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On A Mission

Bethpage-based St. Vincent De Paul Society puts a face on help

You’ve probably seen the St. Vincent de Paul Society trucks in your neighborhood but you might not know who they are and what they do, Who they are is one of the largest voluntary charitable associations in the world, having worked since its founding in 1833 Paris, to serve the needy.  They became established in the U.S. in 1845 and on Long Island in the late 1940s.

 

“We offer emergency assistance in any way we can – food, furniture, utility bills, or help with rent or mortgage,” said Marion Holmgaard, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference at St. Kilian’s Church, Farmingdale. Hers is  one of  about 50 parish conferences on Long Island.

 

“We go wherever the need is,” said Pat O’Dea, former president of the St. Kilian’s conference and a veteran of the society. For example,  many of the people they help already have access to canned goods from a local food pantry.

 

“We’ve been getting into food vouchers so that they can buy fresh food,” O’Dea said, such as milk and eggs.

 

Many organizations seek to help the poor and others in need, but society members believe in looking at the person they are helping face to face. 

 

“What sets us apart is we go into peoples’ homes,” said Tom Abbate, director of the Bethpage-based St. Vincent de Paul Society’s central council, which coordinates the ministry of the society in Nassau and Suffolk. 

 

"We learn better how we can help,” Abbate said. “When we go into people’s homes we can see whether their lights are on, whether there is heat in the house, whether there is food in the refrigerator.

 

Though the society is not able to provide long-term assistance, they try to offer guidance along with material support, such as helping families plan a budget and figure out a better future, Holmgaard said.

 

“There was one single mother and her daughter who were living in a small apartment with a lot of problems, such as mold,”  O’Dea noted.  They helped her find a federal subsidized housing program and get a nicer apartment.

“That changed their whole attitude,” O’Dea said.  “They then had something to lose and they became more involved in helping themselves. Sometimes, amazing things can happen.”

 

Abbate heads the central council, coordinating the efforts of parish-based conferences who go out to meet the people seeking help, assess their situation, and strive to offer what they need. 

 

The society takes its name from St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th century French priest known for his outreach to the poor. In that tradition, “we see the face of Christ in the people we help.”

 

Though a Catholic organization, the society assists people in need regardless of race or religion. The volunteers are generally lay people who go out in pairs to the homes of people who apply for help at their local parish. 

“The people have to contact us first or be referred by a social service agency” or their parish, Holmgaard said. “Sometimes it’s hard for people to come to us.”

 

The parish-based conferences offer assistance with their own resources, but the Bethpage office is there for additional support. For example, they have three thrift stores, which sell some items to raise money for the ministry and give other items away to those in need.

 

”We have a store in Garden City Park and one in Huntington” that has furniture, Abbate said. Another store in Huntington Station has clothing. “We’ll bring furniture to a family who needs it. If they need clothing, they have to go to the store because they have to be sure it fits.”

 

St. Vincent de Paul has other ministries, such as an outreach to people in jail, transitional housing for men recovering from substance abuse, and “Voices of the Poor,” that speaks up for public policy on behalf of people in need.

Their ministry is supported by fund-raisers, revenue from the thrift stores and donations. “The people on Long Island have been very generous,” Abbate said.

 

Though their focus is serving others, society volunteers find personal fulfillment as well.  Holmgaard, a retired secretary at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, wanted to “give back” for all the blessings  in her life. “It’s satisfying  to see that I can help someone.”

 

“Of course, while we are helping people,” O’Dea said, “we are growing closer to God.”

News

Starting July 26, the St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church in Farmingdale will feature a production of the hit musical, The Wizard of Oz. 

 

Based on a classic tale—first penned as a children’s novel by L. Frank Baum in 1900 and later transformed into a major motion picture by Metro-Goldwyn Meyer in 1939— The Wizard of Oz tells the story of a girl named Dorothy Gale, played by Zoe Neyer, and her dog Toto, who after being thrown into a twister end up in the Land of Oz. 

 

Trying to find her way home, Dorothy meets Glinda the Good Witch of the North, played by Angela Roedig, who instructs her to “follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

Farmingdale females were out in force on July 12, to represent their hometown at the 31st annual Long Island Women’s 5 kilometer run sponsored by the Runner’s Edge and the Greater Long Island Running Club. 

 

Bob Cook, who owns the Runner’s Edge shoe and sports apparel store on Main Street, said that attendance at this year’s race was the highest in the race’s history, with more than 500 women competing for the grand prize. 

 

According to Cook, over the years, the race has attracted the likes of world-class runners and Olympians from all over the state, racing for the $500 grand prize.


Sports

Throughout the summer, the Farmingdale Observer will feature the box scores from the Farmingdale Baseball League Inc.’s 9/11 Baseball Tournament. 

July 13

Plainedge 12 - Island Trees 2 (9UB)

 

Ozone Howard Huskies 14 - Wantagh Hawks 1 (9UA)

The Farmingale Devils Travel Baseball teams were in action during The 4th of July weekend and provided fireworks in two different states.

 

The 11U Devils won their third tournament this year. They traveled  to Connecticut for the fourth of July tournament. The Devils lost game one on Saturday 7-5 to the Connecticut Defenders and won game two 17-0,The Devils advanced to the playoff round and would meet the Defenders again .The bats were on fire all day led by Big Joe Mcgrath and Nick Franco.The Devils beat the Defenders 11-5 and advanced to the championship to play the number one seed and undefeated Hit Club. The Devils jumped out to 4-2 to lead .The game was tied at 9-9 going to the 6th inning and the Devils would score 2 runs and hold on to win the tournament. The Devils had 52 hits and scored 44 runs,Big Joe had 4 doubles a triple, Nick Franco had 8 hits. Anthony Quatromani 8hits.Matt DiSanti drove in the last run in the championship game. Tim Dorman 6 hits. Patrick Quinn 5 hits and 6 stolen bases. Nick O'Connor 3 hits and 4 stolen bases. Kyle Gaertner 6 hits and was winner pitcher in championship game. Patrick Sanchez was the winning pitcher in semi-final game.


Calendar

Monty Python - July 23

After Hours Networking - July 24

Music Under The Stars - July 25


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com