The St. Vincent de Paul Conference, (branch) at Our Lady Queen of the World Church in Pittsburg is no stranger to need. Situated between Pittsburg and Bay Point, this group of SVdP volunteers see a lot of families in need – and the dedicated SVdP team does everything they can to help. These volunteers, primarily elderly members of the local community, help their neighbors in need with food, housing and utility assistance, clothing, furniture and any number of activities to help those in need. Working for countless hours every week, these dedicated volunteers strive to help their neighbors in need however they can.
“There is no form of charity St. Vincent de Paul volunteers won’t try,” SVdP Vincentian Services Manager Stephen Krank said.
These dedicated volunteers have been led for the last two years by Esther Tilton, one of the most dedicated volunteers at SVdP. Esther, however, is stepping down to enjoy a well-deserved rest, and Danny Vu is taking over as President. Danny is already working hard to modernize the work done at Our Lady Queen of the World, to make it easier on the volunteers so they can help more people than ever.
“We have an amazing team of truly dedicated, super volunteers here, I am so blessed to have this amazing team. Esther works so hard, she deserves some rest,” Danny said. “She’s been such a great teacher. She has been helping me get adjusted and showing me how things are done. It would be impossible without her expertise.”
Danny said he started by helping doing things that were easy for him, such as driving to do the food pick-ups at the Food Bank every Friday, but he soon found himself motivated by something much more powerful.
“The work you do as a volunteer here is very special,” Danny said. “Normally, at work, I would just work pretty mindlessly, like going through the motions. But here? I’m in love with the work I do. I feel like someone is guiding me. The work here isn’t mindless. I have to think about what I’m doing, and how I can do it better – because if I do it better I help more people. When I’m volunteering here, I want to develop a plan to make things better, I’ve never had that motivation before. It’s very special to me.”
A former engineer, Danny stepped away from engineering to open a 1-hour photo company.
“I wanted to spend more time with my family, and I wanted to travel. Stepping away from engineering made sense, but now I get to use those skills to help people in new ways,” Danny said. “I’ve created a database for our food pantry here, and with the help of our CCD students, I keep it updated with what food we have, expiration dates, and when it needs to be rotated and given out!”
Danny first started volunteering at SVdP almost by accident. A member of the Knights of Columbus, Danny is no stranger to volunteering at his church. When an SVdP volunteer from the team at Our Lady Queen of the World had to step away for knee surgery, someone approached Danny to ask if he could help out.
“A lot of the volunteers are older women. They are incredible, super-ladies that I’m blessed to have,” Danny said. “When they ask you to help out, how can you say no? They spend so much of their time helping people in need, so if they ask you to lend a hand, you just have to. That’s how I got involved with SVdP, and it’s been impossible to step away.”
The SVdP Conference at Our Lady Queen of the World is a major source of aid in the local community. Each week, the small group of volunteers collects food from the food bank. Danny and a group of CCD students then arrange the food in a trailer, purchased by the compassionate parishioners at Our Lady Queen of the World, filled with refrigerators given to SVdP by the Food Bank. The volunteers at Our Lady Queen of the World also help people in need with rental assistance.
“When I first started volunteering, people would go meet people in their homes and help them with rental assistance applications,” Danny said. “But during the pandemic, the need got so bad. There were so many people that needed help with rent that It was impossible to visit them all in their homes. We started hosting Housing Clinics where we would work for hours helping groups of families get the help they needed. We gave out almost $100,000 in 7 months to keep families in their homes.”
Danny said he is excited to tackle the challenges at the SVdP branch in Bay Point,, and looks forward to helping the volunteers there modernize their process to help more people in need. Danny said he is thankful that he has such a truly dedicated and compassionate team of volunteers.
“The team we have here is amazing,” Danny said. “They are such great people.”