On April 27, 2014, St. Vincent de Paul hosted the Annual Vincentian Appreciation Dinner. At the dinner, eight Vincentians were awarded for their service with the Least of My Brethren award.
St. Louise Conference would like to honor Michael Johnson and Nila Agostini. Our parish Conference is unique in that calls for assistance come through the Parish office instead of the call center. Hopelink and Salvation Army in the Bellevue Crossroads area are located within a few blocks of St. Louise. Frequent referrals lead to walk-ins asking for help. Add into the mix the homeless people living in the area who find their way to the Church. While handling their full-time positions as Parish receptionists, Nila and Michael are usually the first contacts for both regular and new clients. They gather information and the numerous times volunteers are not available, they generously offer as much assistance as they can while handling their work related responsibilities. Each has been a valuable part of our Conference for 20 plus years.
Nila is bilingual and is most generous with her translation help for the large amount of help requests we get from our Spanish speaking community. She is a thoughtful, compassionate listener. Besides helping bag groceries and gathering information, more than 10 years ago, Michael created a database for record keeping for our clients before the Conference database was available. He also helps coordinates meals for Congregation for the Homeless.
These two individuals are the Conference hub. Congratulations, Nila and Michael, from the St. Louise community. You both exemplify the Vincentian Spirit.
John Crossman has been a long time steady and “quiet” presence at Blessed Sacrament conference since 1991, performing many duties along the way; none the least of which he has dutifully ensured that all our finances have been kept transparent and up-to-date for years. He is always willing to pitch in where needed and is looked upon by me and others when sensible, solid direction is requested. He has tremendous knowledge and I believe embodies friendship and spirituality of SVdP.
What makes Dan Tolfree, from St. Luke Conference, such a strong candidate to receive this award, is his deeply personal and spiritual approach to a client. The person he is helping is the most important person at the time and he genuinely enjoys helping others. His patience in understanding the true situation is unrivalled. He elicits conversation that reveals deeper needs than those that were initially described in the request for assistance. In every case he strives to give the client as many alternatives and solutions as he can. His kindness, compassion, and understanding establish a strong relationship that frequently continues in long follow-up with the client.
In the Conference setting he is a strong advocate for full response to the real needs, challenging the Conference to go beyond the normal level of assistance. In the past year, Dan has dealt with several very unusual cases involving homeless people, people with severe family situations, and people in need of long term case management. He led our Conference to stretch beyond our normal limits to get these people the help they truly need. Members have witnessed his genuine concern for the plight of the people who come to us and his really personal involvement in assisting them. They view him as an example to follow in their own ministry. The members of the Conference trust his judgment and he motivates them to follow his witness to the compassionate and liberating love of Christ.
Gina Howell and Molly Murphy, together, were instrumental in revitalizing the St. John the Baptist conference starting in the summer of 2007. These two individuals were a perfect and unique pair to work together in this effort: Gina as conference president, administratively gifted– and Molly, as conference secretary, operationally gifted. Together they used their gifts to bring the conference back to life. It is through their efforts at that time that helped organize, grow, and build a conference team at St John the Baptist which takes a great deal of care and love toward those we serve today.
Molly continues to work countless hours to keep the conference organized and on track with assigning home visits and coordinating emails and calls. Gina remains as a Vincentian who continues to make home visits and participate in the conference around her busy schedule.
Mary Karabaich is a generous warm hearted individual who has been the heart of the St. George Conference for all the ten years of our existence. As a founding member, she has been loyal and unwavering in her support of not only the needy of our community but the conference’s stability and achievements.
She makes thoughtful contributions of ideas and suggestions during our meetings. She has the hope and good of the needy always in the forefront of her regard and thinking.
Mary has faithfully gone on home visits weekly for the last ten years and seldom if ever has missed any opportunity to serve. On home visits, she exhibits great insight and sensitivity toward the individuals with whom she interacts. She is an individual of faith, great strength and is very resourceful. She is a Vincentian in every sense of the definition.
Del Quackenbush (not pictured) has been our most active Vincentian since our conference, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, started four years ago. He is a role model for all our Vincentians with his dedication and tireless effort to ensure that every person calling for assistance is visited within a few days. He is always well prepared for each visit, not only with vouchers and referral information but more importantly with the spirituality of Fredrick Ozanam. Del embodies the dedication for serving those in need of our church’s patron Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Thank you all for your service to our neighbors in need.