For the past twelve years, volunteers with Saint Vincent de Paul have been quietly helping those in need in the community.
The local conference of Saint Vincent de Paul has been working to help those in Dawson County since 2006, when then-president Jim Bohl and current president Sue Seldomridge decided they wanted to help the community they loved so much.
“Our whole mission is…we help people who are in need regardless of their race, creed, color, ideals, whatever,” said Seldomridge.
Through Saint Vincent de Paul Georgia, the local conference based out of Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church helps members of the community financially. Just last year the local organization spent $77,000 helping approximately 800-900 people in the community, and the year before spent $97,000.
And for the first time since its inception, SVdP has money in savings thanks to a $10,000 donation from Family Promise as well as various grants from United Way, Big Canoe Chapel Benevolent Committee, Food Lion, Sawnee EMC and Amicalola EMC.
“We believe strongly in what we do and we want other people in the community to know about it,” said Seldomridge.
Operating with six two-member visiting teams, volunteers take turns going out into the community and talking with those who have called their hotline for assistance. After meeting with the family, SVdP will help in any way they can and have paid rent, car payments, utility bills and more to get people back on their feet.
“No two stories are alike. We can’t say that there’s really a typical call because every time you go out something’s different,” said Seldomridge.
Currently, there are 40 volunteers and 24-28 of them are actively involved with the organization by assisting with the visitation calls on a weekly rotation.
One volunteer, Judy Cahill, who has been very active in the Dawson County Woman’s Club, Keep Dawson County Beautiful and co-founded WEE Books, became involved five years ago shortly after her husband passed away.
“It keeps me busy. I’ve made good friends, close friends and I like helping the people in Dawsonville and Dawson County. I like that all our money stays here regardless of who you are or where you go to church,” said Cahill.
With no paid staff, no building or office to pay for, the only overhead comes from paying for the organization’s hotline and the Case Management System program – ensuring that 98 percent of the money goes directly to the people who need it.
For Seldomridge and Cahill, being involved with SVdP has been an eye opening experience. Both retired, the two women sought opportunities to continue their passion of helping others.
“I never realized what was all around me. I was living here comfortably, had good friends, you know I could buy a car and this and that, never realizing what was out there,” said Cahill. “It’s amazing when you find out…you just want to help these people.”
Seldomridge, who was a middle school principal in Hall County, said she’s seen many children come through her school on different places on the socioeconomic spectrum but had no idea what was right in front of her in her own community.
“(There are) people living in unbelievable abject poverty that you think ‘how can this be in 2018? People living like this and why? Why is this the situation?’ and so what can we do to relieve their suffering and that’s basically what we try to do,” said Seldomridge.
The Saint Vincent de Paul hotline is (706)265-2106 and can be called at any time of the day for those seeking help or those who want to donate or volunteer.