversión en la línea 5E Otros recibos varios. Dado que informamos sobre una base de caja, ¿cómo debe informarse la contabilidad de ganancias o pérdidas en el informe anual? ¿Debería considerarse un ajuste al saldo inicial?

R: El Informe Anual es un informe de efectivo. Cualquier interés que obtenga de la cuenta corriente es efectivo real y debe reportarse bajo 5E.  Solo el cambio en efectivo debe informarse en el Informe Anual.  Si la cuenta de inversión incluye acciones y bonos, tienen el valor en efectivo original.  Si se reciben dividendos en efectivo, también se informan en 5E.  Un aumento o disminución del valor no se informa hasta que se cobra.

P: Nuestra Conferencia recibió algunas acciones de McDonald’s hace unos años, y ahora nos gustaría convertir estas acciones en efectivo. ¿Cómo lo hacemos?

R: Las acciones recibidas para una Conferencia se pueden convertir en efectivo; sin embargo, los miembros deben obtener asesoramiento financiero relacionado con la forma de manejar este proceso.  Comuníquese con Nancy Pino (npino@svdpusa.org), Directora Financiera del Consejo Nacional, para obtener asistencia inicial.

10-5-2023 Questions and Answers

10-5-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: Where is the official ruling that discourages our neighbors in need from seeking help from more than one Conference? As I understand it, we help neighbors who are located within our Conference boundaries. However, I hear that neighbors go to a Conference for help and other Conferences claim they have also helped that person. I was always under the impression that this activity was highly discouraged. Can you clarify the ruling on this? 

A: The Society has no nationally established guidelines discouraging our neighbors in need from seeking help from more than one Conference. The Society exists in only about ¼ of the parishes in the United States; so, our Conferences often find themselves assisting people outside of their parish boundaries. Also, not all Conferences offer the same services. Any rules associated with staying in the parish boundaries are normally established within a District or Diocesan Council.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Dónde podemos encontrar la decisión oficial que desalienta a nuestros prójimos en necesidad de buscar ayuda de más de una Conferencia?  Según tengo entendido, servimos a los prójimos que se encuentran en los límites de nuestra Conferencia.   Sin embargo, escuché que las personas van a una Conferencia en busca de ayuda y otras Conferencias afirman que también han servido a esa persona.  Siempre tuve la impresión de que esta actividad es desalentada.  ¿Puede aclarar la decisión al respecto? 

R: La Sociedad no tiene pautas nacionales establecidas que desanimen a nuestros prójimos en necesidad de buscar ayuda en más de una Conferencia. La Sociedad existe en sólo alrededor de 1/4 de las parroquias en los Estados Unidos; por lo tanto, nuestras Conferencias a menudo se encuentran sirviendo a personas fuera de los límites de su parroquia.  Además, no todas las Conferencias ofrecen los mismos servicios. Cualquier regla asociada con permanecer en los límites de la parroquia normalmente se establece dentro de un Distrito o Consejo Diocesano.

09-21-2023 Questions and Answers

09-21-2023 Questions and Answers 1200 628 Jill Pioter

Q: What process does the Society take to endorse any legislative efforts?

A: The National Voice of the Poor Committee identifies legislation that affects the people we serve and involves the National President in the process. Only the president speaks for the Society. The Society may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. We may advocate for or against legislation, but not candidates. For local issues the Council President must approve and may represent or delegate to the Council’s local VOP group, the advocacy positions of the Society.

Q: Can a parish employee be an officer of a Conference/Council? Are there any roles they cannot hold?

A:  There is no prohibition of parish employees becoming Active Conference Members and then Officers. However, conflict of interest is a strong consideration. If they place their loyalty to the Pastor and allow that loyalty to give the Pastor control over the functioning of the Conference or its funds, then they should withdraw from the Officer role and/or the Conference.

Spanish Translation

P: ¿Cual es proceso que toma la Sociedad para respaldar cualquier esfuerzo legislativo?

R: El Comité Nacional de la Voz de los Pobres identifica la legislación que afecta a las personas a las que servimos e involucra al Presidente Nacional en el proceso. Sólo el Presidente Nacional habla por la Sociedad. La Sociedad no puede participar en ninguna actividad de campaña a favor o en contra de candidatos políticos. Podemos abogar a favor o en contra de la legislación, pero no de los candidatos. Para asuntos locales, el Presidente del Consejo debe aprobar y puede representar o delegar al grupo de la VOP local del Consejo, sobre las posiciones de defensa de la Sociedad.

P: ¿Puede un empleado de la parroquia ser un Oficial de una Conferencia/Consejo? ¿Existe algún trabajo que no puedan desempeñar?

R: No hay una prohibición de que los empleados de la parroquia se conviertan en Miembros Activos de la Conferencia y después en Oficiales. Sin embargo, el conflicto de intereses es una consideración importante. Si colocan su lealtad con el párroco y permiten que esa lealtad le dé al párroco el control sobre el funcionamiento de la Conferencia o sus fondos, entonces deben retirarse de actuar como Oficial y / o de la Conferencia.

The Vital Role of District Council President

The Vital Role of District Council President 1200 628 Jill Pioter

When the first Conference of the Society grew quickly to a membership of more than 100, it became clear that this number was not amenable to the values and goal of our founders. There were concerns about the ability of members to share and develop true friendships in such a large group. Therefore, one Conference evolved into two Conferences. As more Conferences were started, there was a need for an organizational structure to help them understand, embrace and adhere to the Rule of the Society. The idea of creating Councils was born.  As other Conferences opened within a Council there was a further need to form District Councils. The position of District Council president is a vital one with significant responsibility for the successful functioning of the Society.

The structure of the Society is unique in many ways, including the fact that Conferences are the base unit of the Society. Even though Conferences are somewhat independent, they are connected through a series of higher Councils, the first level of which is District Councils. The Rule clearly defines the function of a higher council:

  • Councils exist to serve all of the Conferences they coordinate. They help Conferences to develop their spiritual life, to intensify their service and to diversify their activities so that they may always be responsive to the needs of those who suffer. (Rule Part I: 3.6)

The organizational structure of the Society in many ways resembles a spider web. Spider webs are amazingly strong because of the very way in which they are constructed. If you think about it, Conferences are at the center of the web and the concentric circles are the supporting higher Councils. The diagonal lines are the lines of communication, friendship, support, and unity that flow between the Councils and the Conferences. Like a spider web, if any Conference or Council is in its beginning phases or is struggling, the structure stands strong and is able to provide resources the Conference or Council might need.

A District Council is comprised of no less than three and up to eight Conferences. Conference presidents represent their Conference at their District level and are responsible for electing the District Council president for a three-year term. As with Conference presidents, a second three-year term may be served consecutively but a new president must be elected after the second three-year term is completed.

District Council presidents represent their District at the (Arch)Diocesan Council level. They are responsible for bringing information from the (Arch)Diocesan Council back to the District and sharing that information with the Conference presidents, as well as bringing information from the District to the attention of the (Arch)Diocesan Council.

So what exactly are the duties of a District Council president?  Effective District Council presidents attend the meetings of their Conferences at least once a year. Conference members need to know their District Council president. When a Conference holds a special event the District Council president should make every effort to attend. In most cases financial and service reports required by the (Arch)Diocesan Council should be forwarded to the District Council president for submission to the upper Council. District Council presidents should then review those reports for accuracy and, if something seems amiss, questions should be asked and, if necessary, changes should be made before final submission.

District Council presidents should also review Conference guidelines to make sure they are consistent with the Rule and all applicable Bylaws. If a Conference has violated any part of the Rule or Bylaws of the Society, the District Council president should work with the Conference to move it into compliance. District Council presidents should ensure that Statute 12 in Part III of the Rule is strictly observed to safeguard the good reputation of the Society. That means Conferences must have a full slate of officers and that no officers are related to the president.

District Council presidents function as the thread that connects and ties things together. They are the conduit for communications. They are the promoters of our Essential Elements and the monitors of compliance. They serve as mentors to new Conference presidents and officers.  They are the gateway to establishing new Conferences and rejuvenating those Conferences that need to be revitalized.

Above all, the District Council president should be a servant leader as Jesus was a servant leader:  “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” (Mk 10:45).

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