Welcome to the Website of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in New Zealand.
Back to school – struggling families hit by extra burden
Vinnies there to provide extra help
School is well and truly back and so is an increase in help sought through some Vinnie’s foodbanks, services and shops.
The pressure on families already crippled by debt, unemployment and in extreme circumstances homelessness is heavier at this time of year, so report some of our conferences.
As one single father of five explains, “We know back to school is coming up and we know that we should be saving for this but we just can’t. Other families can but there is nothing left for us. We’ve just got over Christmas and the kids home for the holidays. It’s too much.”
Bills arriving from Christmas, and extra debts still to pay mean many families are unable to get their children ready for the start of the school year.
Some foodbanks are seeing unprecedented levels of need, with some struggling to replenish dwindling foodstocks from the demand before the Christmas period.
“The request for food parcels has outstripped our foodbank,” says one conference leader in South Auckland who will have to restock his foodbank to meet this demand.
One volunteer believes that there is enormous pressure on families to overspend at Christmas in order to have the right kind of Christmas.
This pressure along with the increasing cost of getting children ready for school puts even more stress on families who struggle with providing the basics.
Whilst the Vinnie’s shop in Napier has not seen a massive increase in assistance for help, Arthur Schultze, Manager, says, “of those seeking help with food the majority are solo mothers with school-aged children. We have also seen, in the past two to three weeks an increase in people asking if we sell second-hand uniforms.”
The conference will liaise with school principals in the area to identify families who need extra assistance. The families will get help with the appropriate school footwear as well food parcels, if needed.
The Miramar/Seatoun conference offers help with school stationery and uniforms. And many conferences, such as Whangerei and the Young Vinnies in Hawke’s Bay operate a breakfast club as well as providing school lunches during the week, ensuring that students are fed and able to keep up with their learning.
If you would like to donate any quality goods or food for our food banks across the country, your donation would be greatly appreciated. To find out your local Vinnie’s shop or conference, please check our website: http://www.svdp.org.nz/
Fifth e-newsletter (December 2014) out now - Click Here
Lent, 2015 – A letter from Pope Francis
Make your hearts firm
As we approach the beginning of Lent for 2015, let us respond to the words of Pope Francis to confront the 'globilization of indifference'. "It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you." Pope Francis, Vatican.
2015, International ‘Year of Vincentian Collaboration’
‘Together in Christ we Vincentians make a difference’
Marie Palmer – 2015 New Year’s Honour Recipient
53 years ago, a few days after her husband had been hospitalised in a hit and run, Marie Palmer answered a knock at her door.
It was a moment that changed her life.
The two visitors standing at her doorstep were from St Vincent De Paul and they had come to deliver a Christmas hamper and toys for her 10 month-old baby and support if she needed it.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Marie said. “And I made a promise to them and to God that I would dedicate my life to SVDP when I retired. And after twenty years as a hospice nurse, that is what I did.”
After following the ‘passion in her heart for helping people’, Marie has been awarded a Queen’s Honour in this year’s New Year Honour’s list for her contribution to St Vincent de Paul and the other social organisations she supports in Hawke’s Bay. In May she will be invested at Government House.
Marie believes that this honour is a wonderful opportunity for others to hear about the work of St Vincent de Paul.
For Marie her contribution through the Society and the other organisations that she works for, as well as being a JP, comes from a wish as a six year-old to help others. “If there is a need, then you go. It becomes a normal part of your daily life.”
Marie spends a day a week at the Vinnie’s shop helping to assess those who need food parcels, as well as those who require more support.
On a Tuesday, along with Brother Brian, a retired Marist brother, they visit those who have been referred by the shop, schools, parishes or social agencies. Visits are not just one-offs but are repeated until they can see some stability in the home. For many, these visits are marked in the calendar and are something to look forward to. And for some it may be the only outside visit they receive.
Marie believes that there is a lot of loneliness in the community. She and Brother Brian believe that many people trust them because they are non-judgemental, they build up trust and they make repeat visits. Marie says that the work is very rewarding and that it’s good to see a smile on a sad face of someone in despair.
“Life is great … you learn something from somebody every day. You can always find a positive thing in a grim situation, even if it is just a thank you from a grateful person or family,” she says.
Marie has always been an advocate for those struggling and trying to do their best on very little. She says that she knows what it is like for many families, as she had to cope with a husband in hospital for three years, a baby to look after and very little to live on.
“I think it helps that I can remember what it was like to really struggle,” she says.
Like so many volunteers in St Vincent de Paul, Marie wishes to continue her work for as long as she can.
“I’ll burn out, not rust out,” she says. “And I might retire when I’m 105.”
The Society acknowledges with gratitude the contribution made by Property Brokers to the establishment of this site.
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