I live at the top of a hill in southern Campbell County with a wonderful view of the lake at AJ Jolly Park.  One morning as I left my house for my commute to St. Vincent de Paul, I noticed how the fog had settled around the house and on the lake.  It was thick as pea soup; however, I caught a glimpse of the breathtaking pink and orange of the sunrise stretched among the hills behind the lake.  That heavenly sight signaled the beauty of the day yet to come.

As I drove my car down the hill, the fog engulfed my tiny car.  The beauty I just saw was hidden as I started my day.   As I cautiously pulled into the morning traffic that I could not see, I held my breath and said a little prayer.

During my daily drive, I think a lot about the people St. Vincent de Paul serves.  That foggy drive is a lot like the challenges these people face.  Every day, our network of over 700 Vincentian volunteers in our diocese help our neighbors in need.  These families and individuals come to us for emergency assistance – they need help with food, clothing, household goods or furniture to get back on their feet.  They need beds for their children to comfortably sleep, fans or air conditioners to fend off the heat and humidity in the summer and coats for warmth in the winter.  Some come seeking assistance for unexpected large expenses, rent or utilities, so they can stay safely in their homes.  The challenges these neighbors face are often so numerous and arduous that it can be hard to navigate life and to see past these struggles – so thick and so heavy, like the fog I drove through that morning.  The moment they reach out for help, it’s like they’ve said that little prayer to keep them moving forward safely through the fog.

While we provide assistance at St. Vincent de Paul, there is something even more important that we provide to our neighbors in need and that is hope.  One thing that sets our mission apart from other assistance agencies is the personal visit that accompanies each case.  Our Vincentians take the time to visit the people we serve in their homes, to listen with compassion, without judgement and to understand their circumstances.

That visit ends in prayer, with the intent that we leave behind so much more than groceries or the commitment to help with an unpaid bill.  We share hope and much needed optimism that tomorrow will be better than today.  These visits remind and reassure our neighbors in need that we are all part of God’s family and that we can lift each other up in this world.  We all know it is difficult to find your way through the fog, but through faith in Christ and with each other’s help, we can show that the fog will lift.  It’s like seeing that sunrise off in the distance that signals the beauty yet to come.

Karen Zengel

Karen is the Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Northern Kentucky.  St. Vincent de Paul is able to provide assistance to our neighbors in need thanks to generous financial donations, car donations, donations of gently used goods to our stores and sales from those stores.