The St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary Catholic Church in Hillsboro holds monthly outreach days to provide emergency assistance for those who need help with utility bills, and the organization has announced it has added an additional day to the schedule each month.
This month the program will be held Saturday, Jan. 15 at the St. Mary Parish Hall at 119 E. Walnut St. in Hillsboro and Tuesday, Jan. 25 at Samaritan Outreach at 537 N. East St. in Hillsboro from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. both days. Members of the society will be available to meet with those who need assistance.
“It is available to anyone, regardless of their religious preferences, to assist people in need,” said George Sakash, the organization’s local president. “The need in the community is growing, and during the COVID year we were not able to do our regular outreach days, so we decided this year we are not only going to resume those, but also expand them.”
The St. Vincent de Paul Society originated in Paris, France in the midst of the political, social, religious and economic turmoil in the area during the early 1800s as a charity to help the poor. Twelve years later, the organization took root in the United States in St. Louis, Missouri. Currently, the worldwide fellowship of Catholics boasts a large presence in the Cincinnati area.
“I guess in some ways it is similar to the Salvation Army — certainly not as big as the Salvation Army — but we do a lot of the same kind of work,” said Sakash.
The chapter in Hillsboro has been active since the early 2000s. The local group is funded by donations from parishioners and others to the St. Mary Catholic Church.
“Primarily what we help with here is assistance with utility bills,” said Sakash. “We are limited with our financial resources, so we’re not able to get involved with helping pay rent because generally that is beyond our scope, but we help a lot with electric bills and gas bills and water bills.”
While the program is targeted to utility bills, it provides some other assistance. “We can also provide help with some transportation,” said Sakash. “We do occasionally get involved with providing short-term help for transients who are having problems by providing some short-term lodging in a motel or gas cards and that sort of thing.”
In addition to the financial help, the society can advise people working to get on their feet. “We now have available the service of being able to go out and not only help people with an immediate need, but also try to help resolve whatever problems might be contributing to their financial problems,” said Sakash. “We do have members who can go out and visit with people and try to help them resolve the underlying issues like employment or if there is a situation where maybe there are mental health issues or eviction issues that may be related to the financial problems.”
Starting in February, the outreach days will be held the second Saturday of each month at the parish hall and the fourth Tuesday of each month at Samaritan Outreach from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. both days.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.