On the morning of February 11, 2019 the 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) opened at the United Nations. The session will run through February 22. CSocD offers NGOs a great opportunity to reach out to the various Member States to introduce our message.

Several members of the Vincentian Family work full-time at the United Nations, while others have less time to devote to our joint efforts. As one of the latter I’m always appreciative and deeply grateful to my full-time Vincentian sisters and brother. They are a constant source of knowledge, support and Vincentian love. I turn to them often for guidance.

With that said, we gathered this morning as a family on a mission.

We hit the conference room floor prior to the opening meeting armed with WGEH (Working Group to End Homelessness) brochures and started talking to Ambassadors and Delegates about homelessness. We asked them to help us bring discussions of homelessness to the table. We spoke freely and passionately about homelessness because it’s who we are as Vincentians. We speak on behalf those not present to those in power, in power to bring about change.

Brother Renato Lima de Oliveira, 16th General President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, in his reflection posted on Famvin Monday evening referred to Vincentians as educators. I would like to piggy back on Renato’s reflection by agreeing with his notion of us as educators of those we serve, by suggesting we are also educators of those we speak to about those we serve. As we walked around the conference room, we were highlighting the plight of homeless people globally. We had the opportunity, and responsibility to shine a light on the millions of people living without the security of a home to go to each night. Our message was well received.

The afternoon was equally successful. The WGEH presented our first side event, moderated by Sr. Catherine Prendergast, DC, sponsored by the Mission of Ireland, the Institute of Global Homelessness, and the Working Group to End Homelessness.

Speakers included Ambassador Brian Flynn, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN,  Ms. Karinna Soto Abarca, Advisor member of IGH for Latin America, Ms. Julieta Perucca, Senior Aide to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing & Coordinator for The Shift,  Ms. Nan Roman, President of the US National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Ms. Iris Bailey, Representative from LEFSA.

The event focused on the homelessness and its cause, including social inequalities and inefficient governmental policies. By all accounts it was an extremely successful event.

CSocD will continue through February 22nd, there will be additional side events, meetings, pertinent films, and receptions for us to attend. We’ll be able to present our message again and again to Member States, asking them to keep the needs of people living in poverty in their hearts and minds. We make change through constant, gentle reminders.

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