SVDP participation in National Poverty Summit

by | Mar 28, 2014 | Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Systemic change, Vincentian Family

From David Barsvdp_logo_usaringer, CEO of the St. Vincent dePaul Society USA…

March 27, 2014

Next Wednesday April 2nd, President Sheila Gilbert and I will participate in a National Poverty Summit hosted by Catholic Charities and involving members of government, media and providers of services to people in poverty. Held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, the event will look back only for a moment while focusing more squarely on whatever can be done in the future to reduce and eliminate poverty in America.

One could say that this is our most public launch of our work in systemic change. While part of our mission and strategic plan now for several years, this is a rare occasion where we can tell the public and especially those in the “poverty world” about our bold step forward to help people out of poverty. We will carefully explain that we are not yet declaring success but that we are taking the steps of awareness, training, and rolling out the program to councils and conferences over time. Thus our explanations need still to be more aspirational than declarative. But we have a plan.

As I have mentioned here earlier, other national nonprofits have experienced what we have seen. We work harder but the line for services doesn’t get any shorter. People learn a new life of moving from one provider of services to the next instead of how to escape them all and get out of their desperate life situation. This shared experience among national providers gives us a unique, very attentive professional audience for our presentation next week. Hopefully, it will also encourage collaborations, resource sharing and outreach opportunities as together we see possible efficiencies in our goals and work.

President Sheila will have a 15-minute presentation during an “Innovative Solutions” part of the program to explain the Society’s journey from traditional and important services to our evolutionary steps toward systemic change services. We recognize that there is not a cure-all answer to poverty and that systemic change may not be for every person and family in poverty. We also recognize that not all of our Society’s Vincentians and councils have fully embraced the program. But the momentum from exploration to training to first steps is clearly apparent in councils across the country. This enthusiasm is what Sheila can relate so well to others, and shows that we don’t need to rely solely on working harder and doing what we have always done. Systemic Change may not be perfect, but certainly it is worth our trying.

We will announce soon that two more train-the-trainer seminars on systemic change principles and process will be offered this summer. Hundreds of council leaders have been trained already, and these seminars will potentially double that number again. If you haven’t attended yet, I hope we will see you or your council representative at one of these sessions. Who knows, perhaps you will be sitting next to someone from another national nonprofit learning about systemic change as they consider its merits too!

Yours in Christ,


David W. Barringer, CEO




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