By Lesa Tines
BEATRICE (SNR) - The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is a Catholic, need-based organization whose mission is to aid the most vulnerable members of the community, regardless of religious affiliation.
After the closing of Husqvarna, Vice Grip and recently Store Kraft in Gage County, Joseph and Kayla Brewer saw great need to help those suffering.
As members of St. Joseph Parish in Beatrice, the couple has been working since 2012 to create a local conference of Saint Vincent de Paul. At that time, the couple began working with Father Steven Major, who was then pastor at St. Joseph. But work moved Mr. Brewer to North Dakota before the council could be completed. After returning to Beatrice in 2014, Joseph and Kayla picked up where they had left off. With the help of Denise Dean, president of of the Lincoln SVdP Council, Mr. Brewer completed the paperwork needed to start a council in Beatrice.
With the help of Father Robert Barnhill, current pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Beatrice, the group began recruiting couples and individuals to form the St. Vincent de Paul Council of Beatrice. There are 10 founding members of the group: Joseph and Kayla Brewer, Ellen Hagemeier, Denise Behrends, Shina Mertz, Brenda Davis, Josh and Tracy Beaudoin, and Dennis and Kathi Wells.
The conference serves the public in a variety of ways, including financial assistance, food for the hungry, emotional support and more. There are no requirements regarding the recipient’s income, criminal history or religious affiliation. If the St. Vincent de Paul Society cannot provide assistance, they refer the individual on to other agencies. The Beatrice conference also serves Cortland, Fairbury, Wymore and smaller surrounding communities in Gage county.
“The focus of Vincentians is to live life according to Gospel values,” Joseph said. “Jesus tells us, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ If we are to move closer to Christ, we must do what Christ does, serve all those in need. I felt that SVdP could help those in our parish come closer to Christ and better understand the life of servitude that Christ calls us all to.”
He said there have been some growing pains in the first year of the SVdP Society but the group plans to continue and expand their services.
“We just started doing home visits at the beginning of the year and have helped almost a dozen families now,” Joseph said.
He said he and the other members of the group have felt humbled by the situations they have encountered through their work and have grown in empathy for those they serve.
“By fulfilling these basic needs we do more than address the needs of the moment; we believe that we are giving a hand up, and not a hand out.
“At every opportunity, we move to better the lives of those we help and move them towards self-sufficiency and a better quality of life,” Joseph said.