Week after week, our journey of giving takes us down a new road. An unknown path of emotion, inspiration, and reality. Each week is unique, but each week is the same. We witness great organizations serving the people of our community with a gentle hand, a caring heart, and a loving soul. Each non-profit has its own approach, a particular mission, and a specific vision. With these differences come the one constant. Each and every organization is supported by amazing people. Staff, volunteers, and donors collaborate to meet the needs of our community. They are the coal that fuels the powerful locomotive down the track. A runaway freight train that changes the lives of those it touches. People who commit, who give, who care are the backbones of great non-profits. People make organizations special.
This week I volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Fort Wayne, an international Catholic organization that has been serving the needy and poor for 178 years. They offer tangible and emotional support to individuals in need. It is a group that believes need, not creed nor race, determines who should be helped. Two services are provided to assist individuals in our community. A two-story thrift shop has served the Fort Wayne area for over 60 years. Clothing, appliances, and furniture are donated and then sold to the public at low retails. Furniture, such as bunk beds and dressers, are hand-made by volunteers in a workshop located in the warehouse behind the store. These pieces are sold or given away at no charge to those who qualify. The mission of the store is not to make a profit, but to serve the poor who have no where else to go. They accomplish this mission by helping those who cannot afford to pay for what they need. The second service provided is a community care van. Individuals who are sick, poor, and elderly are transported by a volunteer to and from doctors appointments at no cost. The van runs every week and ensures that each client is where he or she needs to be at the right time. Both services are critical and are appreciated by those in our community who have limited means.
It is not the services that make St Vincent de Paul a great organization. It is the people. My volunteer experience was short, but long enough to see this firsthand. I had the pleasure of meeting volunteers who have been helping the organization for many years. A group of retired men work in a small workshop making handmade furniture. Families volunteering together to sort and distribute clothing. I met one particular individual whom I really connected with. Darrel is a volunteer care-van driver, grant writer, and fundraiser who has been serving with the organization for over 25 years. His dedication, passion, caring heart, and vision of growth and success is inspiring. He is a retiree who has chosen to give his life to help serve the poor in our community. People like Darrel are true heroes in our community. I have said many times over the last 66 weeks that we are not special because we volunteer each week. We are just blessed to have a platform for which to share our stories in the hopes of inspiring others. Darrel has volunteered every week for 25 plus years. He, and others like him, are the true inspiration. I am a better man today after meeting Darrel. I truly believe that.
St Vincent de Paul addresses needs in our community. They also have needs of their own. They need volunteers who can spend time at the thrift store and help drive the care van. They need funds to maintain the upkeep of the store in order to continue to fulfill their mission. They need individuals who can attend and sponsor fundraiser events. They have needs just like those they serve. We, as community, need to give back and help them in their time of need. Take a minute to visit their website at svdpsfw.org and learn more. You are needed. You can take action and help a non-profit organization that has been giving back to our community for over 60 years. Get involved and spend some time with folks at St Vincent de Paul. When you do, you will realize just how amazing they are. People truly do make organizations special.