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Southwest Orange Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 1 month ago

Vincentians host 5K to benefit locals in need

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The fifth annual Friends of the Poor 5K Walk/Run is organized by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Holy Family Catholic Church.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

An upcoming 5K event will help provide some relief to local residents who need it most. 

The fifth annual Friends of the Poor 5K Walk/Run will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Bill Frederick Park in Orlando. The event is hosted by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Holy Family Catholic Church, and all proceeds benefit the society’s mission to provide assistance to the poor in Orange County.

“We serve the poor in terms of growing our own holiness and spirituality,” said Joe Mazloom, the president of SVDP at Holy Family Catholic Church. “We are the hands and feet of Christ. Christ said, ‘You fed me, you clothed me, you visited me.’ And that’s what we do.”

Mazloom added that the Friends of the Poor 5K is SVDP’s biggest fundraising event of the year. He said the 5K has grown in attendance each year, and so has the funds they’ve raised. Last year, the 5K raised nearly $17,000, and the event raises an average of $12,000 each year. Those funds have helped provide thousands of meals, as well as other services, to the individuals who seek help from SVDP. In addition to the 5K, runners will get to enjoy free food and refreshments, a silent auction, raffles, a variety of vendors and fellowship.

“It’s a very fun morning for families to come out to,” Mazloom said. “November is the perfect time of the year, and it’s at Bill Frederick Park, which is beautiful. It’s a wonderful venue. We’ve been doing (the 5K) at Bill Frederick (Park) now pretty much every year we’ve been doing the walk. … It’s a fun day, and it’s important for us from a fundraising point of view because it is, like I said, the biggest fundraiser that we do (each) year.

Joe Mazloom is the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Holy Family Catholic Church. The society provides much-needed services to the poor in Orange County, including distributing food from its food pantry.

“If you want to help the poor, you come to this event, and know that whatever you donate is going to be well spent,” he added.

The cornerstone of service at SVDP is home visits to the poor to assess the needs of an individual, but that’s just one method of service the SVDP members — who are called “Vincentians” — provide. In 2018 alone, the Vincentians of Holy Family Catholic Church provided more than 2,200 hours of one-on-one counseling; distributed more than 100,000 meals in Orange County; provided more than $75,000 in financial aid to cover emergency rent, utility bills, medical bills and auto repairs; provided 100 days of temporary housing; provided 2,500 new pairs of shoes for school, valued at $35,000, to the neediest children in Orange County; and distributed 300 Thanksgiving dinners, among other services.

“The philosophy of the society … is that there is no form of charity that is foreign to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,” Mazloom said. “I always remind people of that. There’s nothing way out there that we’re not going to do. The only thing that will encumber us will be our funds.”

What is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul?

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international organization of men and women who seek personal holiness through works of charity and assisting the poor. These men and women call themselves “Vincentians” in honor of the saint that the organization is named after. The society has a worldwide reach, and local branches  — called conferences — are typically tied to a parish. Each conference serves those in need within its community through home visits, mentoring, providing food, providing financial assistance and through other acts of charity. To learn more about Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Holy Family Catholic Church, visit svdpholyfamily.org.

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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