Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homeless shelter fundraiser in Oxnard yields high turnout

By David Michael Courtland
Ventura County Reporter

Saturday’s fundraiser for a temporary winter homeless shelter drew the highest turnout in memory, says Peggy Rivera, who chairs Oxnard’s Commission on Homelessness, which co-sponsored the event with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“I think the most important issue here is not the money to keep the shelter open for a length of time, but the public awareness of homelessness,” said Rivera, adding that the commission got a number of donations larger than $500 from organizations throughout the county.

About 400 people who had bought $50 tickets, including a number of elected or public officials and others campaigning for local offices, attended Saturday’s dinner at Casa Lopez in Oxnard. Rivera attributed the larger turnout to increased awareness of homelessness.

“It’s wonderful; it just shows how strong this community is, to step forward and have compassion for the homeless,” said David Fields, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul’s Los Angeles Council. Fields said the Council may be using Oxnard’s winter shelter program as a model for one in Los Angeles County.

Tim Flynn, who is running for Oxnard’s city council, said the event is a good example of faith-based community action.

“This is what’s sometimes necessary to get people involved. It’s tapping into a resource of people who have compassion but don’t have an avenue to express it,” said Flynn. “I don’t know of any other event I’ve attended of this size. At a minimum, this raises awareness.”

Fifth District Supervisor John Zaragosa, who represents Oxnard, emphasized the number of homeless armed forces veterans.

“It’s important that we take care of our homeless veterans, it would be nice to give them a safe, warm place,” said Zaragosa, who noted that the shelter helps keep down visits to hospitals for emergency treatment. “We help them out with emergency housing, which saves taxpayers money; it’s a win-win all around.”

Besides Zaragosa, the event also drew Oxnard City Councilman Andres Herrera, Ventura City Councilman Neal Andrews; Peter Brown, Ventura’s community services director; Harbor Commission candidate Florencia Ramirez; and Oxnard City Council candidate Carmen Ramirez as well as Flynn and his father, former Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn.

Rivera said her commission is working with the Oxnard Planning Department on a draft plan for a year-round homeless shelter.

“At this time, we’re working diligently with the city to make sure we get what we need to service the homeless population the best we can,” said Rivera.

Sponsored by the Commission on Homelessness and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the fundraiser is a critical source of money to operate the annual winter shelter.

Typically open from December to March, the shelter is the chief source of shelter for the homeless in west Ventura County. Emergency winter shelters are also operated in Ojai and Simi Valley.

Tom McLaughlin of St. Vincent de Paul, who has managed the winter shelter for eight years, said Ventura and Oxnard city officials are still discussing which city is hosting the shelter this year and the specific dates of operation.

In past years, the shelter has alternated between the National Guard armories of both cities; the last two years it was held in Ventura’s armory. On any given night, the shelter typically has 100 to 200 people staying in it.

Oxnard and Ventura have the largest homeless populations, with more than 1,000 between them, including whole families and single parents with children, according to the Ventura County Commission on Homelessness.

A survey taken earlier this year in conjunction with the national census found 451 adults and 69 children in Oxnard alone, 38 two-parent families with children and 27 single parents with children. Only 147 of those people were staying in shelters.

Photos (top to bottom): SVdPLA Concil President (center) and Executive Director David Fields (second from right) with members of the Society's Our Lady of Guadalupe Conference in Oxnard; our young entertainers danced their hearts out; Alicia Juarez in concert.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

YOU have the power to change lives!

Help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul help others. Here are just two ways to accomplish that goal:

Planned Giving

This is a donor’s commitment to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Council of Los Angeles through a gift that takes effect at death or after a term of years. Include the Society in your will or other estate plans, and you’ll provide the financial power needed to help families and individuals for years to come.

Matching Gifts

Many corporations assist their employees’ charitable intent by matching, or multiplying, their employees’ gifts, up to a set amount. If you are considering making a gift to the Society, ask if your employer participates in such a program.

Info: Grace Casian at 323-276-6084 or Also visit and click on the word Donate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OLA District Holds 12th Annual Layette Project in Los Angeles

For the 12th consecutive year, on Monday, Vincentian 'volunteers' from the Council of Los Angeles' Our Lady of the Angels District distributed free layette gifts to mothers of 50 newborns at California Hospital Medical Center.

The annual Layette Project, founded by Vincentian Dorothy Campbell, and led by fellow Vincentian Claire Padama, president of the OLA District, was held on the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul.

Some of the items included cribs, strollers, clothes and diapers. Proceeds to purchase the new baby items were raised through a major fundraiser and financial donations.

It is not too early to think about next year's Layette Project. To make a tax-deductible financial donation, please make your check payable to OLA Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and send it to the attention of Shirley Coburn at 2190 W. 31st Street, L.A., CA 90018-3490.

Information: 323-735-3656.

Photos (top to bottom): Claire Padama (center) and Suzanne Mingleton (right) gives a mother new gifts for her newborn; Some of the volunteers who participated in OLA's Layette Project.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day!

In the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, help someone in need today, on this, the feast day of our patron saint. You will feel better for making a difference in someone's life!

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 27th is St. Vincent de Paul Feast Day; Join us for Mass at L.A. Cathedral

St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as subpreceptor to his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.

In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Priory of St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.

~ Catholic Online

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time running short for Saturday's fundraiser

This special fundraiser is THIS Saturday, September 25. To learn more, please view a video on You Tube.

Click here to purchase your seat today! If you can't make it, but would like to help the plight of the homeless this winter in West Ventura County, please consider a tax-deductible financial donation.

For sponsorships and information: Peggy Rivera at 805-890-7414.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For our bilingual guests!

To ALL our bilingual friends:

Please view the Univision 34 News story above and HELP St. Vincent de Paul's Mary Immaculate Conference in Pacoima save a man's life!

Thank you and God bless

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why Are Men Happier?

Men are just happier people because, if you are a man:

* Your last name stays put.
* Your garage is all yours.
* Wedding plans take care of themselves.
* Chocolate is just another snack.
* You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
* Car mechanics tell you the truth.
* You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
* You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
* Wrinkles add character.
* The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
* New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
* Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
* A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
* You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
* Your underwear is $9.99 for a three-pack.
* Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
* You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.
* Everything on your face stays its original color.
* The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
* You only have to shave your face and neck.
* You can play with toys all your life.
* Your belly usually hides your big hips.
* One wallet and one pair of shoes of one color are good for all seasons.
* You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
* You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
* You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
* You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24th in just 25 minutes.

Ah, if you are happy, please do not forget to send a donation to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to help those who are less fortunate and do not have these things.

Tax-deductible financial gifts can be sent to SVdPLA, 210 N. Avenue 21, Los Angeles, CA 90031. Info: 323-224-6273.

Have A Great Day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Halloween costumes & decorations at L.A. store

Halloween is drawing ever so closer with each passing day. Do you have your costume or decorations picked out? No need to worry! The Society of St. Vincent de Paul store in Los Angeles has a selection of Halloween costumes and decorations at very-low prices!!!

The inventory changes daily, so stop by TODAY! You never know what you'll find on any given day!

Directions to the Society's L.A. store at 210 N. Avenue 21, 90031 can be found on the right side of this blog.

Information: 323-224-6280.

Friday, September 17, 2010

KTLA's 'Heroes at Home' - Joan Sotiros, SVdP's Shelter Director

Our own Joan Sotiros, director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul's Cardinal Manning Center in Los Angeles' Skid Row, was recently featured on a KTLA TV News segment called Heroes at Home.

Joan has helped countless men, women and children through the shelter for the past 15 years; many times working long hours, seven days a week, just to make sure lives are changed for the better. Joan also has a terrific staff and volunteers who help make the Cardinal Manning Center a clean and respected shelter for those who need a second chance in life.

The top photo shows Joan (right) being interviewed by KTLA reporter Lynette Romero. Below, is the segment that aired on television. Happy viewing!

For more information about the Society's Cardinal Manning Center and how you can help, please call 213-229-9963.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Papal Honor Bestowed on Ed Kunkler, SVdP Board Member

Every few years the Archdiocese provides an opportunity for parishes to honor the laity with Papal Honors. These honors are very meaningful not only to the recipients, but also to the parishes and organization of which they are a part. It is a concrete way of demonstrating the parish's appreciation and gratitude for outstanding lay men and women by endorsing them for Pontifical Honors.

One such Honor is the BENEMERENTI AWARD. It is presented to designated men and women for significant service to the Church and society. I, in consultation with other staff members, nominated Edward Kunkler from our parish for his many years of consistent, time consuming, dedicated service.

Ed was chosen for his forty years or more of reaching out to the poor who come to our church doors, and assisting them through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

When I first arrived at the parish in 1972, Ed and John Mathern WERE the SVdP Society, just the two of them. They would leave their homes and come here to address the needs of the poor even at very inconvenient times, weekdays and weekends.

Ed has served consistently all these years here even before women were members of the Society. He has also been chosen for major leadership roles on the Archdiocesan St. Vincent de Paul Board.

Even today, you will see him many mornings (before many of us are up) bringing bread and pastries for storage in our hall from stores and markets which donated day-old food. These are then taken to feed the homeless at the Cardinal Manning Center, and sometimes are available at Mission Circle on Sundays.

His affirming, gentle manner is complemented by his strict adherence to SVdP policy and procedure. He has been a Godsend to our parish and the poor.

Congratulations to Ed Kunkler as a recipient of this Pontifical Honor: the Benemerenti Award. This award will be presented at the Cathedral on Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 3:00 PM.

~ Portion of a story written by Father James Mott, OSA, for a recent 'Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish' Sunday bulletin.

Note: Sr. Marian Hurley, BVM, also received this award from Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Celebrating the Child in Los Angeles!

Are you pregnant? Do you have a toddler? Do you know someone who is either pregnant or raising a young child?

Regardless of the situation, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul store in Los Angeles is here to save YOU money. Select maternity clothes are just .99 cents each! And, colorful cups with children's names on them are only a quarter each!! Ridiculous bargains on items YOU need and use on a daily basis.

The Society's store is located at 210 N. Avenue 21, Los Angeles, CA 90031. Directions to the store can be found on the right side of this blog. Information: 323-224-6280.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Helping YOU! $avings in Ventura County!

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul wants to help YOU, while you help us help others in need! Buy more for LE$$. Enjoy these cool savings at St. Vincent de Paul's store in OXNARD this week:

* WED: Military Day (15% off)
* THUR: Senior Citizen Day (15% off)
* FRI-SUN: Special Weekend Sale (50% off)

NOTE: These sales are on select items and exclude purple tags, mattresses and bed frames.

The Society's Oxnard store is located at 1258 Saviers Rd., 93033. Directions can be found on the right side of this blog. Info: 805-487-1500.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Parishes & SVdPLA: It's Collaboration Time!

Parishes in the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara are needed to help the Society of St. Vincent de Paul help the less fortunate through its BUNDLE SUNDAY program!

Parish members can easily support the program by donating their discards of usable clothing, household goods and misc. small items - as well as rags and newspapers - when they attend Mass on a scheduled Bundle Sunday. *Please note that this collection is for small items only, and that a free pick-up of large donations (furniture, appliances & electronics) can be made by calling 323-224-6280 or 800-97-HELP-1.

Donations serve two purposes: First - They are given to families in extreme-need through the Society's free distribution progam; Second - They are resold in St. Vincent de Paul's thrift stores to help fund the Society's outreach programs. In either case, YOU are helping the less-fortunate and improving the local economy!

Information: 323-224-6274.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reminder: Dinner/Dance event for winter shelter in Ventura County

Check out more about this special fundraiser on You Tube.

Click here to purchase your seat today! If you can't make it, but would like to help the plight of the homeless this winter in West Ventura County, please consider a tax-deductible financial donation.

For sponsorships and information: Peggy Rivera at 805-890-7414.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today is the Feast Day of SVdP Founder Frédéric Ozanam

"The question which divides men in our time is no longer a question of political systems. It is a social question: that is of knowing which will prevail: the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice? Whether society is to be simply a great opportunity of exploitation for the benefit of the strongest or a dedication of everyone for the benefit of all and especially for the protection of the weak...." ~ Blessed Frédéric Ozanam

Yesterday, September 8, marked the death of our founder, Frédéric Ozanam in 1853. TODAY, September 9, we celebrate the Feast of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam - the same day, coincidentally, that his mentor (Vincentian) Sister Rosalie Rendu, DC, was born in 1786 (see the Vincentian Family Website at for a wealth of information and resources).

Earlier today, in the chapel at the Society's Los Angeles Council office, a Eucharistic Celebration was held in honor of Blessed Ozanam's Feast Day. Rev. Kevin Collins, C.M., a Vincentian Priest, presided over Mass, which was attended by St. Vincent de Paul employees.

Photo: Rev. Kevin Collins, C.M., at today's Mass at St. Vincent de Paul in Los Angeles. A photo of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam hangs in the top left corner.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back-to-School sale ends September 10

The 50% off back-to-school sale at St. Vincent de Paul's store in Long Beach (2750 Pacific Coast Hwy., 90804) ends on Friday, September 10.

Take advantage of this tremendous discount on all children's clothing before it's too late.

The telephone number and directions to our Long Beach store can be found on the right side of this blog.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Did You Know?

St. Vincent de Paul's thrift stores in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oxnard sell usable donated items, which are picked up free of charge throughout the year to help fund the Society's various local charitable programs.

Approximately 215,000 individuals visited the stores last year. The value of clothing, furniture and other household donations collected was $2.8 million. Revenue received from sales was more than $3.9 million.

In part, the donations helped shoppers on fixed incomes, assisted more than 2,000 children, women and men in extreme-need through a St. Vincent de Paul supported free-distribution program and sustained jobs for 140 employees in tough economic times.


"Being a single mother of five children, ages 2-10, and having a $9 an hour job, the St. Vincent de Paul store helps me and my children very much. Everything in the store is reasonably priced, which helps my budget. It allows me to get my children clothes, furniture in their room, toys to play with and even a vehicle (to that, my son says ' more walking to school')."

~ Luisa, 28, L.A.

To make a tax-deductible donation today, please call 800-97-HELP-1 or 323-224-6280.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day. Treat Yourself Today!

It's Labor Day! The official end of summer.

As you enjoy your well-deserved day of rest, we invite you to visit one of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul stores in Los Angeles, Long Beach or Oxnard from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (special hours today only).

Despite finding tremendous buys for the entire family at each location, in Long Beach, in honor of the new school year, all children's clothing is 50% off until September 10!

Store locations can be found at:

Los Angeles: 210 N. Avenue 21, 90031 / 323-224-6280
Long Beach: 2750 Pacific Coast Hwy., 90804 / 562-494-9955
Oxnard: 1258 Saviers Rd., 93033 / 805-487-1500

Directions to each store are located on the right side of this blog.

Enjoy your holiday everyone!

Friday, September 3, 2010

YOU can have fun and help change lives simultaneously in Ventura County

Check out more about this special fundraiser on You Tube.

Click here to purchase your seat today! If you can't make it, but would like to help the plight of the homeless this winter in West Ventura County, please consider a tax-deductible financial donation.

For sponsorships and information: Peggy Rivera at 805-890-7414.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca visits SVdPLA

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca visited and toured the Society of St. Vincent de Paul L.A. store and corporate office on Tuesday morning.

Sheriff Baca, who commands the largest Sheriff's Department in the United States, spoke with several St. Vincent de Paul employees, including Executive Director David Fields who explained the various charitable programs the Society provides in the region.

The L.A. Council thanks Sheriff Baca for taking time from his busy schedule to learn more about the Society and its day-to-day activities to benefit countless local lives.

Photos (top to bottom): L.A. Council Executive Director David Fields (l) talks to L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca about the region covered by the Council; Deputy Director Justin Mammen (l) of the Society's Cardinal Manning Center talks about the Council's shelter on Skid Row with Sheriff Baca, Gilbert Mares (center, who helped coordinate the meeting) and Michael Mares.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vincentian's grandson helps close door on Dodgers

He came. He pitched. And, he prevailed.

Pitcher Brad Lidge and the Philadelphia Phillies earlier today wrapped up a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, winning two of the three contests.

Lidge, the grandson of St. Vincent de Paul's L.A. Council Vincentian Gene Detmer, pitched scoreless ninth innings today and Tuesday in the Phillies two victories, retiring six of the seven batters he faced. Though Lidge is the team's closer, neither games he pitched were save situations. However, he did lower his earned run average from 3.90 to 3.67.

The Phillies, who have appeared in the World Series the past two years and won it all in 2008 with Lidge on the mound for the series clincher, are fighting for another playoff spot in 2010. All the best, Brad!

Note: Pick up a copy of this month's Guideposts magazine. There is a story by Brad, along with a photo of him and Gene, about how his faith and his grandfather's support has helped Brad through some rough times in major league baseball.