Friends of the poor walking on campus

The St. Vincent de Paul Society leads many community services aimed at helping the poor and needy. Photo by Aaron Credeur.

On the morning of Saturday, Sept. 24, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society (SVdP) of Dallas hosted their annual Friends of the Poor Walk fundraiser here on campus.

The day was cool and breezy and the walkers were in high spirits.  Many of them brought their entire families.

Volunteers stationed along the loop offered encouragement and cold water.  After completing the 5k, they celebrated with snacks and drinks.

“The walk was a success,” University of Dallas senior Zachary Foust said in an email. “I saw many Vincentians of all ages putting in the time and the sweat to finish the course, which was long and tough for a good many. Everyone had a smile, though, as he or she was among friends and family as well as performing a good work, indeed a work of mercy.”

Foust has been involved with SVdP for three years and is currently president of the UD campus chapter.

This was an exciting year for the SVdP Dallas Council, with two additional parishes, Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, joining the Council.

The event saw a modest increase in turnout from last year (79 guests walked this year, compared with last year’s 65).

However, the event managed to raise $15,779, a 53 percent increase over last year, making it the second-most successful walk in the country.

The Friends of the Poor Walk is a national event, involving Vincentians across the country.

Last year, a total of 28,000 walkers at 240 locations raised over $2.9 million.

However, that money stays with the local council or conference to support their work within their community.

“[Here in Dallas] the monies raised support delivery of emergency assistance, after-school mentoring and predatory loan conversion programs, to name a few,” according to the Dallas Diocesan Council’s executive director, Michael Pazzaglini.

SVdP takes a two-fold approach of offering both immediate help in times of crisis and long-term support aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty.

The society seeks to be a vibrant and rewarding way to get involved at UD and in the wider community.  There are numerous opportunities for both service and fellowship.

The society regularly visits soup kitchens and retirement homes.  In particular, the club has been committed to the Study Time program, helping kids with their homework after school Monday through Thursday.  The schedule is flexible, allowing students to choose a day which fits their schedule.

The group generally leaves campus from the tower circle around 3:40 p.m. and returns around 6:00 p.m.

While volunteers of all kinds are warmly appreciated, the club particularly needs people who are willing to drive on a regular basis.

The club meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 pm in upstairs Haggar.  Meetings include gospel reading and reflection, prayer, planning for future service and fellowship.

“[Being involved with SVdP] has certainly opened my eyes to the incredible situations that people can helplessly fall into,” Foust said. “Through it I have also been blessed with getting to know and even help people of all ages and from all walks of life, including first-graders, World War II Veterans and homeless persons.”


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