From Your Servant Leader
April 27, 2017

As a young man I chaired an American Red Cross disaster committee. One late night at an apartment fire, a young woman covered with a blanket approached me and asked if I could help her. I invited her to sit down and take the blanket off in the warm resident manager’s office. That’s when I learned that upon hearing the fire alarm she had run out of her apartment – wearing only the blanket!
When a disaster happens, you can suddenly become a victim. Thank God others can be prepared to help you. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is growing in our ability to be part of that help.

In this week’s Facebook Page, you will see an announcement to launch a new membership appeal to replenish the national Domestic Disaster Fund. I pray that you, your Conference and Council will be able to support the long-term disaster recovery services in so many current and future locations around our country.

Many Vincentians paying attention to national Society affairs know that we are in the process of creating a new Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) from the existing Disaster Services Division (DSD) operated at the National Council. Whether it’s the existing DSD or the new DSC, this is still the Society’s national mechanism to help our Society volunteers in disaster areas provide vital longterm disaster recovery services. What has changed is our ability to leverage your donations in new and better ways.

Under the new DSC model, our staff and volunteers help local Councils or isolated Conferences to be part of a community-wide VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) network that can organize funds and people in times of large-scale disasters. The DSC is designed to be part of major grants that utilize government and private resources to fund a lot of its work, with most funds passing through to those we serve who may have lost their home, business and belongings. We help them recover their lives and make this situational poverty be as brief as possible.

But this new system does not provide all the necessary support. We still need funds to help local Society volunteers deal with the rush of new disaster victims and their sudden, overwhelming needs. The Domestic Disaster Fund allows our national leaders to grant immediate funds to Councils and Conferences in the disaster areas. While the above-mentioned grants are vital, they take time to organize, grant and get funds in the hands of our neighbors.

Meanwhile, our Vincentians already live in the same communities and can help NOW with the Domestic Disaster Funds readily available from the National Council. This is one advantage of being in 4,400 communities! A disaster may not be in the news cycle for long, especially when it’s in a small town or affects only a few families. But it’s a big deal when it’s your family, home or business! And disaster costs are rising with higher replacement values for homes, buildings and possessions. Yes, there are other organizations that can help, and they do, especially with immediate relief such as clothing, meals and a place to stay. But our Society’s unique niche, again supported by our living in the same community,
is the long-term support to re-build homes and lives. The Domestic Disaster Fund helps us to have the funds ready at a moment’s notice to help. We don’t wait to raise the money after the disaster hits. We raise it before the disaster hits anywhere at any time, so that your fellow Vincentians can move into action as soon as possible.

Our fund has recently been spending more than it has raised, and so we make this appeal to you to help us stay ready. Count your blessings if your community hasn’t been hit recently by a storm, fire, flood, or other act of God or man that can devastate your lives. Then pray for those who have been hit, and give what you can to the Domestic Disaster Fund campaign.

Yours in Christ,