Building Bridges Together

Pictured left to right: Kathleen A. Donahue-Coia, Acting President, Administrator, and CEO – Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Lorraine Parisi, Director of Operations, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Archdiocese of Chicago; Debby Lambert, Catholic Charities of Lake County Board of Advisors Chair

On Tuesday evening, October 22, our Director of Operations, Lorraine Parisi and SVdP Lake County, was honored by being named the 2019 Catholic Charities Building Bridges Award Recipient. The Catholic Charities Lake County Board of Advisors annually recognizes a parish or group in direct support of Catholic Charities’ mission. The Building Bridges Award began in 2007 to acknowledge those who partner with Catholic Charities to build a bridge between poverty and self-sufficiency.

In particular, Catholic Charities is grateful for the partnership with SVdP, Lake County. SVdP has been a strong partner of Catholic Charities and has served those in need for over 167 years. Having someone to turn to is everything for a person in crisis. SVdP has been there to help pay the rent, to provide food and clothing, and to offer hope.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society continues to grow and expand their reach to those dealing with poverty. Through donation drives, thrift store programs, and fundraising events, SVdP serves our neighbors in need. Under Lorraine’s leadership, a voucher system was developed allowing Catholic Charities families to receive vouchers to “shop” at the Libertyville Thrift Store to meet their basic needs – clothing, household items and furniture. Recently, a new partnership was formed with Catholic Charities where SVdP provides space for their Diaper Depot operations. Through the generosity of SVdP, the Diaper Depot warehouse is located in the back of the Thrift Store and allows for a more efficient distribution system. Through this partnership, Catholic Charities and The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Lake County are truly Building Bridges . . . Together!

Lorraine was joined by her proud husband Tony and daughter Elisabeth at the award event along with fellow SVdP Board of Directors Members; Harry Ohde, President/CEO, SVdP Chicago Council, Father Gerry Kelley, SVdP Chicago Council Spiritual Advisor, Holly Robinson, Secretary, SVdP Chicago Council and Kristin MacMurray-Schmelter, Board Member and President of District 1, Lake County.

Please congratulate Lorraine for her leadership and giving spirit that forged this important partnership between Catholic Charities and SVdP Lake County. Lorraine, you make us proud to serve!

Partnering with the Northern Illinois Food Bank at Prince of Peace

On Saturday, October 5, SVdP Prince of Peace Conference held a Mobile Food Pantry serving neighbors in need in Lake County. The sun was shining and the SVdP conference members along with other parish volunteers from the Knights of Columbus, the Boy Scouts and our Confirmation Class partnered together to provide food to over 90 families including 276 individuals with 53 of them children.

Over the last three years, the Prince of Peace Conference with the support of the St. Bede’s conference has partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to hold Mobile Pantries three times a year in the church parking lot.

Neighbors in need start lining up as early as 7:30 am to make sure they have an early spot in line. At around 8:30 am, the food truck arrives with 10,000 lbs. of food including meat, fresh produce, dairy products and various canned and boxed items. It is a surprise each time to see what arrives on the truck but there is always plenty of food to support those in need. When it is a client friend’s “turn”, they enter the shopping line where they are accompanied by a “helper” from the Confirmation Classes who pushes a cart to carry all the shopping bags and boxes. Once shopping is complete, volunteers help load the food into the car for our client friends.

It is truly a parish collaborative event which has helped provide service opportunities for our youth and also raised awareness of the need right in our community, all while helping those in need.

Partnering with Kolbe House Jail Ministry

“I was in prison and you visited me”

Recently, The Chicago Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Kolbe House in Chicago, started working together to help those who are impacted by incarceration.

Kolbe House, Archdiocese of Chicago’s Department of Parish Vitality and Mission, serves individuals and families affected by the criminal justice system. Kolbe House is a sanctuary for those impacted by incarceration and through its work, seeks to promote restoration and reconciliation through outreach, support and accompaniment. The founding of Kolbe House seeks to follow the example of St. Maximilian Kolbe to love and hope in the midst of evil and despair. Through the ministry, the love of Christ is shared with the incarcerated and their families.

Lorraine Parisi, Director of Operations for The Society of St. Vincent de Paul along with volunteers set up the Giving Store at Kolbe House.

Together, Kolbe House and The Chicago Society of St. Vincent de Paul, work to further this mission and leverage the National Society of St. Vincent de Paul Immersion/Reentry Program. The National St. Vincent de Paul Society recently funded 100 Bibles for the incarcerated at Kolbe House. Using Kolbe House as a prototype, the focus of the partnership near term is on three main initiatives:

  • Clothing: We seek to provide clothing to those reentering society and their families via the SVdP Giving Store set up by the Chicago Council. Through the generous clothing and other donations from our communities, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago is able to stock the Giving Store. Former inmates and their families can select from among clothing, shoes and other items at no charge to them. We hope to soon have new underwear and socks available as well.
  • Food: We hope to soon have a food pantry to serve the Kolbe House to serve those facing reentry as well as their families.
  • Housing: We plan on providing resources for temporary housing for those reentering society.

Through these means of tangible assistance, we embrace those in need while we advocate for a just system and seek to create positive change.

A Home for the Holidays

A Home for the Holidays


Prince of Peace St. Vincent de Paul Society


Recently, the Prince of Peace Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conference had the privilege of following in the footsteps of Jesus by helping a young family in need.


We received a call from a single mother “Sherry” (name changed to protect her privacy) with five children, all under the age of eight. This young mother suffers from PTSD. Sherry is a survivor of domestic violence and her family was on the verge of being homeless. Sherry is very resourceful and found affordable housing for her family however was not able to come up with the necessary deposit to move into the house. We invited the family to join us at our monthly community dinner where the kids seemed to really enjoy the meal and desserts based on their huge smiles! Our Prince of Peace SVdP home visitors met with Sherry after the dinner to hear about her family’s story and to better understand their needs.

We partnered with other local charitable organizations and all the Lake County St. Vincent de Paul conferences to come up with the funds needed for the family to move into the home. Members of the Prince of Peace Knights of Columbus joined our volunteers to move the family’s belongings in time for Thanksgiving. The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Libertyville helped complete furnishing the home with beds, dressers and a kitchen table. One of the home visitors dropped off a Turkey Meal box provided by St. Gilbert’s St. Vincent de Paul for Thanksgiving and heard from the kids how thrilled they were to each have a bed of their own.

Sherry and her family are very happy in their new home and Sherry has started a job to help provide for the ongoing needs of the family. They are really looking forward to Christmas in their own home. It was truly a blessing to work with Sherry to make her family’s dreams come true. This is just one of the stories of the individuals and families we encounter every day as members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

We thank everyone for their generous donations and treasure the partnerships we have with the community, the Knights of Columbus, the Confirmation Classes, Savvy Seniors and so many others who help us to help those in need. If you are able, please think about donating this Christmas season to St. Vincent de Paul in memory of a loved one or in honor of your family. Your donation will help someone right in our community who is in need. God Bless and Merry Christmas!


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