Letter from the Executive Director
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.
2020 was a year like no other in memory, as we all had to face an especially scary pandemic and the isolation that came with it, but of course all the more challenging for our neighbors in need who experienced joblessness and homelessness throughout the year. Our annual report this year focuses on several stories of accompaniment, service, and hope, all made possible through community and individual support from 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, as we witness a servant’s love for one another.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Leaving with Peace of Mind: A Family's Journey to Being Rehoused
It gave me peace of mind knowing that I didn’t have to worry about my kids eating. It felt good to be able to cover up at night and have a pillow to put our heads on.
Timothy was doing everything he could to protect his 3 children – ages, 8, 7 and 6 – from an abusive situation. Shortly after taking full custody and already stretched, he lost his job. Soon, they were without a home. “For two nights we slept outside. I knew I had to protect them, so we came to the shelter.”
He had certainly never planned on needing a homeless shelter, but he is grateful for the safety net if offered. “It gave me peace of mind knowing that I didn’t have to worry about my kids eating. It felt good to be able to cover up at night and have a pillow to put our heads on.”
Timothy and his family were sheltered for three months while they worked with St. Vincent de Paul staff to be re-housed. He recalls, “My problem in the beginning was that I didn’t have my social security card or birth certificate, and I was having a hard time adjusting to the shelter.” While three months felt like a long time to him and his kids, he remembers, “Once the process started working, it worked quickly. Once I had my papers, they helped me put in housing applications. The next thing I know, I got a call that we got a house.”
Today, Timothy and his family are living together in a 3-bedroom home in Dayton. “To finally be re-housed - it was a weight off my shoulders. You helped me get my ID and social security card. You helped me put the applications in. I truly believe without St. Vincent we’d still be homeless. I owe everything to them.” With a grin, he adds, “We got our house.”
It is still far from easy, but Timothy’s eyes smile as he talks about their new home. “The best thing about having a house is having us all together. Our stay at the shelter made us even closer. It showed me how much I meant to them and how much they meant to me. The kids are so much happier. We sit down as a family and eat breakfast and dinner every day. We talk. We laugh. Now, I appreciate it all more.”
While spending time in a homeless shelter was not a part of life that he envisioned, he knows it was the helping hand needed to keep his family safe and secure. “This is a place where everybody is here for the same reason – to get help. People might come here with nothing, but you leave with a lot more than you came with. You leave with peace of mind.”
Keeping the Lights On: The Role of Neighborhood Ministries
No work of charity is foreign to the Society.
The neighborhood ministries of St. Vincent de Paul play a crucial role in assisting neighbors in need. The work of these volunteers ensures neighbors can stay in their homes through rent and utility assistance, assist with material goods such as food, clothing, and furniture, an provide spiritual support through one-to-one accompaniment. Like every aspect of our work, our work in neighborhoods did not stop because of COVID-19 as many people experienced new and increased financial burdens. These are stories of three people that your support provided stability for.
Alyssa is a single mom with five school-aged children. When COVID struck and schools shut down, she suddenly found herself home with all five children, unable to work. She delivered groceries when she could, but struggled to find a babysitter. Behind on her water bill, Alyssa reached out to the St. Vincent ministry in her neighborhood who paid her water bill and provided Alyssa and her children with support.
Brandi’s electricity was disconnected after she was unable to keep up with the bills. As the caretaker for her mother who is an amputee and in a wheelchair, her electric was reconnected due to a medical emergency. With her electricity back on, Brandi and her mother were faced with a large bill that would need to be paid in order to keep the lights on. Local St. Vincent neighborhood volunteers visited them in their home, paid their past due electric bills, and helped them register for a program that will reduce their monthly bills.
Rodney tested positive for COVID-19 in September 2020 and suffered severe complications due to his age and health. After spending three months in the hospital, he finally got to go home close to Christmas – only to find that his gas had been disconnected due to nonpayment. Alone, with no heat, and no way to pay the past due gas bills to get reconnected, he called St. Vincent. Neighborhood volunteers met with Rodney, gave him food, prayed with him, and paid his gas bill so his heat would be turned back on.
These are just three examples of the more than 10,000 people accompanied by St. Vincent neighborhood volunteers. Without this accompaniment and support, many of these neighbors would have become homeless. For our neighbors living paycheck-to-paycheck, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them even closer to the edge – or even over it – of not having enough resources to survive. Your support provided compassion to Alyssa, Brandi, and Rodney, and ensured that there were enough resources to keep them in their homes.
St. Vincent de Paul Social Services, Inc. and St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Enterprises, Inc.
- President: James Tillar, CFA
- Vice-President: Michael McGraw
- Treasurer: Mike Fink
- Secretary: Louis Lunne
- Tony Ciani
- Matt Graybill
- Kelly McCracken
- Jeff Mullins
- Larry Hickland
- Dennis Wolters
- William Michel
- Michael E. Vanderburgh
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
Larry Simpson, 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)
Kate Heminger, 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
Moira Pfeifer, St. Mary of the Assumption Springboro
Sandy Gehret, 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)
Sarah Adams, University of Dayton
Homeless at 18: St. Vincent Showed Up
I knew I got myself kicked out, but I thought ‘How could you just leave me out there?’
Imagine for a moment being 18 and homeless. Four years ago, 22-year-old Michael Smith needed no imagination because this was his reality.
Diagnosed with ADHD–Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder–and struggling with classwork, Michael dropped out of school his junior year. He recalls, “After that, I started getting in trouble. I didn’t think it was too bad, but my mom was having none of it, and she kicked me out.”
Michael bounced from house to house, getting into even deeper trouble. He remembers, “Eventually, I got tired of not doing anything with my life, but I didn’t know what to do.”
Resources and support were largely unavailable in his hometown, so Michael’s grandma brought him to the SVdP men’s shelter in Dayton. “That first night, oh man, it was just lonely. At the time I felt like my family was against me. I knew I got myself kicked out, but I thought ‘How could you just leave me out there?’ It took me a while to realize that I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if that didn’t happen.”
For the next year and a half, Michael slept at the shelter at night and spent his days at Daybreak, Dayton’s emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth. His case manager at Daybreak was key in his turnaround. “Miss Sarah helped me so much. She helped me get in a job training program; she recommended this apartment for me,” he explains.
For two years now, Michael has been living at the DePaul Center, the men’s supportive housing program of St. Vincent de Paul. Michael states, “I was relieved and grateful that I had my own place. I just have this one room, but I can sit down. I can think, do my work, and have my privacy.”
Armed with this stability, Michael began to look forward. He quickly finished his GED (the High School Equivalency Certificate) and began teaching himself computer programming. Now enrolled in college, Michael is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in web design. “I still have about two and a half years to go, but I love it. I have found my passion with technology and computers – it is my thing.”
“Back then, I would have never imagined being in a shelter. I always knew that I had a bigger purpose. To the donors and the people of St. Vincent de Paul, I’d like to say I appreciate them for giving me this opportunity. They have helped so much, and they show up in all the ways I need.”
Our COVID Response: No Act of Charity is Foreign to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Armed with the lessons learned through our relief and recovery ministries after the 2019 tornadoes, St. Vincent de Paul mobilized quickly to address the impact COVID inflicted on those in our shelters and supportive housing, front-line workers, and neighborhood families who were struggling financially. Throughout 2020, St. Vincent never closed and continued to provide 24/7 assistance to whomever needed it.
In our shelter and housing ministries, we immediately rearranged living spaces for safe distancing, installed handwashing stations, distributed PPE, shared COVID safety education, and established isolation and quarantine areas. Eighty high-risk guests, including families with young children, were quickly moved into two area hotels to preserve safe social distancing for them, and for those remaining at the shelters.
Throughout the year, we asked for the community’s prayers for our guests and workers, and we believe those prayers were answered. There were guest and worker cases of COVID throughout our ministries, but no fatalities.
At the request of Montgomery County’s Emergency Operations Center, St. Vincent began immediate warehousing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the National Stockpile to serve the needs of an 8-county area. PPE items were allocated by the Emergency Center to community health agencies, and SVdP assisted in receipt, inventory, and distribution.
In our neighborhood ministries, our St. Vincent volunteers provided $1.6 million in financial assistance and in-kind goods and services through 40,208 volunteer hours. Our neighborhood food pantries alone served over 5,400 families.
In the second half of 2020, we responded to the immediate financial needs of neighbors who were unable to access CARES Act funding in time to avoid eviction. St. Vincent spent approximately $175,000 to prevent COVID-related evictions.
At the end of 2020, to restore our shelter capacity and accommodate safe distancing, we completed a $7.5 million expansion and renovation project funded by the CARES Act. New dormitory areas and bathroom facilities were established at both shelters, and a new Day Space/Dining Hall was built at the men’s shelter.
Today, with hope that the worst is behind us, we offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all who supported St. Vincent’s ministries during 2020. We are thankful for the support received for our neighbors and guests in distress during the pandemic.