The St. Vincent De Paul St. Vincent De Paul Conferences
The Client Assistance Office is located at the Lansing SVDP Store and staffed by Store employees. All donations from individuals and all income from the Store are deposited in a separate bank account and used by this Office to help needy people in our local community. This Office provides direct financial assistance to eligible low income persons who face utility shutoffs, rental evictions and other financial emergencies. The staff receives referrals from conference Vincentians. It also receives many direct calls from clients, including many as a result of referrals from the Central Michigan “211” help number. The staff often collaborates with other community agencies on plans to assist clients. Financial assistance from this Office is generally provided to a family or individual only once in a twelve month period. The staff also works directly with the conferences in filling “vouchers” for clothes, household items, furniture and appliances for clients. Clothes are always provided free of charge to low income families referred by conferences.
The Role Of The Conference And The Council The basic organizational unit of the Society is the “Conference” located in a Catholic parish. The conferences are in turn linked together under local councils. The Lansing District Council is currently comprised of 21 conferences (see back cover). The conferences meet regularly, often weekly. The basic activity of members is to meet with people, who call the parish church for help. The home visit is always done in pairs. The so-called Vincentian Technique may be summarized in three steps: 1) Determination of the need- based upon the home visit to gather facts and through discussion with the client; 2) Problem Solving Consultation- where members discuss if assistance can be provided to the client to meet their needs; and 3) Project Action- where the actual implementation of the agreed upon course of action takes place. Action may include providing food, financial assistance from the conference or a voucher to the Lansing St. Vincent de Paul Store for material goods (e.g. clothes, beds, furniture, etc.). Also, the client may be referred to the St. Vincent de Paul’s Client Assistance Office for possible assistance with a utility bill, rent or other needs. Whatever program of charitable action is eventually adopted, Vincentian involvement should possess these characteristics: a witnessing of Christ’s love for human beings and a personal sharing of time and interest on the part of the Vincentian with those in need of material help, understanding and hope. Vincentian activity consists of any form of person-to-person service which relieves human suffering, furthers individual self-help efforts, and promotes human dignity. Vincentians strive to see the face of Christ in each person served. The Lansing District Council is governed by a board of directors that is comprised of the presidents from the conferences. Each conference has one vote on the Council, which meets monthly and is open to all conference members. The Council oversees the operations of the Store and Client Assistance Office and also coordinates other activities and programs consistent with the spirit and mission of the Society.