R.I. Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Knights Assist Flood Victims


CRANSTON — The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Rhode Island and the Knights of Columbus Rhode Island State Council, both members of VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disasters) locally and nationally, partnered to provide disaster relief services to residents of Dean Estates Apartments on Oaklawn Avenue in Cranston as well as other victims of the floods which preceded Hurricane Lee. The September 10 floods impacted 46 apartment units of Dean Estates Apartments in addition to nearly 20 other Rhode Island individuals and families. Many families were completely displaced, losing most or all of their belongings due to the flooding.
Assistance included gift cards (approximately $200 in gift cards/family) and “Necessities for Neighbors” toiletry bags containing a variety of essential personal care items assembled by SVDP Rhode Island’s Next Gen youth and young adult volunteers. Volunteers from both SVDP Rhode Island and the Knights of Columbus distributed items on Friday, Oct. 13 at SVDP Rhode Island’s headquarters in Cranston.
“So many of the families we served have lost everything,” said Reneé Brissette, Executive Director of SVDP Rhode Island. “They were so grateful for the gift cards, toiletry bags with notes of encouragement, and even the simple cup of coffee. But, most of all, I think they were grateful for the spirit of friendship we extended to them. Although this support does not take away their suffering and their difficult struggles ahead as they begin to put their lives back together, it hopefully reminds them that they are not alone.”
SVDP Rhode Island has been partnering with RI Red Cross and Cranston Community Action to assist the families over the past weeks and will continue long-term assistance through the recovery process. Through the distribution event itself, combined with the assistance from the Knights of Columbus Rhode Island Council, and through disaster service grants from both of the National Disaster Service Corporations, $11,000 in gift cards were made available to help with their immediate needs.
“We not only seek the face of Christ in each person we serve, but we also try to bring his spirit of love and hope to them,” explained Brissette. “This was an opportunity for them to share their stories; some took the opportunity to pray with our Vincentians; and, because they are now displaced, it was also a chance for them to be together with their neighbors again. It was a night of hope.”
With reports from Laura Kilgus.