A better society through Generosity
People find inspiration at different points in their lives. Some decide that generosity is the path to fulfillment — the noble cause of giving back what they receive from society. Ross and Cristina, who have been conference members of St. Vincent De Paul (SVDP) for the past five months, are doing precisely that.
Ross and Cristina migrated to New Zealand from the Philippines in 1987, settling in Wellington. Living in Ngaio they attended St. Francis of Assisi Parish, until recently making the move to Miramar.
Though Ross was new to volunteering with St Vincent de Paul, Cristina had already taken part in the Vinnie’s Street Day Appeal through the Newlands conference. “I felt very welcome with the other volunteers who worked with me,” Cristina says, fondly remembering the day. Positively influenced by this experience, when she came across a message in the Holy Trinity newsletter asking for people to join the local SVDP conference, there was no doubt in her mind she wanted to join. She even got her sister to enroll. As Cristina puts it, “By nature, people are drawn to help others.”
So far, their work as conference members include attending a weekly church service, visiting families with different needs and supporting annual events such as the Vinnies Book Fair and Food Bank Appeal. Cristina assists a woman by driving her to their church service and supporting her to enjoy the after-service lunch and social time with other parishioners – a highlight as this is the only social interaction some have for the week.
The most challenging but by far the most rewarding part of their work is visiting families in need of their help. “People acknowledge our support,” Ross says, “and we are mindful of their different cultural backgrounds when visiting.” They will have background information on what is needed before visiting and if they know there are children, they don’t forget the chocolates.
Cristina visited her father regularly at his rest home for five years until he passed away last year. “At the rest home, I saw that many people didn’t receive visitors, and they were lonely. Given the chance, I would gladly do it again,” she says, referring to her other conference members who visit the elderly around Wellington.
Both Ross and Cristina agree that volunteering through their SVDP conference is an excellent opportunity to meet new people outside of their regular church circle. “We need to do different things during different stages of our lives. When we were younger, we played sports, then we traveled, and now we volunteer,” Cristina says with a laugh. This is their way to give back and contribute to their home, Wellington.
For them, this is not another activity that fills up their time, but a path through which they find fulfillment. Something greater than themselves. Something sacred. As Cristina says, “I think when you are given a purpose, it drives you, and everything else will fall into place. Volunteering makes life more meaningful. The smiles and the appreciation you receive from those you help is invaluable.” □
Danushka Devinda | Guest Writer