Brian left school at the age of 18 to join the Irish Defence Forces. He had not completed his Leaving Certificate at the time. He served for 20 years and retired with an exemplary service record.
For all that, he gained very few formal qualifications during his service. When he returned to civilian life, he had to accept a modest job.
But life was happy for Brian. He married and now has two young children.
Then came the economic collapse that caused cutbacks. This led to a big loss in earnings for Brian. Paying for a mortgage, childcare costs and all the bills soon became impossible.
The future for Brian's family began to look bleak for the first time. A hard decision had to be made. Brian left secure employment to pursue a college degree education. He hoped this would help him find a better job. A new means to provide for his family.
He did not expect the difficult road he would face.
He was accepted for a science degree at his nearest university. The first couple of years went well. Then, in the middle of his course, the grant awarding authority decided he was no longer eligible for a grant. He would be forced to leave his studies with nothing to show for it.
Brian tells it this way: "I found myself in a very precarious position. I was very close to being forced out of the education system that I had tried so hard to get into in the first place."
"Then the Society of St Vincent de Paul came to my rescue. Through the Student Union and the university chaplain, I met two SVP volunteers. They visited my family. They agreed to provide the basic support that allowed us to live while I continued my study."
"Those volunteers were saints to my family. They kept us warm through the winters and put food on the table."
Brian continued to work hard. He gained experience with three summer projects in a laboratory at the university. These projects were a part of a global investigation into early detection of cancer. He is very proud of this work.
And none of it would have been possible without the security SVP, and supporters such as you, provided to his family.
Brian has now qualified with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours. The project experiences have made this qualification even more attractive to employers. The job hunt is going well. He is looking forward to a new year filled with new hope for him and his family.
His gratitude to SVP, and all of our generous supporters, is boundless.
"Without your help none of this would have been possible. It would have ended any hope that I might achieve a formal qualification and have left my family in a hugely terrible situation."
"I cannot express in words how much my whole family and I appreciate the help that you have given. I look forward to the day when we can begin to make returns."
"In plain language, you have saved us."
And for giving SVP the flexibility to help hard-working people like Brian, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Please consider a gift today and help ensure people like Brian receive the support they need. Thank you.
Based on a true story from a family helped by SVP. Names and some details have been changed for confidentiality.