Chairman Ian introduced fellow Drouin Apex Life Member Vin Bibby and Frances Godfrey on Tuesday night (the 4th) for a presentation on the activities of the local conference of the organisation.
St Vincent de Paul
In introducing Vin and Frances, Ian stated Vin needed no introduction, he is well known in our community and to this club, being a Paul Harris Fellow. And Frances is nearly a local as she has resided in Drouin for ten years. Vin has been a member of the Conference for five years and Frances for nine and a half years.
Vin explained that “St Vinnies” was an organisation close to his heart and to hearts and minds of others in our community.
St Vincent de Paul was founded in France in the 19th Century by twenty year old Frederic Ozanam. It was during a time of great upheaval and poverty. While a participant in a debate on the poor, Frederic was cajoled by an opposition speaker to get out and do something about it rather than just talk about it. And so he did. The society commenced with Frederic and seven others. St Vincent de Paul has the symbol of hands:
Vin went on to say that Drouin belongs to the Central Gippsland Council. In Gippsland there are twenty Conferences and there are three hundred in the state of Victoria. The Drouin Conference commenced in 1972 and currently has fifteen active members and seven associate members. He explained that they are not just about food hampers but they are about education, soup vans and are there to listen when people need comfort.
In 2017 the Drouin Conference:
• Visited 222 households
• Assisted 677 adults
• Assisted 393 children
• Purchased food to the value of $ 5402
• Spent $ 3075 on transport to appointments, job interviews or hospital
• Provided $ 2447 for rent
• Plus money for utilities, prescription and education expenses
• Donated 80 Christmas hampers
• Distributed food to the value of $ 5702
• Provided gift vouchers for purchases from the Vinnies Stores
Vin reminded us that this type of assistance is being provided across all religious denominations, through such as the Salvation Army, Food Bank and Anglicare. Vin went on to say that a challenge for him personally, as a long standing member of our community has been to learn to be non-judgmental. He stated that the demographics of our town are changing and St Vinnies visit and assist people in all areas of the town. He emphasised that St Vinnies always check out situations to ensure that there is a genuine need before the assistance is provided.

Vin told the story of his young friend, Paul, who helps him with his St Vinnies work. Vin said when they visit a house, the householder is told we are from St Vincent de Paul, they then introduce themselves, “I am
Vincent and he is Paul”.

Vin spoke of his brother Tom, who passes away seventeen years ago. Vin attributes his joining St Vincent de Paul to Tom, who was a member for many years. Vin finished with a story about Tom and his old Toyota
ute. The then Parish Priest, Rev. Father Joseph Flynn, always borrowed the ute from Tom when he went to Melbourne. The priest said this was because it was covered in St Vincent de Paul stickers and he could park

Frances then spoke and emphasised that St Vincent de Paul received no government assistance for their “conference work” and that they rely totally on the generosity of the community. She thanked everyone
sincerely for the support provided and stated that without this help, the organisation could not operate.

Ian thanked Vin and Frances for coming along to speak on St Vinnies. He recounted a story told to him by his father in law during his childhood. One evening the family gave their dinner to a family down the street who
were struggling as result of a work accident to the man of house. Ian’s father in law said “You are giving them all our dinner. What are we going to have for our dinner?” To which he was told “You might go hungry
for one night but at least you are not starving.” An excellent message to us all.