Conference work comforts those who get, and those who give
Author: John Antone, St. Alice's Conference
Date: Thursday, June 28 2012
Conferences, or volunteer groups, are the engines that drive the primary mission of St. Vincent de Paul Society: Assisting the poor and those in need of consolation. The following comes from John Antone of Springfield, a member of the Conference of St. Alice and president of the Lane County District Council. He wrote in a recent email:
We are on our way to morning Mass and have prayers in our hearts for Sonya Stanton-Luckey.
Sonya was one of ours. She was 51 and confined to a wheelchair by pulmonary fibrosis when I first spoke with her about four months ago. In addition to her loving family Sonya had a caregiver for a portion of each day.
Though she knew she was gravely ill, Sonya maintained a sense of humor that made it seem as though she was on top of the world. All she asked of St. Alice’s Conference was an adjustable bed that would elevate her upper body and allow her to breathe more comfortably.
I searched every St. Vinnie’s retail store and even those of its competitors. Asking that such an item to be donated complicates things, of course, so I was directed to website after website to no avail.
I was about to give up when I visited (St. Vinnie’s CEO) Terry McDonald regarding another matter. Offhandedly, I asked about the availability of adjustable beds. To my surprise he responded, “This is your lucky day, John. I just happen to have one.”
Funny how Sonya’s last name, Luckey, so perfectly described my mood that day.
With the help of Terry, his assistant Charley Harvey and others, and my fellow Conference member Dan Hartney, I delivered a fine bed that we hope brought comfort to Sonya this past month. She was patient and good-natured as we fiddled with the cords and controls, and put batteries in the remote. Afterward, when I offered to leave the manual for her husband and caregiver, Sonya made it clear to us that she could read. "I'd like to play with it," she said of her new bed.
We like to think our Vincentian work has lasting impact, but for Sonya it has already ended. Read a remembrance.
Now we are the ones who are sad, but like Sonya, we feel comfort. We are comforted that her suffering has ended, and she is walking with Jesus.
So in a sense this example of Vincentian work does live on.