Society Of St. Vincent De Paul
Chances are good that many of you reading this story are familiar with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. You probably know about the thrift store – might have donated and shopped there, as I have. You probably know about the food pantry; and you likely are aware of the annual Walk for the Poor.
But how often do you connect those dots and think about the truly wide reach this ministry has across our diocese?
Here is the first sentence of the society’s mission statement: “Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.”
The society exists to enable us Catholics to heed Pope Francis’ call and help the poor. And the Evansville Council is taking steps to make encounters with St. Vincent de Paul not only easier but, in many ways, more complete. The council has launched its own website; it complements the Facebook page that also recently went live. Make a note – the new online address for our SVdP activities is http://www.svdpevansville.org/.
For years, computer-savvy folks have looked for “St. Vincent de Paul Evansville” on Bing, Google or Yahoo, and their search returned a link to the society’s national website – with some information about the Evansville council. Thrift store manager John Payne said a lack of information has been a general issue with the society in the diocese.
“I’m a lifelong resident of Evansville,” he said, “but I’m a new Vincentian. It is clear to me that we need to do a better job of telling our story and making people aware of the many ways St. Vincent de Paul helps the poor. It’s not just the thrift store … or the food pantry … or the walk for the poor. It’s all of them.”
Sections on the website provide lots of information on the thrift store, the food pantry and the walk. Visitors also will be able to get information on home visits by society volunteers.
“Our youth and young adults, in particular, get their information in new and different ways from their parents and grandparents,” Payne said. “We have to be online telling our story. We want to reach people who are getting most, if not all, of their information from their smart phones or tablets. We also want them to know about all the ways they can help the poor through St. Vincent de Paul.”
Volunteer opportunities also are front and center; just look down the right side of the home page. You can click to “Get Involved” at the thrift store, “Volunteer” at the food pantry and/or “Help Out” with the annual walk.
“We worked on that language a long time,” Payne said, of the slight differences in the volunteer buttons on the website. “We hope people will see that there are different ways to help the poor and help St. Vincent de Paul. There is a place for everybody!”
You also want to visit www.facebook.com/svdpevansville, and like that page. This kind of social media, in support of an organizational website and other communications efforts, has become more important than ever. The council’s decision to have a Facebook presence should enhance its visibility and support.
“Facebook definitely is helping us get our message out,” Payne said, “but it also is enabling us to develop some special marketing opportunities for the store. Our regular customers are thrilled with the dynamics of our inventory. We have new and wonderful items coming in pretty much every day; we make three pickups each week.
“We plan to offer specials and unique items on the Facebook page. It will be a great tool for us in a number of ways.”