There is a TV commercial for a credit card company that we have all likely seen (maybe way too often) that uses the catch phrase of “What’s in your wallet?” It would seem to want to promote all of us having one of these credit cards to ensure we are able to buy what we need with one easy swipe or click of the card. We no longer have anything to worry about as long as we have that card. This helps to make our financial situation so much easier and with no worries until the time comes to pay off our monthly credit charges. Having this security in our wallet makes life so much easier. While I certainly take advantage of using such credit, I do worry about how such an emphasis is placed on our financial well being solving all our problems and issues.
As a long time, member of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, I am keenly aware of the fact that our ability to help those living in poverty is dependent on our own financial resources. However, I do have concerns about the level that we sometimes allow the financial component to affect our efforts to simply help. This can mean being overly intrusive with any initial intake procedures we may have regarding finances for those we serve. Do we really need to know what is in their wallets? Do we allow our concerns about what is in our conference’s wallets to control what we should be doing?
The Vincentian heart should always be one that places the person ahead of the dollar. If we can place the individual and family first and look at their needs, it becomes much easier to find solutions. Our solutions or actions do not have to include money but do require us to open our hearts to their needs. I have experienced times where doing this can help us find ways to use financial aid in a way that has a more effective result. So before checking our collective wallets, lets first ensure our hearts are truly open.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.