Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


McGonegals, Ruth Reams Receive Top Hat Awards As Outstanding St. Vincent De Paul Volunteers

Published April 22, 2004

The St. Vincent de Paul Society has awarded its 2004 Top Hat Award recognizing extraordinary community volunteers to Phil and Carol McGonegal and Ruth Reams.

The Top Hat Award is the highest honor given to St. Vincent de Paul Society members each year. Two awards are given to an individual or couple who have shown outstanding dedication and service to their community through the Society. SVDP is a nonprofit lay Catholic organization dedicated to assisting members of the community during times of need. Assistance is delivered to families and individuals in distress through volunteer chapters called conferences, which are located in Catholic parishes around the state. Members of the Society make home visits to those requesting aid, and work with clients to determine the best course of action to relieve their suffering—whether it be financial assistance, temporary housing, education and training or other forms of support. As active volunteers, the McGonegals and Reams have been on many of these calls.

“Carol and I get much more out of being able to help those in need than we give,” said Mr. McGonegal. “When you are able to do for others, you come away with an amazing sense of satisfaction. I think most Vincentians feel that way.”

The McGonegals are members of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Atlanta.

In addition to their regular work as SVDP volunteers, the husband-wife team has also spent countless hours managing the conference’s food pantry and volunteering in the thrift store. In 2003 they played a major role in managing the SVDP national conference in Atlanta, with Mr. McGonegal serving as chair.

“Phil and Carol are amazing resources for our organization,” said Jim Rosentreter, president of the SVDP Atlanta Council. “They are involved, enthusiastic and significant in whatever project they take on. They are model Vincentians.”

Reams is a member of St. Paul of the Cross Church in Atlanta and a past president of her church’s conference.

“Working with the Society has been very fulfilling,” said Reams. “When I am able to sit down, one-on-one with my neighbors, listen to their troubles and help them find a solution, I am so thankful. Even the smallest amount of help can mean so much to some.”

Reams also helped set up a temporary housing facility for men at Our Lady of the Americas Mission in Doraville and assisted in managing their meals service. For the past four years, she has served as chairperson of the “75 Basket Thanksgiving Project” for her parish.

“She is an amazing inspiration,” said Rosentreter. “Her work with the Society is tireless and her energy and enthusiasm are contagious. She is willing to do anything that needs to be done.”

SVDP is an international organization active in more than 135 countries worldwide. In addition to the direct assistance provided by volunteers in 67 conferences through Georgia, the Society also operates food pantries, a learning center, temporary housing programs and nine metro Atlanta thrift stores. It is funded primarily through individual contributions and more than 90 percent of funds go directly to clients. For information or to make a donation call (770) 458-5415 or visit