Galion’s legacy of generosity continues


The holiday season may be over, but the spirit of giving is still strong in the city of Galion.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been quietly helping the people of Galion for generations. Rich Henry has been part of that mission for most of his life.

He said St. Vincent has been around for nearly 200 years old on a global scale but dates back at least a generation in Galion. Henry watched his parents run the Galion branch as he was growing up.

“Us kids took it over eventually,” he explained. Now in his 80s, Henry has been giving back to the community for decades.

Through coordination with a network of Galion churches, Henry and the other volunteers at St. Vincent are able to offer help to community members through food and clothing donations, anonymously paying the occasional utility bill, and helping others get to job interviews.

Cooperative Christian Services and the Galion Administorial Association are two of the main groups Henry finds himself working with, though several other area churches of various denominations also lend a helping hand. With these organization’s access to the community, Henry is able to identify community members who may be in need of a helping hand.

“We’ll help people to a point if they were genuinely in need, but if they could go out and get jobs, we both know they should work,” Henry said.

The goal of St. Vincent’s charity is to help its recipients eventually stand on their own and become contributing members of the community.

Henry said that from time to time, he has even helped community members find apartments and has driven them to job interviews. He even keeps a list of companies in the area that are looking for new employees.

“We’re not just out handing stuff out,” he said. “We’re attempting to help.”

Even with all of Henry’s efforts, the charities could not be as effective without the support of the local community.

“We’ve never run out of money. We’ve never run out of food. Or anything else,” Henry said. “We’ve always found that there’s money about to be donated about the time we think that we’re down on our money and our food – we get a large donation.”

In all of his years working with St. Vincent, Henry said he has never had to fundraise.

“I do not ask for donations for St. Vincent de Paul. They just come in,” he said.

In addition to support from the community, St. Vincent has also been able to rely on some help from the local police department. Officers occasionally identify community members who may be in need of some extra help and will drop off donations at recipients’ homes from time to time.

“We grew up thinking that the cops were always after us. (This is) the lighter side of the Galion Police Department,” Henry said.

At one time, Henry added, many community churches had gas cards available for those who needed them. However, they have found working with the Galion Police Department allows them to more effectively distribute the funds. Officers are able to disperse the cards at their discretion so that the funding goes to those who truly need it.

“Galion police aren’t just here to give tickets out,” Henry said.

Now 84 years old, Henry is trying to take a step back from running St. Vincent and allow the next generation to participate, but he knows that the work he and his parents have put in will continue.

“Generation after generation people know what we do,” Henry said.

Those who would like to contribute to the work that Henry and other members of St. Vincent de Paul do can make donations to the organization through St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Gallion.

Hannah Bryan is a correspondent for the Galion Inquirer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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