We answer cries for help.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) provides basic goods and services needed for survival to those living in poverty. It is imperative that we respond appropriately and quickly to requests for assistance. For those living without the basic necessities of life such as tables and chairs and beds, a few days delay can cause unnecessary suffering. The culture of our organization is based on human interaction and compassion from the initial visit where we let them know how we can help them to the delivery of their furniture, household goods, food or rent cheque. Another important service we provide is referrals to other agencies that can help them with non-emergency social, health, employment and government services.
Our Help Line is our first contact point with those in need and the most important. We learn their name, telephone number, address and that they need help. We receive over 900 calls per month.
Our reasoning for asking Field Law for funding for the Help Line is that it is an extremely important component of our activities and a major cash expense for our organization. The Help Line provides human to human contact. Most of our activities are funded/supplied by donations and our volunteers (100% volunteer labour). Other major cash expenses projected for 2018, include vehicle maintenance and operation ($21,690) and rent for our Distribution Center and our Storage Facility ($62,400).
For the past ten years we have used an answering service for our Help Line. This is and has been funded solely through cash donations. Before that time volunteers transcribed the verbal message left on an answering machine to a hand written note and directed the inquiries to the appropriate person. Many of the messages were garbled or difficult to understand. For many of our clients English is their second language. Many cries for help were missed. Additionally, responses to calls were delayed as volunteers completed their shift and communicated with other volunteers. There was also the lack of human to human contact which is essential in understanding people’s needs. The use of an answering service has improved our ability to respond compassionately, quickly, and increased our operational efficiency and flexibility. Our capacity to respond to calls can grow as needed.
Who Will it Benefit?
Our clients will benefit. In 2017 we visited 2,483 households making 3,893 home visits assisting 3,860 adults and 2,805 children. Our clients include all those living in poverty for example, refugees, immigrants, single parents with children, those recently released from prison, those escaping abusive situations.
Our mandate is to serve and minister to all those in need, regardless of creed, ethnic or social background, health, gender, or any other societal delineation; and to promote their dignity by serving with love, respect, justice and joy and without judgement. We never ask why they need our help.
The importance of providing the basic necessities of life cannot be overstated. Providing a basic household setup gives our clients a sense of normalcy. Having a home versus an empty or near empty apartment provides stability which increases success. It relieves the stress caused by the lack of basic needs. They are better able to deal with the stresses of day to day life. Having a proper night’s sleep on a bed with bedding is extremely important. They are in a better position to seek employment and for children, to be successful at school.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Edmonton Central Council is a social justice organization that has been serving the disadvantaged in the Capital Region of Alberta since 2000. We are part of a worldwide movement that currently operates in 155 countries with over 800,000 volunteers. We offer short term relief and a 'hand up' towards a better life. In Edmonton our organization runs exclusively on the energy and labour of over 500 volunteers and is supported financially by donations, proceeds of periodic charity sales and support from community-minded organizations and charitable foundations.
We provide those living in poverty with goods needed for basic daily living such as beds, bedding, table and chairs, cutlery, pots and pans, emergency food, grocery cards and clothing. We visit clients in their home and deliver what they need directly to their home. During a client’s home visit we advise and help them access other programs and services. We assist clients with bus tickets, bus passes and gas cards. This assistance enables clients to get to job interviews, go to work or school, get to medical appointments, access the food bank etc.
In 2017, more than 541 volunteers donated 72,000 hours to bring the services of our Society to those in need in the Edmonton area.