Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


SVdP Reorganizes, Gains New Truck

Published February 8, 2007

The Atlanta Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society has had a busy start to the year, filling several vacant positions, promoting two assistants to managers, and reorganizing its senior staff structure. Mary Ellen Cenzalli has been hired as the new director of development, and Brian M. Freel has joined the staff as director of Vincentian support.

In addition, the Atlanta Foundation and the David, Helen and Miriam Woodward Fund each donated $30,000 to the Atlanta Council to fund the purchase of a new delivery truck—a diesel-powered 2007 Isuzu NQR box model with a lift gate and lockable storage. The box sides are colorfully decorated to serve as a traveling billboard, increasing public awareness of the Society and its mission.

“Our ‘New Year’s resolution’ is to greatly improve our services to people in need, as well as to the Vincentians, who are the volunteer members of the Society,” said John A. Berry, Atlanta Council executive director. “To achieve our resolution, we’ve hired new staff members and we’ve reorganized our internal structure. We’re also adding new services to help our Vincentian members better assist their clients.”

Jane Currie has been promoted to deputy executive director and director of projects. Previously, she was the director of merchandise donations. In her new position, Currie will support the executive director and act in his absence as well as provide coordination and oversight of the internal operations of the Council office. She also retains responsibility for the Council’s eight thrift stores, car donations program and recycling program.

Susan Butler Allison, former director of operations, has been named to the new position of director of programs. Her new responsibilities include the Council’s Learning Center, direct aid program, grant program and volunteer coordination. Ursula Davis has been promoted to Learning Center manager, and Daniel West was promoted to Conference Services manager.

As the new development director, reporting to the executive director, Cenzalli will assist in developing and implementing a comprehensive fundraising plan for the Council. She will also support the Council’s parish-based volunteer conferences in their fundraising efforts. In addition, she will manage the Council’s donor database.

Cenzalli previously served as the development director for St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Atlanta. Before that, she was the associate development director with the National Kidney Foundation of Georgia. She also has a long history of volunteer activity, having served on the boards of Atlanta To Encounter Christ and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Cenzalli has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Kennesaw State University.

As director of Vincentian support, Freel will supervise all membership services including training, requests for information, leadership development, conference financial reporting, and spiritual direction. He will also assist parishes and Catholic high schools in establishing new adult and youth conferences. Freel will report to the executive director.

Previously, Freel was the youth ministry coordinator at Transfiguration Church in Marietta. Before that, he worked for the American Book Co. and as a teacher in the Cobb County school system. Freel is also co-founder of the Seamless Garment Catholic Worker program and a volunteer with Pax Christi Transfiguration. He holds a master’s degree in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore.

The staffers are busy in their new positions to serve those in need across the region. In the last fiscal year, the Society served more than 212,000 people in need in metro Atlanta and North Georgia. Specifically, $567,663 in free food was delivered through 33 food pantries, and $116,641 in free clothing was distributed.

The Atlanta Council will use the 18-foot box truck to pick up donations from residences, clothing donation bins and the Council’s eight thrift stores in metro Atlanta. It will also be used to receive food and clothing donations from drives hosted by churches and community groups.

“A good, dependable truck is critical to our operations,” said Currie, who oversees the thrift stores. “We put thousands of miles on our delivery truck each year, and our old truck is getting very run down. We needed a new truck that we could count on day to day.”

“This is the best delivery truck we’ve ever had,” added Currie. “Because of the two foundations’ generosity, we were able to choose exactly the right truck to meet our needs and as a bonus, we were able to get extended warranty so we can keep the truck well-maintained and in good shape for many years.”

The St. Vincent de Paul Society is an international Catholic volunteer-based nonprofit organization that helps people in need, regardless of their race or religion. Since 1903, the Society’s Atlanta Council has offered a wide range of services: direct financial aid, education and training, free food and clothing, and temporary housing. In 2005, the Council was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award. This award given by Emory University honors organizations that exemplify a commitment to social justice, celebrate diversity, and are actively engaged in building a better future for all mankind.