Message from our Director – December 21, 2021
Merry Christmas and a heart felt thank you to all our community partners and supporters who have helped us make it through another difficult year. It is a struggle this December to fully embrace the spirit of Christmas. I see the frustration and worry on the faces of the people I meet as I go about my day. We all thought that we would be out of this pandemic nightmare by now. It is discouraging to find ourselves back at this juncture, wondering if this Christmas we will be able to embrace the ones we love and miss so very much.
I think that this year more than ever, it is important to focus on the positive things that are happening in our community. I can offer this; we live in a city where neighbors are doing what they can to take care of the less fortunate. At the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston, we have witnessed this generosity and kindness through both our regular fundraising and through our capital campaign fundraising efforts. People have demonstrated that they care by supporting the work we do. We have had donations that range from $5.00 to $200,000.00. Both represent the same sentiment – a willingness to sacrifice for the well being of someone else, someone they do not know. This is the spirit of Christmas.
When I steer my thoughts toward that reality, I feel the warmth and the promise this Christmas season holds. When I wander through our Wearhouse and I see the racks full of clothing freely given, I am reminded of the care and effort so many have put forth to ensure that their neighbors have adequate clothing this winter. I can hear the Christmas carols playing as David and Anne, two of our dedicated volunteers, prepare the Christmas stocking that will be handed out at our Christmas dinner. It will be a takeout turkey dinner again this year, but as always – there will be love in the food prepared.
As this December winds down and we prepare to close for our Christmas break, a quick tally of the meals provided this year tells us that we have served a record number. In fact, we have served close to 34,000 meals in 2021. This is up from 27,000 last year and 18,000 pre-pandemic. Those of you who have been in our humble kitchen on Stephen Street know the miracle that our staff and volunteers have performed to make this happen. I am so grateful to be working alongside such talented and passionate people. It is uplifting.
I pray that this Christmas, all Kingstonians find a reason to feel joyful in the midst of our COVID-19 crisis. I also pray that in the business of the holidays, we take time to remember those who may be struggling and share that joy.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Kingston!!
Serve the Sorrowing World with Joy
poems by Meg Freer and Chantel Lavoie
Your purchase of “Serve the Sorrowing World with Joy” which honours the Sisters of Providence of St Vincent de Paul, will help fund the new building fund continuing the work the Sisters started here in Kingston over 50 years ago to serve those less fortunate in our community. Thank you, Chantel and Meg.
All proceeds will be generously donated to the Capital Campaign at the St Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston.
“The poetry in Serve the Sorrowing World with Joy, by Meg Freer and Chantel Lavoie, invites us into the intimate world of The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, and their vocation of social justice and active faith. … this collection will appeal to ‘the spiritual but not religious’ … as well as folks rooted in traditional religious practice. … a timely collection that will inspire and comfort with tender insight. The poems are crisp, clear, and resonant with hope, even for a world that teeters on cynicism.” (Quoted from review for The Ontario Poetry Society by Wendy Jean MacLean.)
This lovely short book by Kingston authors Meg Freer and Chantel Lavoie was written to honour an order of nuns who have been carrying out community service in their city since 1861. The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul are presented as “spiritual warriors” (10) who are social justice activists. They are seen in their full complexity as “lightning rods / for God’s grandeur— / grounded, otherworldly, / veiled and keenly tuned / to the world beyond the veil.” (22).
Each author wrote roughly half of the book’s poems, and these individual pieces weave together seamlessly to reveal the women behind the wimples, the work they conducted, both quotidian and religious, and their social activism. Freer mainly focuses on fine detail, as in her poem about the sisters’ printing press where “every block of type [is] a moment” (10), and her evocations of schoolyards and chapels. By contrast, Lavoie’s poems tend to range more widely through time and distance, although she also brings crisp attention to details.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - February 10, 2021
The St Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston is offering a hot lunch “to go” between the hours of 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, Monday – Friday, for those in need of food. Our Emergency Food Pantry is open from 9:00am to 1:00pm Monday - Friday to anyone in the community in need of food. No appointment is necessary. Our Wearhouse is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am -1:00pm. Masks are required in the facility. We can only have 3 people in the Wearhouse accessing services at a time. There may be a wait time to access this program.
Please see a list of Community Connections and Supports listed under the Services tab at the top of the page.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston is mandated to provide practical assistance and support to individuals and families residing in the Kingston area. All services are provided in a compassionate and respectful manner, which reflects and reinforces the dignity and humanity of all persons.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been decided that the best way to care for our clients is to reduce their risk of exposure. Many of the people who come to us for support suffer from pre-existing health problems. We have been challenged with the dilemma of providing food to those in need and keeping our people safe from unnecessary exposure to the virus. In response to this challenge,
- We will be providing a bagged lunch to anyone who comes to our door for food. This hot lunch “to go” will be available between 10 am and 1:000 pm, Monday to Friday. We ask that people maintain a safe distance from each other (2 metres) while waiting to receive the lunch provided.
- Our Emergency Food Pantry is available from 9:00am to 1:00pm Monday - Friday for anyone in our community who needs some food. This program can be accessed at the front building on Stephen Street.
- Our clothing Wearhouse is now open and we are able to serve three people at a time. We apologize for any inconvenience as there may be some wait time in accessing the Wearhouse.
In March of 2020, I had written that the measures taken to deal with the threat of Covid 19 were in place for the next three weeks. If only that had been the case. Here we are, one year into this pandemic and still having to adjust our service delivery to meet the need and the restrictions. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It has also been a blessing to all of us that we were able to remain open. In 2020, our meal program saw a 49 % increase in the number of meals served. This increase in demand was met with strong support from our Kingston community. We are grateful for this support. We look forward optimistically to the coming months knowing that we will have a vaccine in the arms of our most vulnerable community members and hopefully a return to how it used to be. I predict we will be more appreciative of each other's company.
- Judy Fyfe