Teens join together to serve others Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 24, 2015 -- 12:00 AM


St. Vincent de Paul Youth Service Council
Members of the St. Vincent de Paul Youth Service Council show off some of the food donations they received prior to a "4 Miles for Food" walk. Pictured from left are: Melissa Schroeder from St. Dennis Parish in Madison, Claire Finucane  from Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Sun Prairie, and Kendra Cashman, from St. Albert the Great Parish in Sun Prairie. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- "This is a place where you’ll make a difference."

Those are bold words coming from Edgewood High School junior DC Morris, but they are true.

Morris, along with 21 other teens, makes up the St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Youth Service Council.

Nearly two years ago, the society's District Council of Madison formed the council consisting of high school students who serve as representatives for their home parishes or schools.

Up to two representatives are selected from each parish or school including: Cathedral Parish, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, St. Dennis Parish, St. Maria Goretti Parish, Edgewood High School, and St. Ambrose Academy in Madison; Christ the King Parish in McFarland; Holy Mother of Consolation Parish in Oregon; Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish and St. Albert the Great Parish in Sun Prairie; St. Bernard Parish in Middleton; and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains.

Some of the teens, like Morris, had participated in St. Vincent de Paul service projects before with other councils.

Since its start, the teens have taken on many charitable projects such as a car wash, walk for hunger, hosting a Packers party at the Port St. Vincent men’s home, and volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.

"We really do a lot of good through the community based on the values of St. Vincent de Paul," said Morris.

Helping the community

"There's no better way to help your community than really getting to know the poor and the people who really need your help," said Victor Pinto, 2015 graduate of Verona High School, member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, and current freshman at Miami University of Ohio.

"There's no better feeling than seeing the smile on someone’s face after you've helped them with something even as small as just helping in the food pantry," Pinto added.

"You're not only giving back to your community, but you’re also making new friends and planning events," said Anh Hoang, now a sophomore at Edgewood College in Madison and former representative to the council from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison. "You do a lot of fun things," she added.

Hoang always enjoys reflecting back on the events as a team -- determining what worked, what didn't, what can be done next time -- with her fellow council members.

This past summer, the council coordinated and took part in the "4 Miles for Food Walk" in downtown Madison.

The teens raised more than $1,500 for the SVDP food pantry by walking, along with other St. Vincent de Paul society members and supporters, from Brittingham Park in Madison, past Monona Terrace, up State St., and back to the park.

"I really like helping out in the community," said Melissa Schroeder, from St. Dennis Parish in Madison.

Schroeder said she also enjoys getting to know teens in other schools and parishes in the area.

"You know that you impact people's lives," said Morris.

Looking ahead to a new year

"The St. Vincent de Paul Youth Service Council had a great first year and helped many people through its efforts and events," said Gayle Westfahl, member services coordinator for the local council of the society.

"It was fun for me to watch high school students with a heart for serving others interacting with other people their age who have the same desire. It was also inspirational for me to see God working through the compassion and skill of those in the group.

"We are really looking forward to the coming year with having some veterans on the youth service council as well as new representatives excited about serving those in need and connecting that to their faith."

The teens recently had a kickoff retreat and planning day where they brainstormed projects they will be working on in the coming months.

High school students interested in growing in their faith through service to others in friendship can submit an application to serve as representative for their parish or school.

The council is still accepting applications for unfilled representative roles.

For more information, contact Gayle Westfahl at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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