When you open a newspaper, turn on the radio, or turn on the television, you hear stories of suffering, poverty and injustice from all over the world. To say the least, it is demoralizing. Before I joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, I thought that nothing that I could do would change any of this. I was wrong. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Belvedere College is just one of the organizations that work for a better world both inside and outside the school. Open to students from every year, the Society runs many social justice activities, such as the soup run for the homeless, social visitations, Christmas children’s parties, old folk’s parties, and hampers.
On the Soup run we bring hot drinks and food around to Dublin’s homeless; however the most important thing that we bring them is company. We talk to the people that thousands of others simply walk over every single day, and from them we learn so much about everyday life and the hardships of losing your home and living on the street. It is an eye opening experience that gives as much back as we put into it.
One of the most important things the society does is the Visitations, where we assign two or three students to visit one of the elderly people around the area. The people who we visit live alone in cramped flats, and many of them have medical conditions that mean they cannot even leave their homes. As many of these people can’t afford to have someone paint their flat when they need it, and are unable to do it themselves, the Society offers to decorate their flat for them. With an army of volunteers from first to sixth year, we paint, sand, plaster and clean their flats.
The students bring the outside world to them, visiting them once a week, becoming friends with them and lifting the depression and boredom that life at home alone brings. “Loneliness is the worst thing in the world” says Brother Davis, who oversees the society “You can beat anything as long as you have somebody.” That is what the Society does for those who have nobody; give them somebody.
The Society also collects donations from inside and outside of the school to make Christmas hampers which we distribute to the disadvantaged individuals and families from around the area. Christmas, especially this year, is a difficult financial time for everybody, but due to a record amount of donations we were able to give out Christmas hampers to over sixty people and families this year, as well as giving out presents to over one hundred children and throwing a party for more than fifty of the old folks in the area.
The Society opens the eyes of its members to the suffering, injustice and wrongs that happen in every day to those that have been left behind by society. More importantly, it teaches us, by going out and working with these people with understanding and compassion, that these hardships can be eased.
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