WAXAHACHIE — “Love thy neighbor” is the foundation of one local Catholic non-profit that is supplying solutions to everyday needs and necessities to those unable to afford them.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Care Center, located on North Rogers Street, works to serve the community in a full effort to help people in unexpected situations.
“Some of it is caused by the choices we make, but then all you can do is make the best of what you can. We’re in this situation, and we can either look back on what happened, or we can move on — that’s all we can do,” expressed Francis Volino, Director of Waxahachie’s Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Care Center. “We help anybody in the community. We go on home visits, and we help people in Red Oak, Midlothian, Maypearl, so it’s Ellis County."
However, the vital care center that has been provided to the community has gone on hold, as the nonprofit is now searching for a new home.
“We’ve been renting space from Covenant Life Church, and we’ve been here for almost three years since June, and they need their space back. We’re thankful to them, but now we need a new home,” Volino explained.
Expecting to move out June 2017, the care center will spend the next two months searching for a new location within the heart of Waxahachie.
“We think we need to be in this area because it’s within walking distance and that’s where all of our clients are. It’s hard to bring all those groceries home when walking," Volino disclosed. "At the moment, we’re willing to look at anything, but our hope is that it’s here. We believe we’re doing a good thing and we would like to continue it, but at the moment we don’t have a place to go."
As the stress counts down with the minutes on the clock, the history of this resilient organization is rooted deep within a charitable foundation. Starting in France of 1833, the Catholic lay organization can currently be found in 150 countries with the support of over 800,000 volunteers carrying the humanitarian banner.
“We’re all volunteers, and it was started by about six students in France, and they were saying, ‘Well, the Catholic Church isn’t doing enough.’ And the Catholic Church said to them, ‘What are you doing?’ And so that’s how it got started,” Volino chuckled.
Over 1,000 members in 38 parish-based conferences throughout the Diocese of Dallas, Saint Vincent de Paul’s ministry covers an area of 7,523 square miles, which includes the Waxahachie location.
From clothing to food, the charity helps those experiencing a traumatic setback in life with necessary items. Offering person-to-person service to those who are at a disadvantage, the care center receives funding from Parishioners of the church, clothes sold in their thrift store, and the kind generosity of Ellis County.
“We get our money from the Parishioners, not from the church. So every quarter or so we have a collection and that money goes to us. […] In our clothing store, we get everything donated. Some of this is new or has tags on them, and we try to sell things for a dollar. So people can buy things, but because we’re so limited on space, we try to pick up the best we have. The things we can use, we have a charity shoot outside,” Volino expounded. “The clothes we sell, we put in the bank and help people pay for bills. And with the food, we get that for free from the kids from Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church who donated from the school."
Fueled by volunteers, the center provides not only a home base of useful supplies but also sincere home visits.
“We have a teenage boy who comes and helps for an hour, unloading all these heavy boxes of food and trash bags of clothes, and we are so thankful for him. We have volunteers in their seventies and eighties helping. It’s just wonderful,” Volino acknowledged. “The main thing we do is the home visits. A lot of times people come to our facility, but we normally go to the home. And it’s not like, ‘We want to check for any dust on the shelves’ - we don’t care. We just want to help people.
“When people are in a dark spot, just knowing someone cares – that is more important than anything else. To know that someone believes in them and is willing to help them get out of this – that is sometimes the most important thing, giving people hope."
Keeping dignity and essential support intact while offering personalized assistance, Volino recollected a home visit encounter that impacted her significantly.
“Not too long ago we had a gentleman, and he said, ‘I’ve been at the same job for 13 years, and of the 40 people who worked, they kept eight. I have a teenager and eight-year-old, and they said, 'What happened?’ You could tell this man was upset not being able to provide for his family,” Volino began. “So we agreed to a home visit, and when we got there, he was so excited because he had found another job. But, of course, he had been without a job for two weeks, so he was behind on his bills, and we were able to pay part of his rent bill. We were able to help him, and bridge that hole he was in."
Volino later explained that the nonprofit doesn’t give “handouts,” but “hand-ups.”
In partnering with local businesses, nonprofits and other denominations, the care center has been able to provide over 850 premade meals for Ellis County families in 2016. Though their funds are limited, Volino notes that their thrift store was able to sell $8,000 worth of clothes last year to help contribute to the monthly bills of others.
“We had helped somebody, and a few weeks later we got a thank you card with a check and the amount we helped them with. And they said, ‘We got back on our feet. We both got jobs, and we just wanted to say thank you,’” Volino divulged.
Although the emergency time frame to find a new location is intimidating, Volino remains hopeful for the future, saying, “Allowing us to help - that’s what it’s all about. We’d like to continue what we’ve been doing - helping people and giving hope.”
To connect with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Care Center, visit 505 North Rogers Street, Waxahachie, Texas. Or call (972)-938-1953.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer