These are seminal times. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been, and is, involved in the times, the public forum. I just finished reading about the life of Frederick Ozanam in 18th century France.* It sounds much like 20th century USA.
Our society has many opportunities to connect our rich Catholic faith with those neighbors of ours who live on the margins. We call them poor. They are people who have need of help in our busy and complex world.
The Voice of the Poor is one such opportunity. From the svdpusa.org website, “Voice of the Poor is the advocacy arm of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. With members representing every section and demographic of the nation, we identify those issues that are critical to those living in poverty and need, and help bring attention to them so communities and our elected representatives can help develop strategies and tactics that will provide the most effective and efficient means to reduce or eliminate poverty.” The society has a national committee and there are regional groups. We belong to the Mideast group—Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky.
Because public policy directly affects those persons we aid in our programs and in our conference home visits, we are able to see the effects of bad public policy as well as good public policy. We have a very important view to humanize the trials that our neighbors experience. And at the same time we recognize that the major assistance to persons in need comes from our government—local, state, national. Programs like SSI, SSD, SS, food stamps, Section 8, utility assistance far our distance what we can do. But what we have is personal contact and listening and stories.
The Voice of the Poor collaborates with our Bishops, with Catholic Charities, and others of good will in speaking to our officials. It also educates us to the nuances and often poorly reported issues that effect our neighbors in need.
In Kentucky we have formed an organizing committee here in Louisville and are attempting to get representation from the three other Councils to create a Kentucky voice of the poor website.
Here is what I am asking you to do.
- Sign up for VoterVoice at VoterVoice.net/SVDPUSA/Home
- Sign up for the Frederic’s E-Gazette at http://bit.ly/1GKXYJ6 to stay informed about society events and news.
- Know that you can get a manual from SVDPUSA by visiting the website at svdpusa.org.
- Visit svdpusa.org/members/Programs-Tools/Programs/Voice-of-the-Poor and see the position papers that have been produced over the years.