Vinnies celebrates 50 years of service

By David Rak

St Vincent de Paul is celebrating 50 years of service to the Seymour and district community and you’re invited.

Come and join the team from noon to 1.30pm on November 29 for a free barbecue and a friendly chat outside the Vinnies store off Wallis St.

Bring any old photos and stories of your Vinnies experience. The team would love to hear how Vinnies helped you or how you helped them.

The St Vincent de Paul Society was started by a 19-year-old university student in Paris in 1833 and 21 years later it came to Victoria in response to the poverty among those chancing their luck on the goldfields.

Vinnies was established in Seymour on November 16, 1969, with a small band of men led by well-known identity Jack O’Brien.

Each year the Seymour Conference provides more than $21 000 of assistance with more than $17 000 of that in food parcels. This provides support to about 420 adults and 350 children.

In 2018, the society contributed almost $25 000 to locals in need.

Society members predominantly provide help from the assistance centre in Anzac Ave, and recently initiated two new projects.

One is a scholarship program to help those struggling to move from St Mary’s Catholic School to Assumption College Kilmore to complete their schooling in years 11 and 12. This year Vinnies supported three students with their schooling.

The second project is in partnership with Mitchell Shire’s Seymour Sports and Aquatic Centre and the Anzac Village Coin Laundry, where disadvantaged and homeless people can now obtain coupons to shower at the aquatic centre and wash and dry their clothes at the laundry.

The assistance centre offers a showering kit including a towel, face washer, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush with support from the Country Women’s Association.

Vouchers are also offered for clothing to be collected from the Vinnies shop.

“Income we receive from the Seymour shop goes directly back into this community,” former Seymour Conference president Paul Fleming said.

“It is not enough to cover all local needs and growing costs for underprivileged families and children, so we also rely heavily on the Winter Appeal and Christmas Appeal.

“St Vincent de Paul has had a Vinnies Shop in the community for the past 22 years and we plan to continue the tradition of being part of the community for many more years to come.

“We are generously supported by the local community with so many regular donations and regular customers.”

Mr Fleming said national statistics showed many families were only three wage packets away from financial hardship.

“Mum gets sick or dad is injured at work or retrenched and suddenly the family finds themselves unable to cope,” he said.

“We have relied on the continuing generosity of Seymour and district residents for decades to enable us to keep up our faithful work.

“We in Seymour are very proud to be associated with the world’s largest charity that is 97 per cent run by volunteer members.

“When I was hungry you fed me, when I was naked you clothed me and when I was lonely, sick or in prison you visited me – those words by Jesus Christ from St. Matthew’s gospel sums up the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society.”

The celebration is on from noon to 1.30 pm outside the Vinnies store off Wallis St.

For more information, phone Mr Fleming on 0418 360 909.