Friday, October 30, 2009

And the Halloween winners are...

The Society's L.A. Council held a Halloween potluck and costume contest on Friday at its main office and store production center in Los Angeles.

The employees enjoyed themselves, as there was plenty of food to go around! Some of the employees came to work dressed in their finest clothes. Carolyn Sanchez won in the female category for portraying Dorothy in 'The Wizard of Oz,' while Jose Aguilar took top honors in the male category dressed as a woman. Olivia Reyes was victorious in the admin department as NOT a desperate housewife! Each winner received a gift card.

Upon winning, Reyes jokingly said, "Wow, I didn't know I could win a prize just for getting out of bed in the morning and going straight to work. I should dress this way more often."

Photo (l-r): Carolyn Sanchez, Jose Aguilar, David Fields, deputy executive director; Jim Bibb, human resource director; Olivia Reyes and Tony Terrazas, store director.

Happy Halloween!!!

Don't be left out! Whether your a child or a child-at-heart, there is still time to pick up your Halloween costume or decoration at one of the Society's three thrift stores in L.A., Long Beach or Oxnard. With prices as low as $1.00, you can't go wrong! Store directions can be found by clicking on the three store links on the right side of this blog.

From the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles to you and your family.....have a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All Souls Youth Conference Scare Up Decorations for Cardinal Manning Center

Close to 15 members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul's All Souls Youth Conference in Alhambra - a group of teenage 'Vincentian' volunteers - recently ventured to the Society's Cardinal Manning Center (homeless shelter) in Skid Row to decorate the residence for Halloween.

The young Vincentians spent several hours in the preceding days creating hand-made spiders, ghosts and other scary spectral décor. The Conference members – who belong to the Society’s newest youth conference – concluded the day by receiving a tour of the facility, which features two murals, including one by renowned artist Judith Baca, and talking with Joan Sotiros, director of the Society’s shelter programs

“It’s incredible how a few decorations make a difference in the Center’s atmosphere,” said Manuel A. Sánchez, youth/young adult Conference coordinator for the Council of L.A. “And having the young people come here in and of itself makes an impact on the people who use our facilities.”

For information on how young people can become members of a St. Vincent de Paul Youth Conference and have fun while helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged and homeless children and families, please contact Sánchez at 323-226-1757 or via e-mail at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brad Lidge, grandson of L.A. 'Vincentian' volunteer, Gene Detmer, returns to Fall Classic tonight

Here we go again!

For the second consecutive year, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge and his team are in the Fall Classic. This year, the Phillies will take on the New York Yankees, winners of 26 World Championships.

Lidge, grandson of L.A. Council's 'Vincentian' volunteer Gene Detmer, is familiar with the Bronx Bombers, as he faced them twice during the regular season in interleague play. Though the closer had two blown saves - one resulting in a loss - at the new Yankee Stadium, Lidge is not the same pitcher he was then.

Despite experiencing an injury-plagued year in which he had 11 blown saves, an 0-8 record and a 7.21 earned run average, Lidge has returned to form during the playoffs, saving three crucial games, while picking up one victory. Going back to last postseason, Lidge is a perfect 10-0 in save opportunities!

He has yet to surrender an earned run during this year's playoff run. During the 2008 postseason, Lidge's ERA was a remarkable 0.96.

"He really didn't begin to feel strong until the end of the season, despite the fact that he'll still need surgery on his right arm after the World Series," Detmer said. "His manager (Charlie Manuel) showed total confidence in him. He never pushed him. Instead, Brad was told to come back when he was ready. Brad listened to his doctor and it has paid off."

The Society's L.A. Council wishes Brad Lidge all the best in the 2009 World Series!

Photos (l-r): Phillies closer Brad Lidge speaks to the media; Society of St. Vincent de Paul, L.A. Council 'Vincentian' volunteer Gene Detmer, grandfather of Lidge, relaxes in his backyard.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bargains to be found at Society's Oxnard Store

In this difficult economy, get what you NEED at low, low prices at the Society's Thrift Store in Oxnard! Terrific selection on clothing, furniture, appliances, electronics, bric-a-brac and MUCH MORE!

And, your patronage helps the local economy, as the store revenue helps fund the Society's local outreach programs.

Information: 323-224-6273.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why read the Bible?

Solid radio teaching, sermons from your Minister, and a daily devotional habit are all good food for the life of a believer. But a systematic reading plan is the workout that flexes the heart and muscles of the soul. Something to think about.

Why take that time to do the reading?

2 Tim 3:16-17 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. (The Amplified Bible)

The Bible in its original text was delivered to us without error - God-breathed. That alone is pretty compelling. If you want to know what God thinks about something, it just might be in the Bible as relevant today as it was when it was written.

Profitable for instruction. There is a lot in the pages of the Bible that answers a lot of questions. In Job 26:7 we are told that God hung the Earth on nothing in space. At a time when most of the world believed the world rested on the backs of enormous elephants or some other thing, God explained what even our modern minds only begin to truly comprehend. What does God think about [insert your relevant concern here]? If you can't find it, ask a friend or leader at your church to help you find the answer.

For reproof and conviction of sin. The word reproof in The Message is expressed "exposing our rebellion". Ouch - but it is so true. Sin is willfully ignoring God's law. The Law is a task master that brings us to the cross to ask forgiveness. Jesus Himself in Matthew chapter five shows us how far short of the perfection Law represents we fall. To be angry with someone, to call someone a fool, is cause enough to be sent into a fiery hell. Did you know that? Thank God there is grace and mercy for the person who comes to God humbly to be forgiven.

For correction in error and discipline in obedience. How will we know we are in the wrong? The Christian is given the Holy Spirit living within him as a down payment of his salvation, and a helper to walk with us through this life. Psa 119:105 declares that God's word (the Bible) is a lamp the lights our path to keep us from stumbling. It reproves us when we wander from the path He has for us and shows us the way to travel when we take the time to read. The Bible is a guidebook through many of the problems that life presents us. It's not all "Thou shalt not ...", but is also "Love the Lord your God". and "Love your neighbor as yourself". If you truly love someone you will honor and respect them and want do things that makes your relationship strong.

For training in righteous living. The more we learn of the grace and mercy of God toward us in the Salvation He provides freely through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, the more we realize the price that was paid was the only way we could be rescued from eternal separation from God. When that begins to sink in the response is gratitude for what He did while we were still doing what we thought was best (Prov 16:25) - knowing that some things were not so good, or outright wrong - better know as sin (all sin is deliberate - 1 Cor 10:13). The price was paid willingly to open the door for us to eternity with God brings the gratitude that comes as we recognize that we were helpless to save ourselves. The enormity of the cost that was paid should bring a desire to live the life He wants us to live - to live in conformity with God's will in all aspects of our lives.

Are we going to stumble and fall, sometimes hard from time to time - sure. If we ask the Lord, Who we have sinned against (Psa 51:4), for His forgiveness for our actions - He is just and willing to forgive us. There may still be consequences, but God has forgiven you.

All these pieces of this topic mesh like gears in a motor. Instruction and correction drive discipline and right living and shows us how much God has done for us which drives obedience. God provides the Bible so that we can be completely prepared to deal with life as it comes at us in a world that is most decidedly skewed against the live that He would have us live. The darker side of mankind is evident in drug cartels that declare war on the lives of people young and old, industries that sell us products through the use of sex, and other industries and organizations that feed the modern culture the lie that there is no God, and if whatever you want to do feels good to you then do it.

Jesus Christ came to die and rise again for a world that is fallen and lost. We who know Him are salt and light that preserve and display the truth for the world to see. That's a pretty tall order without some training and periodic correction and instruction. Set a time each day and stick with it. See what good things God has in store for you.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Young Vincentians participate in AIDS Walk Los Angeles

Some fourteen young L.A. Council 'Vincentian' volunteer joined thousands of others for the 25th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles recently. The young Vincentians came from the UCLA-Frassati Conference (Westwood), Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa Young Adult Conference (Boyle Heights) and the
Vincentian Service Corps
(Boyle Heights and Santa Barbara Houses).

These young people represent more than 2,000 Vincentians of all ages and from all walks of life in the L.A. Council who volunteer throughout the year to improve the lives of children, women and men in the counties of L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and went home hungry and tired!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lunch with a Legend benefits future shelter computer lab

Yesterday's Lunch with a Legend with John Robinson, former USC Trojans and Los Angeles Rams head football coach, helped raise funds for a future computer lab at the Council's Cardinal Manning Center.

Proceeds from a special raffle, featuring USC memorabilia - including an autographed photo of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and a Joe McKnight autographed mini helmet - went to the Society, as the organization looks to open a state-of-the-art computer lab in the near future. The new lab will not only benefit residents at the shelter, but also the homeless on Skid Row.

The Society is still in need of $10,000 to help furnish and make the computer lab a reality. For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please call 213-229-9970.

Photos (l-r): John Robinson speaks to ESPN's Andrew Siciliano; Justin Mammen of the Council's Cardinal Manning Center (center) talks to individuals as they purchase raffle tickets at the Society's information booth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quit Trying to Please Everybody

"It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you" (Proverbs 29:25 GN).

When we worry about what other people think, we let them control us. We waste a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what other people want us to be. Then, we waste a lot of time and energy trying to become like that rather than just being what God made us to be. You're manipulated and controlled by somebody else.

Worrying about what other people think is dangerous because we're more likely to cave in to criticism. It means we don't always do the right thing; instead, we do the thing that everybody wants us to do.

And we're in danger of missing God's best because we're so worried about what other people want us to do that we can't stop to think about what God wants us to do.

Fact #1: You cannot please everybody. Even God can't please everybody. One person prays for it to rain; another prays for it to be sunny. In the Super Bowl, both teams are praying that they will win. Who is God going to answer? God can't please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what even God can't do. You can't please everybody.

Fact #2: It's not necessary to please everybody. There is a myth that says you must be loved and approved by everybody in order to be happy. That's just not true. You don't have to please everybody in order to be happy in life.

Fact #3: Rejection will not ruin your life. It hurts, sure. It's not fun. It's uncomfortable. But rejection will not ruin your life unless you let it.

Quit trying to please everybody! Remember that nobody can make you feel inferior unless you give them permission.

The Apostle Paul says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31 TEV) This means we can think like this: 'God likes me, and I like me; if you don't like me, then you've got a problem. If God likes me, who cares that everybody doesn't approve of everything I do.'

Remember, nothing you ever do will make God love you less. Nothing you ever do will make God love you more. He loves you completely right now.

~ Rick Warren

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lunch with a Legend TOMORROW: Former USC Trojans & L.A. Rams Football Coach John Robinson

Just a reminder that you can hear and meet John Robinson, former USC Trojans and Los Angeles Rams head football coach, at the next ESPN 'Lunch with a Legend, tomorrow at Morton's the Steakhouse, South Coast Plaza Village, 1641 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704.

USC memorabilia also will be raffled, with ALL proceeds benefiting the Council's Cardinal Manning Center (shelter) in Los Angeles' Skid Row. This month's items include autographed photos of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and Justin Fargas, as well as a Joe McKnight autographed mini helmet.

Robinson's USC teams won four Rose Bowls, and captured a share of the 1978 national championship. This year (2009), Robinson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Robinson coached at USC from 1976-1982 and again from 1993-1997, putting up a career record as a college head coach of 104-35-4, for a winning percentage of .741

Robinson also led the Rams to the NFC title game twice; both ending in defeat against eventual Super Bowl champions, the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1989 San Francisco 49ers

For reservations and more information, please click on the Lunch with a Legend link, featuring John Robinson, on the right side of this blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Madness Parking Lot $ale in Los Angeles

Hurry! Don't miss today's Monday Madness Parking Lot $ale at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift Store at 210 N. Avenue 21 in Los Angeles.

The sale, with madness being the key word, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and include housewares* for just 25 cents each and clothing* for only 50 cents each. Are you kidding?? In this difficult economy, how can YOU not take advantage of these ridiculously low prices!!

For information, or directions, please click on the L.A. store link on the right side of this blog.

*Note: These prices apply to red tag items only.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Art mural at Cardinal Manning Center (shelter) brings volunteers together

Art is an expression of a person's individuality and what he/she feels. How exciting it is when art and creativity can help benefit other lives!

Recently, artist Ricardo Aguilar donated his time to draw a mural depicting the faces of numerous people on the wall of the men's living quarters at Cardinal Manning. The mural, entitled Faces of Hope, represents hope regardless of who you are, where you've been or your current situation.

Several volunteers completed the mural by painting the faces. Though Aguilar was not available for comment, several volunteers expressed why this project attracted their attention.

"The nature of this project is artwork for the people, by the people. It's a nice community project that livens up the room. I think (the clients) will appreciate it greatly," said Brian Whalen, who has volunteered at the shelter for more than six years, and was joined by his two young sons for this project.

Heidi Lahammer and two of her children - Andrew, 5th grade, and Halle, 7th grade - also contributed to the project, which served a two-fold purpose.

"It's helping people who are poor and homeless, and it allows my children to recognize that they are fortunate and that they can give back in a way that is appropriate for their ages."

Mychal Will, a member of ROTC at Loyola Marymount University, noted that the cadets in his squadron are given choices in how to help the community, and he chose the shelter project.

"I enjoy helping other people because it doesn't seem too common a practice these days. It also makes me feel good. In addition it helps relieve stress," he said, laughing. "I'm a college student and I have two part-time jobs as well. So, anytime I have a chance to check out of that and do something else for a minute I'm all over it."

Overseeing the project was Vincentian Service Corps volunteer Connor Johnson, who just began serving a year at Cardinal Manning Center to learn more about social work.

Johnson made numerous calls to art studios and universities during the course of a month to find an artist who would donate his talent and volunteers to paint the mural. Some clients even helped with the painting.

"When I learned that we were going to have some volunteers visit the shelter, I thought it would be a good idea to have an artist create a mural for us. This is a project that not only makes the volunteers smile, but also our clients," he said.

Johnson, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Business from DePaul University and is a native of Minneapolis, has enjoyed his short stay at the shelter.

"Being here has been great. When I was trying to find my place for Vincentian Service Corps the (Cardinal Manning Center) surfaced and it seemed like it would be a good spot for me. I'm not only learning about all the social services, but also about L.A., Skid Row and more," he said.

For more information about the Cardinal Manning Center and/or Vincentian Service Corps, call 213-229-9963.

Photos (clockwise from top): Volunteers Heidi Lahammer and Mychel Will paint one side of the wall, while volunteer Brian Whalen and his two sons paint the other side.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grandson of L.A. Council 'Vincentian' volunteer makes return visit to the NLCS

As Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once said, "It's like deja-vu, all over again."

For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies will meet in the National League Championship Series (NLCS). The winner will advance to the World Series.

The rematch also marks the return of Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who is the grandson of Council Vincentian Gene Detmer of the Society's Holy Family Conference in Pasadena.

And no one is happier than Detmer to see his grandson in this situation, especially due to the season the pitcher experienced. Lidge recorded 31 saves, but had 11 blown saves, eight losses and a 7.21 earned run average in a year in which he visited the disabled list twice.

This was just one year after Lidge helped lead the Phillies to a World Series Championship, recording 48 saves in 48 opportunities, including the final game of the World Series. He also walked away with the National League Relief Man Award.

In the just-concluded National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies, Lidge saved two games in the best-of-five game series.

"Having an off-season physically, I'm happy he had an opportunity to vindicate himself and show that he is a first class pitcher," Detmer said. "Since I was a child, I've always believed that good guys are rewarded and bad guys aren't. My grandson really hung in there this year."

The NLCS begins tonight at 5:07 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.

Photo: Brad Lidge (r) and Gene Detmer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ammended Society's Position on Right to Life

Board of Directors Approved on April 22, 2009
National Council Approved as Amended on September 4, 2009

Society St. Vincent de Paul, Inc.
Board of Directors Meeting
Midyear Meeting
April 22, 2009

A Resolution Reaffirming the Society’s Position on the matter of Right to Life

Whereas there still exists a serious concern for the unborn and the principle of the “Right to life for the unborn and the dignity and value of each human life”, and

Whereas lack of respect for the inviolable dignity of every human remains a serious injustice, therefore be it

Resolved by the Members of the National Council of the United States, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Inc.:

1. The Society reaffirms its adherence to Catholic Social Teaching, whose foundation is the inviolable dignity of every human person from moment of conception to natural death.
2. The Society reaffirms its support for both Justice and Peace as well as Right to Life efforts of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The category of this Resolution is Voice of the Poor
Resolution number: 4/22/2008/9 69

~ source:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Join St. Vincent de Paul's AIDS Walk Team (#3823)

Dear Young Vincentians & Friends,

AIDS Walk LA is scheduled for this Sunday, October 18. Join with other young Vincentians from across the Archdiocese to show your solidarity with those battling AIDS and HIV. To sign up for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul AIDS Walk Team, please go to:;

* First, be sure you are joining Team #3283 Society of St. Vincent de Paul;

* A form will now appear. Please fill out the appropriate information and create your own fundraising web page (then click the “Continue” button at the bottom);

* Next (assuming your user ID, etc., is accepted), you’ll find a Confirmation page – after reading this, hit the “Continue” button again;

* You’ll now see your new, personal AIDS Walk web page. Feel free to personalize it as you wish, and be sure to copy the web page link (you’ll see it listed right above a section reading “Fundraising Statistics”) to share with friends and family who may wish to donate to you through the web.

At your personal web page, you’ll find ways to send personal e-mails to friends and family.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at or call 323/226-1757.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Yours in St. Vincent de Paul,

Manuel A. Sánchez
Youth/Young Adult Conference Coord.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Council of Los Angeles

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lunch with a Legend: Former USC Trojans Football Coach John Robinson

Come hear and meet John Robinson, former USC Trojans and Los Angeles Rams head football coach, at the next ESPN 'Lunch with a Legend' on Wednesday, October 21 at Morton's the Steakhouse, South Coast Plaza Village, 1641 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704.

Sports memorabilia also will be raffled, with ALL proceeds benefiting the Council's Cardinal Manning Center (shelter) in Los Angeles' Skid Row.

Robinson's USC teams won four Rose Bowls, and captured a share of the 1978 national championship. This year (2009), Robinson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Robinson coached at USC from 1976-1982 and again from 1993-1997, putting up a career record as a college head coach of 104-35-4, for a winning percentage of .741

Robinson also led the Rams to the NFC title game twice; both ending in defeat against eventual Super Bowl champions, the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1989 San Francisco 49ers

For reservations and more information, please click on the Lunch with a Legend link, featuring John Robinson, on the right side of this blog.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween is getting closer; don't miss out on these great LOW prices!

Halloween is frightening close! Do you have your costumes or decorations yet? If not, is the difficult economy holding you back?

No need to fear! The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store is here (Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oxnard), where you can get all your Halloween items at LOW, LOW prices!

A variety of costumes for children and adults, alike, are available, as are numerous decorations to help get you and your family in the spirit for this special day. And, your patronage helps improve the quality of life for children, women and men in need through the Council's various outreach programs in the counties of L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara.

For directions to the St. Vincent de Paul store nearest you, please click on one of the thrift store links on the right side of this blog.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

11th Annual ‘Layette Project’ benefits 50 newborns in L.A.

For the 11th consecutive year, ‘Vincentian’ volunteers from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles’ Our Lady of the Angels District welcomed newborns into the world through a special Layette Project at California Hospital Medical Center in L.A.

In honor of the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, of whom this organization is named after, approximately 10 Vincentians personally distributed new baby clothes and accessories to 50 low-income mothers who had given birth on the day of the Society's visit to the hospital. In addition, the first two babies born on that day received new cribs!

St. Vincent’s Feast Day fell on a Sunday (September 27) this year, so the distribution was held on Friday, September 25.

Dorothy Campbell of the Council’s Transfiguration Conference founded the Layette Project and was just as excited about this year’s event as she was her first time out.

“It’s so amazing to meet these mothers who are really in need. This is a gift from God. The reward for us is that God is there for us at all times. And with Him everything is possible,” she said. “God has helped expand this program from year-to-year. I give Him the praise.

Among the 50 newborns, there were two sets of twins, which added to the Vincentian’s visit.

“It was so exciting to see not one, but two sets of twins. What a blessing!” said Claire Padama, president of the Council’s Our Lady of the Angeles District. “It’s very gratifying to see the look on the faces of the mothers when they receive something for their babies. These are mothers who really need it. They don’t have much, especially in this economy. They are grateful for anything we can do.”

The mothers and Vincentians are not the only individuals who take pleasure from this event.

"I think it’s a wonderful thing. A lot of the patients here don’t have a lot. To see the joy on their faces when they receive the gifts, especially the ones who receive the cribs, is terrific. And, I love seeing the volunteers because they are so enthusiastic about giving and making the moms really happy", said Patricia Britt, who helps oversee the maternity ward at California Hospital Medical Center.

The OLA District held a fundraiser to help collect the various baby items for this annual event.

Photos (clockwise from top): The Council's Dorothy Campbell (l) and Claire Padama (center) speak to a nurse prior to the baby distribution; Vincentians from the OLA District with one of the two sets of newborns at the hospital.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Great $ales TODAY at Society's L.A. Thrift Store

Great $ales today at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift Store in Los Angeles:

* 25% off our everyday low prices on women's shorts, men's t-shirts and children shorts.

Take advantage of this special sale, as it is one day only!

For information, or directions, please click on the L.A. store link on the right side of this blog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Annual Retreat a HIT for Council Vincentians!

Serving God is a calling like no other!

Close to 100 'Vincentian' volunteers from the counties of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura exhibited this faith last Saturday when they attended the Los Angeles Council's Annual Retreat at Old Mission Santa Barbara.

The retreat included mass, communion, songs of praise, sessions centered on the Vincentian's outreach to the poor, lunch and more.

Father Pedro Villarroya, C.M., Council spiritual advisor, spoke on two topics: Spirituality Tools to Prevent Burnout (and) Walking With the Poor in Jesus, helping to remind those in attendance about the importance of their outreach and the impact they have with others less fortunate.

"It was a great event. Very inspirational!," said Vincentian Terry Hernandez, co-chair of the Council's Spirituality Committee which organized the retreat. "We are fortunate to have someone with Father Pedro's background. He is an excellent speaker. He captured everybody's attention."

Father Pedro recently celebrated his 50th year as a priest.

Hernandez, who has been a Vincentian for more than 30 years, stated that it's not easy being a Vincentian, as those they help are not always grateful.

"Over the years, I've seen people get burned out. It's discouraging because these are good people. One of the reasons for burnout is that they feel their outreach is not appreciated," he said, indicating that he has seen when Vincentians have taken time at the end of a long day to help an individual with food, only to see that food thrown on the ground minutes later. "Despite what happens, we have to remember that we are doing this for the Lord."

Hernandez mentioned that one of the things he took away from the retreat was that

"If we can't love each other, we can't love the poor. Some people will get angry and disagree, but we need to love each other and remember why we're here. We have to see the face of Christ in our fellow Conference members if we are to see the face of Christ in the poor."

The Council of L.A. is blessed to have more than 2,000 Vincentians from all walks of life who donate their time and talents throughout the year to help improve the quality of life for children, women and men.

Vincentian Ed Kunkler summed up Father Pedro's words by saying, "Though I've heard some of it before, we need to recognize the dignity of the individuals we help. It is a good reminder, as it helps keep us on the proper course."

Following the retreat, most of the attendees toured Old Mission Santa Barbara and were educated on the history of the missions.

Photos: Top photo shows a group shot of the Council Vincentians, while the bottom photo shows Father Pedro Villarroya, C.M., conducting a session.

* NOTE - Photos courtesy of Robert Cruz, president of the Society's St. Anthony Conference in Oxnard.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wine & Jazz event allows SVdP to network with Long Beach community

An intimate Wine and Jazz gathering was recently held on the patio of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles’ new thrift store in Long Beach. The Council's new Deputy Executive Director, David Fields, spoke about the Society's local work and outreach to community business leaders.

Long Beach 4th District Councilmember Patrick O'Donnell and Vice Mayor Val Lerch were present and thanked St. Vincent de Paul for its new store. Councilmember O'Donnell also presented the Society with a special proclamation. The James Gentry Quintet provided the Jazz entertainment.

The evening allowed local business leaders, the clergy and other organizations to network with the Council’s staff – and learn more about the Society’s outreach - in a casual environment.

"We want to become part of the fabric of the city. This type of event gives us the presence that we need," said Fields. "The intent is to better understand the city and allow the local organizations to understand the role that we want to play in the city."

Fields added: "This event definitely established the beginning of our strong presence in the City of Long Beach. Grace Casian and Sandra Gillard (of the Council's fund development department), with the assistance of (Store Director) Tony Terrazas, are to be commended for their efforts in organizing this event."

Revenue from the new Long Beach store not only will help shoppers purchase everyday household items at low prices, but it will support the Council’s various outreach programs, including St. Vincent de Paul's free-distribution where donated usable items are given free to local families in extreme-need.

For more information on the Society's new thrift store in Long Beach, please call 323-224-6287.

Photos (l-r): Long Beach 4th District Councilmember Patrick O'Donnell (r) presents SVdP's Deputy Executive Director David Fields with a special proclamation; The James Gentry Quintet provide Jazz entertainment.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Volunteers from Bovis Lend Lease in L.A. support Cardinal Manning Center

Coming together for the common good of mankind is an effective and rewarding way to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged and homeless children, women and men.

Volunteers from Bovis Lend Lease, Inc. in downtown Los Angeles recently exhibited this act of kindness by assisting the Society's Cardinal Manning Center (shelter) in Skid Row and its work with the homeless.

As part of the company's community service day, numerous individuals from Bovis devoted a good portion of their day to paint the women's section of the shelter, helping to brighten the living quarters for women with children who have fallen on hard times.

For the volunteers involved, this project was not work but, rather, a labor of love!

"One of the things I love about the company is that we have thousands of employees around the world who are doing work in the community. We're a construction company so we build communities, but we believe in supporting the communities were in anyway." said Melise Gerber.

For fellow volunteer Joe Policicchio, this project took on a deeper meaning.

"I was homeless once, but I am real fortunate now. I'm blessed and I want to bless other people," he said. "It feels good knowing that I helped somebody else out because people were there for me when I was down-and-out and I want to return the favor."

To say that volunteers are important to Cardinal Manning's overall outreach is an understatement.

"We wouldn't be able to do it without volunteers. Practically all the nice things that happen around here are done by volunteers," said Joan Sotiros, director of the Cardinal Manning Center. "The benefit is that the men and women who stay here or just use our facility on a day basis see other people giving. For so many of our people, it has been such a long time since they've been in a position to give. They're in survival mode. They have to keep taking and taking to survive.

"They get the idea that there's somebody out there who is giving. It's a different kind of giving than just something material. It's somebody who is helping to make my environment better; somebody cares about how nice it is where I live."

Thank you Bovis Lend Lease, Inc. for your time and generosity!

Photos (l-r): Volunteers from Bovis Lend Lease in downtown L.A. paint the women's section of the Council's Cardinal Manning Center (shelter); Melise Gerber of Bovis Lend Lease adds her artistic touch to the project.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Council of L.A. to commit up to $1 million to help prevent foreclosures

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles yesterday announced that it will commit up to $1,000,000 in support of its partnership with One LA-IAF toward the prevention of foreclosures in the Los Angeles area.

The announcement was made by Father John Lasseigne, O.M.I., pastor of Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima, whom the Council is working with, at the 15th Annual Archdiocesan Public Policy Breakfast with Cardinal Roger Mahony in L.A.

According to an AP story, teaming up with One LA-IAF and Neighborhood Legal Services of L.A. County, Father Lasseigne has lobbied congressmen, councilmen and corporate executives for laws, funds and loan reductions.

He makes sure he wears his clerical collar to meetings. "I don't mean to strike divine guilt in their hearts, but it adds moral weight to the campaign," he said. "I would like to think that they see standing behind me the thousands of homeowners at risk."

Combined with the special training offered by One LA-IAF in the organization and management of this special program, the Society’s participation will enhance its existing outreach designed to combat homelessness in the region.

“It is the Society's great pleasure to be part of a collaboration designed to help those among us who are in such desperate need. Affordable housing for the working poor has been an ongoing major thrust for the Society and joining organizations of one mind will certainly guarantee more will be done on their behalf,” says the Society’s L.A. Council President Jim Weiss.

Ron Mulvihill, chair of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Housing Committee, adds that today’s housing problem is one that needs to be taken seriously.

“This will go along way in addressing an epidemic of foreclosures that people are currently facing. Preventing homelessness is just as important as helping people who are homeless,” he says.

The Society has served the City of Los Angeles for 101 years, helping to improve the quality of life for children, women and men, largely through ‘Vincentian’ volunteers who come from all walks of life to help those in need. Other programs include St. Vincent’s Cardinal Manning Center (shelter) in Skid Row, a West Ventura County Emergency Winter Shelter, a Circle V Ranch Camp for children and three thrift stores to help low-income residents and the above programs.

One LA-IAF is a broad-based, non-partisan organization of dues-paying member congregations, schools, unions and non-profits committed to building power for sustainable social and economic change.

Information: 323-224-6273.

Photos (l-r): The Council's Ron Mulvihill (l) and David Fields (r) with Father John Lasseigne, pastor of Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima; Father John Lasseigne speaks to the crowd about the housing climate and announces the Council's collaboration with One LA-IAF.