The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Holy Family Conference in Anchorage
Background: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), a Catholic Lay organization, began operating in Anchorage in 2013. The Society leads men and women who join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering.
History: Based at the Holy Family Cathedral and operating as the Holy Family Conference, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Anchorage has seen steady growth in the number of clients served throughout the Anchorage area over the last two years. Concurrent growth in the number or Members often struggles to keep pace with growing activities, especially home visits and related work.
• Organization: In SVdP, a “Conference” is the lowest level, typically Parish-based, with the next level up being a “Council,” typically Archdiocese-based. The Holy Family Conference, as an “isolated” Conference, coordinates directly with the Archdiocese and reports to a Council in Seattle.
• Future Plans: Within the Archdiocese, near-term plans call for the SVdP Conference to remain at Holy Family Cathedral and continue to address needs across the Anchorage bowl area. Long-term, the hope is that multiple conferences will be formed in the Anchorage area and operate under the umbrella of an SVdP Anchorage Council.
• Service: During a recent year, the SVdP Holy Family Conference spent $20,518 assisting 71 families (Rent, Utilities, Food, Furniture, etc.) for an average of $288.99 / family. In addition, over 1,200 volunteer hours were directly related to Conference operations including Home Visits.
• Funding: Current sources include two collections / year from Holy Family Cathedral and other parishes, also a “Black Bag (Secret)” collection taken during all the SVdP Regular Meetings, and other donations.
• Service Limit: To ensure they can assist the greatest number of people, assistance from the Holy Family Conference in any single case has a monetary “Cap” – in exceptional cases this “Cap” amount may be increased by “twinning” (partnering) with another organization.
• Staffing: Vincentians are all volunteers – approximately twelve were active in the Holy Family Conference at the beginning of 2017.
Current Situation: Although established and actively servicing poor and needy families, the Holy Family Conference often struggles to manage work load and internal processes. It is often necessary for officers to fill more than one position, i.e., VP, Treasurer, Secretary, at the same time handling Home Visits and coordinating relief efforts. So the Conference is always looking for new and enthusiastic Members.
As stated above, during the twelve month period ending in September, 2015, the Conference assisted 71 families with rent, utilities, food, furniture, bus passes, etc., at a total cost of $20,518. Only six percent of that cost went to operating expenses (supplies, travel, training etc.) while ninety four percent went directly to those the Conference served.