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Helping our neighbors in need – here in Dane County. That’s our St. Vincent de Paul mission in a nutshell.
We provide this help in many ways: nutrition offered through our busy customer-choice Food Pantry; prescription assistance through our Charitable Pharmacy; vouchers for furniture, clothing and household items provided through our stores; and housing programs for men and for women and children transitioning from homelessness. Our Society’s members – in 18 groups around the county – visit the homes of people requesting our help to see how we can bring our resources to bear to help people who are poor, suffering or deprived. The aid our members, staff and volunteers provide is offered without regard to the race, ethnicity, gender or creed of those we help.
Revenues our local stores produce from the sale of donated goods fund some of the aid we offer, but the charity we provide also relies on generous financial gifts from caring people who support our mission of helping our neighbors in need. The range of basic-needs services we provide to local households struggling with poverty includes:
Food Pantry: The centerpiece of our Madison service center, our large and busy St. Vincent de Paul FoodPantry operates like a compact grocery store to serve between 60 and 160 families per day five days a week. Our customer-choice model of operation honors the dignity of our clients and all involved in the distribution of free food to people who need it. This model also helps minimize waste and accommodates ethnic preferences by allowing clients to use “points” to shop for food their families prefer and will eat. Serving all Dane County ZIP Codes, our pantry annually gives away food valued at nearly $1.5 million to local households struggling with poverty. In a given year, we help local households with nutrition assistance over 63,000 times, including 27,000+ instances in which we help the children of the families we assist. Read more.
Charitable Pharmacy: The first facility of its kind in Wisconsin, the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy helps ensure that low-income uninsured persons in Dane County have a compassionate resource to rely on for receiving ‒ without charge ‒ the prescribed medications, related medication education, and planning they need for effective treatment of their chronic and acute medical conditions. Located in our Madison service center and dispensing prescription drugs valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, our Charitable Pharmacy helps maximize the efficiency of our community’s health-care system by allowing individuals otherwise unable to afford prescribed drugs to get the medications they need. This results in improved health outcomes and decreased need for treatment in emergency rooms and other acute-care settings. Read more.
Clothing, furniture, bedding & household goods: Annually, we provide local low-income households more than $400,000 in these sorts of basic necessities free and directly from the inventory of our thrift stores. Our member groups around the county meet with people in their homes when they request assistance and help bring our Society’s resources to bear in meeting need for these basic goods. Read more about clothing assistance. Read more about help with furniture and other items.
Housing programs: On most nights more than 60 men, women and children make their home in housing operated by St. Vincent de Paul in Madison. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House is a transitional-housing program for women and their children. It began in 1989 and operates today through four locations in Madison’s Isthmus. Port St. Vincent de Paul, in Madison’s Williamson-Marquette neighborhood, opened in 1976 and is the community’s longest-serving housing program for low-income men. The Port’s program works to restore hope for local men in need of transitional, supportive and emergency housing. The Port also supplies program participants with meals, needed clothing and 24-hour staffing. At both Seton House and Port St. Vincent, participants pay program fees and work toward goals for their appropriate next steps in life. St. Vincent de Paul donors significantly subsidize both programs. Read more.
Storage program: A metal shed across the street from our Madison service center holds common items precious to their owners. Within the confines of our Vinny’s Lockers facility, those who are homeless securely store some of what little they own. Personal papers, family mementos, out-of-season clothing, and even tools of a trade find safe space here. Since St. Vincent de Paul opened Vinny’s Lockers in 2008, up to 75 persons at a time – about 180 over the course of a year – have stored and accessed belongings through this free program. Read more.
Other assistance: We offer other forms of basic-needs help through efforts such as our Lacy Food Pantry Garden (click here), Recycle the Warmth Blanket Drive, portable-crib program and energy-assistance program. Read more or contact us at (608) 442-7200 for more information.
“It helps out a lot. Sometimes food stamps are just not enough. Here, it’s more comfortable to get a little helping hand. There’s no judgment here.”