Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles was incorporated in 1908, following the boundaries of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. It serves people of all faiths in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties.
More than 1,800 Vincentians volunteer their time to do what they can to help the less fortunate with short-term issues. They also help them learn ways to better their lives so that they no longer must rely on charity in order to survive, following up with those they serve on a regular basis to ensure that their situations are improving. The Vincentians are members of small parish and community based adult and young adult/youth groups, called Conferences, who work independently of the Catholic Church.
The work of these Vincentians involves doing what is needed in their specific communities. Among the many programs they offer are food pantries and a myriad of services for the homeless, and clothing to provide for those who are unable to purchase the items they need. Some Vincentians cook food for the homeless, serving and dining with them as equals. Vincentians also visit the poor in their home, car or on the street and make visits to inmates in area prisons or residents of convalescent homes.
As a corporation, the Los Angeles Council of Society of St. Vincent de Paul operates many special projects. These include homeless shelters in Los Angeles, the Circle V Ranch Camp for underprivileged children, and two Thrift Stores that help fund programs and otherwise assist those in need.
St. Vincent’s Cardinal Manning Center provides homeless men, women, and children with a safe, comfortable haven away from the stresses and fears of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Included is a shelter program for women and children, long-term shelter programs for men, separate drop-in day centers for men and women, an after-school enrichment program for children, as well as a computer center available to all Center visitors. The Oxnard Shelter offers many services for the homeless in that area, including providing showers for their use as well as a visiting nurse for their health needs, assistance in finding jobs and housing, and a computer center.
The Circle V Ranch Camp provides a well-rounded six-day camping experience for children from throughout the tri-county area. It is located just outside of Santa Barbara in the Los Padres National Forest near Lake Cachuma. Annually, many of the Circle V campers regularly express their amazement at learning that they are able to eat three full meals a day while at camp. Sadly, a great number of these children do not receive three meals a day when at home. The Circle V incorporates spirituality in its programs, as well as such concepts as respect of self and others and the importance of working together cooperatively toward a common goal.
Proceeds from the sale of donated goods in the Society’s Los Angeles and Long Beach thrift stores help fund these and other Council programs. In addition, the stores provide many items to the needy in free-distribution programs that include the delivery of major appliances, furniture, clothing, and household goods.