Welcome to the Website of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in New Zealand.
Fifth e-newsletter (December 2014) out now - Click Here
Marie Palmer – 2015 New Year’s Honour Recipient
53 years ago, a few days after her husband had been hospitalised in a hit and run, Marie Palmer answered a knock at her door.
It was a moment that changed her life.
The two visitors standing at her doorstep were from St Vincent De Paul and they had come to deliver a Christmas hamper and toys for her 10 month-old baby and support if she needed it.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Marie said. “And I made a promise to them and to God that I would dedicate my life to SVDP when I retired. And after twenty years as a hospice nurse, that is what I did.”
After following the ‘passion in her heart for helping people’, Marie has been awarded a Queen’s Honour in this year’s New Year Honour’s list for her contribution to St Vincent de Paul and the other social organisations she supports in Hawke’s Bay. In May she will be invested at Government House.
Marie believes that this honour is a wonderful opportunity for others to hear about the work of St Vincent de Paul.
For Marie her contribution through the Society and the other organisations that she works for, as well as being a JP, comes from a wish as a six year-old to help others. “If there is a need, then you go. It becomes a normal part of your daily life.”
Marie spends a day a week at the Vinnie’s shop helping to assess those who need food parcels, as well as those who require more support.
On a Tuesday, along with Brother Brian, a retired Marist brother, they visit those who have been referred by the shop, schools, parishes or social agencies. Visits are not just one-offs but are repeated until they can see some stability in the home. For many, these visits are marked in the calendar and are something to look forward to. And for some it may be the only outside visit they receive.
Marie believes that there is a lot of loneliness in the community. She and Brother Brian believe that many people trust them because they are non-judgemental, they build up trust and they make repeat visits. Marie says that the work is very rewarding and that it’s good to see a smile on a sad face of someone in despair.
“Life is great … you learn something from somebody every day. You can always find a positive thing in a grim situation, even if it is just a thank you from a grateful person or family,” she says.
Marie has always been an advocate for those struggling and trying to do their best on very little. She says that she knows what it is like for many families, as she had to cope with a husband in hospital for three years, a baby to look after and very little to live on.
“I think it helps that I can remember what it was like to really struggle,” she says.
Like so many volunteers in St Vincent de Paul, Marie wishes to continue her work for as long as she can.
“I’ll burn out, not rust out,” she says. “And I might retire when I’m 105.”
The Society acknowledges with gratitude the contribution made by Property Brokers to the establishment of this site.
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