St. Vincent de Paul’s newest enterprise, Catering of Champions, began on June 4. The idea was brought to us by longtime volunteer, Javier Silvares. “I remember seeing the happiness in the Kitchen of Champions students’ faces while they were in the program learning so much and I thought I could do even more for them,” he said. “I decided to do a step more than me just volunteering. This is really my home. It’s the life I choose and the life I want to live.” The program’s first fundraiser will be held on July 20.
The Catering of Champions staff will include Silvares, one part-time cook and an administrative aid to handle booking and advertising. Silvares has planned a menu including Spanish dishes from his home country. He cooked for 128 people at the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon in April, and received a lot of positive feedback about the flavorful meal. Silvares has two goals for the program: first, to provide stable employment and continuation of culinary education for graduates of Kitchen of Champions, and second, to earn money for St. Vincent de Paul. “We are really life-changers here. People want to do better and change and we accompany them on that journey,” Silvares said.
On Saturday, April 13, we hosted our annual Easter Open House for 54 families and 187 children. With the help of 16 volunteers, including photographer Sacha and a group from Pledge to Humanity at San Ramon Valley High School, we were able to give every family a Safeway gift card, Easter baskets, photos with the Easter bunny, free books and Easter themed crafts. A special pizza lunch was made by our kitchen staff and Kitchen of Champions cohort. Our open house events are a great way to celebrate important moments of the year and bring our community together for a bright spot in our lives. Thank you to all who continue to support the open house events. Our next open house will be celebrating back to school in August. If you would like to sign up to volunteer or donate, please contact our volunteer team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a key local think tank, released a new study on homelessness in the Bay Area, and, at Mayor Schaaf’s suggestion, they wanted the study to be rolled out to the press and the community at St. Vincent de Paul. Executive Director Blase Bova was invited to participate in the roundtable discussion, along with some noted civic and corporate leaders including President and CEO of Kaiser Permanente Bernard Tyson and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Participants discussed the need for a regional plan to address homelessness, as well as unity amongst the entire Bay Area, including the Sacramento area, to support each other’s efforts in housing the unhoused.
The Bay Area has the third highest homeless population in the country with over 28,000 homeless residents, behind New York City and Los Angeles. The report says part of the problem is low income people are becoming homeless at a faster rate than communities can move existing homeless people into housing. “We can subsidize rents when they fall on hard times, we can purchase buildings and turn market rate housing into affordable housing, we can provide rental assistance, so they don't have to choose between medical payments and rent payments,” said Jim Wunderman with the Bay Area Council. St. Vincent de Paul thanks the work of our Vincentians across the county through their eviction prevention work. You are addressing a crucial aspect of the homeless crisis that needs more widespread support, and the Bay Area Council agrees.
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!
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!
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!
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 email@example.com.
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.
As we celebrate 80 years of service throughout Alameda County we are excited to be able to offer 80 ways to volunteer and get involved with St. Vincent de Paul.
If you are interested in doing one or more of these activities please reach out to Katie Troy, Volunteer Coordinator, at 510-877-9252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.svdp-alameda.org.
Media, Networking, and Community
Come and join your neighbors Sunday, June 4th for the second in our series of monthly Sunday afternoon events. This time around, we will hold a FREE workshop where you can learn how to take a boring garden pot and make it into a unique colorful mosaic. Bring your own clay pot- NOT glass- or buy one from us. We will supply all tools, as well as coffee and pastries from Peet's and Arizmendi. Store staff member Paula will be leading the troops in what promises to be a fun and exciting afternoon.
Last Sunday was the first ever First Sundays at SVDP Fremont. We hosted 8 women (men are always invited!) for our sea glass workshop which was a fun and relaxing way for folks to get to know more about us and to meet some neighbors and community members.
We're excited to continue our series with a Terra Cotta Pot project on June 4th, please stop by to see what we are up to or ,email fremont@svdp-alameda,org for more information.