|Gail and Clarence Payne accept the 2016 Goodwill Community Partner of the Year Award on behalf of the St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference at St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin. The conference was honored for its work with the Goodwill Industries Job Counseling program. Clarence Payne is the president of the conference and Gail Payne is the home visitation coordinator. The conference is sponsoring its fifth annual Walk for Those in Need on Saturday, May 6.
For seven years, the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference at St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin has been reaching out to those in need with clothing, food, money for rent, utilities or a funeral, a host of other ways to help.
“Our clients see the face of Christ in us as we help them and we see the face of Christ looking back at us,” said Gail Payne, the home visitation coordinator for the conference at St. John Vianney.
To help continue that important work, the conference will host its fifth annual Walk for Those in Need charity fundraiser, on Saturday, May 6, at Triple Creek Park on U.S. 31 in Gallatin. Registration for the 5K walk and run will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the event will begin at 8 a.m.
In past years, the pledges and donations received through the “Walk for Those in Need” has totaled between $7,000 and $14,000, Payne said. This year, “we’re hoping and praying we can get close to $20,000,” she said.
The conference also receives support from parishioners at St. John Vianney and a monthly grant of about $2,100 from the United Way in Sumner County. “We’ve got some parishioners who are very generous,” Payne said.
“Monies from our fundraising efforts are used to help our clients with typical expenses like rent and utilities, and we also help in areas that most agencies will not, such as; funeral expenses, medicine and doctor bills, transportation to other cities to name a few,” Payne said. “We also provide thanksgiving boxes, school supply backpacks and help with Christmas gifts. Being an all-volunteer staff, no one in our organization receives any compensation.”
The conference receives 50 to 100 calls for help a week. The conference’s response begins with a visit with the client in their home, Payne said.
“This helps us get the full gist of what’s actually going on,” she said. “Very rarely is it just a rent issue or one little electric bill.”
During a home visit, the volunteer might notice a broken window that is leading to a $400 electric bill, she said. They can then help find a way to repair the window, addressing the cause of the high utility bill.
Besides offering direct assistance, the conference can refer their clients to other agencies or charities to provide the kind of help the volunteers at St. John Vianney can not, Payne said.
“One of the services we provide our clients who are out of work is putting them in touch with individuals and agencies that can help them find employment,” Payne said. One agency the conference works closely with on that front is the Goodwill Industries Job Counseling program.
“We were sending so many people over there and walking them through the process with their counselors that I got to know,” Payne said, that Goodwill staffers started calling her to see if the conference could help some of their clients with other issues. “We had really developed this great relationship.”
That relationship led to Goodwill recognizing the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference at St. John Vianney as its Community Partner of the Year for 2016.
“This was a significant honor for our organization was selected from hundreds of other partners in Middle Tennessee,” Payne said.
Walkers and runners who want to participate in the Walk for Those in Need can register on line at www.walkforthoseinneed.com. To make a donation only, make the check out to SVDP Walk for Those in Need and mail it to St. Vincent de Paul Society, Walk for Those in Need, 449 North Water Ave, Gallatin, TN 37066.