Why you want to know Marvin Salinas: Marvin has served as the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of the Mother Teresa Conference for the past five years. He is also serving in his second year as treasurer of the District Council of the Arkansas Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Born in Managua, Nicaragua, Salinas has seen the face of poverty in his home country. Currently, the society serves 1,000 families each year in the food pantry, makes 400 home visits and helps 80 families at its annual Christmas event. The 36-member society relies on the donations of businesses and individuals as well as the success of the Black Bag campaign, the fall coat sale and the annual Walk for the Poor for funding.
Sister Anita M. DeSalvo, RSM, said, “Marvin is a man truly grounded in his faith. He has a heart whose actions exemplify justice. He is not about just providing ‘hand-outs’ to those in need but encourages us, in the society, to try to learn the story of those for whom we do home visits.”
Parish: St. Vincent de Paul Church
Occupation: Mechanical designer for Northwest Arkansas Sheet Metal
Family: Married to Mariztella Salinas, a preschool teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School; and one daughter, Vanessa, 15.
Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year has been “Worth it.” What investments of time or money have you made recently to enrich your faith?
Even though the faith component of our family budget is surely sacrificial, the biggest investment in our faith is the amount of time devoted to doing God’s work for the poor. It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to assist our neighbors in need, and it is only possible thanks to the generosity and financial sacrifice of a whole community of Catholics responding to Christ’s call.
What initially inspired you to become involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Society?
I was invited to go on a Christmas delivery and make a home visit 10 years ago and I realized that the poverty I was used to seeing in my country was also right here. It is hidden and may not be obvious at first, but you can go just around the block and see your neighbor in need. I wanted to put my Catholicism in action.
Addressing the issue of poverty is both a global and local problem. What do you struggle with as an individual in being a part of the solution?
We want to address the larger concern of poverty worldwide as well. We found that there is a program in which we can “twin” with another conference in the world that shares some of the same concerns. It just so happens that we have been “twinning” with another society that is in Nicaragua for the past three years. We send a monetary donation to help with a small preschool that will buy food and clothing for the children.
How has your participation in the society helped to strengthen your faith over the years?
If you are able to make a home visit, it puts you right back to the reason you are doing this. I want to give an example to my daughter to show her the importance of faith and sacrifice. I have always had a desire for social justice and fairness.
What do you do personally to strengthen your faith?
One thing is to study or listen to God’s word telling us to feed, clothe and shelter him, and another is to encounter him face to face every time you respond to his cry for help. Any time you respond you get closer to finding the true value of our faith.
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