FALL RIVER — Children living with domestic trauma are the most vulnerable population among us in Southern Massachusetts and elsewhere. Many are coping with childhood abuse as well as neglect, poverty, addictions, mental illness, domestic violence and other severe trauma within the family.
Through no fault of their own, they are innocent souls exist in situations that can negatively affect them for a lifetime. Many need intervention and the opportunity to be removed from home situations where dysfunction is so prevalent that their young lives are in peril.
The Southcoast is fortunate to be the home of St. Vincent’s Services, a not-for-profit agency committed to fostering the well-being of children, young adults, families, and the community through a holistic approach to treatment and care.
A ministry of the Diocese of Fall River, the dedicated staff of more than 275 include administrators, clinicians, psychiatrists, nurses, direct care and other vital staff are committed to the well-being of children and families.
Funded through the Massachusetts Department of children and families, private insurance and sponsors from the greater community, basic needs and care is met for more than 1,000 children and youth — newborn to 22 years of age, and their families.
Fundraising efforts finance the extras which, at times, are big ticket items like a new roof or windows for the campus that encompasses 18 acres.
Katie Dawkins, Director of Donor Relations, works diligently to secure donations from the community to enhance the culture at St. Vincent’s.
“Anything extra we do here is through donations. We have been fortunate to receive funds that have allowed us to expand our gardens with a new greenhouse erected next to the chapel and a toddler playground near the cottage for the Young Parent Living Program,” Dawkins said.
The upgrades planned for the near future will focus on improvements to the full gym on campus, specifically windows (there are more than 1,000 windows that need replacing), a new workout area and exercise equipment.
There are large and small ways to raise donations. Seasonal charitable events take place while larger, annual events St. Vincent’s organizes make up the majority of funds taken in.
At Christmas, one way to honor a loved one is to give to the Memorial Mass & Tree Lighting by sponsoring a light on the memorial tree for $10.00.
All proceeds directly support the continuum of services offered at Saint Vincent’s Services. Following the celebration of the Memorial Mass, the lights from the Memorial Tree glowed. Each light represents a loved one who has passed. In addition to honoring those lost during the Memorial Mass, their names will be added to a Memorial Book as a living memorial to be remembered during the evening Mass.
Another help is the giving tree sponsored by the Diocese of Fall River. Dioceses employees were invited to participate to the 6th Annual Giving Tree Event.
A wish list was submitted from the children residing at St. Vincent’s. They asked for a list of gifts that they would like from Santa (who delivered them personally).
All the items asked for on the list were under the Christmas tree in the Chancery and were delivered to the facility.
Annual events to raise funds include a summer gala in June, a bike run (motorcycle) in September and an annual appeal letter sent out to approximately 1,500 households and businesses.
Kristen Dutra, CEO of the agency, praised the generosity of donors, but said that support is stretched with so many non-profits looking for assistance.
“State funding pays for room and board and staffing, and private insurance pays for a portion of our outpatient services, but not upgrades to the facilities. Resources are hard to come by and we depend on grants and donations,” she said.
Saint Vincent’s Services at 2425 Highland Ave., Fall River. For more information, call Katie Dawkins, Director of Donor Relations and Fundraising at 508- 235-3228.