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Love is the Answer to Some of our Greatest Challenges

Associate Executive Director's Arizona Republic Your Turn Column

The Arizona Republic recently published the following op-ed by Shannon Clancy, our associate executive director. Many of our donors and volunteers let us know that the message resonated and gave them encouragement this summer. We are posting it here, so it can be shared with others. 

It’s hard to read the news and not be overwhelmed by all of the challenges that face us as a country.

Perhaps there are moments when we feel the issues are so vast that there’s not much we can do to help. Or worse, that our help does not make a difference. In these moments, it can be hard not to become weary and lose hope.

As someone who has worked in social services my entire career, I know the feeling.

At St. Vincent de Paul, we see issues like homelessness, hunger and poverty every day.

These issues are abstract, intricate and interconnected. There are so many factors at play within our society that it’s often impossible to find a quick or simple fix.

Often, it seems that the more we do to try to tackle these issues, the bigger and more complicated they get. Sometimes, the most difficult aspect is trying to come up with a solution that everyone can embrace.

What I’ve learned through my work at St. Vincent de Paul is that although issues and solutions are important, they are never more important than individual people — the real lives and faces whom we meet every day.

The single mother of a newborn, facing eviction. An Army veteran who lost his business and home after a work accident. An uninsured patient in desperate need of care and medicine for a chronic illness. These are real people in our community who are struggling, and we can help them.

Just last month, St. Vincent de Paul unfolded Phase 2 of our $16 million expansion project, completely funded by private donations from members of our community. We opened a new resource center and shelter for people who are over 50 years old or with a disability.

Next spring, we’ll double the size of our Virginia G. Piper Medical and Dental Clinic for uninsured patients.

If you asked me before we embarked on the effort to raise the required resources for the project a few years ago, I might have said that a new, beautiful human services facility like this was impossible. That we couldn’t raise the resources that were required. That our community was generous, but this vision might just be too big, too much. But our generous and loving community has proven me wrong.

Our new 40,000-square-foot building stands as a beacon and symbol of our community’s compassion and the beauty and promise of humanity.

Every day, volunteers and guests experience the magic of connecting on a human level, and the issues suddenly have a face, a name, a story. And in those faces, in truly seeing each other for who we are, we take the first step toward overcoming our weariness and despair. In seeing each other face to face, we find not hunger, homelessness or poverty, but hope.

We can help the single mother keep her apartment with a rent payment. We can give the veteran a bed and a shoulder to lean on at our shelter. We can treat the patient, and heal her body and spirit. After all, change is made one person at a time — and sometimes the greatest gifts are the ones that we receive in the act of sharing ourselves and our hearts with someone else in their moment of need.

So to those who are tired and weary of the daunting issues that face our society, find a cause or a charity that you care about. Share a couple of dollars or a few hours of your time. They are especially needed in the summer months.

Perhaps you’ll find that the issues do not seem as daunting when you reach out with love and compassion to help the person right in front of you.

Visit our volunteer tab or fill out a volunteer interest form to help us feed, clothe, house and heal your neighbors this summer. 

Heal.

Help Us Care for the Uninsured

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