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.
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.
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!