Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together and offer person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.
As a reflection of the whole family of God, the members of St. Vincent de Paul Society, known as Vincentians, are drawn from every ethnic and cultural background, age group, and economic level. Vincentians are united in an international society of charity by their spirit of poverty, humility and sharing, which is nourished by prayer and reflection, mutually supportive gatherings and adherence to a basic Rule.
Organized locally, Vincentians witness God’s love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served because, in them, Vincentians see the face of Christ.
An essential precept of the Society’s work is to provide assistance while conscientiously maintaining the confidentiality and dignity of those who are served. The Society assumes a role of advocacy for those who are defenseless or voiceless. Some 12 million persons are helped annually by Vincentians in the United States.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society in Kenosha
Kenosha was organized as a Council on November 2, 1938 with its first conference at St. Mark’s Parish in Kenosha. The group set forth to find a building to house donations and offer individuals a site to pick up needed items. A thrift store (‘Salvage Bureau’) was opened at 5519 13th Avenue in 1940. In the 1970’s the Tyson family donated the current building. After renovations, the old Tyson’s Sporting Goods Store at 6201 14th Avenue became the new home of The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. The store was geared toward the general public to generate funds to support conference works.
About half of the Catholic parishes in Kenosha County have formed St. Vincent de Paul Society conferences, which are members of the larger Kenosha County council. Local conferences include the parishes of St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Therese and St. Elizabeth in Kenosha; St. Anne in Pleasant Prairie; St. John the Evangelist in Twin Lakes; and Holy Cross, which has churches in Bristol and Wilmot. Conference representatives meet monthly to report on disbursements and discuss local poverty issues.
Revenue from sales at the St. Vincent store on 14th Avenue provides grant money to each of the conferences. From October 2009 through September 2010 $115,082 in financial aid has been distributed to benefits clients through the conferences. Additionally, another $50,000 has been donated to those in need in the form of vouchers for furniture, clothing, household goods, etc (items donated to the store).
St. Vincent de Paul Kenosha recently opened a Donation Center and Mini-Thrift Store west of 1-94 in Kenosha County. Located at 39515 60th St. Wheatland, WI 53105, the new Center provides a place for people to drop off donations and shop in a boutique-like setting. Since opening in August 2011, the St. Vincent de Paul West store has filled vouchers to help needy nearby residents and has donated 145 pairs of shoes to the Shoes for Haiti effort.