St. Vincent de Paul was a parish priest at Chatillon-les-Dombes in 1617, when on a special Feast Day, a woman parishioner told him of a local family in dire need of help. The entire family was ill and none could care for the others. Vincent spoke of the family’s need during his sermon. As a result of this sermon an outpouring of charity was so spontaneous and abundant that the family was overwhelmed with food and visitors. Viewing the abundance of food and provisions, Vincent said, “This poor family will have too many provisions at one time and some will be spoiled and wasted. In a short time, these people will be reduced to their former state of need. Would it not be possible to induce these good women to give themselves to God to serve the poor permanently?”
A few days later, on August 23rd, Vincent called a meeting of the women of the area and suggested that they band together to carry out this good work. They agreed to form an association in which each would take her turn in serving the poor corporeally and spiritually. Thus, was the founding of the first Confraternities of Charity. The seeds that were planted at Chatillon-les-Dombes germinated and fl ourished in other districts. To maintain the spirit of charity and unity among them, St. Vincent chose Louise de Marillac, his devoted cooperatrix to visit the Associations to see that they were properly organized and work was performed in the right spirit. On March 11, 1934, Pope Pius XI canonized Louise and proposed her as a model for the Ladies of Charity.
The Ladies of Charity is the oldest, continuously functioning, volunteer lay organization in the world…400 years of women acting together against poverty. This exceptional charity work spread from France to Poland and to Italy until the “good work” of these women has reached over 200,000 volunteers who serve in 53 countries today. The Ladies of Charity USA is part of the International Association of Charities (AIC) with associations present in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, South America and North America.
The Ladies of Charity was built on the foundation of service to the poor and the marginalized in our communities. Our mission is to continue, expand and improve our charitable and spiritual works according to the directives and in the spirit of Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Louise de Marillac and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton through personal service to those in need.
MARY’S CORNER: Mary’s Corner is dedicated to serving families with children ages birth through 3 years by providing formula, baby food, diapers, clothing, essential baby and toddler items, toys and books. Volunteers at Mary’s Corner will assist in interviewing families, help them to “shop” for needed items, stock shelves and sort clothes and participate in promoting the family literacy and the Reading Project. In addition, our volunteers are needed to read and play with the children during the hours Mary’s Corner is open.
The Albany Association of the Ladies of Charity currently operates the following Mary’s Corners locations:
Cohoes Public Library – Open Tuesday and Thursday from 10am to noon
Sister Maureen Joyce Center Albany- Open Wednesday from 9:30am until 12:30pm
Mary’s Corners also operates a central storage room at the Daughters of Charity used to sort clothing and supplies, coordinate deliveries to the locations and monitor inventory. Volunteer hours are flexible, both days and evenings.
SISTER MAUREEN JOYCE CENTER GIVING ROOM: The Giving Room at the Sister Maureen Joyce Center serves homeless individuals from the Soup Kitchen with clothing and personal hygiene items. The Giving Room is open Monday and Thursday from 11:30am until 1:00pm. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Chris Sheridan at firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-438-7292 or Judy Farrell at 518-482-4735.
SATURDAY’S WITH THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY: One Saturday each month, volunteers from our Ladies of Charity meet with the Daughters of Charity at Saint Louise House to play games and cards, do service projects, have parties, or to just sit and chat and enjoy hospitality together. Saint Louise House is the home of many retired Daughters of Charity, many of the Daughters are infirm or from out of the area and would welcome seeing you! For more information or to volunteer, please contact Mary Clinton at email@example.com, 518-470-6120 or Lois Keefrider at firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-456-4973.
COATS FOR THE COMMUNITY: During early fall, Ladies of Charity collect coats from various locations and organizations around the Capital District. The Ladies sort the coats, set up the location and display the coats, and help community members choose coats. The actual distribution of coats takes place each October. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Kathy Ryan at email@example.com, 518-767-2022 or Beth McCrea at firstname.lastname@example.org, 724-954-9765.
BRIDGES OUT OF POVERTY: Bridges Out of Poverty is a comprehensive program in Cohoes that helps those struggling with poverty to overcome barriers to successful employment – a powerful and proven approach to effect systemic change for those living in generational poverty. Help is needed to mentor individuals who are taking the “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World” classes, co-facilitate classes, help with administrative needs such as fund-raising, record keeping, publicity. Days and hours are flexible. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Kathy Kavanaugh at email@example.com, 518-869-6520.
ONE TO ONE WITH THE DAUGHTERS: Matching up one Lady of Charity with one Daughter of Charity for personal visits periodically throughout the year. Please contact Sister Joanne Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-451-0362 for more information or to volunteer.
THE SOUP KITCHEN AT THE SISTER MAUREEN JOYCE CENTER: The Soup Kitchen is open for lunch on Monday and Thursday. Any time you can give to volunteer is welcome! No formal commitment is necessary. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Lois Keefrider at email@example.com, 518-456-4973.
THE FOOD PANTRY: The Food Pantry is located in the old St. Casmir’s Convent on Sheridan Avenue in Albany, next to the school. The Food Pantry is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 1pm. Any volunteer help would be welcome! For more information or to volunteer, please contact Alba Giordano at firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-439-2193.
Administrative Volunteer Opportunities
HOSPITALITY: This committee plans the yearly Installation dinner in May or June as well as the Fall Membership meeting. For more information, please contact Alba Giordano at email@example.com, 518-439-2193 or Mary Beth Mastrianni at firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-339-6701.
SPIRITUALITY: This committee plans the yearly Lenten Spiritual Day of Reflection, the Installation Liturgy and the Fall Membership Liturgy. In addition, our Spirituality Chairlady opens each meeting with prayer. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Ann Rose at email@example.com or 518-475-0772 or Sr. Joanne Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-451-0362.
NEWSLETTER: This committee secures and writes articles for the newsletter, which is published four times per year. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Christine Sheridan at email@example.com, 518-438-7292.
HISTORIAN: This committee takes pictures at our events and ministries, prepares poster boards and slide shows that are displayed at member events, and maintains all photos and other historical information. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Dore Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-456-5260.
PUBLICITY: Submits press releases to media outlets for all significant events of the Ladies of Charity. For more information to to volunteer, please contact Mary Clinton at email@example.com or 518-470-6120.
WEBSITE: Maintains and updates website for the Ladies of Charity. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Ann Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-475-0772.
PUBLIC POLICY/LEGISLATION: This committee informs the Ladies of issues of interest both on the federal level and the agenda of the NYS Conference of Catholic Bishops and provides information on lobbying and sending emails to the Governor and their legislators, or to their federal representatives. The Ladies are encouraged to join Catholic Action Network at nyscatholic.org and VoterVoice at aic.ladiesofcharity.us “Advocacy” to receive Alerts asking them to make their voice heard on important issues on the state and federal level. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Marie Copeland at email@example.com, 518-439-4050.
MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE: This committee keeps records of members, dues, recruits new members, and works with the Installation Committee Chair. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Shelby Blendell at firstname.lastname@example.org, 571-228-2783.
JUNIOR LADIES OF CHARITY: This committee works with the Junior Ladies of Charity chapters at the Academy of the Holy Names. For more information about the Junior Ladies at Academy of the Holy Names, please contact Mary Beth Mastrianni at email@example.com, 518-339-6701.
If you are interested in volunteering please contact us!