Founded in France in the mid-1800s, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been humbly serving the poor and needy for almost 200 years – yet few people are aware of their existence.
“For being around for almost 200 years of existence, so many people have no idea who we are and what we do,” said Chris Strassburger, executive director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Denver Metro council.
In honor of St. Vincent de Paul’s upcoming feast day, the local council will join other Society of St. Vincent de Paul councils around the nation in hosting their annual Friends of the Poor Walk Sept. 30 at Bishop Machebeuf High School. It’s a short walk, only one to two miles, and there is no registration fee; patrons are simply asked to make a donation as they’re able to.
All proceeds from the walk will go toward helping those who come knocking on one of the local society’s 24 conferences located around the city.
“The conferences are where all of the help is provided,” Strassburger explained. “When someone’s looking for help, they contact the conference, and the conference members do home visits in pairs of two and find out what their needs are.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul typically provides help to those who are experiencing a temporary setback in their lives. For example, if car troubles prevented somebody from being able to pay rent one month, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul exists to assist in those kinds of situations.
Of course, their services aren’t just limited to these temporary situations; they also provide assistance to the homeless around the city by paying for a hotel for a few days, or even helping homeless people who are transitioning into a more permanent living situation with deposits or furniture.
Last year, the local council offered a total value of $2.5 million in services, including 2,492 home visits and 40,495 volunteer hours that helped a total of 22,409 individuals. There are 483 volunteers, or Vincentians, who are part of the local council.
Friends of the Poor Walk
Saturday, Sept. 30
Bishop Machebeuf High School
Registration at 8:30 a.m., Walk at 9:30 a.m.
Pre-register online at svdpden.org
Featured image by Anya Semenoff | A&D Photography