The Mission of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering 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, members, who are 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.
The Society de St. Vincent de Paul (SvdP) St. Mary Marion Conference is part of the Columbus Diocese North Northeast District Council. The St. Mary Marion Conference has been officially aggregated since 2006. SvdP services are provided to the residents of Marion County of Ohio. According to the 2016 U.S. Census, American Community Survey the county has 65,620 people with 17.4% of the individuals with income below the poverty level. Within the last six months another food pantry serving over 1,000 families in Marion county closed and are not longer providing food.
St. Vincent De Paul Society of Marion was founded in 1928 by three St. Mary Parishioners, Albert Schmidt, Harry Drake, and Shorty Norris. With their desire to respond the needs of their less fortunate brothers and sisters, they established a food pantry in a basement storage room of the St. Mary Marion church. In 1970 a thrift center was established with three goals:
- supply emergency clothing for the needy
- provide a source for low cost clothing and hard goods
- provide additional funding for the food pantry. The thrift center was located in various rented buildings off site from the church.
The church basement distribution of food had many logistical problems having to work around church functions and the grade school cafeteria. In 2008 the parishes of St Mary parish purchased the present St. Vincent De Paul building at 342 N Marin St. Marion. This allowed the consolidation of the thrift center and the food pantry. With the improved logistic issues, the center was able to be open five days per week and better able to supply food to the needy.
The move to the new building allowed food to be distributed using a client free choice approach which resulted in less wasted food and improved client satisfaction. From the 691 households served in 2005 out of the church basement, the center has been able to reach 3,148 households or 8,569 individuals in 2017. Over 170 volunteers currently organize and operate the food pantry and thrift center. Funding for the services is equally divided between donations and grants, thrift center sales, and parishioners of St. Mary Church.