Written by Lauren Rinehart, Girl About Town blogger
Growing up in the Dayton area, you hear about St. Vincent de Paul all the time – clothing drives, fundraising, etc. People just know about this organization and their mission to provide safe shelter to those in need, even if they’ve never needed to use it themselves. When I was asked to take a tour of St. Vincent, I thought I knew just about everything they do but I was wrong: There is so much more to St. Vincent than I realized! Here are 5 of the things I learned about St. Vincent during my tour of their facilities:
1. In addition to all those fundraisers and clothing drives you participate in at work, there are tons of opportunities to get more hands-on with your charitable giving. For instance, did you know that you can volunteer with a group of friends/coworkers/family to prepare and serve a meal at one of the St. Vincent shelters? There are tons of volunteer opportunities at St. Vincent – click here for more information on how to get involved.
2. St. Vincent de Paul helps to provide shelter to those in need but I didn’t know how many people are involved in helping to keep people in their homes in the first place. There are 35 “conferences” of St. Vincent (33 parishes and 2 universities – Wright State and University of Dayton) each with the goal of helping people in their local communities by offering direct assistance to help keep families in their homes. Want to find the conference in your neighborhood? Click here for a list of conferences by zip code.
3. Absolutely no donation to St. Vincent is wasted. Seriously. Let’s say you donate clothing to the St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter for Women and Families and they don’t currently have a need for all of it. They send the unused items to be sold at their Community Thrift Store or to any of the 35 conferences that might need clothing for their community members. If you donate food items and they don’t get used for meals, they go to the families who shop at the Food Pantries. They make sure that nothing you donate goes to waste so check out their wish list for the items they could use right now.
4. It’s so…organized! I don’t know about you but my impression of shelters has been set by movies and TV and I assumed that they were some form of controlled chaos. They are usually depicted as barely able to serve the community – understaffed, underfunded, in shambles. I was so happy to see that the Gateway Shelters at St. Vincent are calm, organized, with every need of their guests taken into consideration. I can only imagine how welcome this must be to the people they serve.
5. The statistics are pretty surprising. I know that Dayton has a pretty high poverty rate but I had no idea that this would be so represented in the data from St. Vincent. In the first 3 months of 2015 they provided a total of 38,019 shelter nights to people in our community and in 2013, St. Vincent provided shelter to 4,000 men, women, and children in the Dayton area. These numbers are staggering when you think of all of the people affected by homelessness right here in our backyard. There are other numbers to consider though: 60,000 – 3,000 – 10,000.
- 60,000: The number of hours in service by the 35 area conferences of St. Vincent
- 3,000: The number of volunteers who have donated their time in the effort to eliminate homelessness in Dayton
- 10,000: The number of people in the past decade who have permanently escaped homelessness thanks to the dedication and compassion of St. Vincent staff and volunteers
I’m so glad I took the opportunity to tour the St. Vincent facilities to see them firsthand. If you’re interested in scheduling at tour or learning more about St. Vincent, contact the administration office at (937)222-7349.