Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Notre Dame Conference, Port Alberni, BC
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international catholic organization of lay people founded in 1833. It seeks, in a spirit of justice and charity, to help those who are suffering. It achieves this by a person-to-person involvement of its members. No work of charity is foreign to the Society. It includes any form of help that relieves suffering and promotes human dignity and integrity. The S.S.V.P. is concerned not only with relieving need but also with redressing situations that cause it. The Society serves persons in need regardless of creed, colour, origin or caste.
Vincentians strive to live their faith by loving their neighbour in the person of the needy. In a non-judgmental spirit of sharing they strive, through prayer and fidelity to the teaching of the Church, to be witnesses to the love of Christ in their relations with the poor, in the various aspects of everyday life.
The Notre Dame Conference was founded in 2003 and presently has about 35 members. Over the course of the past 6 years members have made in excess of 1800 home visits to persons in need who have requested our help. People contact us by phone (250-723-7721) and leave a message on our voicemail requesting help. Our dispatcher reviews the calls and sends out a pair of home visitors to assess how the Society might best assist the individual or family. Almost every home visit results in some form of assistance. This often takes the form of food hampers, but it may also include advice and advocacy, referral to other organizations, furniture, payment of rent and hydro, bus tickets, and so on
In addition to our work in the Alberni Valley, which consumes most of our resources, the Notre Dame Conference also helps to finance the work of our twin SSVP conference in La Vega, Dominican Republic. They serve the destitute poor of the D.R. and we help to finance some of their activities.
Whilst the Society meets formally only once a month (the 2nd Monday, 1:00 – 3:00 pm), informal meetings occur frequently as the work of the Society continues on an almost daily basis. Any member of our parish who is committed to sharing and serving the poor through inter-personal contact is encouraged to join us. We welcome new members, especially those willing to train as home-visitors.
Our financial resources come directly from members of our parish, parish organizations and John-Paul II Catholic School. We have also received support from the Eagles and the Lions Club. Quality Foods gives us generous discounts on our purchases.