Society of St. Vincent de Paul
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The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) was founded in Paris, France in 1833 by Frédéric Ozanam and a group of young Catholics who were inspired by the charitable work done by St. Vincent de Paul in the 16th century. As one of the oldest and largest charitable organizations in the world, SVdP is a Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women, called Vincentians, who join together to help the needy and suffering in 150 countries on five continents. Membership in the United States totals more than 160,000 volunteers in 4,400 communities. The OLGC Conference of SVdP has been part of our Parish since 1998 and is one of ten conferences within the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
The OLGC Conference of SVdP is comprised of OLGC parishioners, and is funded mainly by OLGC, profits from OLGC sponsored events like the Women’s Club Thanksgiving bake sale, and contributions from individuals. Our mission is to grow spiritually and in fellowship while providing person-to-person assistance to those in need. It is this personalized involvement that makes the work of SVdP unique. An essential precept of the Society’s work is to provide help while maintaining the dignity of those who we serve. One way we do this is by striving to share Christ’s love with the poor, while looking to find Christ in the face of those we serve. During our 2016-2017 fiscal year, we helped over 1,800 people and our volunteers worked more than 2,700 hours.
Our contact with those in need usually starts with their call to our Helpline, which we monitor daily. The aid we provide includes financial and material assistance, referrals to government and community organizations and, many times, simply meeting with and listening to those who come to us for help and support. We work closely with community groups, other area churches, and Fairfax County government agencies to determine the best way to help our neighbors in need.
Alternative Loan Program Launched
Too often the poor either cannot borrow money when they need it or are the victims of predatory lenders. OLGC’s SVdP has embarked on a new program to help these neighbors in need. We have joined with other SVdP conferences in the Arlington Diocese, in partnership with Apple Federal Credit Union, to launch an alternative loan program to help the poor.
In 2014, the Arlington District Council of St. Vincent de Paul Society decided to work at creating a “systemic change” project that would dramatically improve the financial status of low income individuals and families. After much exploration, our conferences unanimously committed to the creation of an Alternative Loan Program (“ALP”), which would serve as an alternative to the onerous pay-day and car title loan interest rates which we see in our case work. The loan program is also available for microloans to folks who wish to take the initiative to change their life situation by starting a business, taking training for certifications, or securing other credentials to find a better paying job or a new career field. Banks don’t lend money to the poor but the SVdP Society backed loans are “the best first loans” that our friends in need can secure. These loans will not only help in the short term to make major positive changes in the borrowers lives but also the good credit score report which follows paying off this loan will help our friends have the same access to credit in the future as others in our Society have.
All 100% of the funds donated for ALP will be utilized exclusively for making loans to those in need of a hand up. SVdP serves all people in need; regardless of race, religion or country of origin.
Our loan program is not a substitute for SVdP’s traditional alms and assistance to families in need. The loans may not be utilized for things like rental or mortgage payments, utilities, or food; but rather our loans are for those who seek resources to pay off onerous debt or to change their lives through starting new businesses. Loans may be repaid at a low monthly repayment of $25, or in larger amounts if borrower’s budget permits.
In August 2017, SVdP Arlington Diocese Council entered into an agreement with Apple Federal Credit Union (“AFCU”) with branches throughout Northern Virginia, to make loans to borrowers recommended by SVdP at 3.10% interest rate (interest is retained by AFCU to cover its administrative costs). SVdP will maintain deposits at AFCU to serve as security for AFCU loans to borrowers whom SVdP recommends. Our goal is that all borrowers repay their loans in order to establish good credit.
We are partnering with two other community service organizations for significant supplements to our ALP. BritePaths provides free-of-charge financial literacy classes, financial counseling clinics, and help with basic budgeting. Our loan applicants must attend a BritePaths budgeting class as a prerequisite to loan eligibility. For those who want to improve their chance for better paying jobs, we are also partnering with Christians are Networking (“CAN”) which provides training in preparing resumes and preparing for job interviews. Participation with CAN is optional for our borrowers.
Our membership at the parish conferences in the Arlington Diocese are all volunteers. We have no paid staff. We anticipate no expenses for the program but any which may occur will be covered by our Council. Initially, these loans are limited to $1,000. If the average loan is approximately $500, we anticipate that with an initial budget of $25,000 which we have available to start the program, we can offer loans to approximately 50 families, servicing approximately 200 individuals in the first year. As these funds are recycled into new loans when the original loans are paid off, we will be able to assist additional families. We are currently seeking third-party donations so that our loan program budget can be expanded to serve more of our neighbors in need and so our loan limit may be increased.
Initially, borrowers must reside in the service areas of our participating SVdP conferences located in these parishes within the Arlington Diocese which are now accepting loan applications:
Our Lady of Angels, Woodbridge
All Saints, Manassas
Holy Spirit, Annandale
Our Lady of Good Counsel, Vienna
St Louis, Alexandria
St Mary, Alexandria
St John the Evangelist, Warrenton
St Timothy, Chantilly
SVdP has a ten-year plan for the growth and further development of ALP and it foresees increasing the loan amounts as resources grow and as it develops skills to discern those most likely to benefit from and ultimately repay their loans. We also envision that in the future more communities throughout Northern Virginia will have local churches participating in this program even if they do not have SVdP conferences. In this way, we can make the program available to most of our poor and near poor neighbors.
Donations to the SVdP Alternative Loan Program may be sent to SVdP, 6728 Old McLean Village Dr., McLean, VA 22101.
Your vehicle donation helps St. Vincent de Paul serve brothers and sisters in need. The proceeds generated from the sale of your vehicle help fund our programs in the Arlington Diocese.
How it works:
- Call 800-322-8284.
- We will tow your vehicle (in any condition) at no cost to you.
- Your gift is eligible for a tax deduction and greatly helps our mission.
We accept cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, boats, and more. Learn More