"When you're down and troubled, and you need a helping hand... and nothing, nothing is going right..."
Year ago, I used to cover for our church secretary when she had to be out of the office.
One of the best, but still toughest, parts of the job was answering those calls from people who needed help...with electric bills, rent, doctor's bills, you name it.
Over the years, Tom and I have often had to stretch a paycheck - we've been on both the giving and receiving sides of loans - but each of these calls would suddenly make my own blessings crystal clear, no matter how tough things might have been for us at the time.
"Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there, to brighten up even your darkest night..."
Sure, there are some people who have learned to work the system. They know the agencies to call for help...know how much they can get and how long they have to wait in between calls. But the majority are real people who have found themselves in dire straits with no where else to turn. You can hear it in their voices - the fear of the unknown, the humiliation of having to ask for help, the desperation.
That was the tough part for me - hearing it in their voices.
With each call I wished I was a millionaire so I could do something for them myself. I tried not to be condescending or pitying or any other "ing"...just tried to sound normal, like this was only a bump in the road that they would soon be over and it was no big deal having to call and ask for help.
"You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again..."
I couldn't help them monetarily myself - not every one - but with just a phone call to one of several St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers from our parish, I knew they'd receive aide if they really needed it, whether or not they belonged to our parish. Or any church, for that matter.
They didn't have to be Catholics, or even Christians, for the St. Vincent de Paul Society to help them. They just had to live within our zip code. If they didn't, I could direct them to the right agency.
That was the best part...a feeling that I was helping in some way.
"Winter, spring, summer or fall...all you have to do is call, and I'll be there. You've got a friend."
I've seen the musical "Beautiful", so I don't think Carole King was thinking about the St. Vincent de Paul Society when she wrote "You've Got a Friend", but the song sure fits their mission.
"If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds and that old north wind begins to blow, keep your head together and call my name out loud. Soon, you'll hear me knocking at your door."
Each year our parish holds an annual Oktoberfest to raise money for our St. Vincent de Paul Society and other organizations that help out in the community. We have music, a children's area full of games; hamburgers, brats, giant pretzels, and beer; a country store and silent auction;, a pie-eating contest, dunking booth, washer tournament, and more.
All the usual festival fun.
But the big fundraiser - the one that gets the organizations through the rest of the year and determines how much help they can give - is the raffle.
"You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again...winter, spring, summer or fall...all you have to do is call, and I'll be there. You've got a friend."
I wish I could buy all of the tickets...but I can't. This year there are 30,000!
That's why I'm asking you for help. If you're reading this, would you consider buying a ticket? They only cost $5 each, but one ticket gives you a chance to win 5 prizes, and you don't have to be present to win:
If you're interested, let me know in the comments or email me, and I'll let you know how to get your ticket. But whether you buy any tickets or not, please say a prayer that enough money is raised to help all of those who will need it in the coming year.
"Ain't it good to know you've got a friend when people can be so cold. They'll hurt you and desert you...and take your soul if you let them...oh, but don't you let them. You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again.
Of course, if you're in the area, please come and join in the fun! It will be on October 14 from 10 am until 3 pm on the parish grounds in Lago Vista. Everyone is welcome! And don't worry about missing the UT-OU game - it will be playing for your enjoyment.
All proceeds benefit not only the St. Vincent de Paul Society, but also the parish Women's Guild and Knights of Columbus, who in turn use the funds to help the disadvantaged in our community. They also provide scholarships, finance youth activities, support seminarians, and provide support for the Lago Vista Volunteers, local emergency response teams, the Annunciation House, and more.
Thank you in advance.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call, and I'll be there. You've got a friend."