This year, the National Youth Committee hosted a Society-wide search for young people doing amazing work in their community. Vincentians from around the country nominated youth from their Councils for the new Alice Garvey Excellence in Youth Award which will be presented at the National Assembly in Baltimore.
“As a committee, we were blown away by the number of submissions and the incredible projects these youth were doing on behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,” said John Paul Brissette, National Youth Committee Chairperson. “Each week leading up to the National Assembly, we will be shining the spotlight on the nominees and their stories. Our goal is to encourage and celebrate our youth involvement in SVdP with excerpts directly written by those who nominated them.
About the Alice Garvey Excellence in Youth Award
This year The Society of St. Vincent de Paul lost a beloved servant leader and friend, Alice Garvey.
Throughout her time with the Society she perfectly embodied the youth spirit and the Vincentian Way. Alice dedicated her time to being an advocate for youth in the Society while she served in a variety of leadership positions throughout her time as a Vincentian. As a lifelong educator, Alice was a member of the National Youth Committee and was passionate about bringing young people into the Society.
In honor of Alice, the National Youth Committee introduced The Alice Garvey Excellence in Youth Award. Council presidents were invited to nominate a young person who serves The Society in their area who, like Alice, embodies leadership, dedication, and passion towards the Vincentian charisms of spirituality, friendship, and service.
River Vogelsang — Diocesan Council of Phoenix
River Vogelsang is currently a freshman in high school. He first joined the Mini-Vinnies in fifth grade at his middle school and served as his Conference’s president for two terms. Under his leadership, his Conference doubled in size and expanded service projects and activities. They participated in food serving, ministering to the homeless, food drives, and much more. River was the featured speaker at two Phoenix Diocesan Council board leadership retreats. Last year, River represented his District Council at the National Assembly in Houston. His dedication and commitment to serving the poor has touched the hearts of many long-time Vincentians. Few people his age have so fully and ardently embraced the mission and works of the Society. In the endearing spirit of our youth, he quietly emulates the essential virtues of St. Vincent de Paul. You only need to meet River to know that he is a true Vincentian, and to believe that, because of his efforts, and those of his youthful compatriots likewise infused with Frederic’s zeal, the future of our Society will be in good hands.
Madeline McMillen — Columbia River District Council Southwest Washington
Madeline and her mother, Wendy, reached out to the Society when she was just 13. Since age 11, she had been collecting toys at Christmas to provide to non-profits for distribution. In 2018, she chose to collect toys for SVdP. In 2018, she collected 725 toys, but that number has grown each and every year. In 2021, she collected 972 toys, a record number. In the past four years, she’s collected a total of 3,319 toys to give away to 4,513 children in 1,657 families through the SVdP Christmas gift program. Madeline has a helpful heart and shows leadership, dedication and perseverance. She has brought so much joy to families during the Christmas season.
Aaron Wohlberg – SVdP St Charles Borromeo
Aaron has been a member of the St. Charles Borromeo St. Vincent de Paul Conference as a Mini Vinnie for two years. As a Mini Vinnie, Aaron has dedicated himself in service to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. As a Mini Vinnie Aaron has served our Conference in many ways. He has helped with the Backpack Program for two years. The Backpack Program provides weekend meals for 50 children in the Orchard
Farm School District. The Assistant Principal of Aaron’s school described Aaron as, “Willing to help wherever needed without being asked.” His Troop Leader describes him as, “Respectful and helpful to the older scouts and adult leaders.”
Kate Polakowski – SVdP St Andrew Conference of Sierra Vista, AZ
She has been involved in our St Vincent de Paul Council’s food drives, walks for the poor, Thanksgiving food basket distributions, and community food bank monthly commodities distributions. She serves the needs of the poor for 17 hours per week while completing her Associates Degree as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She puts into action in very many ways the Vincentian charisms of spirituality, friendship, and service.
Be sure to see the e-Gazette each week leading up to the National Assembly for more nominee highlights!