Happy New Year! A new year gives us all an opportunity to cherish the memories of the past and look forward to a future filled with hope and excitement.
As I reflect back on my 28 years at St. Vincent de Paul, I feel so very blessed to have had the opportunity to serve so many people in need. As I start my 29th year, I have so many good memories. In 2003, I wrote the below article for our Vincentian Charities Newsletter. It captures one of my countless memories of the importance of our work, and how everyone makes a difference through our mission of charity.
I hope you enjoy the article, and thank you for helping us to provide hope and help to so many of the poor and homeless in our Capital City.
“One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity to go out into the community and share the story of the Society. Through the years I have given countless talks to professional groups, civic clubs, and social organizations. Most of the time, people are very receptive to the message of the Society, but occasionally I run into a tough crowd – usually a group of individuals who might not know about our work in the community or might think that we just give hand-outs. About eight months ago, I had a special speaking opportunity and I really wanted to do well. The day came, and I went to speak to this group of 24 individuals. It turned out to be a really tough group, and I bombed.
The group was my daughter, Madison’s pre-K class, and I believe my message was too simple for today’s sophisticated kids. Fortunately, being the father of twins, I had 30 days to prepare myself for the next presentation to my oldest twin daughter, Miranda’s class. Over the next 30 days, as I thought through what I wanted to say, I came up with nothing. The day came and I walked into the classroom, basically praying that God would help me with this important message. As I stood in front of the classroom, a question suddenly popped into my mind. I asked the class, “What does it mean to be rich?”
24 little hands went up. One of the pre-schoolers said that to be rich meant that you have a lot of money in the bank. Another said that you have lots of toys. Without exception, all the answers were about material wealth. I told the kids, “Yes, those are all ways that you can be rich, but who wants to know the most important place to be rich?” Again, 24 hands shot into the air and you could have heard a pin drop. I said, “The most important place to be rich is in your heart. How many of you want to know how to get rich in the heart?” 24 little hands went up again. Like little sponges, they absorbed every word as I told them the way to be truly wealthy is by giving and sharing with your family, your friends and the less fortunate. The kids got the message and with the help of their teachers held a toy collection for our shelter.
During this holiday season, I would like to thank each member of our St. Vincent de Paul family for having rich hearts, for giving of yourselves, for unselfishly sharing your time, talent and treasure with the less fortunate of our community.
-- Michael J. Acaldo, President & CEO, St. Vincent de Paul Charities