Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Charlie*, a 62 year-old friend, contacted the Society of St. Vincent de Paul's help line because he needed financial assistance for his medical prescriptions. Help is all our Vincentians needed to hear for their Vincentian spirituality to take over. For Vincentians, no work of charity is foreign.
Two of our Vincentians immediately scheduled a Home Visit with Charlie. They wanted to be able to talk to him, face-to-face, side-by-side, and get to know him on a spiritual level. When the Vincentians arrived to meet Charlie, they were greeted graciously with a hug. Charlie sat across from them and told the Vincentians his life story.
"The truth is, I spent 22 years of my life in Texas prisons. I never met my biological father. When I was five and my brother was seven, my mother married a man who was a complete stranger to us. My stepfather had a drinking problem. He would frequently hit us. Sometimes, he would wake me and my brother up in the middle of the night and force us to spend the night locked outside," he recounted, with a saddened look on his face.
Charlie's mother believed going to school was not a necessity. The lack of support from their mother pushed Charlie and his older brother to look for support elsewhere.
"My brother and I started hanging around with older kids who introduced us to smoking, drinking, and drugs. We soon learned that these vices provided a temporary escape from our reality so we continued to use them," said Charlie.
Sadly, when Charlie was 12, his brother, 14 at the time, was killed in a building fire. After years of being in and out of prison, Charlie met the love of his life.
"She was very spiritual and changed my life for the better. We were married for 10 years and lived a loving and happy life, until she passed away," he said.
Charlie admitted that after her passing, he finally allowed the Holy Spirit to take over him. Since then, he has not receded to the habits of his past. He recently moved back to Houston from Austin, bringing with him his only material possession - a car.
Unfortunately, Charlie ran into financial difficulties. He did not have the funds to rent an apartment, but an old friend let him stay in his home temporarily. He soon suffered a stroke and was in the hospital for two weeks. When he got out, he discovered that his car had been stolen. He also realized that he did not have any money to purchase his medical prescriptions. The Society provided the funds to purchase his medicines. Our Vincentians are also currently assisting Charlie in finding an inexpensive place to live.
"When I tell my story, I'm giving God glory because I know God is in charge of my life." - Charlie
About the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP): The Society is a faith-based nonprofit organization helping families living in poverty in the greater Galveston-Houston area since 1871. We are a network of 58 parish-based chapters with over 1,900 Vincentian volunteers actively doing Home Visits every day. Stories are submitted monthly by our Vincentians. Vincentians endeavor to establish relationships based on trust and friendship. Conscious of their own frailty and weakness, their hearts beat with the heartbeat of the poor. They do not judge those they serve. Rather, they seek to understand them as they would a brother or sister. The Society services everyone in need regardless of creed, ethnic or social background, health, gender, religious belief, or political opinions. *Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.