Six needy local families a FWKCC, SJN Giving Tree focus

Saint Vincent De Paul volunteers throughout the world help with physical and spiritual needs of their community, and Saint John Neumann Catholic Church’s Society conference helps people in the local community with everything from food to utility bills.
Every year, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce gets behind a local organization to help those in need.

This holiday season, Chamber has adopted six local families through St. John Neumann Catholic Church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, and is accepting new, unwrapped gifts for its “Giving Tree.”

Chamber members and guests may bring the items during FWKCC’s Holiday Open House from 4 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 11, at its 11826 Kingston Pike office.

“It’s wonderful,” Richard Tabler, the Society’s president, said about the Chamber’s offer to adopt families. “They called our SJN office and asked who they could help with this.”

Anyone can support the Society year-round simply by calling the church or Tabler at 865-742-6121.

SJN members started a Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help those seeking help from the church, he said.

“Back in 2007, our priest was Father John Dowling, and Mike Gouge was the deacon,” Tabler recalled. “The church was getting a lot of calls from people who needed help. (Dowling and Gouge) realized they needed more hands to be the hands and feet and face of Jesus to the people in the community who needed help.”

Gouge already had been involved in St. Vincent de Paul at another parish, so “he let it be known we wanted to start a conference at St. John Neumann,” Tabler said.

The focus for SJN’s Society has been to take phone calls from those in need — whether for food, clothing, rent or utility bills — and find assistance.

It also includes visiting callers.

“There are often people who had pretty extensive needs,” Tabler said. “The visits help members better understand the needs and provide spiritual support.”

A critical element is making “contact personally with people to share God’s love with them, as well as to help them with their physical needs,” Tabler said, adding “the spiritual aspect of our group, really, is a pre-eminent part of it. We pray at our meetings, we pray for the people that we serve and for one another, and we pray with the people who call us and when we visit them.”