St. Vincent de Paul's Bishop Ott Shelter Program is bracing for the upcoming hard freeze.

FullSizeRender.jpg

St. Vincent de Paul's Bishop Ott Shelter Program is bracing for the upcoming hard freeze. 

 

We will expand bed capacity and anticipate serving over 100 homeless men, women and children tonight and for the cold nights to come.  In 2017, we provided day and night shelter services to over 1,200 men, women and children, and provided over 25,000 guest nights of shelter.

 

We are prepared to accommodate homeless men, women, and children in need of shelter during this cold weather. Our freeze plan will continue through the freezing temperatures this coming week. 

 

As a community leading homeless services provider, our shelter program operates three night shelters (with a 120 + bed capacity) and one homeless day center. We currently operate two emergency shelters for men and one for homeless women and children. We expect to fill all beds and will make room for emergency cases. Our Day Center will provide a warm place for homeless women and children.

 

In addition to providing shelter, our programs offer services to help individuals break the cycle of homelessness and become self-sufficient. Our programs have a remarkable record of helping the homeless obtain employment, affordable housing and other things necessary to become self-sufficient. Our philosophy of giving a hand-up, not a hand-out, has been a successful approach.

 

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is one of Baton Rouge's oldest charitable institutions, serving our community for over 150 years.  Our mission, through person-to-person contact, mass feeding, sheltering, and other channels, encompasses every form of aid which alleviates suffering.

Dr. Martin Luther King!

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 2.10.08 PM.png

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we remember the importance of serving those in need.  Dr. King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?"

At St. Vincent de Paul, we are dedicated to feeding, clothing, housing and healing individuals and families in our community who have nowhere else to turn for help. But just as important, we help others serve their neighbors in need through different volunteer opportunities. And we believe that everyone can help someone regardless of age or economic background.

Join us in following the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, by serving those most in need in our Capital Region.  

Every day at our St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, we serve nutritious meals to hundreds of individuals and families. 

Every night at our Bishop Ott Shelter Program, we provide shelter to homeless men, women and children.

Every day and night we are working to make our community a better place for those in need.  Volunteer today, and do something for someone in need.  Together we can and do make a difference!

Click here to learn about our many volunteer opportunities and find out how you can sign up today and get involved in our community mission!

Give the Best Gift of All.... Yourself!

In 2018, Give the Best Gift of All – Yourself!

Every day there are people who are praying for a miracle – just an everyday miracle – like a hot meal, a prescription filled, a warm bed or a decent pair of shoes. You can help.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Dining Room Volunteers – Help with our bags of hope program and meal service at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room.
  • Pharmacy Volunteers – We have a volunteer job for you helping us with our Fill A Prescription for the Needy effort.
  • Manna Givers - We need individuals or groups who can bring in a purchased or prepared supper once a month for our homeless guests.
  • Book and Collectible Volunteers – Help us sort and organize donated books and antiques. In addition, we need help organizing clothing/shoe donations for needy families at St. Vincent de Paul Stores throughout our community!
  • Many Other Volunteer Opportunities – Waiting Just for YOU - Visit us at svdpbr.org or email us at volunteers@svdpbr.com, or call us today at (225) 383-7837, ext. 207.

Visit us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @svdpbatonrouge !

Make a great New Year's Resolution and get involved with St. Vincent de Paul!

New Year!

Happy New Year! A new year gives us all an opportunity to cherish the memories of the past and look forward to a future filled with hope and excitement. 

As I reflect back on my 28 years at St. Vincent de Paul, I feel so very blessed to have had the opportunity to serve so many people in need. As I start my 29th year, I have so many good memories. In 2003, I wrote the below article for our Vincentian Charities Newsletter. It captures one of my countless memories of the importance of our work, and how everyone makes a difference through our mission of charity. 

I hope you enjoy the article, and thank you for helping us to provide hope and help to so many of the poor and homeless in our Capital City.

“One of the things I love most about my job is the opportunity to go out into the community and share the story of the Society. Through the years I have given countless talks to professional groups, civic clubs, and social organizations. Most of the time, people are very receptive to the message of the Society, but occasionally I run into a tough crowd – usually a group of individuals who might not know about our work in the community or might think that we just give hand-outs. About eight months ago, I had a special speaking opportunity and I really wanted to do well. The day came, and I went to speak to this group of 24 individuals. It turned out to be a really tough group, and I bombed. 

The group was my daughter, Madison’s pre-K class, and I believe my message was too simple for today’s sophisticated kids. Fortunately, being the father of twins, I had 30 days to prepare myself for the next presentation to my oldest twin daughter, Miranda’s class. Over the next 30 days, as I thought through what I wanted to say, I came up with nothing. The day came and I walked into the classroom, basically praying that God would help me with this important message. As I stood in front of the classroom, a question suddenly popped into my mind. I asked the class, “What does it mean to be rich?” 

24 little hands went up. One of the pre-schoolers said that to be rich meant that you have a lot of money in the bank. Another said that you have lots of toys. Without exception, all the answers were about material wealth. I told the kids, “Yes, those are all ways that you can be rich, but who wants to know the most important place to be rich?” Again, 24 hands shot into the air and you could have heard a pin drop. I said, “The most important place to be rich is in your heart. How many of you want to know how to get rich in the heart?” 24 little hands went up again. Like little sponges, they absorbed every word as I told them the way to be truly wealthy is by giving and sharing with your family, your friends and the less fortunate. The kids got the message and with the help of their teachers held a toy collection for our shelter.

During this holiday season, I would like to thank each member of our St. Vincent de Paul family for having rich hearts, for giving of yourselves, for unselfishly sharing your time, talent and treasure with the less fortunate of our community.

-- Michael J. Acaldo, President & CEO, St. Vincent de Paul Charities

St. Vincent de Paul Anticipates Providing Shelter to Over 100 Tonight!

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.24.30 AM.png

St. Vincent de Paul Anticipates Providing Shelter to Over 100 Tonight

As a community leading homeless services provider, St. Vincent de Paul's Bishop Ott Shelter Program provided shelter to nearly 100 homeless men, women and children last night. We anticipate serving well over 100 tonight.

In 2017, we provided day and night shelter services to over 1,200 men, women and children, and provided over 25,000 guest nights of shelter.

We put our freeze plan into effect before this past New Year’s Day weekend, and continue to be prepared to accommodate homeless men, women, and children in need of shelter during this cold weather. Our freeze plan will continue through the first week of January.

Our program operates three night shelters (with a 120 + bed capacity) and one homeless day center. We currently operate two emergency shelters for men and one for homeless women and children. We expect to fill all beds and will make room for emergency cases. Our Day Center will provide a warm place for homeless women and children. In addition to providing shelter, our programs offer services to help individuals break the cycle of homelessness and become self-sufficient. Our programs have a remarkable record of helping the homeless obtain employment, affordable housing and other things necessary to become self-sufficient. Our philosophy of giving a hand-up, not a hand-out, has
been a successful approach.

In addition, the opening of our Sweet Dreams Shelter for women and children expansion is projected to open in January. This expansion will add more than 40 additional beds to our 36-bed facility, significantly expanding our ability to serve the homeless. We are so excited about opening the doors of this new facility which is so need in our community.

Cold temperatures always put extra stress on the limited resources and volunteers of our small non-profit. Individuals interested in assisting the homeless can do so by supporting current shelter needs. We currently need: blankets, adult coats; men, women and children’s underwear; socks; knit caps; gloves; scarves; reading glasses (all strengths); slippers; feminine hygiene products; towels and washcloths; toiletry items such as deodorant, soap, shampoo, body wash, lotion, and body powder; twin, full, & crib size sheets; paper products (napkins, paper towels, toilet paper); disposable cups, plates, bowls, knives, forks, and spoons; and rain gear. Call us at 383-7837 for more information.

Financial contributions can be made to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul atP.O. Box 127, Baton Rouge, LA 70821- 0127or on-line at https://svdpbr.org/. Individuals interested in volunteering can call us at(225) 383-7837, ext. 0.

Beat the Tax Clock for St. Vincent de Paul

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 2.55.15 PM.png

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 2.55.22 PM.png

Have you made your gift to St. Vincent de Paul yet this year?  If you haven’t, you still have time to make your gift and receive a tax deduction for 2017. We ask you to consider making a financial gift this year to support our efforts as we serve over 250,000 meals annually, fill more than 10,000 prescriptions and provide over 25,000 guest nights of shelter to homeless men, women and children.  The size of your gift doesn’t matter; it’s sure to be a perfect fit. 

 

 

Two Ways to make your gift before the end of the year: 

  • Mail your gift to St. Vincent de Paul at P.O. Box 127, Baton Rouge, LA 70821 and have it postmarked by December 31, 2017.
  • Make your gift online, using the link below, before midnight December 31, 2017. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 2.57.51 PM.png

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul needs car, boat, camper and motor-home donations.  Proceeds will benefit the poor and homeless served by the Bishop Ott Shelter Program, Myriam’s House, St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy and St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room.  Call us at (225) 383-7837, extension 0, today!

O Holy Night

These three simple words – O Holy Night – bring such vivid images to mind night long ago, in the humblest of settings, when Mary and Joseph knelt beside a newborn child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Much has changed since then, but over 2,000 years later, we still celebrate the birth of the child called Jesus.

When I was a child, I thought of Christmas as a one-day celebration. I hated for the day to end, knowing that I had to wait 364 days for the next one. As I grew older, my perception of Christmas changed dramatically, and I realized that Christmas doesn’t end at midnight on December 25th. This is much more than a date on the calendar. Every Christmas is a link to the past, a state of mind, a time of joy, but above all else, a celebration of faith. Christmas is a season that can last year-round.

My 28 Christmases at St. Vincent de Paul have certainly given me a new perspective on the spirit of Christmas. Because people see me on television talking about St. Vincent de Paul, I’m often given credit for the good work of our organization, but it’s our supporters, volunteers, and staff that truly deserve the credit. Over the years, I’ve seen a level of love, compassion, and generosity that may peak on Christmas Day, but it’s constant throughout the year. That’s the reason St. Vincent de Paul is the community leader in providing hot meals, clothing, shelter, prescription medicines – and so much more.

We love to share information about the good work we do, but publicity is not our goal. Our goal is to make our community a better place for the needy; to provide basic necessities to the poor and homeless; to give a hand-up to people that have nowhere else to turn – to do what is right and good. And we don’t limit our good works to one day or one season. We’re doing our best to keep the Christmas spirit alive 365 days a year.

If you’ve never visited the St. Vincent de Paul main charitable campus; if you’ve never volunteered at one of our programs, I encourage you to consider doing so. If you are interested in visiting or volunteering, you can send an email to me at macaldo@svdpbr.com or call (225) 383-7837, extension O, for more information. A great New Year’s resolution in 2018 would be to get involved in St. Vincent de Paul.

Our challenge is to keep the Christmas spirit of giving, caring, and sharing alive all year long, and you can be a part of our efforts. To every member of the St. Vincent de Paul family, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks. To our current – and future – supporters, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

-- Michael J. Acaldo, President & CEO, St. Vincent de Paul Charities

A Way to Help St. Vincent de Paul and Save on Taxes

Did you know that if you are 701⁄2 years old or older, you can give up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to St. Vincent de Paul without paying income taxes on the money? Or, you can give a portion to St. Vincent de Paul and a portion to another charity, just as long as you don’t exceed the $100,000 maximum. (Note: You don’t have to donate the entire IRA to be eligible for the tax benefits. And if it’s worth more than $100,000, you can transfer a portion of it to fund a charitable gift.)

You’ll pay no income taxes on your gift. The transfer does not generate taxable income or a tax deduction, so you’ll benefit even if you don’t itemize your deductions.
If you haven’t taken your required minimum distribution this year, your IRA charitable rollover gift can satisfy all or part of that requirement.

If your spouse is 70 1⁄2 years old or older, he or she can also give up to $100,000 from his or her IRA.

If you have more than one retirement account where some are pensions and some are IRAs, keep in mind that direct rollovers to a qualified charity can be made only from an IRA. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to roll assets from a pension, profit sharing, 401(k) or 403(b) plan into an IRA and then make the transfer from the IRA directly to St. Vincent de Paul. (Speak with your plan administrator about this.) If you have questions or need more information, please contact Michael Acaldo at macaldo@svdpbr.com or call (225) 383-7837, ext. O. And remember, always consult with a tax professional before you make a gift of this nature. 

Holiday Meals at St. Vincent de Paul and the River Center a Great Success

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 2.38.34 PM.png

St. Vincent de Paul served up mountains of delicious food on Thanksgiving Day at our main charitable campus and at the Raising Cane’s River Center. Both efforts were a success thanks to the leadership of Constable Reginald Brown and St. Vincent de Paul Food Services Director, Denise Terrance. Constable Brown, Karen Lord, and the founders of Holiday Helpers were there to ensure that St. Vincent de Paul’s first meal at the River Center was a success. We especially thank Michael Day, General Manager of the River Center; Rhonda Ruffino, Director of Sales, Marketing & Events at the River Center; Chef Peter Palisi and staff for working with our Food Services Director to ensure that the River Center meal went well. St. Vincent de Paul’s Debra Blacher was there to welcome all the volunteers to the event. Hundreds of volunteers showed up and, together, made a real difference for our community.

It’s an honor and privilege to continue the Holiday Helpers tradition. Constable Brown and Michael Acaldo are both looking forward to next year when St. Vincent de Paul will continue the Holiday Helpers tradition of excellence at the River Center.

The spirit of Thanksgiving was also alive and well at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room. Volunteers worked inside and outside to serve the poor and homeless. Plates were piled high with turkey, dressing, yams, cranberry sauce, and dessert. This was truly a Thanksgiving feast! The people we served were so thankful for this delicious holiday meal, and they were encouraged to come back for second and third helpings. Volunteers had a great time, socializing with other volunteers and with our dining room guests. Bishop Robert Muench kicked off the event with a few words about Thanksgiving and its historical basis. He then led the group in blessing the food, the people who served it, and the needy guests that came to our dining room to share this wonderful meal. We are so grateful for everyone who helped to make this Thanksgiving such a success.

Another Great Turkey Carving Contest

another great thanksgiving .png

This year, community leaders once again gathered at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Everyone had a great time, and there was a lot of “cutting up” going on, even before the knives were distributed. This year’s contestants included: District Attorney Hillar Moore; Councilwoman Tara Wicker; LSU Gymnastics Coach, D-D Breaux; Tom Olinde, President of Olinde’s Furniture; Constable Reginald Brown; Coletta Barrett, Vice President of Missions at Our Lady of the Lake; EBR Coroner William “Beau” Clark; Rabbi Jordan Goldson, Congregation B’nai Israel; George Bell, CEO, Capital Area United Way; EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; Ralph Bender, Past Board Chair, Capital Area United Way; Congressman Garret Graves; Councilman Dwight Hudson; and Ric Kearny, Senior Vice-President, Capital One. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 10.02.30 AM.png

Contests carved turkeys to be served on Thanksgiving Day to our guests at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room. Contest winners were: First Place, LSU Gymnastics Coach D-D Breaux; Second Place, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; and Third Place, District Attorney Hillar Moore. The judges were: Jan Ross, Baton Rouge Area Foundation; Pan Hutchinson, St. Vincent de Paul Volunteer; and Kay Kyes, St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy Director. Not only is this contest a lot of fun, it also created an awareness of hunger in our community while helping us to prepare for our annual Thanksgiving meal. A big thank-you goes out to everyone that helped to make this event so special! 

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 10.02.09 AM.png

Shelter Expansion Project Update

shelter expansion project.png

Christmas is just days away, and the opening of our Sweet Dreams Shelter expansion is imminent. This expansion will add more than 40 additional beds to our 36-bed facility, significantly expanding our ability to serve the homeless.

We are so excited about opening the doors of this new facility. Here are some ways you can help. We need the items listed in the Bishop Ott Shelter Collection article for homeless guests that will be staying in the new facility. We still need to raise $70,000 to pay all construction costs. And, of course, we’ll need ongoing support to operate the facility.

This expansion will enable us to serve more people who are homeless, including mothers and children that have nowhere else to turn. St. Vincent de Paul is a community leader in Continued on page 2; see “Sweet Dreams Expansion” 

providing shelter, but it has been hard to keep up with the growing need in our community. Before the 2016 flood, there was already a shortage of permanent, affordable housing in our area. With so many housing units being damaged or destroyed by the flood, that shortage has become even more severe, and the number of low-income families seeking affordable housing has grown. That combination of growing demand and diminishing supply has resulted in an increased number of families without a place to call home.

At St. Vincent de Paul, we take a leap of faith with every new program or expansion. That’s what we did in the 80’s when we opened our dining room; in 1991, when we opened our first Bishop Ott Shelter; in 1995, when we opened our pharmacy; in 2001, when we opened the first Sweet Dreams Shelter; when we expanded our pharmacy in 2010; and when we opened a new men’s shelter above our dining room in 2012. In each instance, we took a leap of faith and, by the grace of God, and with the help of our supporters, we have been successful in responding to the needs of the poor and homeless in our community.

Once again, we took a leap of faith with this Sweet Dreams Shelter expansion. We responded to a need, and if you have not already done so, we hope that you will respond by supporting this endeavor. Help us to give a hand-up of hope to the homeless in our community by making a financial contribution to: Bishop Ott Shelter Expansion, P.O. Box 127, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. 

Annual Shelter Collection Drive

annual shelter collection drive.png

2017 marks the 26th year of our annual Bishop Ott Shelter collection drive. WVLA, NBC-33, Fox 44, and the Baton Rouge Clinic are supporting this effort to provide much needed items for the homeless men, women, and children we serve. Through this annual effort, we collect items like toiletries, diapers, gloves, caps, and underwear for the homeless who come to our shelters. Our Bishop Ott Shelter Program has made a tremendous impact in the Capital Region by being a leader in providing shelter to men, women, and children. We see every day as another opportunity to provide a hand-up to someone who wants to break the cycle of homelessness.

Many people who are homeless don’t have a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, or deodorant, and when they come to our shelter, we provide these items – things that most of us consider necessities. Dropping off one of these items at the Baton Rouge Clinic or any St. Vincent de Paul location can do so much for the self-esteem of someone who is at a low point in their lives. Our guests are very grateful for every item we provide, and these can truly be life- changing. A razor and shaving cream can make a world of difference when you’re applying for a job. For children, being neat and clean when they go to school means they can look forward to learning rather than dreading ridicule.

The expansion of our Sweet Dreams Shelter, which will open soon, means we can serve more homeless individuals and families, but it also means that the need for these items will be even greater. Please consider donating a few of the items on the list below for our shelter guests. And help us get the word out about this collection drive and how important it is. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers. Spread the word through Facebook and social media. Get your church involved. Items can be dropped off at the Baton Rouge Clinic or any Bishop Ott Shelter location. For more information, call (225) 383-7837, extension O. St. Vincent de Paul/Bishop Ott Shelter most needed items: blankets; disposable diapers; men, women and children’s underwear; socks; knit caps; gloves; scarves; reading glasses (all strengths); slippers; feminine hygiene products; towels and washcloths; toiletry items such as deodorant, soap, shampoo, body wash, lotion, and body powder; twin, full, and crib size sheets; paper products (napkins, paper towels, toilet paper); disposable cups, plates, bowls, knives, forks, and spoons; and rain gear. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 10.05.57 AM copy.png

The Kindness of Strangers

the kindness of strangers.png
 

This is the time of year when most of us share the peace and joy of the Christmas season with our families. But what about people who have no families? Many of us are already planning our holiday menus. But what about people who suffer from food insecurity? For some people, the meaning of peace and joy is having enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table.

For individuals and families struggling to make it from one paycheck to the next, it's easy for the spirit of Christmas to be overshadowed by worried about basic necessities: How will I pay the rent and utility bills this month? I can't afford to have my prescription filled. What will I do if I'm evicted? That's where we come in St. Vincent de Paul's mission is to fulfill Christ's message of love and compassion, and you can enable us to do that. When you support our efforts, it is His hand that is guiding you. 

Christmas Memories 2017!

Christmas-2.png

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, we are reminded that His message of love and compassion lives on through us.  When we respond to a plea for help with an act of kindness, it is His hand that guides us.  This is the best Christmas present we can give:  to serve on His behalf in the triumph of faith over adversity. During the holidays, most of us look forward to sharing the peace and joy of this season with family and friends.  But for some people, the spirit of Christmas is slowly drowning in an ocean of worries:  How will I pay the rent this month?  The kids need new clothes.  Will I have to tell them that Santa isn’t coming again this year?  For the poor, the meaning of peace and joy is having enough money to pay the rent and buy a few gifts. 

For many of those who come to St. Vincent de Paul for assistance, life has always been hard, and their Christmas memories are a source of sadness; for some, the holidays started with a job loss, an accident, illness or homelessness.  The photos you see here represent just a few of the people whose memories now include St. Vincent de Paul – a place of second chances and new beginnings.  The people who come to us for help are counting on us.  This year, our dining room will serve more than 250,000 meals; our Bishop Ott Shelter will provide over 25,000 guest nights of shelter; and our pharmacy will fill life-sustaining prescriptions worth $1 million for people who have nowhere else to turn.  And the expansion of our Sweet Dreams Shelter will allow us to help even more homeless mothers and children this Christmas Season.

We’ll do our best to make this Christmas Season a good one for as many people as possible. Bishop Muench will once again serve as our St. Nick, distributing gifts to needy children. Our dining room will serve thousands of meals. Our shelters will provide warm beds to homeless men, women and children.  

People are fighting a daily battle to survive in a complicated world, and they need your help.  We have included our Christmas Prayer, and that’s our first request to you – to use this prayer and join us in praying for the poor and homeless during this holy season.  If you are able to help financially, we also ask you to consider adding one more person to your Christmas list: $1 will provide a hot meal; $10 will provide a night of shelter for a homeless family; and $28 will fill a life-sustaining prescription; so you can imagine what a difference a larger gift can make.  Any gift, no matter how small, will bring the Christmas spirit to someone in need.

 

A Christmas Prayer

On this day, joy was reborn into the world,

may we share the joy of Christ with everyone.

On this day, hope was reborn into the world,

may we bring the hope of Christ to those most in need.

On this day, peace was reborn into the world,

may we bring the peace of Christ to our family

and our world.  

Amen

 
Donate Now

To make your gift by mail:  Click here to make a difference by printing it, cutting it out and mailing with your contribution to St. Vincent de Paul, P.O. Box 127, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0127

Thankfulness - Michael J. Acaldo

 

In my 28 Thanksgivings at St. Vincent de Paul, I have seen much to be thankful for.  Day after day, to see what our community does for the less fortunate is so uplifting.  But to be present on Thanksgiving Day during the holiday meal service is quite an experience.  Behind the serving line, volunteers attired in plastic aprons and gloves dish up turkey with all the trimmings.  Others are carrying the filled plates to the tables where our guests are waiting.  Younger volunteers are pouring beverages.  Mouth-watering aromas fill the air, and the hectic, happy atmosphere is truly wonderful. 
 
I am thankful to live in a community like Baton Rouge where people care about their needy neighbors, and it’s a privilege to see so many people stepping up to make a difference.  Whether you give financially, through volunteerism, or both, you are giving the priceless gift of hope to someone in desperate need.  On behalf of those we serve, thank you for everything you do to make our community a better place.     

                                              
-- Michael J. Acaldo, President & CEO, St. Vincent de Paul Charities