May 21, 2012
NICOLE ZIMMERMAN
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

RED DEER – The local executive of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has approved the purchase of a 2005 GMC cube van for the society.

The van will allow volunteers to accept furniture donations and to provide much-needed furniture to families in need in our city.

The St. Katharine's Conference of the SSVP has been operating in Red Deer since November 2009. It has grown from six founding members to 25 active members.

The volunteers complete various training sessions as well as criminal record checks. Together with other community organizations, they help the poor in our community.

Friends are referred to us by many agencies such as the clothing bank, food bank, women's shelter, women's outreach, Safe Harbor Society and Social Services.

Our friends receive the society's phone number from the various organizations. They contact the central phone support line and then are referred to one of the home visit volunteers.

What is unique about the St. Vincent de Paul Society is that we always complete a home visit. We become advocates for our friends and we learn what supports they require.

Assistance is usually in the form of food baskets, advocacy with landlords, assistance with applications for subsidies and referrals to other organizations.

Since January 2011 we have visited more than 80 families. We have provided 100 food baskets, 40 furniture deliveries and 15 requests for housing assistance (as well as more than 20 transportation requests).

In November 2010, we branched out to providing furniture. We had many people wanting to donate their furniture and many of our friends were living without beds and kitchen tables.

We have been actively seeking donated warehouse space for the past six months. This warehouse space would provide us with the room needed to open a distribution centre.

(The society in Red Deer can be reached at 403-597-3030 or ssvp.reddeer@gmail.com.)