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St Vincent DePaul 041518

Apr 11, 2018|

AN INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN FERSCHWEILER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DEPAUL, PORTLAND COUNCIL, ABOUT THE SERVICES THEY PROVIDE TO PEOPLE WHO NEED ASSISTANCE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

You're tuned to microscope and Entercom radio Portland public affairs program and Gary blocks of think Vincent DePaul has been helping people in our communities for almost a 150 years in very big waves and sometimes in the simplest ways. On the program this time I'd like to welcome Brian first Weiler. Brian is the executive director of the society of saint Vincent DePaul Portland council. Former and can mourn Gary it's a pleasure to be here yeah so it's got started today by talking about what is the society of saint Vincent DePaul. The society has seen its DePaul is a worldwide Catholic organization that was founded in France in 1933. The aim in the organization is to alleviate poverty in the root causes of poverty. Since 1833 certainly certainly things have changed but today we. Address those mean those issues as well as other issues that are affecting. People low income no income such as rent utilities food things like that. Since 19331933. Is when you started in France. In moved across the seas here in the late eighteen hundreds and next year will be our 150 anniversary were founded in the 1869. 150 years in fifty years you. Memento one I meant what I mean look like I have noticed output. Just he's so tell me about some of the good things that sentence them to bulldoze. So in the early years seems to Paul worked with. The very few conferences so we have things called conferences we have. They are part of the Catholic parishes not every Catholic parish has a conference that I oversee forty conferences. In the five county area Montgomery County clack in this Washington claps at in Columbia so we go all way to the beach for our main mission is to provide. Rain utility assistance at the Portland counsel and at the conference level we do some rain utilities but they also do. A food consistency you food boxes they do meals this some have clothing rooms that they supply clothing to those who mirnyi of clothing Gary. Bus tickets we train bus transportation of people in need get back and forth and jobs are trying to get to medical appointments so we we do some of that. We work with other agencies such as international medical teams sometimes it will come out with their dental band. And and do Friedel screening things like that so. A we're kind of all over the board we used to do something called home visits back in the old days which some homes will be actually go to people's houses. Who needs a food box and we actually going to speak with them. Because once she speak with some of these folks he finances. There's a lot of layers salute to this onion a lot of these problems are having so why do they need the food box why the neither rental assistance why do they need the utility assistance. But that has Indians as the years have gone on I think it's become less and less. Sometimes people just don't want invite you into their homes anymore so. We're trying to do something different at the Portland council in the next coming year in the next couple years return it to. Not only be. Policy data. Take the data from an individual scenes. If someone comes in needing rent utility assistance we wanna find out what is beyond that why do they need that we don't you know we don't have qualified social workers on site yet. Though we're hoping to partner important state come the fall they're gonna supply a one or two interns. To the Portland counselor helped can. To help us with that so we had you know and we had a five year strategic planning session that started last year. And one of the things he came out of that was the need. To understand poverty at its root level so. We have taken on the challenge and we are going to form. Some groups out of the board of directors in and some of the volunteers and see if we can do some. In depth work with these individuals who come in we're looking at putting new teaching kitchen as well. You know we do give out food box of like a lot of agencies to. But we I have found I've been involved over fifteen years and nonprofit work. You can't you know people don't know sometimes how Yousuf from box effectively. Nearly get the food they don't know what to do with itself. We're looking at possibly partying with Providence medical group profits Milwaukee in doing some some teaching kitchen and I out of our own location. That's a really great idea. I think it's a it's a wonderful idea because we also operate a mobile kitchen well we've operated after almost ten years now we have a new mobile kitchen that's been. Out in the community for the past two years. It's a great concept enforcing does take a lot of time to prepare meal for over 400 so we serve over four meals during the week. And Mike Cook who also doubles as my driver. Has to spend most of the Monday cooking. In this small part of the back it's a 42 foot bluebird. Bus and she spends probably six or seven hours on the Monday eating meals ready for the weeks of weird kitchen. Inside our location we could you know if can double is also a help. Prepare meals for the bus and then have 68 people that we would. Select who didn't even make use of the teaching kitchen. Yeah I saw live unlucky towards her right now on there is the bus. It's him it's pretty awesome so assassin that's how do where do you go where you take the bus. So bus goes out three days a week Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday at holy trinity Allen Beaverton saint Matthew's Catholic Church in Hillsborough. And can be community center and can be now every edit Tuesday we got to see how wishes sophisticated so those are four main stops. We go out we serve we we colliding conjunction with the opening of their food pantry so same Matthews food pantry open from eleven to one. Will serve eleven the ones with the clients will come in. They can get food to go in and we serve them in the we also allow them to take to go boxes. So we make enough food that they can eat in and take home for a meal that night thanks yes that's a wonderful service. And successful and I tell me about some of the other things that you that you guys as well as I said the rental. And utility assistance is huge CDs we've all read the paper rental increases are really. Destabilize seen the lower portions of of of our culture those folks who are struggling. With seen fortified 600 dollar increases now from a year two years three years ago we're seeing a lot more walking into ringing. Rental assistance and unfortunately you know we we don't provide all the money we asked that we empower them. To go out and get some of that in if they can do that they can connect us we can pick up the last portion of that. Both were right rent increases I think something has to be done and all the conferences who work. With folks who needing rental assistance retooling assistance they're seeing it in uptick this year as well. And when I see this year probably over last year we're just we're seeing people who are struggling it's not just the lower you know people with no income alone can it's folks. Like you nice and I mean we is some he has an medical incidents that they are off work for a month or two months they don't have medical insurance. Or they get laid off you know temporarily after struggling so lot of folks all over the of these socio economic. Band with I call it. Come in for and it's embarrassing I think a lot of folks in youth it's the dignity news is there. They feel is a lack a loss of dignity when they get to sit now waiting room and coming in asking us for you know 23400 dollars to pay their rent that. We're not seeing a decrease has certainly we're seeing more of that. As it seems like and so many people are living. Just right on the edge they are one paycheck away from. The catastrophe they are month to month and their living with family members sometimes in you know. We see a lot of eviction notices in a city tour eviction notices so. We have to be. Very quick about you know helping these folks before they actually get kicked out so. That is I think an eviction notices the show left notices dominate. Most of the work we do during the day. With your time working at Siemens that the ball had however things changed over the years in and like you say they haven't gotten better why are they getting worse than European. I think. The homeless population which I worked with for over twelve years. People concede that Garrity they dried the word doesn't very visual is very neutral or other visible visual that. More so tied the silent issue is the is Iran and the unemployment stands see you would think there's a lot of people out there who were enjoying you know on an enjoin employment and so we shouldn't have this issue but. Lined a single mothers with children I think something's just don't change. You know. As I said the and the demographics. Of them are all across the board were not seen one particular. You know ethnic group for I mean it's it's everybody that's coming to see if so why is with unemployment solo wire we seen so many people and that's a great question. And the reasons I think I gave is that a lot of these are first time folks who've also and find themselves as you said. They've been living paycheck to be even though they're employed you know minimum wage I mean a living wage these days fifteen dollars an hour still is hard. For those folks trying to cover six to 80600000. Dollar A month rent in Natchez skate to. A basics badge steeled you know compartment so you start talking went into betting that case you're looking. You know we have people who need 15100 dollars backing up too much rent their unique here behind too much trending they'd look at their looking for 3000 dollars as just something that. We just can't help them with. And those are the ones that I called the new Leone and they eventually find themselves either living with relatives or the next step and fortunately is streets. Are those the most pressing issues that you see now that's BC when we when I talked to the conference presidents. Did you know that does the most pressing issue food. Everybody is allowed many groups who do include these days so. You should not go hungry in the city of Portland because there are a lot of a lot of service there are a lot of services and supply that. They're very few services that they help you with your rent utilities and he threw six agencies. In most of those when he ran out of funds scary they shut down for the month the just and we. We try and in fine if we ran out of money at the Portland counsel we will call other conferences and luckily some of them have been very generous summer very generous some live at some are located very affluent neighborhoods in their very generous to us when we need help. Others are always calling us for help so. We're lucky that we that we do ran out of money to we don't have an endless supply of money I've asked that the county in the CD and they don't have any funds a year right now so it is it's hard it's a predicament right now. Where does the funding come from for donors private donations and foundations with. I won't say foundation private donations really. Foundations are reluctant to give. Two operations they would like to give to programs. In the NC in not just channel operation to a certain program Andy ring utilities. They're not it's not sexy like food is a music and food you know food isn't a tractor he gets people in the door asking people for money to help. Receipt free used to you know the scary need to rent utilities system that's hard that's hard but. Were very blessed we have a great donor base and people have stepped up and responded to newsletters well into appeals so but he's still only have a finite amount of money for every dollar we give out during the month. We have we have people asking for Ford and so. And last month we turned away 4500. Dollars a request we just couldn't help and we typically run out of money by the fifteenth of the month. Goodness we don't ran out of food so we have food boxes to the all throughout the month we're able to do that but. With Iran utility money you re killing allocate so much money each month and a if somebody listening wants to donate how can they help out. Well they can certainly. Call me. They call me it seemed mr. Paul going our website which I think you have. The W Debbie Debbie dot SPD EP dot ORG. And it is donate buttons on their this contact numbers for myself if they wanna contact me. Talk to me about our program would be more than happy to do it they can send a donation check to repeal box. Or to our red residue earth tour and location Allen southeast 82 cannot ever gonna turn it away never term anyway. Money it. In the there's the reality of that is that there's so many great agencies in the city of Portland overall. Looking for that piece of the pie inside it's it gets harder thinking there's so many Agassi wonderfully agencies that I worked with over the years and and we're we're all trying to do the same theme really give assistance her Brothers sisters are down and out so. But yes we were certainly not turning to and additionally let me ask you about some of those agencies and organizations schools civic groups that you work with told us about some of those and and those partnerships. So I'll start with the high schools in the great schools and they do food dry ice forest the Catholic high schools and not just Catholic we we certainly have. Accept donations from all others as well that certainly did that. Jesuits at saint Mary central Catholic LaSalle Lee date run dries forests during the year. The smaller great schools are run a hygiene drive forced her clothing drive for us to loosen things that are reeling me in Maryland zoo here especially in the wintertime it's hard to find coach I mean their lot and agencies do these. The coach tries. But I like food it's a distribution issue you know if you raise if you collect coats northeast Portland. Had he given that the southeast Portland where so we do partner with a few agencies like and blame share of working I used to work at clinching many years ago and we I will call him occasion we have it if we have an overabundance of clothing or overruns of food. I will certainly reach out to other agencies like. Like playing Shea Saint Francis dining hall we work with human solutions. And if you if you 211. We are the most referred agency. From two that's according to one when statistics. We worker who cleaners birch cleaners wonderful organization out in Gresham. And back and forth C a sunshine. Division. Has always been very helpful for me over the years. And in ninth. In just volunteer group saw a lot of attorneys a lot of we get some dental groups are calling on in morning volunteer opportunities and fortunately we don't have a great many of our location. Because our our volunteer opportunities. The need there's some skills involved. Yet desist for in front of you know either yet to take phone calls. In for the food in Rand utility line or yet this you know interview people for wrangling utility assistance. We usually don't ask volunteers to do that because some have a hard time saying no to people sound we have a staffer three wonderful staff number two services and who do that that. We also employee to three volunteers that we gay in Hamburg sea services. We're talking today with a brand first Weller executive director of the society of saint Vincent DePaul. To bring how did you get involved with something considerable told her history so back in. Although back in 1985. A group of us from jesuit high school. Were. Going down to the waterfront terminal one and helping during the Christmas holidays box of potatoes and onions and it was very cold down there during December. And one of my age alone suggested that why don't we take there was so many lumps from jesuit helping out he got the idea why we move this out to. Jesuit high school so. We moved it out to jesuit high school back in 1985 so we very rainy food drive for 32 years out there while we get all the names Hussein since DePaul so. During those years in the late eighties early nineties they would always invite list down to their. December food drive means down at their offices of Ron southeast pal when they were there so I got to know why the executive directors over the years a lot of that's the staff. And then when I went back to college in 2001. And I returned to cause to get my degree I didn't internship there for nine months so I shackled. The director and some of the other people and just got to know the business inside and out so I've always been involved. In some aspect in two years ago when the executive director position came up. Echo through my entering here before it and I was hired February 1 2016. So at that time. We were over a southeast walking avenue. Just skinny rate to sell the building site came in halfway through the sale we were selling that building. In downsize in the building not that the programs for the billion and we moved out the southeast east second. You've been in Europe for years I like it it's it's. And it during December. Each year when I was during the Christmas food drive I would always do the organ for the food I had at the jobs are yours and but I always felt as happy as time I ever had. Was those threes in December when we were box of food up and deliver the food insisting that people would come out from the jesuit community. And down and help the Stiller was amazing so I always felt I was called but I kept working I was in real stayed I was in sales for many years and then finally in 2000. Decide to take the plunge and go back and get my degree so it took me three years and after that. When she came calling. So. Rest is history so he probably have some pretty great success stories you can share with us over those years right I was tells a good story I do and China's. Put on the spot yearn for the in this. The plumber putsch and I'll tell you when recently OK so we knew we had that we received a call. From a Saint Francis. Chapters seem France's. See mr. Paul chapter Owen choppy start and they said they had a young lady. Who was domestic violence victim of domestic violence she has three children under four years old and they were put Europe in the motel out northeast Portland. But they were running out of money they want to know if we could help. I had just received 5000 dollars from a donor who said I want to help women and children that's OK I'll use that money I got the call talked to the lady. To the woman. We helped her. For refused we helped her stay in a motel for a few days. We moved her out to motel Latin clack missed that was very supportive what we're doing. Long story short this woman now is in an apartment she is a full time job. In a care in AM. Daycare center and as she can take her three kids with her and she's making it I mean she's 25 years old but it took. It took it at two or three different conferences does a couple others came on board during this time and this has happened all since February 11 that's the first time I was here induced her. I just talk I just got an update from the president of saint Pius and chapter and he just said you know she's doing well. She's she's grateful she's gonna actually write something I've asked her that may be shared her story because those stories are important but. I like that to me that was a great success story we do the cards in and letters from people saying thank you for keeping my lights on. You know I'm so grateful so it if I I know people are grateful for what we do. But to me that was a great success story does this woman was able to come from Minnesota by yourself. Out here. And fine help the way she did we were they hope we're able to helper at the moment so we're and we were gonna keep checking in with or not just can only nine other people at a saint Pius. In Saint Francis we'll keep in contact with her to make sure you know crew needs are being met. Visit our situations like that would keep you. Going to work every day they are there's a saying you know I I love what I do and I do that I love. And I'm blessed that I have this job thing you help people it's a struggle certainly nonprofits. No no you have to raise money. Yea don't sell anything so you're you're dependent on individuals and the generosity of individuals and foundations and beat quest to keep you going good. I love what I do I do that's awesome. So world to me about some future expansion ideas what what's what's coming up in the future so. Besides teaching kitchen I think we we we talked about the bridges out of poverty that book which ire I refer to you refer to it in in that exact name but. We all eyes aboard read this bridges out of poverty back east. Say mr. Paul chapters have really embraced this concept about. You know seeing now with people one on one in in groups actually I'm not one on one bit BF facilitator among people who are struggling. And facilitate their their struggles not really offer advice but Citron and to needy for it and makes any sense it's easy just to say. I'll help you I'll help you Geary that what we really want to do is make Gary Hilton's self breast and that's hard to do these days but that is where we decide we want it in you we did not and it. Forgo our emergency services program though that's going strong the mobile kitchen were looking to expand. Maybe get a second bus later not this year maybe next year possible but certainly I think. Helping to really helping people. Get out of their situation is really I think we what we do is we keep people. And I know people argue this with me though we keep people in poverty and fortunately you know we do in the food box to get into the next thirty days in the next thirty days but. You know try and try English somebody out. Poverty Gary uses is the most difficult situation do you think that's because people need assistance right now. To. And you really just got to help them in this moment you have to help in the moment now yes PF two. I think go beyond that I think we're not we're not there yet I don't think we have the qualified staff for personnel that are really ask those questions. And so people don't want you know commitment not everybody is gonna want to help. They're you know they they think they can do it themselves and I wish I get daddy you know it's against goes back to their dignity he probably asking for help is very hard I have trouble with that Hampshire. Oh hole we are realizing a one time so. I it's getting a lot of work it is a lot of work who another board member myself we've set for six hours a facility or training. In just Lewis seemed to. You know people it. People who are experiencing poverty is it's it's something that most of us don't understand who have never been in and instilled these books were reading is certainly take breaks it down takes it down to that level to really help you because it's easy say well you know. Police awful by your bootstraps you know that same but that's not the case is just so many layers in the end. Absolutely to the onions it got so many layers and so many. It's it's kind of been a pattern in their lives and in their. Been going back generations in of these is generational and and that's was he says in the book and he covers saddened. You know for many on the young know anything different and so they just they stay in that same pattern. And that's what we've liked is to change it again one person is time we're not gonna. You know. In May be a long time down the road past my lifetime when people can actually you know find the tools to right tools to get out of poverty but it's always going to be with us in the in our culture so. And over excited that we can hopefully do something more in the community. Well the last minute or so we have here a couple minutes you're gonna be celebrating 150 years next year we are tell us about some of those plans. We don't have team at the moment we are we are forming a committee I've got a about the board level we've looked at what others say mr. Paul's over. Internationally intent to celebrate your fiftieth and so we have some ideas we certainly. October 2019. Is quote the official date. When the Portland council's foreign. We're gonna reach out to the certainly Providence hospital. You know if we helped start Providence back in. 1874. We donated a thousand dollars to the sisters of Providence and we don't need a piece of land which was to become the first. Seeing a small hospital in northwest fourteenth. So I may reach out to them and some other organizations to see if they'll help. Promote you know advertising dollars it takes money advertising I think what we definitely want to get a campaign blitz if you call it. To let people know he's like you don't know what the portly council does remain here and in fifty years. The associated this with the conferences in the parish level Freddie really don't know what we do so I think. Really raising the bar there as far as advertising is concerned Indian plant some events. In not too big and I mean again we're we're a small organization right now. By looking at hiring and development director later this year hopefully can help us. And then we have envisioning committee we just formed to get some ideas on board because it is I'm fifty years of those service to think I mean he is a big deal when it isn't sure we. We do right well congratulations on a 150 years and you're doing 150 more I hope so I. When talking they O'Brien for spoiler executive director of society of saint Vincent DePaul Portland council. It's Cameron thinking your friend's place. Mitchell's go fees and Entercom radio Portland public affairs program. I'm Gary blocks and if you're involved with the nonprofit or public affairs organization port you have an idea for an upcoming show I'd like to hear from you. Visit microscope PDX dot com and submit your ideas you can also go to the station's website can submit your information there. Thanks for listening to veterans go out and enjoy the rest of your weekend.