St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County (SVdP) has been helping our neighbors in Contra Costa for a long time – more than 56 years. We have seen many families and individuals through thick and thin and cheered for them when they finally got back on their feet. Their success is our success.
As we settle into this “new normal” – our commitment to helping people hasn’t changed. SVdP and our small army of more than 750 volunteers, called “Vincentians” are still working around the clock to support families in need. A Vincentian is a person (usually of Catholic faith) that has dedicated themselves to helping the poor and impoverished. They are highly trained in providing one-on-one assistance and do work similar to social workers. Vincentians generally go out to people’s homes in pairs and assess the needs of the family that they are visiting. Sometimes the most pressing need is food, and other times the need is for rental assistance. This is all assessed through relationship building and ongoing, long term, personalized support. Many times, the most valuable resource provided to neighbors in need is someone who will listen to the challenges our neighbor is experiencing, with compassion and love.
We prefer to think of ourselves as neighbors helping neighbors.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to carry out regular home visits during the pandemic for in concern for the health & safety of our neighbors and our volunteers. But, as SVdP Board President Ron Costanzo will tell you, we’ve found it quite easy to adapt.
“In consideration of social distancing, we have almost completely avoided any physical home visits,” says Ron says, “We have moved to Skype or phone or FaceTime, handing off gas vouchers and other supplies at service stations or other locations, ensuring we are safe distancing and wearing masks for the safety of our neighbors and our volunteers.”
In addition, most of SVdP’s branches have maintained their regular food pantry hours. Some have adapted by limiting the number of people allowed inside at any given time. Others have switched to a drive-up/curbside pickup model, with volunteers loading food directly into vehicles.
“We don’t give up easily,” Ron adds with a laugh.
SVdP will find a way to help someone who is in need. After all, what are neighbors for?
SVdP is always in need of more volunteers. If you would like to become a Vincentian, please reach out to your local SVdP branch, which you can find at this link: svdp-cc.org/branches/
If you would like to get involved in our next food distribution or help our Thrift Stores prepare for reopening, please give us a call at 925-439-5060.