Letter from the Executive Director
Every life has a story, as the saying goes. The St. Vincent de Paul Society in Dayton is a community of stories, built on individual accompaniment and focused on affirming everyone’s humanity with the greatest material needs: clothing, food, and shelter.
In addition to individual hardships we have seen for many years, 2019 was a year of widespread disasters, from water outages to tornadoes to a mass shooting, and we saw individual needs at record levels for emergency shelter. Our annual report this year focuses on just a handful of stories showing the importance and results of our community partnerships with governments, non-profits, corporations, and individual volunteers and donors like you.
For over 70 years the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has quietly ministered in the Miami Valley, and today we continue building community as we always have – one person at a time, with authentic relationships in mutual respect and engagement with one another.
Thank you for your interest and support of our work, and for your part in our story, building an authentic community with a servant’s love for one another.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Second Chances at St. Vincent's
This is the only place that I have come across that - good, bad or ugly - they will take you. Who loves like that?
For 13 years Jill Hollan had a great job working at an electronics company. She loved her job and her co-workers, but she still felt something was missing. With a deep calling to help people, she was looking for a way to connect her compassion with her work. She remembered seeing a job opening for a custodial position at the Apple Street Shelter for St. Vincent DePaul. She applied, interviewed, passed the drug test and background test, and got hired.
Right away Jill knew she found exactly where she belonged. “From the very first day I came to work as a custodian I just knew. I felt like I was home,” Jill recalls. “I just thought, ‘Dang, what took me so long to get here?’." I have always wanted to be all-in, helping people. Every day I think there is so much still to do. And I wish I could have done more. But at least tomorrow I get to go right back and try again.”
By the second day of her new job, Jill remembers that she just took off on her own. She recalls, “I saw so many things that needed done, and my spirit and heart just took me. The biggest thing I saw was the guests. I just couldn’t walk past them. I cared about them instantly.”
When you have a shelter serving hundreds of otherwise homeless and vulnerable people, there is a lot of intensive cleaning and maintenance to be done. Says Jill, “I just saw things that needed to be done and started doing them. We have kids with autism and adults with mental illness . . . and they make messes. When you see a mess, you can either walk by it or spend the next two hours scrubbing it off. You can have basics, or you can have detail and put a little heart in it. And a lot of heart was needed. If I wouldn’t sit on that toilet at my home, then I wouldn’t allow my guests to sit on it at the shelter.”
For Jill it was about more than just cleaning up messes. Jill states, “It is a full-time job loving those guests and those volunteers and that work. Not every day did I love the work. Honestly, there are some rough days. But every day I would hear so many stories about people.”
Jill remembers the day when a man and his ten-year-old son showed up at the shelter. “Before shelter, they had a very normal life. Then out of nowhere his wife died from a diabetic seizure, and his two-income life was stripped away. He ended up at the shelter with his son. There are a lot of stereotypes about who is homeless. But that could have been me or you or anyone. To me it doesn’t matter if you are an addict, or if you have schizophrenia or if your wife died. It doesn’t matter to me why they are here. I just know it is just my responsibility to take care of them.”
“I have had some bumps in my life,” Jill admits. “I’ve made good choices and I’ve made some bad choices. Some of my bad choices were really bad. At SVdP you can make those bad choices and their door is still open to you. This is the only place that I have come across that - good, bad or ugly - they will take you. Who loves like that?”
- A. Brown & Sons Nursery, Inc.
- A-1 Spirit Foundation
- Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
- Applied Optimization, Inc.
- Beavercreek Nazarene Church
- Bridge Church Ministries
- CareSource Foundation
- Christ Child Society of Dayton
- Christian Life Center
- Church of the Incarnation
- Church of the Incarnation Social Outreach
- Community Green Landscape Group
- Community United Methodist Church
- Consuelo P. Sherron Irrevocable Trust
- Corner Cupboard Charities
- CPPS Heritage Mission Fund
- Dayton Catholic Women's Club
- Dayton-Phoenix Group, Inc.
- Dull Homestead, Inc.
- Eagle Mold Company
- Employees of Northrop Grumman Political Action Committee
- Estate of Anthony J. Evers
- Estate of Bonnetta Judd
- Estate of Charles G. Bolinger
- Estate of Charlotte D. Fritsch
- Estate of David Connelly
- Estate of Dorothy Finizio
- Estate of Rosalyn Clark
- Estate of Thomas W. Kern
- Fairhaven Church
- Fred & Alice Wallace Charitable Memorial Foundation
- Glennon Family Foundation
- Henry H. Hollencamp Foundation
- Herzog-Beckman Foundation
- Holy Family Catholic Church
- Iddings Foundation
- Julian G. Lange Family Foundation
- Leonard Otte and Sons Ltd.
- Levin Family Foundation
- Louise Kramer Foundation
- Mary, Help of Christians Church
- Mathile Family Foundation
- Medium Altitude UAS Division
- Miami Valley Area Telugu Association
- Miller-Valentine Walsh Fund
- Mintek Resources, Inc.
- Newcomer Funeral Home & Cremation Services
- Omega Baptist Church
- Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church
- Physicians' Charitable Foundation of the Miami Valley
- Pickrel Brothers, Inc.
- Queen of Apostles Community Church
- Queen of Peace SVdP Conference
- Robert J. Perkins and Betty A. Perkins Charitable Unitrust
- Rotary Club of Dayton
- Salem Church of God
- Sawdey Solution Services, Inc.
- SC Ministry Foundation
- Shiloh Church
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul-Maryland Heights
- Society of The Precious Blood - Martin Fund
- St Vincent de Paul Council of Pensacola-Tallahassee
- St. Albert The Great SVdP Conference
- St. Aloysius SVdP Conference
- St. Augustine Church
- St. Charles Diakonia Fund
- St. Columbkille SVdP Conference
- St. Francis De Sales SVdP Conference
- St. Francis of Assisi
- St. Henry Catholic Church
- St. Henry Social Outreach
- St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
- St. John West Chester SVdP Conference
- St. Joseph Council SVdP-Highland Heights
- St. Leonard Faith Community Outreach
- St. Louis Church, Northstar
- St. Luke SVdP Conference
- St. Mary Catholic Church-Greenville
- St. Mary Magdalene SVdP Conference
- St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish
- St. Vincent de Paul - Cincinnati
- Steck Manufacturing
- Sunshine Fund - Wright Patt Credit Union
- SVdP USA Disaster Services Corporation
- The DP&L Foundation
- The Dupps Company Charitable Foundation
- The Gathering Dayton
- The Glennon Family Foundation
- The Gosiger Foundation
- The Kroger Company
- The Kuntz Foundation
- The Reynolds & Reynolds Associate Foundation
- The Virginia W. Kettering Foundation
- Touch of Gratitude LLC
- Tournament of the Ages
- Venture Manufacturing
“Man, I’ve done it all. But I am trying to change my life,” are the first words from 62-year-old Safe Haven resident, Ric.
As a kid, after his parents divorced, Ric was raised by his mom. While Ric’s mom was at work, he would spend the afternoons at a local park playing basketball. “I was a good basketball player, and I got to know all the older kids—including the drug dealers,” he remembers.
By high school Ric was teetering between basketball and drugs. “I made the basketball team, but I didn’t mesh well with the jocks or the coach, and was kicked off the team,” Ric recalls. “That was a fork in the road where I took the wrong fork. Instead of being a good basketball player, I got good at dealing drugs.”
For three years, until he was arrested at age 18, Ric dealt drugs. He says, “I kept hearing my mom’s voice in the back of my mind asking me to be better. So, after probation I went back to school, got my GED, and became an apprentice carpenter.”
In the ensuing 30 years Ric would continually teeter between the two worlds of hard work and drug use. He would stay clean for weeks, months, sometimes even years. He would find a good job and then lose it after falling back to drugs. “I was trying to be better, but that demon was in me,” he explains. “I started using cocaine and got addicted to crack. I was arrested three more times. I knew the chances I was taking were taking a toll on me, but it seemed every time I tried to change, something would block me.”
When he was 50, one of Ric’s old neighborhood friends suggested he make a clean break. Ric headed to Minnesota, found a place to stay at a halfway house, and got a factory job. Ric was clean, sober, employed and on an even keel for the first time in decades.
Then a few years into the job, Ric was injured while working in the rafters at the factory. Ric headed back to Dayton, in considerable pain. It was another turning point. “I had good intentions, but I quickly fell back into my old patterns and influences, and I started dealing again,” he admitted.
After years of an abusive relationship and months of homelessness, Ric knew he needed help to reclaim his life. “My whole life I tried to get sober and fix things on my own, but I knew I needed help,” he acknowledged.
Six months ago, Ric was admitted to the SVdP Safe Haven supportive housing, where the chronically homeless can get help addressing significant obstacles in obtaining and maintaining housing. Participation in mental health recovery, life skills, physical fitness and spirituality groups is encouraged, and assistance from area agencies is provided. Ric is now working side-by-side with his case managers and counselors on a plan to reclaim his life. His plan includes support on staying clean and sober, getting a job, and finding permanent housing.
“I thought I could do this on my own,” Ric reflects. “And the program is really helping me. The people here have been so supportive. They support me without judging me for how I got here. I really believe when you can’t do something for yourself, God will put someone in your life to help you.”
Momma Sharon: Becoming a Person Again
"My downward spiral began in the spring of 2018 when my mom died. I fell completely apart. I was dealing with drug and alcohol addiction problems and had been arrested and jailed. I was very depressed, and honestly was on the verge of suicide. I knew I had hit rockbottom. With nowhere else to go, by June I was trying to head down to West Virginia to connect with family. I also thought maybe I should go to the shelter, but I was afraid, and tried to get a friend to come with me but that did not work out.
"When I finally got myself to the shelter on Apple Street, one of the CAs (client advocates) could see I needed help right there and then. She found us a quiet spot just to sit with me. I was hungry, and it was late at night, but she got me two sack lunches and sat with me while I ate and had some juice and water, and we prayed.
"We talked for a while. I was so upset, but she kept saying, ‘Let’s get you settled in here and get you some sleep. We will talk about it tomorrow.’ She helped me get started on checking in and told me she would look for me later. And she did follow up with me later, even though she was already clocked out for the night. I couldn’t believe it. She really made me feel like a person again. And she said, ‘I’ll be here tomorrow at 3 P.M. Look for me.’
"The next day went so fast. I made some friends at breakfast who helped me figure out how things worked at shelter, and before you knew it, it was three o’clock. And here was my wonderful client advocate from the night before! She asked me, ‘Tell me how your day is going. How can I help you?'
"I’ve recently moved into an apartment; it was a scary step for me. At St. Vincent, I had gotten help with my drug and alcohol abuse, and I loved working in the laundry. I had made many friends there. Some of the guests called me 'Momma Sharon' because I liked to help people. And the St. Vincent staff there, I love every one of them.
"But my case manager, who would always tell it like it is, said, ‘It is time for you to move on, Sharon. I know you can do this. You are ready.’ And they helped me get ready for that step. I think she might be right – so far, so good. I take comfort in the verses of Matthew 5 and I try to remember every day to glorify my God.
"I could not have imagined that way back in June of 2018, going to St. Vincent’s shelter would pull me from the brink, or how grateful I would be. My time there helped me face my problems, and they made me feel l like was a person again."
DDC Board of Trustees
Society of St. Vincent de Paul District Council of Dayton, Ohio, Inc.
President: Matt Graybill
Vice President: Bonnie Vitangeli
Treasurer: Mike Fink
Secretary: Marsha Hess
Spiritual Advisor: Clyde Golden
Barbara Curp, Ascension
Pat Gill, Corpus Christi
William Burkhart, Emmanuel
Joan Andersen, Holy Angels (Dayton)
Russ Stewart, Holy Angels (Sidney)
Denny Lammlein, Incarnation
Tom Boland, Mary, Help of Christians
Andrea Dapkus, Our Lady of Good Hope
Mieke Clark, Our Lady of Mercy
Carol Adamson, Our Lady, Mother of Refugees
Vickie Tischler, Our Lady of the Rosary
Louann Geel, Queen Of Martyrs
John Malas, St. Albert the Great
Mary Cox, St. Anthony
Barb Maichle, St. Augustine (Germantown)
Kathy Scott, St. Augustine (Waynesville)
Tom Forsthoefel, St. Brigid (Xenia)
Cheryl Pothast, St. Denis/Holy Family/Immaculate Conception
Tom Kwest, St. Francis of Assisi
Fran O'Shaughnessy, St. Helen
Steve Brandell, St. Henry
Gary Miller, St. Luke
Marian Roell, St. Mary (Camden)
Moira Pfeifer, St. Mary of the Assumption Springboro
Marsha Hess, St. Michael -Sts. Peter & Paul
John Tishaus, St. Patrick (Troy)
Carolyn Yankel, St. Peter
Pat Lewis, St. Rita/St. Paul/Precious Blood
Tom Doseck, St. Remy (Russia)
Elizabeth Collins, University of Dayton
The True Vincentian Calling: Comforting the Suffering
…We witnessed the amazing strength of the human spirit as well as our true Vincentian calling…”
—Louann Geel, Queen of Martyrs Conference President
Human suffering took many forms in the wake of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes, seemingly afflicting those with the fewest resources to address the loss and the trauma. A mother and two children, everything lost, sleeping under a picnic table in the park. A young couple giving custody of their newborn to her grandmother because they were living in their car. A senior woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer facing extensive home repairs.
In the spirit of their vocation, hundreds of our neighborhood St. Vincent de Paul volunteers moved into action, understanding the tornado devastation as opportunity to see the face of Christ in others and for others to see the face of Christ in them. The St. Vincent de Paul volunteers came from the entire region—and even from other Ohio cities—to serve, provide guidance and support, and to pray with the tornado survivors.
These Vincentians took to the front lines for weeks in the area’s Trotwood, Salvation Army, and FEMA Emergency Response Centers, where they provided gas and grocery cards; vouchers for clothing, furniture, and household items; and advice on getting additional assistance. Many survivors just wanted to talk about what happened as they processed the trauma of the tornado and the uncertainty of the future.
One volunteer recalls the difference $5 made, a turning point for a family who had fallen between the cracks. Months later, the mother wrote to him, describing her gratitude: “The teamwork at SVdP, helping with furniture and household items and clothing for my children, was the most spiritual sight I’ve ever seen.” The memories will affect our neighborhood volunteers forever. One Vincentian recalls, “We met in parking lots, motel lobbies, and in their homes as we prayed with them, cried with them, and supported them.” Another recalls holding hands and sharing prayers. And she hopes these precious souls know they still remain prayerfully in her heart.
St. Vincent de Paul remains at the forefront of the Memorial Day tornadoes relief and recovery efforts, and the support provided by the community –in volunteerism, financial gifts, and collaborative agency partnerships – has made that possible. We thank you for the difference you made in the lives of many Daytonians throughout this emergency!
Eyes Wide Open: Homeless at 73
Maureen is smart, funny and more than a little bit feisty. At 73 years old she’s as proud of her Native American heritage as she is of her self-sufficiency. For 38 years she worked with animals at the Cincinnati Zoo, and for the last 22 years she has lived in the same apartment. She always paid her rent on time, obeyed the rules, and never bothered anybody.
Two years ago Maureen agreed to let her boyfriend move in. He convinced her that he wanted to help, and that if she gave him her portion of the rent he would take care of paying the landlord. Maureen admits, “The guy I was with was a crackhead and I didn’t know it. I gave him my rent money and he smoked it up.”
After 22 years at the same residence, Maureen got her first-ever eviction notice for non-payment of rent. Concerned, but not yet alarmed since she had some social security income and long rental history, Maureen tried leasing another apartment. She quickly found that no one would rent to her since she had just been evicted.
At 73, and after a lifetime of playing by the rules, Maureen became homeless. “When I had to move out it was overnight – they sent somebody to make sure I left. I just grabbed my cat, some cat food, a few pieces of clothes and whatever I could fit in my cart and left. I had no place to go and I didn’t know the streets. I was scared," Maureen remembers.
With little else but her beloved tabby cat Leo by her side to comfort her, Maureen left. She left her furniture, her clothes, her television, three heirloom Native American dream catchers, and everything else in her home. Maureen recounts, “I didn’t know what to do or where to go, so I just wandered the streets. That first night I made my way to Courthouse Square. I stayed there for two weeks. It was a nightmare. I was so scared and just wanted to be left alone."
Thankfully, there were a few kind souls with eyes wide open who wouldn’t look past Maureen nor leave her alone. Two workers whose job it was to clean Courthouse Square were concerned for Maureen and contacted Kay who works for St. Vincent. Kay came to meet Maureen and immediately began working on a solution. Maureen remembers, “I was rescued by Kay. The very next day I was off the street and had a home at Safe Haven.”
Maureen has been sheltered at Safe Haven supportive housing and is working with her case managers on a long-term housing solution. Says Maureen, “When I leave Safe Haven I will miss the people, but I am looking forward to having my own place again and being self-sufficient.”