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A Bed for Every Child

The Bed for Every Child project was conceived to help alleviate some of the ill effects of poverty on children in the Brant/Brantford community. The goal is to provide a new bed to a child in an underprivileged home who would otherwise not have a bed in which to sleep. These children are currently sleeping on the floor or carpet or couch or are sharing a bed with parents and/or several siblings. The living conditions in these homes are personally witnessed by SSVP Brant home visitors, who engage in home visits to determine the extent of the need within these families.

Each conference (our Society’s groups) decides which family(ies) has(have) a child in need of a bed.  Then, two members of a conference make a home visit and complete a Demographic Sheet for this family as well as a voucher for a new single bed when they feel it is appropriate.  The completed Demographic Sheet is returned to the Particular Council President, who turns it in to the bed allocation coordinator. The completed bed voucher is left with the client who will redeem it at the store and arrange for delivery of the bed. For purposes of accountability, and in order to ensure that we are good stewards, the bed allocation coordinator keeps track of the money we are given for beds to ensure that it is spent on beds for children.  The bed allocation coordinator also maintains a data base of those who receive a bed.

The need was first recognized 4 years ago, and various groups (mainly 1 local high school) have engaged in various fund-raising activities including pilgrimage walks, all-night sleep-overs, school dress-down days etc. that allowed the program to be established and sustained. The approximate cost per bed is $100. To date, over 280 beds have been given to these very under-privileged children. The provision of beds to these children has made a profound difference in the lives of the children as well as their families, which is of course part of our mission as Vincentians.


“Savings For Success” RESP Project: the Canada Learning Bond

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul’s Savings for Success project aims to empower eligible families to plan for post-secondary education for their children.

Our objectives are:

  • to educate families regarding the Canada Learning Bond (up to $2,000 in funding per child for post-secondary education)
  • to provide families with information about setting up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for their children so as to access these funds; and
  • to make a $50 contribution to each newly opened RESP (in Brantford/Brant County) that is eligible to receive the Canada Learning Bond.

To be eligible to receive the Canada Learning Bond children must have been born after Dec. 31, 2003 and the family’s net income, excluding the universal child care benefit, must be less than or equal to $45,916.  (For families with more than three children there are higher income brackets.)

Parents are able to open no-fee RESPs and no parental contribution is required to obtain the Canada Learning Bond.  These education savings funds do not affect any Social Assistance Benefits being received by the family.

We believe that education is a key factor in helping young people create a brighter future for themselves.  The existence of education savings is a strong motivator for pursuing post-secondary education.   Canada Learning Bond funds can be used for university, college, trade schools or apprenticeship programs and students can attend on a part-time or full-time basis.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Brant appreciates the financial support received from the Brant Community Foundation and the Retired Teachers of Ontario District 40 to assist us in initiating this project.

To date, we have assisted the families of 25 children to obtain Canada Learning Bond funds.  We know that there are many more eligible children in our area. For further information, please leave your name and phone number on voice mail at 519-753-8439 ext. 400 or email  infosavingsforsuccess@gmail.com


2017 National AGA at Quebec City

This was the first Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Canada attended by Kristine Paul, Store Volunteer Coordinator and Peter Albano, Communications Director and the third such meeting attended by Pat Lenz, President, Particular Council of Brant.

A warm Quebec greeting was received from our fellow Quebec City Vincentians at the airport. Then we were transported to the AGA site on the campus of Notre-Dame-de-Foy Community College in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures just outside of Quebec City. All of the AGA meetings, workshops, seminars, Masses and Rosaries and presentation activities except for the Welcoming Ceremony dinner and Mass in the town of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures were conveniently held in two buildings on the campus. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided every day in a small cafeteria in the residence hall or in the large cafeteria in the main student union and lecture hall building.

Pat, Kristine and Peter split up each day to attend the following workshops and AGA meeting activities.

Wednesday, June 22, 2017

Travel to Quebec City

Ontario Regional Council Meeting for all attending from Ontario.

Thursday June 22, 2017

The Joy of our Vincentian Spirit Workshop – Service with Spirituality.

Now What do I do. Your term of office is expiring – How to deal with a President’s end of term and election process.

Project Northern Alberta, Cadotte Lake – Assist Northern Alberta Indigenous communities with food, clothing, furniture, education and sanitation.

The Stress of Living in Poverty – A hands-on living in poverty exercise.

What you need to know. – The Nitty Gritty of Conference Operations.

Catholic Social Teaching in action – To motivate and encourage for Systemic Change

Busy as C(ee)s – Commitment of volunteers, coordination, community, collaboration and connections.

Mass and rosary

Welcoming Ceremony and gala dinner at Seminaire de Quebec in old Quebec City.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Keynote Speaker: Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec– biblical examples of serving those in need in the way Christ did were very practical and put new light on the Joy in Serving.

Address from Renato Lima de Oliveira, President General of SSVP International – It was a surprise to learn that the President General was attending the AGA. Pat Lenz, Kristine Paul and Peter Albano had the pleasure of meeting him in person and having our photo taken with him at the Thursday night dinner and Welcoming Ceremony at Seminaire de Quebec in old Quebec City. The President General discussed his 20 personal objectives while in office, his three wishes and his seven recommendations. He also provided some SSVP International statistics and conducted an open mic question and answer period with attendees.

Impressions left by the President General are best described by Kristine,  “Renato is an example of the youth that will bring the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul into the present day; he is charming, gifted, intelligent, a family man, worldly, passionate and on top of that has a beautiful singing voice; his love of the Lord and of serving the needs of the poor are tangible.”

PLENARY Sessions

All members were welcome to attend. Sessions included a broad range of content from keynote speakers to panel discussions.. This also included an open question and answer session with the Canadian President Jean Noel Cormier.

Mass and rosary

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, National Spiritual Advisor – discussed Vincentian Charism in a way lay individuals could understand and apply. Whereas a social worker is boxed in by regulation, a Vincentian has flexibility to act within SSVP principles to serve a need.

Honourable Graydon Nichols Spoke on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of North American Indigenous People starting in Mexico. 30th Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick from 2009 to 2014; born in 1946, Tobique First Nation; Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University; Bachelor or Laws from University of New Brunswick and Masters in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. Attorney, judge, politician, activist and advocate for education – first aboriginal person in Atlantic Canada to receive law degree and first aboriginal person in Atlantic Canada appointed as a court judge. Named to Order of Canada June 30, 2016 for his contributions to the people of New Brunswick as a lawyer, judge, lieutenant-governor and indigenous leader

Sister Aurea of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Moncton, New Brunswick – worked with prisoners and founded the SSVP House for the poor.

National President’s Roundtable discussion with all attendees

The National President, Jean-Noel Cormier discussed the status of several National initiatives including:

  • Launch of the new national Website (a work in progress)
  • Strategic Plan 2015-2020 – its ongoing implementation
  • Communications Plan and research survey conducted among a random group of SSVP members
  • Vincenpaul Magazine will be changing to an electronic version from the current costly print version
  • An electronic Annual Report will also be produced
  • Following on some revisions to the Rule at the international level, a Statutes Review Committee will be making recommendations to make changes to the Canadian Statutes
  • 2016 Stats – SSVP visited 204,000 homes, 30,000 prisoners, 350,000 people were helped, there are 15,000 Vincentians, 175 Thrift Stores and 90 food banks across Canada.

Quebec Region – School Student Assistance Program – Operation Bonne Mine

  • In 2001 3,900 students were served. In 2016 8,279 students were served. 80% of funding is used for Back-to-School support, 15% for perseverance initiatives and 5% for perseverance scholarships.
  • Elementary and secondary school students are assisted with $250. and $500 levels respectively.

Quebec Central Council – RV Caravan Program serving homeless youth in Quebec City

  • The Marginal RV serves youth 18-35. The Boehme RV serves youth 18-25. The majority are male.
  • The caravan program reaches out to youth at risk.
  • In 2016 6,117 youth were served.

Mass in the town of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.

Gala Dinner and closure of AGA Meeting.


Steve Rigby Food Drive

On Saturday, April 8, 2017 over 10,000 pounds of food was collected to be distributed to the neighbours in need served by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul as well as Why Not Missions in Brantford. A very generous donation of Kinder Eggs and chocolate valued at over $10,000 retail was received from Ferrero. Various other companies and businesses provided large collections of food and cash leading up to the Steve Rigby Memorial Food Drive day.

Steve Rigby and his wife Clare, owners of Freshco on Clarence Street, Brantford have run a food drive with the help of Brantford Police Constable Scott Gibson, High School Resource Officer with the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board for the past two years. Tragically, Steve Rigby died suddenly and unexpectedly two weeks ago however; his wife Clare, although understandably grieving his loss, insisted that the event carry on in her husband’s name because she knew that is what Steve would have wanted.

Officer Gibson was pleased and grateful, “I know that this event was near and dear to Steve and that is why I am so grateful to his wife Clare, her staff, and the Vincentian and student volunteers for working so hard. I want to thank all of the people who purchased a bag of groceries, donated cash and food, and the businesses that supported the event especially Ferrero.”

Peter Giordano, Vice President (Youth) and Kristine Paul, Volunteer Coordinator with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul expressed their mutual satisfaction, “We know that the neighbours in need that we serve will be very grateful for the food they receive.”

Officer Gibson with a crew of fellow Brantford Police officers, Vincentian volunteers and a number of students from St. John’s College Leadership class were there to help with the heavy lifting of water donated by Officer Gibson. They also loaded over 100 bags of groceries prepared by Freshco that were purchased by generous customers and other food donations from Freshco customers into the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul delivery cube van. As well, several people walking and driving by made cash donations. Two very generous, anonymous donors gave $500 and $100, respectively.

Inspired by this year’s event, Clare Rigby and Scott Gibson look forward to staging the Steve Rigby Memorial Food Drive again next year.


Appreciation Dinner

From the words of SSVP Brant President Pat Lenz:

“Each year we of SSVP Brant “come together as family” near the April 23rd birthday of our founder Frederic Ozanam to celebrate and to thank our outstanding volunteers. As one of a handful of Councils in Ontario comprised entirely of volunteers, even in our large (and growing) Store operation, our ability to support our neighbours in need in Brantford and Brant County is entirely dependent on efforts of these volunteers.

At last year’s gathering then-President Anita Reansbury also invited a specific group of our community supporters to be recognized, the BHNCDSB – in the person of their Director Chris Roehrig. In organizing this year’s celebration it struck us that inviting partners provides an opportunity to thank them, to introduce them and their support of our work to our Vincentians – and to brag about our Vincentian volunteers to them. So we will be continuing that practice this year and in years to come.

This year we have chosen to highlight the support we receive from our referral partners. These community agencies provide a range of services to those whom we serve – or seek to serve. Just as we have worked very hard in the last few years to improve the practices of our home visitors and Store personnel to smooth the process for our neighbours in need – so we have reached out to these community agencies for the same purpose. Workers who understand the needs of their clients and understand how SSVP Brant may be able to help, use referral letters to connect those in need with our organization. In turn, this assists us in fulfilling our mandate to “seek the poor”.

The specific agency that we recognize this year is our longest-serving referral partner. Since the early days of its establishment over 20 years ago, workers at Nova Vita Domestic Violence Services have reached out to SSVP Brant for assistance for their clients who are attempting to move on with their lives. That contact began very informally (phone calls, scribbled notes) and evolved into a variety of letter forms dependent on the sender. The process of formalizing this connection, in the interests of smoothing the process for Nova Vita clients in need of our support, lead to similar discussions with Brantford Social Services, St. Leonard’s Community Services, Pregnancy Centre of Brant, Gahnokwasra, Welcome In Resource Centre, Victims Services – with more connections in the works. In addition, and more recently, faced with an abundance of clothing donations, Nova Vita reached out to us to accept their overflow donations for our Store – creating a true two-way partnership! Tonight we present to Nova Vita representatives a certificate of appreciation for this long-term partnership.”


Thrift Store Status

Thrift Store Status – Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Brant

After listing our Thrift Store building at 197 Colborne St., Brantford for sale in July 2015, we sold the building in September 2015, effective April 3, 2017. In June 2016 we signed a deal to purchase 143 Wellington (currently known as the Crosby Y). That deal is to close September 2018.  That left us with a gap of 17 months between the date when the sale of 197 Colborne was to close and the purchase of 143 Wellington to be final.

Given that our goal is to provide uninterrupted service to our neighbours in need throughout this transition a solution to this gap issue became our priority.

Therefore, we are thrilled to share with you now that we have signed an agreement with the buyer of 197 Colborne St. allowing us to remain at that location until we move to the Y. This means that we do not have the expense, work, hassle and disruption of two moves, one move to an alternate space then one move to our new home.

Meanwhile fundraising and financing activity is underway. The Diocese of Hamilton will provide financing. Having secured several generous donations and commitments the fundraising committee is now working to raise about $400,000 more.

Please continue to support the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and pass along the word that all are invited continue to visit us at our current location at 197 Colborne St. Brantford until we move in September 2018.