Another Great Turkey Carving Contest

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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. 

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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! 

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Shelter Expansion Project Update

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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

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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. 

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The Kindness of Strangers

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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!


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.  


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

A Quarter of A Million Meals and Counting.....


Under the leadership of Denise Terrance and with the help of many volunteers, our St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room has done a phenomenal job this year of meeting the need in our community.  Over 250,000 meals will be served in 2017!  We are our community’s safety net, ensuring that everyone has a place to turn for a hot meal. 
In-kind food donations play a critical role in our menus and save thousands of dollars in food costs.  A lot of these donations include fresh produce from local supermarkets.  A bag of onions may have one or two bad ones and four or five that are perfect.  It would be a shame for good food to go to waste when so many people are hungry.  Our volunteers and small staff sort through the donations every day, and only the good stuff makes it to our serving line. 
Our dining room takes the food donations that are given to us, fills in the gaps, and serves up a delicious meal every day.  Funding for the meals we serve comes primarily from people like you, and that, in itself, is amazing.  To serve a hot, nutritious meal every day, without fail, along with a brown bag supper is quite an accomplishment.  We couldn’t be successful without in-kind donations, but we also have to purchase the food items that are not donated.  In addition to food costs, there are unseen costs that have to be covered, things like electricity, water, and garbage pick-ups.   It’s only because of your support that we are able to provide this daily service.  This Thanksgiving, we ask you to pray for the people we serve. 

Bishop Ott Shelter Collection Drive

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We are pleased to announce that WGMB Fox 44, WVLA Channel 33, and their family of stations have come together for the 26th year to support our Bishop Ott Shelter Program.  They will once again run a toiletry collection drive for our shelters.  All of these items are critical to the people who come to us with little more than the clothes they are wearing.  Things like toothbrushes, disposable razors, shaving cream, soap, and shampoo are so important to someone’s dignity and self-esteem, and without them, it’s impossible to make a good impression when you are trying to find a job.
Below is a list of the toiletry items we need at our shelters.  When you look at this list, think of the people who will be using them, and you’ll understand just how important this annual effort is to our Bishop Ott Shelter Program and the people we serve.  We also ask you to encourage your family, friends, church or social groups to participate in a collection drive for this worthwhile effort.   If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 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; towels and washcloths; toiletry items such as deodorant, soap, shampoo, body wash, lotion, and body powder; twin & crib size sheets; paper products (napkins, paper towels, toilet paper); disposable cups, plates, bowls, knives, forks, and spoons; and rain gear. 

Sylvia's Toys for Christmas


Christmas 2016 was a great success at St. Vincent de Paul because of so many generous people throughout our community.  In 2015, WBRZ’s Sylvia Weatherspoon contacted St. Vincent de Paul and expressed her concern for poor and homeless children that might not feel the spirit of Christmas.  She stated that she wanted to help with our annual toy collection drive.  Of course, we welcomed her assistance because we know that there are so many needy children in our community that would love to receive a Christmas gift. 
Sylvia’s support last year added so much to our efforts, enabling us to help well over a thousand children.  At our dining room alone, Bishop Muench distributed over 1,000 Christmas gifts to needy children. 
Recognizing the tremendous need in our community, Sylvia, WBRZ and local Chick-fil-A restaurants will help us to collect toys for the children we serve here at St. Vincent de Paul, as well as needy children we have identified throughout the community.  Please consider donating a gift for a needy child.  If you would rather make a financial contribution for the purchase of Christmas gifts, you can do so by sending a check to P.O. Box 127, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, or go to the "Donate tab" on our website to make a gift.  Your support will help us to bring the Christmas spirit to a needy child.  We thank all of you who have given gifts in the past, and we recognize WBRZ-Channel 2, Chick-fil-A, and Sylvia.


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Regions Bank is running a major effort to help us get out the word about our wonderful charitable efforts!

Make a difference by voting in the Regions What a Difference a Day Makes contest. Sixteen nonprofits representing the communities served by Regions have been nominated to win $5,000 and receive 100 volunteer hours from Regions associates.

Our local St. Vincent de Paul group is one of the non-profits selected. We are honored to be selected, but we need your help.

Vote for St. Vincent de Paul for What a Difference A Day Makes!!

Your vote could equal $5,000 for St. Vincent de Paul, and we need it!

Please vote for us on your computer, iphone and spread the word to your family and friends! We need your vote!

Yes, you can vote once a day!

Thanksgiving Recipe for Success

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 As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families and friends, it’s time to bring out those tried and true recipes – those special salads, casseroles, and desserts that must be on the holiday table every year.  But we also look forward to sampling new dishes and, by the end of the meal, we’ll know if we have a new favorite to add to next year’s menu.
At St. Vincent de Paul, we’re ready to put our tried and true recipes together, but we’re also adding something new to our recipe for success. 

On November 23rd, Thanksgiving Day, we will begin a new tradition: serving the annual Thanksgiving meal at the Raising Cane River Center in the tradition of Holiday Helpers.  Constable Reginald Brown and the founders of Holiday Helpers have officially passed the torch to St. Vincent de Paul.  

What a blessing it is to be a part of this effort, which has touched the lives of the needy for the past 30 years.  In addition to taking over the leadership of this Thanksgiving event at the River Center, we will continue our tradition of serving a holiday meal to the poor and homeless at our St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, continuing that 35-year tradition. 

Why do both?  To ensure that we provide maximum coverage of our community on this special day.  For individuals who have no families to share this special day with, for students and travelers away from home, for the needy throughout our community, including those who have eaten at the River Center in past years, we will be there for them.  For the homeless who live at our St. Vincent de Paul shelters, for others who live near our main charitable campus, we will be there for them. 
We are so thankful for Constable Brown and all the leaders of Holiday Helpers for passing on this important responsibility to us.  We are very excited to be able to continue their tradition of excellence.  We ask everyone to join us in praying for those we are blessed to serve, and please pray for our small staff and volunteers as we work with Constable Brown to ensure the continued success of this effort for many years to come. 
Again this year, we want to thank the Congregation B’Nai Israel for doing their annual Turkey Train, collecting enough turkeys to ensure that we can continue this Thanksgiving tradition.  Annually, the synagogue is the single largest contributor of turkeys for our Thanksgiving meal service to the poor.  Their help is even more critical this year because of our new responsibilities with Holiday Helpers.  At St. Vincent de Paul, the most critical ingredient in our Thanksgiving recipe is you – our supporters – who make our work possible.  Our needy guests are so grateful for the meals you make possible. 


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When St. Vincent de Paul finishes a new project, it’s similar to the long-awaited birth of a child.  There’s a lot of anticipation and excitement as we approach the “due date” and a celebration when the big day finally arrives.  Well, it’s almost time to celebrate the completion of our expanded Sweet Dreams Shelter for women and children.

Construction is going well, and progress is being made every day.  We’ll soon be opening the doors to this new facility, but the main reason for our excitement is knowing the impact this expansion will make in the lives of homeless mothers and children.
So many of the people we serve have lost everything, and all they have left is hope.  Many of them have a deep faith in God, and our faith in God is what enables us to respond to the needs of the poor and homeless.  Of course, we want to provide basic necessities like food, shelter, winter coats, and medicine to the needy, but we also want to give them hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
Mother Teresa once said that, at the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we received, how much money we made, or the great things we did.  Instead, we will be judged by our response to these words, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me…”  That’s our mission at St. Vincent de Paul, to respond to those words. 
Once we identify a need, we do our best to respond as Christ would want us to.  In 2001, we opened the Bishop Ott Sweet Dreams Shelter in response to the needs of homeless women and children.  As the years passed, we realized that the shortage of permanent, affordable housing in our community was reaching a critical point and, even before the 2016 flood damaged so many homes, we had plans drawn up to expand this shelter. 
As we prepare to open this important new facility (the most significant expansion of services to homeless mothers, children and families in the last sixteen years), we ask you to pray for those we serve and for the success of this new facility.  You can also assist in this effort by donating any of the items listed in the Bishop Ott Shelter Collection article.   Many of the things we take for granted will mean so much to the dignity of someone who is homeless. 
We encourage you to share this list with your family and friends, as well as co-workers and church members.  These items will make a real difference to people who have lost everything.  And, yes, we are still in need of donations to help us cover the cost of this expansion.  As we mentioned in a previous newsletter, we need to replace the roof on the 1997 part of this facility.  An anonymous donor has given us a $50,000 challenge grant, which will help us to raise the $100,000 needed to replace the old roof.  For every contribution given toward this roof replacement, the anonymous donor will match it dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000, which will help us to cover the entire roofing cost.  Please pray for this project, and spread this news.  We need everyone to help us serve this vulnerable population.

Getting Involved in St. Vincent de Paul!


Community leaders have always been challenged to be visionaries, to find a way to turn a vision into a reality. Thirty years ago, Constable Reginald Brown, Karen Lord, and the
founders of Holiday Helpers, made a shared vision come to life in Baton Rouge and, since then, everyone in our community has known where they could go for a great meal on Thanksgiving Day. Recognizing a need back in 1987, Constable Brown and the founders of Holiday Helpers began an effort that soon became an annual Thanksgiving tradition. Initially, this community event was held in local hotel ballrooms, but quickly grew beyond that venue and was moved to the Centroplex, now known as the Raising Cane’s River Center.

We, too, serve a traditional holiday meal on Thanksgiving Day, but the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday following Thanksgiving are also some of our busiest days here at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room. From that first Holiday Helpers event in November of 1987, Constable Brown and Holiday Helpers have generously donated any leftovers from their event to be served at our dining room after Thanksgiving Day. They have always shared our philosophy that nothing should be wasted.

Our community has come together for 30+ years for the Holiday Helpers event. Now, Constable Brown and St. Vincent de Paul have decided to come together, organizationally, and let St. Vincent de Paul continue their tradition of excellence. With the support of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, on Thursday, November 23, 2017 (and every Thanksgiving thereafter), we will serve a Thanksgiving meal at the River Center in the tradition of Holiday Helpers. We will also continue to serve our traditional Thanksgiving meal at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room. Both of these meals will ensure that we provide maximum coverage of our community on this special day. For individuals who have no families to share this special day with, for the needy throughout our community, including those who have eaten at the River Center in past years, we will be there for them. For the homeless who live at our St. Vincent de Paul shelters, for others who live near our main charitable campus, we will be there for them. We have made a commitment to Constable Brown; the founders of Holiday Helpers; Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; and Michael Day, River Center General Manager; that this annual event will continue. Their involvement will be critical as this effort continues through St. Vincent de Paul. Every one of those community leaders is an example for us all to follow.

More information will be forthcoming as we work with Holiday Helpers to continue this community tradition. If you would like to help or support this great community activity, please send an email to Michael Acaldo at