Skip to main content

Franklin - Local Town Pages

St. Vincent de Paul Walk for the Poor Saturday, October 15, 2022

100% of the proceeds of St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary Parish Walk for the Poor, to take place October 15th, will go to Franklin residents in need, and all are welcome to join. Photo courtesy of St. Mary Parish St. Vincent de Paul Society.

By J.D. O’Gara
Don your sneakers and get ready to help your neighbors! The annual St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary Parish Walk for the Poor will take place rain or shine on the morning of Saturday, October 15, 2022, from 9 a.m. to noon. The walk is SVDP’s only formal fundraiser, and 100% of the proceeds go back to Franklin residents in need.


For 32 years, the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) of St Mary Parish has been there to help people in need in Franklin regardless of race, religious beliefs or ethnic background. The group provides clothing and furniture vouchers through its SVDP Thrift Stores in Stoughton and Plainville, supplies non-perishable food and paper products from its pantry to supplement other food resources, and assists Franklin residents financially during an unexpected crisis with help paying rent, utilities, medical bills, food and gas, car repairs and more. Last year the group helped Franklin families, including single Moms, seniors, neighbors and even those who were homeless 577 times for over $71,000. 
This year, the need is even greater. Jim Baillio, President of St. Mary’s SVDP chapter, says more calls are coming in, and the need is rising. “We are seeing a sizable increase, especially with what’s going on in the world with inflation, and rent is going up for people, electricity is going up for people, food is always a challenge, and gas is going up. These are high priorities,” says Baillio, explaining that the first eight months of this year Franklin’s SvDP gave out over 600 bags of food and over 140 hygiene bags, about the same as they gave out in the entirety of last year.
“Coming out of COVID, there’s people who’ve lost jobs. I know they’re saying unemployment is low, but people don’t have the jobs they used to have. They might not have as high a level job or it’s more intermittent. That creates challenges for people, when they have a lot of needs and inconsistent income,” says Baillio. While last year, government stimulus money and other programs designed to offset the effects of the pandemic helped folks in need, he explains, “those have gone away now.”
“In addition to the economic situation, rent has gone up,” Rent is a huge problem, says volunteer Nancy Schoen. “Affordable housing in Franklin is at a premium. I know there’s a very long list. We have seen some people move out Franklin, and we’ve also seen a greater need. It’s not (just) people who are on a fixed income or who are at home, but people who are working, who are struggling to make ends meet.”
St. Vincent de Paul volunteers have gone back to the work of visiting with Franklin residents who have expressed a need. Volunteers pair up to meet with their neighbors in their homes, to help assess the situation and match the residents not only with aid from their society, but also with other resources, working closely with many charitable and government organizations.”  
Helping people in need maintain dignity is an important part of the work. Schoen says that having two people visit helps, and all of it is confidential.
“You’re talking to somebody; you need that extra ear; you’ve got to show empathy. We’re trying to understand where they are, and it does help to have that second person, to make sure we hear things correctly, and it makes followup better.”
“When someone calls, we try to get back as soon as possible,” says Baillio. “We’re not a social service organization, but we’re there to be a partner or a friend with someone in need.”
Baillio explains that COVID forced some changes that have helped SVDP volunteers connect folks to various resources. “Communication has been significantly enhanced, and that enabled us to continue our work consistently (during the pandemic).” Thanks to an online platform, a computer software volunteers working on a conference call can upload information immediately, as well as disperse information on resources.
Both Baillio and Schoen say the St. Mary Parish community has been very generous, for which they are grateful.
“They’ve stepped up in helping us both financially as well as food. Our food pantry is very small, and we have seen volume (get depleted) lot more than the past,” says Schoen. “We’re grateful we’re able to help a little bit, but it’s also very challenging, because there’s obviously a lot of need, and we have limited resources.”
The Walk for the Poor helps a great deal, and its new route has proved a positive move.
“Walking around the Common, we loved that idea,” says Schoen. “It’s nice to highlight the beautiful land we have in center of town and across from the church, it’s a third of a mile around the common, basically up to about three miles. It was great to see some of the high school students, (who got community service hour) last year … We’re very, very grateful for our support from the participants and our community.”
Walkers will receive a free t-shirt, provided by St. Mary Knights of Columbus Council 1847, who also provide bottled water.
If you would like to join the walk or support SVDP’s mission of helping residents of Franklin in need, you may make a financial donation in either of two ways.
Send a check to: SVdP 1 Church Square, Franklin, MA 02038 OR donate   Online to the St. Mary’s SVdP team at: 
For questions, call SVdP at (508) 918-2291.