Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago

Being a Vincentian—Dana's Story

I became a Vincentian because I learned first-hand what it was like during a difficult time in life to have people answer your request for help in a timely, compassionate way and what it was like when that request for help was met with cold indifference.

pyzik picture revisedAt 13 years old, I witnessed my father having a massive heart attack. Because our phone was not working, he drove a mile to my Uncle's house in the middle of the night looking for help. My Uncle answered that request for help by driving my father to the nearest hospital 20 miles away.

The perseverance and compassion of the doctors and nurses brought my father back from the dead three times that evening. How different my life would be if all those people didn't answer the call for help that night.

Six months later, open heart surgery to remove an aneurism from his heart, left my father disabled at the age of 36. Unfortunately, when requesting government assistance for his disability, he did not experience the same perseverance and compassion he had received from the life-saving doctors and nurses six months earler but instead his request for help was met with cold, indifference and much delay. He thought, "Doesn't anyone care that the sick man standing in front of them has four children to feed and no way to buy food."

Even the few programs in our area that claimed they help people, would answer my father's requests with "Sorry, we can't help you." How painful do you think it was to watch my father return home empty handed knowing there was nothing in the house to eat. How different my life would be if all those people answered the call for help.

I decided long ago, as I slept with an empty belly, that I would always try to be the person who answers that call for help like the Good Samaritan in the bible. Being a Vincentian allows me to give food to the parent in a difficult situation so their child doesn't have to go to bed hungry. Being a Vincentian allows me to alleviate the burdens of the sick, to support their mind, body, and spirit when they need it, not just when it's convenient to me.  

I want to thank the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for allowing me to represent them in answering the requests for assistance. I also thank the generous benefactors who help the Society answer the requests for help, in a timely and compassionate way, by providing the funds needed—allowing us to continue helping people—one person at a time. How different life will be for someone because we answered their request for assistance.

We hear how devastating life events often change a person to be more sensitive to others. So, perhaps tragedy is not God forsaking us, but rather God calling us and giving us the opportunity to finally be the person we were truly meant to be - a sensitive soul.

Dana Pyzik is a Vincentian member from St. Linus Parish in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is the creator of the Spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, Share Your Wisdom Facebook page. The page is an oasis for Vincentians to nurture their holy spirit; to learn more about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and a place to get to know other members of the Vincentian family.