St. Vincent de Paul “Vincentians” Celebrate 80 Years of Service to Fond du Lac County In December of 1934 Ed Hurteau, James Murray, John Kiley, F. M. Ryan, Al Johnson, and Charles O’Brien and others organized the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Fond du Lac and in January of 1939 they received official international approval from the Society’s headquarters in Paris. Since the establishment and official approval St. Vincent de Paul in Fond du Lac County, Vincentians “good work” in the community has grown tremendously!
History of St. Vincent de Paul
The Society was established in the United States in St. Louis in 1845 and today has more than 750,000 members serving in 142 countries. U.S. membership is 128,000. The Society itself was started in the midst of catastrophic poverty in France in 1831 by Frederic Ozanam, a twenty-year old University of Paris law student who asked his Catholic friends, “What do we do?” With seven friends, he started a “Circle of Charity” in 1833. Soon after, the name was changed to Society of St. Vincent de Paul in honor of Vincent, their model, who in the 15th century became known as “The Apostle of Charity” and the “Father of the Poor.” The Society is a Catholic lay organization that is guided by St. Vincent de Paul’s mission “to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering.”The motto of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is “Spirituality, Service, Friendship.”
Today’s Fond du Lac “Vincentians” respond to people who call a client assistance number ((920) 922-3650). Following Jesus Christ’s advice (Mark 6:7), members go in pairs to visit the caller’s home. They provide direct help with food, rent, utilities and other basic needs and give a list of resources for local food programs, housing assistance, energy assistance, and health resources. For longer term financial solutions the Vincentians inform the client about community agencies which help with finding employment, financial budgeting, counseling, parenting, and abuse. Vincentians help people without regard to race, creed, national origins, age or gender. Although the Society is a Catholic organization, only about 20% of clients belong to the Catholic Church. Approximately 56% of those helped are children under the age of 18. Since October 2013, Vincentians have made 2962 home visits, helped 7339 people and given $234,338 in financial assistance to the needy in the community. Current President Bob Ramstack states “The Conferences are all functioning at a great level due to their fantastic leadership in place and all the dedicated volunteers that do home visits and answer calls in the call-center.”Service is not unique to St. Vincent de Paul. We collaborate with parish organizations, social service agencies and other volunteer organizations in our community.
A major funding source for the Fond du Lac Society is the St. Vincent de Paul Store located at: 330 N. Peters Avenue. This thrift store accepts community donations of quality used clothing, household goods, and furniture and sells them at greatly reduced prices. It provides items at no cost to people in times of crisis. The profits from the store provide about half of the Society’s funds for financial assistance to the poor. Additional funds come from money given directly to the Society through its annual fund raising appeal, estates, grants and other gifts. As a totally volunteer Society, administrative costs are minimal, and 93% of the money raised goes to serve the needy in Fond du Lac County.
If you would like to know more about St. Vincent de Paul-Fond du Lac, get involved as a volunteer or make a donation, please visit: www.svdadl.org or visit the store at 330 North Peters Avenue (the old Copp’s Supermarket).