Mayor says new St Vincent de Paul Centre “so needed”

St Vincent de Paul Centre

A new St Vincent de Paul Centre opened in Levin on Sunday 15 May and immediately received civic approval.

Speaking at the opening Levin, Mayor Mr Bernie Wanden, (pictured) described the Centre as “a wonderful venture for our community.”

Wanden observed that Levin probably has the lowest rating for household income in New Zealand.

He said the St Vincent de Paul Centre is “providing a real presence and a help for our social needs.

“It is so needed.”

Wanden’s comments were echoed by Vincentian Conference President Bernard Hanaray.

“In our current times we see many devolving into deeper hardship and need, brought about by prohibitive costs of living – food, warmth, housing, travel – with few if not non-existent solutions currently evident,” said Hanaray.

“We hope our Centre will go some way to meet these needs.”

Hanaray noted the Levin St Vincent de Paul Conference was established 20 years ago with small numbers and few resources.

The tradition of helping others is long, though.

“Our ancestors provided the base for today’s wider community to offer practical and effective personal support to those in need”.

The new Prouse Street complex has a Vinnies Shop, a space for sharing and enjoying time together over tea and coffee, meeting facilities and office space.

It will also have places for community activities, advocacy work, working with other local community agencies and as a drop-in Centre where people can get clothes and furniture.

The Centre’s most important role though, is to enhance human dignity.

Vinnies has a three-year lease at the new site.

Dream realised

For many years Gerry Stevens, a parishioner of Pukekaraka and Kapi Mana Area President for Saint Vincent de Paul, dreamed of a Vincentian Centre that cares for people and enhances their dignity, a place that helps them in themselves and gives them ‘a step up’.

He is delighted his dream has been realised.

“It accords with the deeper values of St Vincent de Paul to be generous; seek integrity; be compassionate; show empathy; be responsive; provide advocacy and respect for each person,” said Stevens.

“These values will be expressed in this new building where people can come in and feel at home, have a cuppa and share with one another.”

As part of the support services, long time Vincentian Margaret Hannan is looking to set up space for craftwork, an exercise group and even a speaking group.

St Vincent de Paul President Terry Jordan said, “We are standing on the shoulders of our past when we showed care for one another.  We can achieve this here in Levin too.”

Karen Holland of Catholic Social Services Wellington said that the CSS will be available as needed to support the St Vincent de Paul Centre with its own expertise and with counsellors, strengthening the hospitality and training needed to provide excellent support.

Local Pukekaraka Chaplain and National Chaplain of St Vincent de Paul, Pā Alan Roberts, invited the 40 persons present to come through the building with him and, as he blessed it with holy water, to place their own blessing into the walls and rooms.

“Bless this building and all the guests and work that will be done here.  May we learn from the example of the carpenter’s son to transform the work of our hands into a blessed building up God’s creation and enhance the dignity of each person,” prayed Roberts.

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