“I don’t know what I would have done without the help from St. Vincent de Paul,” testified Rockell Davis.
Holly Hosinski, who coordinates the Christmas gift program for St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County, said, “Rockell’s is one of my favorite Christmas stories. God put the pieces together in an amazing way.”
According to Hosinski, Davis is a good example of someone who’s trying very hard but hovering just above the poverty line. She reached out to St. Vincent several times over the past 15 years for a helping hand, rather than a handout: a clothing voucher, a box of food, or Christmas presents for her teenage daughters. She always found the help she needed.
Last November, Hosinski got a call from Davis to report an address change from an apartment to an extended-stay hotel. She learned that a fire in a neighboring unit had caused smoke damage in Davis’ unit, and the fire department had told residents to pack just an overnight bag. But during the night the fire reignited, destroying everything they owned.
Providentially, Hosinski had assigned the Rockell family’s Christmas request to Elkhart’s Indian Motorcycle Club, a group that holds fundraising events to finance their holiday generosity. When she called their representative with some of the family’s specific needs, she learned that the woman she was speaking with was an insurance agent who knew exactly what renter’s insurance would and would not cover. The club used its extra funds to provide for some of those needs. The St. Vincent de Paul Society provided furniture and clothing vouchers as well as beds for the children through their Sweet Dreams program.
Then disaster struck again. Davis works full-time in a doctor’s office, where she can’t avoid contact with sick people. She takes precautions but came down with COVID-19 shortly after her family moved into their new place. Afraid she’d fall behind on her rent without those two weeks of income, she reached out to St. Vincent de Paul again and learned that her bout with COVID-19 qualified her for Emergency Rental Assistance.
“If I ever need help, I can go to St. Vincent de Paul…they’ve never let me down,” she testified. “Any time a friend has a need, I encourage them to call 574-234-6000. If St. Vincent doesn’t have the resources, they’ll put you in touch with someone who does. I’m extremely grateful.”
Whitney Parkes can also testify to the impactful role of Emergency Rental Assistance administered by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Joseph County. Parkes’ income evaporated when she was confined to bedrest in the seventh month of her fifth pregnancy. She filled out an on-line application for help, assuming she’d have to wait a long time for a response.
Within a few days, she received a call from Anne Hosinski Watson, executive director. Watson expressed personal concern for Parkes, asking first how she was doing and then explaining they’d be able to bring her family food and pay her rent and utilities for three months. “That gave me the cushion I needed,” said Parkes. She was so grateful that she was willing to record her experience only a day after her Caesarean section.
Parkes said Christmas can also be a big stressor because she has so many little ones. “I’m not usually one to stress, but I wanted to cry when our family was adopted to receive Christmas presents,” she said.
Wanting to give back and put her experience to good use to benefit others, Parkes is pursuing an associate degree.
“I’d eventually love to have a job where I can say, ‘I literally know what you’re going through.’ I’m also trying to teach my children to give back.”
St. Vincent de Paul in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties help over 60,000 people who call every year, always with great respect and sensitivity. To reach the organization, call 574-234-6000 or visit svdpsb.org/.
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