St. Vincent de Paul ended 2018 on a good note by filling our dining room with fresh pizza on December 29. Little Caesars brought their 18-wheeler Love Kitchen to the West Oakland direct service campus to serve enough pizza for 900 people.
Thanks to the pizzas made and donated by the Love Kitchen, we served almost 600 trays to our guests for lunch, with plenty leftover for a pizza night in the shelter. during lunch service. There was a party-like buzz throughout the kitchen and dining room as volunteers, staff and guests shared their glee about pizza day. It goes to show how a simple menu of pizza, salad, fruit and a sweet treat can bring joy and levity to our community. We are grateful to have Little Caesars as a partner and look forward to having the Love Kitchen back in our neighborhood soon!
On January 8, Mayor Libby Schaaf used her first full day of her second term as Oakland mayor to serve at various local organizations, and chose to include our West Oakland direct service campus in her tour. There, she and a group of her office staff spoke with our clients and served food, along with juice, milk and water during lunch.
Mayor Schaaf has consistently supports SVdP and our programs. "I could think of no better place to spend my first full day of my second term as the mayor of Oakland. Not only is it about returning to my own roots of community service, but being in proximity to the people I most want to serve as well as the people who are in service to our community’s unsheltered and homeless. This is just a beautiful operation fueled by compassionate volunteers, amazing staff and guests who clearly love not just the tasty meal, but the wonderful community,” Mayor Schaaf said.
We are grateful for the support we receive from the mayor's office and look forward to their next visit!
The St. Philip Neri community consistently supports St. Vincent de Paul through its service. This fall, sixth grade students at St. Philip Neri School provided over three hundred new towels to our men’s and women’s centers. They were collected at the school and church, and at St. Albert’s Church in Alameda. “The students took pride in this project. They were so excited to count the number of towels that came in,” Vincentian volunteer Marianne Henderson said. The towels will be used to provide showers to hundreds of people each week at SVdP.
At St. Philip Neri, service learning is engrained in their curriculum. Each class chooses a service project to administer throughout the school year.
St. Philip Neri School emphasizes the role of leadership and community. The school was given the Outstanding School Award by Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl at their grant awards breakfast on December 13. Representatives from the eighth grade class attended the reception to accept their award. St. Philip Neri represents the positive impact young people can make within their communities. Thank you for your generosity!
Community outreach worker Dave comes to SVdP frequently to meet our guests and see how he can help them. Our center is open to all, and we welcome the great service that Dave does out of the goodness of his heart. He is a great light in our center and positively affects the lives of everyone he meets. Read below for his story.
“I do outreach work in West Oakland. My clients are homeless, addicts, survivors. I came here to find those people, because they don’t always want to find you. I’ve been coming to St. Vincent de Paul for five years. I eat in the dining room and socialize and connect with people that I can refer to services I know. I’ve lived at the same home for 22 years. I spent 27 years as a stock broker. When I retired, I looked into this community and saw a lot of grief and pain. I spoke to the executive director at St. Vincent at the time and she let me interact with the clients.
“I know the people in this community. I do a lot of work with West Oakland Health, so I refer people to them when I’m here. I’m from Jamaica. There, they teach you ‘you’re your brother’s keeper.’ In America, everyone is in it for the individual, not for the collective wellbeing. Mental health services are in a shortage around here. There are some brilliant talents in this center, but no one has ever encouraged them. No one has told them they love them. That is a shame.
“People fail to understand that when someone says they’re cold or hungry, that need is now; you can’t wait to act. I come back to St. Vincent de Paul to help human beings. I promised myself I’ll always do something for somebody. The reward comes when you look at another human and you know you’ve helped them.”
Photo courtesy of bostonherald.com
Giorgio Tavecchio began volunteering in our free dining room in September, and quickly became a reliable dishroom helper. Over the coming weeks, we got to know him better, and found out he was a professional football player who was spending time volunteering while in between NFL teams. He even played for the Oakland Raiders between 2014 and 2016, to the delight of some of our staff members.
On October 22, he made his debut with the Atlanta Falcons after their kicker was injured. Tavecchio executed a perfect game as their kicker. Tavecchio kicked a 56-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that led the team to beat the New York Giants 23-20. He was a perfect 3 for 3 on field goals and 2 for 2 on extra points. Though Giorgio is now staying busy in the NFL, he did have time to send a message saying SVdP is in his thoughts and prayers. Good luck, Giorgio, and thank you for your work at SVdP We hope you come to visit!
Our Kitchen of Champions job training program’s Cohort 59 graduated on September 13, 2018 in the West Oakland campus community center surrounded by family and community. We wish sincere congratulations to our graduates: Alonzo Curry, Leander Sellers, Anthony Randall, Trina Hewitt, Aniqua Jones and Juan Salinas.
Each graduate prepared a favorite meal to share with all attendees, including po boys, gumbo, enchiladas, sweet rice, steak, chicken salad, and more. The ceremony featured keynote addresses from local chef, media star and entrepreneur, Chef Aminah Robinson, and KoC Cohort 47 alumnus Chef Marshawn Howard, who now owns his own catering company. Each graduate was able to address their guests and teachers, while receiving their certificates of completion and brand new knife sets.
This group of six graduates was essential to serving over 500 meals per day in our free dining room, and even were able to use their own recipes to feed our guests. For example, graduate Aniqua Jones made a delicious jerk spice that was very well received by our dining room guests and staff. On top of culinary lessons and practice, the trainees learn soft skills, such as resume building and interviewing techniques. “It was a really good program. I think everybody should do it. It’s a great opportunity to learn new things, even if you’re a cook already. There’s always stuff to learn,” Jones said. Congratulations to Cohort 59, we are very proud!
Image from: http://oaktownnoir.strikingly.com/
Eastern Span by Rick Paulas, "a neo-noir novel set in Oakland, circa 2013-14" follows Pug, a member of the working class who is searching for a long-lost friend, and ends up uncovering a housing conspiracy on the way.
Author Rick Paulas lives in Oakland, and his work has been featured in Wired, VICE, The New York Times, and more. The novel is available to purchase online. Each download, which includes original artwork by local artists, is available for free, and/or for a "pay-what-you-want" donation, which will go to one of six organizations supporting the homeless in Oakland. St. Vincent de Paul is grateful to be on of those organizations. If you'd like to supply a donation to SVdP, please specify when you make the payment.
This is a great opportunity to support local talent, while giving back to St. Vincent de Paul, so we can continue our basic needs services for the homeless and low-income families, and assist in eviction prevention. Thank you to Rick Paulas for demonstrating a creative way to support local nonprofits. Your work means so much to the community!
More information can be found here:
Payment can be made here:
Or email Rick for another method of payment: email@example.com
Please put "Noir Book" or "Eastern Span" in the memo, to designate what the payment is for.
Jack Dice is the Muffin Man. He’s one of many who regularly pick up donated food from distributors in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and deliver it to organized food programs in Oakland. He recently made a delivery to SVdP with his granddaughter and shared a bit of the history of the Muffin People:
“When we started thirty years ago the big thing for breakfast was muffins. You could get muffins everywhere. One day we brought food over to St. Mary’s Center and one of the ladies started saying “Here comes the muffin man!” and it stuck! We became the Muffin People since ladies joined and we made it gender neutral. It takes 23 vehicles a week to do this. We bring food six days a week and on the seventh day ECAP (Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program) makes our run. I set that up for them. We drive to four different organizations: SVdP, St. Mary’s Center, ECAP and A Friendly Manor. We’re always looking for new people!”
Our dining room guests love the treats the Muffin People bring, and the cupcakes from Suzie Cakes are especially popular. Thank you to Jack and the Muffin People for finding a creative way to decrease food waste through food reclamation and for helping our community!
SVdP is collecting new backpacks and school supplies for 250 children to be distributed at our Back to School Open House on Saturday, August 4, 2018. Backpacks and school supplies are needed by Saturday, July 28, at our community center, located at 2272 San Pablo Ave.
To donate supplies, schedule donation drop offs, or sign up to volunteer at the open house, contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate online, visit www.svdp-alameda.org/donate, or mail your check to St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, 2272 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94612. Please designate your gift to Back-to-School 2018.
In 2017, we distributed backpacks to over forty families, with 105 children from kindergarten through high school. An additional 32 backpacks with universal supplies were assembled and will be distributed to families on our waiting list. This year, we expect to distribute twice that amount.
An event like this cannot happen without the gifts of time and talent given by our volunteers, who we deeply appreciate.
In addition to our volunteers, special thanks to our generous donors who make the event possible each year, including Friends of the Oakland Public Library, Sunlight Giving, Rodan & Fiels (corporate sponsor of buildOn) and Pandora.
Stories are an important way for Saint Vincent de Paul to connect to the community by showcasing our clients, staff, programs, and volunteers. To two of our star volunteers, their stories are greatly influenced by books. Renee Matsumoto and Marne Chapin Schreiber are San Leandro natives who have graciously dedicated their time to a cause dear to their hearts. The SVdP thrift store in Fremont prides itself on its vast and organized book department, and it’s mostly thanks to Renee and Marne. Renee came across the thrift store due to her passion for reading. She says, “I love to read, and when I worked in Fremont, I found the SVdP thrift store. I was able to buy many books through the years at very reasonable prices. When I retired, I had made up my mind to volunteer at SVdP, but I really only wanted to work in the book department.” Renee’s wishes came true and she began volunteering in 2015, when the book department was much smaller, and, though enjoyable, it was too much work for her alone.
Fortunately, last year, Renee’s “prayers were answered” and Marne joined the team. Renee and Marne immediately clicked, with Renee recognizing Marne’s love to read from the beginning. Marne has had a life full of book-related jobs. She has been a library clerk at an elementary school and a high school, volunteered as a book mender and docent tour guide at Fremont’s main library, and became the publicity chair for the Fremont Friends of the Library. She worked as the publicity chair for twenty three years and had hoped to return to her volunteer work at the Fremont library upon retirement. Unfortunately, they weren’t looking for volunteers at the time. According to Marne, “[...] when God shut that door, he opened another one for me directly to Patty and right into the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift store in Fremont and their thousands of books!” Marne fell in love with the opportunity to work in her own “private library.”
Together this team is unbeatable. They both agree that one of the best parts is meeting and working with each other. Renee comments, “Marne loves books as much as I do. We make a good team.” Marne returns the sentiment, saying, “We think so much alike and get along so well. It is a privilege to volunteer alongside her.” Presently, Marne and Renee only volunteer one day a week, but they are hoping to expand to two in the near future. The love and passion for this thrift store is apparent. Marne tenderly refers to the store as “our happy place.”
Their similar mindsets have helped in the necessary reorganization tasks. They have focused on making the search for the perfect book more accessible to customers. “A big part of our reorganization of the store’s book collection has been breaking out special sections and identifying them with easily readable shelf labels. For example, we took a hodgepodge of books labeled ‘Literature’ and developed sections for ‘Writing,’ ‘Poetry,’ ‘Plays’ [...]” reveals Marne. Accessibility is key to sharing the wonderful world of reading and imagination with the community. Renee adds, “While we still have more to do, we are proud to show off the book department. No matter what our customers are interested in, we’re sure to have a book for them!”
The SVdP thrift stores are a wonderful way to find things for a reasonable price. Better yet, the proceeds go to the SVdP programs and the mission of neighbors helping neighbors. Consider checking out one of the thrift stores (located in Fremont and Livermore) on your next shopping excursion. It is also worthwhile and welcome to donate gently used items to the thrift stores; your old books could become someone else’s next treasured story.
By Juli Jugan and Jessica Mott, Saint Mary's College of California