Meet Ronnie, a volunteer with St Joseph, Berkeley Road Conference in Dublin North Inner City.
He visits families along with the other 14 members of his local SVP branch. We sat down with Ronnie to hear about his experiences. Over a cup of tea, his gentle and caring character came to light.
When I was younger, my father was invalided at the age of 40. We had some difficult times, and we could have done with St Vincent de Paul support. But my parents would never ask for help. Instead, they borrowed from all their relatives. I suppose that made me conscious of how people could get into trouble. How people could be in difficulty. I joined SVP in 2000, 17 years ago. I felt I’d been pretty fortunate in life myself and that I wanted to give something back to the community.
Food is the biggest support we offer. Our job is to make sure people don’t starve, or aren’t hungry, and that kids have food going to school.
Every Tuesday, one of our lads collects the food and brings it to Ozanam House, where we have our meetings. We pack it into 15-20 bags and we take them out on family visits that evening.
Education is another way we help. We are very anxious to make sure that kids are able to go to school. We help with uniforms, schoolbooks and bus fares.
It is a great feeling when you can get a good outcome for a family and feel like you have made a difference.
Recently, we had a family with a sick daughter. The Council put in central heating in the daughter’s bedroom and in one other room in their house. The place was still freezing but the Council wouldn’t do any more at the time.
Then we had an offer from a builder who wanted to do a project. He could not give cash, so he wanted to do something in-kind. He completed the central heating in the family’s house at no cost. So that meant a very cold house, with a sick child, is now nice and warm.
"But none of these outcomes would be possible without our donors. These success stories belong to them too. Without donors, the St Vincent de Paul wouldn’t exist!"
Based on a true story from a family helped by SVP.
Names and some details have been changed for confidentiality.