NORTH KINGSTOWN — On Sunday, May 7, nearly 250 people attended the second annual St. Vincent de Paul Rhode Island Friends’ Fund benefit at Quidnessett Country Club.
The event opened with prayer led by Father Christopher Murphy, and shortly into the event, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin was presented with the 2017 Ozanam Award for leading Rhode Island’s faithful as a Community Partner. “It is fair to say there is no private or religious entity that does more to assist the poor and marginalized than the Diocese of Providence,” said Mark Gordon, president of the Society. “This award is in gratitude to Bishop Tobin for his example in service and commitment to the poor and sharing in the mission and spirit of the Society.” Bishop Tobin, in accepting his award, credited the many dedicated employees and volunteers of the Diocese of Providence who work so hard in service to those in need. He also congratulated and encouraged the members of the Society for the beautiful work they do each day serving God’s people.
Also receiving Ozanam Awards were James Farrington of Newport, and Dillia Sylvester of West Warwick, for their lives of service to the poor. Farrington is a retired FBI Special Agent and Salve Regina professor. The father of five daughters, and grandfather of 12, Jim still drives all over the state picking up food and donations for the St. Joseph SVDP Conference food pantry and soup kitchen. At 91, his fellow conference members say Jim is the first volunteer to arrive at the soup kitchen every Monday, and the last one to leave. Dillia Sylvester has been serving West Warwick’s needy and marginalized for more than 30 years. Dillia, who currently serves as president of the SS. John and James SVDP Conference, spends most days handling requests and making home visits. Dillia also serves at “the Food Cupboard,” Neighborhood Friendly Visitors at SS. John and James Church and the Ladies of St. Ann.
In 2016, SVDP Rhode Island provided $2.3 million in food and nearly $1.5 million in direct assistance (clothing, heat, utility, and rental assistance, medical, etc.) to Rhode Island families in need. The Friends’ Fund proceeds will go to help fund such assistance.