St. Vincent de Paul celebrates 150 years of serving the community by expanding its reachChristian Meininger The Cincinnati Reds isn’t the only organization celebrating 150 years in 2019. “They have a bigger budget, but our bullpen is better,” says Skip Tate, St. Vincent de Paul’s director of community relations
Tate was only joking when comparing St. Vincent de Paul to the Cincinnati Reds, but his passion for the many programs that St. Vincent de Paul supports is evident.
St. Vincent de Paul is best known for its food pantry, charitable pharmacy and thrift stores, but some might not be aware of the full scope of its programs and impact on the community, which includes a bed program, a homelessness prevention program and a car donation program. St. Vincent de Paul works as a “safety net,” Tate says, to help Cincinnati residents stay above the poverty line. The organization supports and encourages individuals to gain full employment.
“We couldn’t do it without volunteers,” Tate says. Besides running a food pantry, charitable pharmacy and seven thrift stores, St. Vincent de Paul has “operations in 56 churches” across the city of Cincinnati. The church groups are known as “conferences,” and are run by “Vincentians.” The church groups are led by and comprised of volunteers. Tate says that volunteers are always welcome and in demand at St. Vincent de Paul’s church groups, and also at its food pantry and other programs.
For example, a week before Christmas, 140 volunteers gathered at St. Vincent de Paul on Bank Street as part of the organization’s Christmas toy distribution program. St. Vincent de Paul also distributed 1,300 hams and other food for Christmas meals. “We are dependent upon volunteers,” Tate says. Tate says that volunteers are crucial in helping St. Vincent de Paul maintain its mission to “help our neighbors in need.”
The church groups are key in finding people in many neighborhoods across Cincinnati who need services. Tate points to the fact that poverty in Cincinnati has “spread out” over time, where it used to be more centrally located in areas such as Over-the-Rhine. Cincinnati has “one of the highest poverty rates in the country,” Tate says. “We also have a lot of generous people who help meet the needs.”
In 2019, St. Vincent de Paul will open a new building. The building will give the organization the capacity to keep its food pantry and pharmacy open six days a week. Currently, the food pantry and pharmacy are only open a few days per week. The new building will help streamline the process and reduce travel time.
St. Vincent de Paul’s charitable pharmacy is evidence of the fact that the organization has evolved over time. Tate says that the demand at the pharmacy is high largely because of the rising cost of medication. “As the needs of society have changed, we’ve changed along with it,” Tate says.
March 26, 2019, is St. Vincent de Paul’s official 150th anniversary date. “It will be a yearlong celebration,” Tate says. “We’ve been here for 150 years, and we’ll be around for another 150 years.”