A Ladies of Charity perspective on systemic change

by | Mar 2, 2011 | International Association of Charities - Ladies of Charity, Vincentian Family

Gayle Johnson, President-elect Ladies of Charity USA, reflects on the US-Canada Meeting – Systemic Change, November 2010

Revisiting the “Ten seeds of Systemic Change” in the life of St. Vincent in Belleville was a source of inspiration and motivation to continue to move the Ladies of Charity forward in our journey of systemic change.  The emphasis will be on education, collaboration, growing interpersonal relationships, and advocacy.

The need to build on the education of our membership about the nature of sustainable change and its characteristics is a priority.  The leadership of the Ladies of Charity hopes to provide the Ladies with the necessary tools to assess their projects, identify characteristics of change that are present and develop strategies that will make the change sustainable.  This will be done through Board in-service and the use of our National Assembly to deepen the membership’s understanding of the process of systemic change.  The Board will encourage collaboration with other members of the Vincentian family and other resources in the association’s area which focus on the same goals to help direct our efforts.  Already in Emmitsburg, Little Rock, Kansas City, and St. Louis the Ladies are joining with other members of the Family to begin this education and collaboration.

Continued emphasis on building interpersonal relationships with those we serve is a high priority.  Through these interactions the Ladies help build self-esteem and confidence.  In St. Louis, the St. Vincent association has expanded their food pantry ministry to help some of their constituents find a place to live or job with a Lady of Charity serving as a mentor.  Being “in spirit with those we serve” and following the examples of St. Louise de Marillac, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Frederic Ozanam, and Rosalie Rendu will enhance our membership’s spiritual growth.

The Ladies of Charity wish to become a “voice for the voiceless” will lead us to expand our program in advocacy.  Through collaboration with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, LCUSA has been able to offer Cap Wiz to our membership.  At our National Assembly we will introduce plans to develop a communication network for interested members.  These plans will make it possible for LCUSA to have a positive impact on public policy and laws.  We will continue to try to do our part to change the systems that leave people feeling abandoned and to try to change situations and systems that encourage harmful behaviors.

In striving to fulfill our mission to alleviate the many forms of poverty, we will heed the words of St. Louise de Marillac, “to show affection… serving from the heart – inquiring of them what they need: speaking to them gently and compassionately: procuring necessary help…without being too bothersome or too eager.”

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