For 185 years, the international Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s mission has been to see the face of Christ in the poor and to serve them.

Established in Frederick in 1992, Vincentian volunteers have welcomed thousands of our county neighbors in need and helped alleviate their financial emergencies, challenges, and anxieties.

On any typical day, Vincentians hear, “Can you help me?”

“I have an eviction notice….. My electricity has been turned off…. I have two small children and we spent last night in a car…. I can’t pay for my prescription medicine….. I need gas to get to work, and I’m not paid until three days from now….. I need an ID to apply for a job….. I’m living in a tent; it’s freezing at night….. I have entered a drug recovery program and need to get a job to pay the entry fee….. My children need clothes for school.”

Here are a few possible reasons why so many of our neighbors find themselves in distress:

  • An illness or hospitalization that keeps a worker from their job and pay.
  • A trusted friend, husband, or wife walks out on those they have been caring for.
  • The only car quits running and needs expensive repair.
  • Angry family members turn their backs and cut off support.
  • The only income is Disability or Social Security.
  • Just started a job but won’t be paid for two weeks.

When a family or individual is faced with a financial emergency, they are understandably focused on the immediate problem (keep the water connected, get the medicine, don’t get evicted, etc.). But the Society’s mission doesn’t stop with just offering financial assistance for the current emergency. Vincentians try to gain a broader understanding of what the individuals and families are dealing with in order to make them aware of the many other sources of help available in Frederick County.

Last week, a mom and her 6-year-old son came through the door. Having been evicted from their home, the family of four was living in a tent on a friend’s property – a very kind friend, but a temporary solution. They were in desperate need of housing and a new beginning. Thankfully, the father had just started a good job in the city, and would receive his first paycheck in a week. The St. Vincent de Paul Society referred the mom to agencies for her own employment help, gave her information on food assistance nearby, and supplied enough funding for gas to keep their car running for employment and housing searches. When they do locate a stable residence, the Society can also assist them with funds for a portion of their security deposit.

People just barely getting by paycheck to paycheck simply cannot meet all their obligations when the unexpected happens, and we know from the ALICE Report that more than a third of Frederick County residents are income-insufficient. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is there with compassion, a listening ear, and usually some financial assistance to get them through the rough spot.

The Society’s door on 2nd Street is open and welcoming Monday through Friday from 10 am until 3 pm for any Frederick County resident experiencing financial crisis. Vincentians are an all-volunteer group. Donations, no matter how large or small, to the St. Vincent de Paul Society go directly into the grateful hands of our Frederick County neighbors in need. The entire gift will be used intelligently, respectfully, and with a prayer that those receiving the funds find or regain stability, health, and security in every area of their life.

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