To The Daily Sun,
2016 marks the 25th year that the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Laconia has been serving the people of the Lakes Region by providing food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, disaster relief, and children's programs to those in need. Jo Carignan, Jeanette Buckley, John Peavey and I received 25 year service awards at our annual volunteer dinner in May.
In May 2002, I had the honor of being elected the fourth president of the Laconia Conference. While I will continue to volunteer with the organization, I am stepping down as its president. It's time for some "new blood" to head up our efforts. My husband (a former president also) and I moved to New Hampshire in 1991 and became involved with the society that same year. I will continue to manage the Thrift Store. I believe wholeheartedly in the organization and the work it does for our communities.
Let me introduce the other officers and their programs. Jo Carignan, with the able assistance of John Peavey and McKee Jack, manages our food pantry. The program served more than 6,000 people in 2016 in the Lakes Region. Food donations include meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, cereal, paper products, diapers, soap, detergents, and toothpaste. Most of the food is donated during the holidays.
Jeanette Buckley, Betty Gonyer, Bebe Lahey, and Sue Martino are my able supervisors in the Thrift Store. All items from the store are donated by people in the Lakes Region. While we sell most of these items, we do give away approximately $25,000 in furniture and clothes each year. The proceeds from the sales go to support our other programs.
The largest of our programs in terms of financial outlays is our financial assistance program. Under the able coordination of Bill Johnson, teams of 20 SVdP volunteers reach out to help more than 300 families in the Lakes Region with dental, medical, daycare, rent, utilities, car repairs and fuel assistance. They meet personally with all applicants to support them with financial help, budgeting, emotional support, encouragement and guidance with decision choices.
Long-time SVdP volunteer, Sue Page, monitors the society's Children Foundation. This program works with school nurses, guidance counselors and daycare centers to provide education-related assistance to children on the school's free and reduced lunch program. This includes our Christmas Program, "Project Pencil" school supplies in September, camperships in the summer, as well as sneakers, diapers, daycare, book scholarships, field trips and head lice shampoo during the school year. The Children's Foundation is a benefactor of the Children Auction's in December.
Supporting all of these programs are our financial gurus, Treasurer Neil Ahern and Assistant Treasurer Mary Beth Moran. They are responsible for keeping the books in order, complying with federal and state reporting requirements, making out checks to help others, and paying our general bills. Daryl Twombly cares for our building and grounds.
I hope this brief resume gives a little more light into our organization and its activities. As its outgoing president, I urge you to continue your support of our volunteers and our mission. Volunteers are always encouraged — call 524-5470 to discuss how you can help. Many thanks for your support.
Erika Johnson, President
St. Vincent de Paul Society
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