On Saturday, October 3, over 300 people gathered at St. John the Evangelist Church in Encinitas to walk at the 6th Annual “Friends of the Poor Walk” hosted by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Conference. The walk served two purposes: to bring together the North County community and to make them aware of wxays they can actively help those in need in our community. In addition to the walk, informational booths were set up to talk about prison ministry and homeless outreach.
“The Friends of the Poor Walk a Mile in My Shoes” is a National event taking place across the country, to commemorate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul on September 27. In 2014, over 250 events raised over $2.5 million to help people in their respective communities. The local event website for the St. John event is www.svdpusa.net/walk/1210.
“As we walk around the parish grounds, think about those who struggle in our community-looking for their next meal, or how they are going to pay that next bill,” Conference president Sandra Watson said in her opening remarks. “Put yourself in their shoes, just for a moment.”
During the walk, groups stopped are various parish landmarks to hear stories of outreach of the Society over the past year, ranging from prison ministry, to helping people secure food resources they need, to getting a shower and proper clothes the night before a job interview, to helping with funeral costs for a proper burial.
“We work with people in our own neighborhoods who are often too embarrassed to let people know they need help,” said conference vice president Annie Zimmer. “Our work can range from assisting an elderly person who needs help understanding the terms of their insurance or filling needed prescriptions to helping a person in their 20s find access to medical clinics, counseling services, employment opportunities, or affordable housing.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul focuses it’s work to create a sustainable approach to helping others, making them aware of services and programs that can give them a foundation for long term success. The goal is to help people learn how they can help themselves. Over the past year, the St. John’s Conference worked with over 80 individual families in the Encinitas area. The local conference is entirely volunteer driven.
The Walk was sponsored by Isabelle’s French Pastry Cafe, Ohana Cupcakes, Minuteman Press, and Stater Brothers.
Those interested in learning more about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in San Diego can visit www.svdp-sandiego.org and learn about the 12 Conferences in the San Diego area.
Those interested in making a donation to help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Conference, can visit www.svdp-sandiego.org or mail a donation to: SVDP St. John, 1001 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas, CA 92024.
Anyone needing assistance can call the message line at 760-753-3056.