Vincentians’ face-to-face encounters transform community in need

Moira Cullings

All it took was just over 500 volunteers to shape the lives of more than 20,000 individuals in need here in Colorado last year.

Those served were both families and individuals from a variety of backgrounds seeking anything from food and clothing to help with rent.

“For a lot of them, that’s their life,” said Steve Loftis, Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Denver Metro Council. “They go from one resource to another seeking help.”

Fortunately for those at risk of homelessness or going through a tough time financially in the Denver area and beyond, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is there to help.

The Society has been in Denver for over a century and is currently made up of 32 conferences, all affiliated with a parish, and spanning from Loveland to El Paso County. Volunteers known as Vincentians meet individuals face-to-face to help in any way they can.

“They do the home visits,” said Loftis. “They’ll interview a family or an individual and see what their needs are — if it’s rent, utilities, food and clothing, or wherever we might be able to help.”

Through donations, grants and partnerships with other organizations, the Society maintains various funds, which allow conferences to cater to the needs of those who approach them, often after learning about the Society through word of mouth or other organizations, such as Catholic Charities.

Although the biggest need Loftis sees is rent, the Society has several programs, including Fresh Start Loan, which helps individuals get out of the pay day loan system and improve their credit scores.

The Society also partners with arc Thrift Stores, which sells the Society gift cards at half price, and they in turn offer them to individuals in need.

For volunteer George Maes, serving the community in this way has been a pleasure.

“Meeting and helping those in need has truly been a blessing in my life,” he said. “It truly has changed my life. It has made me understand what it is to be humble and appreciate what God has given me, not to mention what it has done for my spiritual life.”

Maes has been with the Queen of Peace conference since 2006 as a volunteer and served for three years as president of the conference.

“Being a Vincentian, meeting people face-to-face [and] listening to their hardships in life most definitely allows you to see Christ in your neighbor who is in need,” he said.

During his time with the Society, Maes has seen everything “from a quiet thank you to tears and everything in between” from those he’s served. “No matter the type of response, they are all very appreciative and thankful for the help that was given to them.”

Loftis hopes the organization can continue having a profound impact on the Colorado community in years to come.

“Maybe instead of 20,000 people, next year we can help 40,000 people,” he said.

“As I look at our numbers last year for the housing fund, the money that I reimbursed our conferences with — the over $100,000 — allowed us to assist over 800 adults and over 600 children to avoid homelessness.

“That’s the type of thing we’re able to do with the funds that we receive.”

Highlights of services offered by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 2018
  • 2,647 home visits conducted, helping 6,029 individuals
  • 2,676 individuals provided with food
  • 613 other in-kind services delivered totaling $14,728
  • 5,648 other visits made, assisting 11,580 individuals
  • 797 visits made to 2,478 individuals in eldercare facilities
  • 59,398 miles driven to assist those in need
  • 12 individuals aided with dental, legal or medical assistance
  • 20,091 people were helped
  • 41,771 hours of volunteer service were completed
  • 6 new conferences were established

For more information, contact Steve Loftis at svdpden@outlook.com or visit the website at svdpden.org.

To mail a donation, send to:

Society of St. Vincent de Paul Denver Metro Council

558 Castle Pines Pkwy Unit B-4 #107

Castle Pines, CO 80108

 

COMING UP: Late St. Joseph deacon ‘reached out into the peripheries’ during ministry

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Deacon Maclovio (Max) Sanchez, 87, passed away peacefully in Olathe, Kansas on April 30. Deacon Sanchez was assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish in Denver throughout his diaconal ministry.

Maclovio Sanchez was born on May 21, 1931 in San Luis, Colorado, to Estevan and Emily Sanchez. He was baptized at Most Precious Blood Parish in San Luis, Colorado, on June 2, 1931 and grew up in Walsenberg, Colorado.  He graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Wasenberg.

On April 24, 1954, he married Mary Frances Marquez at Holy Rosary Parish in Denver.  Over the 65 years of their marriage, the couple was blessed with three children: Martin, Debra and Joshua. They also had numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In Denver, Max worked for Midwest Liquor Company, delivering products to the area stores. But his love was directed towards the poor communities in the metro area.  Max was vice chairman of the Coalition for the Westside Betterment and President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Bank. He and his wife were also very involved in the parish at St. Joseph’s.

On March 22, 1975, Maclovio was ordained a deacon at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception by Archbishop James Casey. This was only the second class of men ordained in the archdiocese at the time. He was immediately assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish where he also conducted numerous Spanish Missions and served at the Westside Action Center. Retiring from ministry in 1993, he continued to serve at St. Joseph’s Parish as long as his health would allow.

“Deacon Max reached out into the peripheries and brought the lost back into the Church,” said Deacon Joseph Donohoe, Director of Deacon Personnel. “We have been blessed to have such a dedicated Cleric and Servant of the Church in Denver.”