ST. LOUIS, April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Jesus told His disciples, "The poor you will always have with you," but the president of one of the largest U.S. charities believes that bold new approaches have to be developed to reduce the hopelessness and indignity of poverty in the United States.
Sheila Gilbert broke new ground when she was elected the first female president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), which provides a wide range of assistance to those living in poverty. She's breaking new ground again with a 5-minute video message to SVdP's 172,000 U.S. members, in which she lays out her vision to "End Poverty Through Systemic Change": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmZ7F3D9Ijo
"Many people and organizations have spent huge amounts of money and time to alleviate or eliminate poverty in the last 50 years," said Gilbert. "And, sometimes our members have been all that's standing between people in need and disaster. Clearly, however, for too many people, the American dream is slipping away. I felt we had to take a long, hard look at how we do things and look for more effective approaches."
In the video, Gilbert calls for greater collaboration and partnerships with others who share the Society's mission. She urges SVdP's members (known as Vincentians) "to move beyond just our own work in our own way - to involvement in our communities - with others who share our concerns for the dignity of all life and want to see meaningful opportunity for all. It is time for new approaches, new attitudes, and new actions."
To help drive her initiative, Gilbert appointed "goal leaders," men and women who have already been serving in positions of leadership in the Society. Their job is to help make the concept a reality by tying it to the six specific areas of the organization's strategic plan: spirituality, communication, unity, solidarity, collaboration and development.
"This is just a start," Gilbert said, "but if we don't try to change things, who will?"
The largest social assistance organization in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (http://www.svdpusa.org) is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of approximately 700,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually and offer person-to-person service to the needy and people living in poverty in 142 countries on five continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals more than 172,000 in 4,600 communities. Programs include home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, transportation and utility costs, care for the elderly and medicine. Providing more than $595 million in tangible and in-kind services, SVdP serves more than 14 million people in need each year, performs more than 648,000 visits to people in their homes, and delivers more than 7 million service hours to those in need, regardless of race, religion or national origin.
Charles B. Henderson
Office: (314) 576-3993, ext. 214
Mobile: (314) 623-6505
E-mail: [email protected]
SOURCE Society of St. Vincent de Paul