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September 26, 2020
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Updated frugality store in RP

By: Irene Hilsendager
February 21, 2020

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul District Council of Sonoma County (SVdP-Sonoma), was founded in 1958 and is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. As one of the foremost human services organizations in Sonoma County, SVdP-Sonoma has been providing support to those suffering from hunger and poverty for more than 60 years. The agency serves anyone in need.

The Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift store received a new facade replacing the rickety store front with cement boards instead of rotten wood. Their logo was moved up higher so it could be seen from Redwood Dr., in Rohnert Park. The rusted awning was removed, and the sign is now receiving back-lit lighting.

Thrift stores interestedly do well, however, when the economy is good thrift stores flounder; although St. Vincent de Paul is now doing better than it did three or four years ago. 

As Ron Plasse, president of the Saint Vincent de Paul board says many talented members are tired and are retiring and younger volunteers are needed. Volunteers have done a lot of “stuff,” but you cannot solve or change problems overnight. There is so much to be done but you have to focus on a small corner and work inward.

Plasse, who fixed and consulted with companies of imaging equipment in norther California before he retired, is perfect for the board as he is caring and compassionate for the cause.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul began in Paris, France in 1833 when a young law student at the Sorbonne, Frederic Ozanam, was challenged during a debate to substantiate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in Paris. Within weeks, Ozanam than 20 years of age and six of his counterparts formed the first “Conference of Charity.” This group of seven men financed their work of charity out of their own pockets and donations from friends. They would visit the poor in their homes and provide them with needed aid and assistance.

Ozanam was insistent that charity be extended to non-Catholics as well. At times it was said that if you wanted to volunteer or contribute, you had to be Catholic.

The mission of Saint Vincent de Paul is a non-profit overview. There are times in people’s lives when they will face poverty and extreme financial challenges. If that person is fortunate, this situation could be just temporary, but for countless of people among us, poverty is inter-generational and last until some type of intervention happens.

Plasse says, “Some people are born homeless as grandparents and parents all are homeless. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul provides a critical safety net of caring services to bridge the gap for those that are temporarily suffering financial hardship.”

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul offers compassion and focuses on people to work one-on-one with those in need. They offer an open-door policy with no judgement. 

Saint Vincent de Paul offers a range of services and a volunteer network that has grown directly to impact the lives of many low-income and homeless people in Sonoma County each year.

Daily food is distributed indirectly to hundreds of limited-income Sonoma County residents. St. Vincent de Paul serves daily meals in their free dining room located at 610 Wilson St. in Santa Rosa. Caring volunteers prepare and serve a hot and nutritious lunch from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m. 365 days a year. This dining room is doing very well. A young, caring and ambitious lady who knows food management was hired to run the dining room. She used ingredients from what is available in the pantry and makes sure no food will go to waste. She will rotate her stock and makes cutbacks since storage space is at a premium. The freshest of food is served each day to 68,000 to 70,000 hungry people each year.

St. Vincent de Paul is committed to ensure that all individuals have equal access to assistance. They do not discriminate against anyone with regard to race, religion, color, creed, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, national origin, political affiliation, immigration status, mental or physical disabilities, income level or medical conditions.

The Rohnert Park Thrift store is a little gem. They operate a warehouse and thrift store where people in need and the public can shop for low cost clothing, furniture and household items. All profits support the free dining room. Therefore, if you purchase items from the thrift store, you are actually feeding someone. The thrift store is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saint Vincent de Paul has a job training program in association with West County Community Services and the Sonoma County Department of Rehabilitation, which provides an opportunity for hard to place and disabled adults to develop critical job skills while providing much needed staffing at the Rohnert Park Warehouse sorting and testing facility.

Saint Vincent de Paul will donate free to an individual once a month badly needed socks and underwear and a change of clothes especially if that individual may have a change to go on an interview.

Speaking of homeless, s survey was takin in Sonoma County, and it was found that 28 percent of individuals that were offered a key to a room would not accept the help. People want to make a difference and it starts by helping one person at a time. Translators are needed from English to Spanish and volunteers are always essential to make a difference at the warehouse.

Saint Vincent de Paul recently purchased a piece of property near the Thai restaurant applicably named The Gold Coin and next to the eatery is an old motel. Saint Vincent de Paul is working with the county and housing advocates in the early stages of converting and getting permits for permanent supportive housing.

This facility will be designed for couples and singles with a certain percentage put aside for veterans.

The planned housing will be called Saint Vincent de Paul Commons with adults receiving vouchers for section 8 programs for people who used to be homeless. The Gold Coin restaurant will be paying rent to SVdP.

Saint Vincent de Paul has several fundraisers throughout the year such as Jan Godoski is getting things ready for the Feb. 22 Mardi Gras at St. Joseph’s hall in Cotati. A golf tournament at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Windsor is usually quite an affair and their dinners are only $35. According to Plesse the food is scrumptious.

Check out the art and book collection at the thrift store on Redwood Dr. in Rohnert Park and at the present Easter shopping looks very inviting with many Easter items on sale.