POULSBO — If not for St. Vincent dePaul at St. Olaf Church in Poulsbo, Sherrie Hill may have been living on the streets with her 7-year-old twins.
When Hill needed emergency help to pay her rent, St. Vincent dePaul came to her aid.
“I’d been the subject of identity theft,” Hill said of what happened about seven years ago. “I didn’t have any money to use to pay my rent. And my landlord was threatening me with eviction.”
Because she is Catholic and attended church at St. Olaf’s, she was familiar with St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit charity which works out of the church.
St. Vincent de Paul was a French Roman Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He was canonized in 1737. The national charity with local chapters is named in his honor.
“A couple of people came out to my house and they met with me and met my children,” she said. “They saw that the house was clean and that my twins were well cared for. They were able to keep us in our home.”
Hill’s twins, a boy and a girl, who are now 15 years old, have significant learning disabilities and have been diagnosed with autism. Her son also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. She has had to raise them as a single parent with a limited income.
The twins are now in special needs classroom in the Central Kitsap School District and are doing well.
Since her initial contact with St. Vincent de Paul, Hill has received continual help at the holidays, receiving Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas baskets and gifts.
“Every year, I can count on them helping us out,” she said. “And when I can, I go the night before they hand out baskets and help them get organized.”
The giving back is important to her.
“If they ever need someone for a project, they know they can call me and I’ll come right down,” she said. “They’ve been a great help and I’m just so glad they are there.”
According to Mike DeAscentis, of St. Vincent de Paul in Poulsbo, the nonprofit logged 3,060 hours in volunteer service, assisted 1,584 individuals and gave out $84,855-worth of assistance to those it serves.
Although the most common request has been for help with Puget Sound Energy bills, the nonprofit has also helped with rent, water bills, medications, food, gasoline, baby supplies, propane, bus tokens, and outdoor tents for those who are homeless.
“Another thing people ask for are Safeway and Burger King gift cards,” said DeAscentis. “And we get requests to help people who need to stay a night or two at a local motel. Often times, these are families that are just newly experiencing homelessness.”
This time of year, the nonprofit’s focus is on food baskets for Christmas.
“Last year we gave out 200,” he said. “We expect to do that or more this year.”
About the fund:
This year, The North Kitsap Herald is setting a goal of $35,000 of which every penny will go to help those in need.
The funds are administered by Fishline, St. Vincent de Paul, ShareNet, and Coffee Oasis to provide food, emergency shelter and emergency financial assistance to North Kitsap residents in need. There is no overhead. Every penny helps neighbors put food on tables, keep the lights and heat on, keep a roof over their heads, and get to medical appointments and work.
The fund was established in 1942 by Frank and Mabel Raab. Frank served as a Poulsbo City Council member from 1946 to 1960, and as mayor from 1960-69. The fund was a way for local residents to help neighbors in need during the year.
Originally, the Lions club established the protocol and administered the fund. But when bookkeeping became overwhelming, they passed off the administration of the fund to three local nonprofits.
Donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be mailed to Bellringer Fund, P.O. Box 1244, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Donations are also accepted at the North Kitsap Herald, 19351 8th Ave. NE, in Poulsbo. Donations are listed each week in the Herald and on KitsapDailyNews.com.
This week’s contributors:
Jan M. Seifert, $200 in memory of Dad and Mom – Peace, Joy, and Merry Christmas
Jeff and Julie McGinty, $100, in memory of Kim and Loraine Ray
Dr. Neil and Margaret Torvik, $200, in memory of Harold Richardson
Richard and Bonny Boyde, $50
John and Sylvia Castleman, $40, in loving memory of daughter Vicky
Anonymous, $200, God bless you all and Merry Christmas
Eric Thanem, $100
Poulsbo Lions Evening Pride, $250
Loretta Rindal, $300
Kevin and Jill Hogan, $10
Weekly Total: $1,650