Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Dear Friends,

Want to make room for the gifts that you’ll be receiving soon?  

The “Swap Meet” is going to take place on Saturday, December 1, 2012, in the St. Thomas Aquinas Church Parking Lot from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  

I’m sponsoring a table for the St. Vincent De Paul Conference.

If you have any items that you’d like to donate, can you please put them in a box and bring them to the Rectory, c/o Lorraine Melendez?  I’d like to receive the items no later than Thursday, November 28th so that I’d have a chance to mark the items and get them ready for display.

THINGS TO DONATE:  household items * Christmas decorations * toys/games * small furniture * books * costumes * sports equipment * plates * glassware * household decorations * tools * bikes/wagons * lamps * video games * gently-used clothing * coats * shoes * blankets/throws/pillows * movies!

Any items not sold will then be donated to the St. Vincent De Paul’s Center for the Poor in Lincoln Heights.

Thank you,
Alicia Almeida

Monday, November 26, 2012


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles' Turkey Giveaway took place November 20, 2012 at the Society's Los Angeles thrift store at 10 a.m.
"Thank you for the turkey and everything," said one recipient named Chelo.  Louie Garnica, who said he has been coming to the Society since the 1960's, remarked, "It's a blessing.  A lot of people don't have a turkey and you guys make it come true."
Society Executive Director David Fields and Assistant Executive Director Susana Santana welcomed the pre-selected recipients, chosen by Vicentian volunteers in their communities due to their low-income.  Each recipient received a 10 to 12 pound turkey plus fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner: stuffing, gravy, vegetables, cranberries, rolls, potatoes, rice and beans - all in two blue, bulging St. Vincent de Paul bags.

The giveaway was sponsored by The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles; Shoe Palace Corporation and AAA Rubbish.  One of Shoe Palace's owners, Tony Mersho, distributed food to the recipients, plus Shoe Palace's Visual Merchandising and Marketing Manager Lacey Flynn and Social Media Director Donavon Lucas.

Recipients left with smiling faces. "Thank you for Thanksgiving," said one named Jobita.
Photos: (top to bottom, clockwise) San Gabriel District Vencentian Service Coordinator Olga Felix, Conference Support Katti Figueroa, Deputy Director of Development Grace Casian and Camp Registrar Fina Morga fill bags with Thanksgiving food; Figueroa and Morga pack; Society Executive Director David Fields meets the crowd; recipients in line for food; Shoe Palace's Flynn and Lucas; Verbum Dei High School Volunteer Isaiah Hooks packs food bags.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles held its 2012 Spiritual Retreat at the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra November 17, 2012.

"In order to bring good news to the poor, we must love Jesus," said Fr. Pedro Villarroya, C.M., in his talk to the 103 attendees, plus council staff.

Sr. Alicia Martin, D.C., gave an inspiring talk on evangelization, followed by a fun primer on facts to do with Frederic Ozanam's life: he spoke four languages by age 15, held two doctorates by 22, and brought his wife a bouquet monthly to celebrate their marriage.

Vincentians enjoyed lunch and mass at the retreat house's St. Joseph Campus, run by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, who opened their bookstore, discount book nook, and grounds.  A fun day was had by all despite the rain.  Fr. Villarroya reminded the Vincentians that they are starting off Pope Benedict XVI's new "Year of Faith."

Photos: (top to bottom) Fr. Villarroya speaks; Sr. Martin at the podium, Society Executive Director David Fields with Vincentians from California State University, Los Angeles, Larry Ballesteros and Ana Laura Zelaya; Fr. Villarroya with Society OLAS District Coordinator Gloria Jara-Contreras and Director of Housing Ron Mulvihill; participants inside the sisters' St. Joseph Campus.

Monday, November 19, 2012


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles' St. Brigid's Catholic Church Conference gave 277 food boxes for Thanksgiving to the disadvantaged November 16, 2012 in Los Angeles at 9:30 a.m.  Many of the recipients said they had waited in line since 5 a.m.

"I don't have no food in my home and it means a lot," said Gwendolyn Wolfe.  Brenda Venter said with many children to feed and a fixed income, after she pays her bills she needs help with food.  

"God bless you and thank you," said Nathaniel Wilson.  "I just got out of jail after 28 years so I appreciate it, me and my family.  We're going to have a great Thanksgiving."  He happily waved his gift certificate from a supermarket, as he stepped forward to receive his food. 

Most recipients received a $10 gift certificate from Food 4 Less or Ralphs plus peanut butter, rice, pasta, cereal, bags of yams and potatoes and 20 cans of vegetables. 

The Vincentian volunteers said they distribute 150 boxes monthly.  At Thanksgiving and Christmas the Vincentians distribute 100 more boxes a month, said Max Barnes.  St. Brigid's also serves a hot meal to the needy once a week. "It's routine," said Leeland Creecy.

"We're broke, but we try, " smiled Our Lady of the Angels South District President, and St. Brigid's Conference President Kim Williams.  Developmentally-disabled men from Wright Road Workforce also help with the distributions.  On November 16 Williams said, "I asked one, Charles, why he was dressed up, in a hat, and he said because they're going to take my picture today!"

Photos: (top to bottom) Williams, in a blue sweater, in her wheelchair, organizes the recipients;  a volunteer hands food to the needy; Wilson shows his gift certificate; the Vincentian volunteers and Wright Road Workforce men surround Williams - Charles, in the black fedora, beside her.


Come to a gambling fundraiser for St. Frances Cabrini Conference to purchase toys & food baskets at Christmas for the needy!

Cost $40 a person with $35 freeplay. Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. Departs 7:30am, returns 4:00pm from Saint Frances Cabrini Church, 1430 West Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, California 90044. Valid ID with picture is required. Must be 18 years old and up.

For reservations call Rosario Casillas at (310) 710-0920 or Olivia Gomez (310) 612-3736.

Friday, November 9, 2012


November is Homeless Awareness Month.  At the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles, volunteers recently gathered items for move-in kits for homeless individuals in Los Angeles who are moving into a new home - some for the first time in 20 years.

"The parishioners really enjoyed it," said Beryle Lawrence, Vice-President of the St. John the Evangelist Conference in Los Angeles, of parishioners providing items for the kits, such as cooking pots, sheets and a small TV.   Lawrence and Joanna Batiste, president of the conference, drove a pickup truck loaded with three move-in kits to the Society administrative offices, where the kits were collected by Director of Vincentian Services Catalina Miller.

Also driving move-in kits to the offices were Antonia Clark, a Vincentian and secretary of the East Whittier Lions Club, and Vice President of St. Bruno Conference in Whittier Dolores Parks.

"The research shows if you provide this (the kits), they have a better chance of staying," said Parks, "We wish them well."

One of the recipients of the move-in kits is named Arnold.  He has been homeless off and on for 20 years. The Society staff at the Cardinal Manning Center on Skid Row came to Arnold with housing.  He was excited and grateful to move into his own place. When Arnold saw his move-in kit for the first time he wept.  Once he put everything into place in his single-occupancy room, he looked around and said, “This is the happiest I’ve been in a really long time."

Rose is another move-in kit recipient.  Her son passed away a year ago and she has been struggling with grief.  After years of homelessness, she was excited to move into a place of her own.  Her goal is to become a minister, to help others who experience the loss of a child.  Rose loves her move-in kit. Rose said the first night with her new TV, she stayed up until four in the morning, watching movies and having popcorn. She is happy and grateful for her new home.

Thank you to all the Vincentian conferences that provided move-in kits: Santa Ines, Holy Name of Jesus, All Souls, St. Bernard, St. Ignatius, St. Dominic, St. Bruno and St. John the Evangelist.

Rose, Arnold and many more bless you.

Photos: (top to bottom) Lawrence and Batiste, Lawrence with a TV, Clark and Parks present their move-in kits to Miller, Arnold with his move-in kit and Rose with hers.


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles' "Traveling Boutique" van visited the downtown Los Angeles Art Walk at Spring and 3rd Streets, Thursday, November 8, 2012, as the van does most second Thursdays of the month.  Convenient parking is a block to the Southeast at 3rd and Main Streets if you come to Art Walk in the future.

A light rain fell earlier in the evening on November 8, but did not dampen the spirits of shoppers, food-truck diners and many police officers.

"Our traveling boutique is re-stocked with hand-picked one-of-a-kind items.  If you miss us at the Art Walk, you can find us at our downtown store or see us at next month's Art Walk," said the Society's Stores Director Kellie McCaffrey-Nady.

The Society's Los Angeles Store Production Supervisor Carolyn Sanchez said she liked working the Art Walk because the food trucks were so much fun.  "Traveling Boutique" Driver Aaron Salazar said, "The hipster scene seemed dampened but not thoroughly drowned out by the rain."

Photos: (top) Los Angeles' Art Walk in downtown and (bottom) Salazar, McCaffrey-Nady and Sanchez in front of the "Traveling Boutique" van.

Monday, November 5, 2012



This man was homeless on Skid Row, but received a home of his own thanks to the hard-working staff of the Society's Cardinal Manning Center, who connected him to Downtown Pathway Home.

In 1980, Esmerido fled Cuba and the Castro regime on a makeshift boat bound for Florida. After securing legal residency in the United States, he eventually found his way to Southern California, where he worked as a day laborer and farm worker for several years. Then, in 1999, battling heart problems and drug addiction, he became homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.

Earlier this year, thanks to Downtown Pathway Home, a collaborative leading the 100,000 Homes Campaign on Skid Row, Esmerido moved into a permanent apartment in the community. Today, he is saving what little money he has to visit his family in Cuba for the first time since fleeing more than 30 years ago. Good luck and welcome home, Esmerido!