Like that of its founder, Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”
Inspired by Gospel values, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, leads women and men to join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those who are needy and suffering in the tradition of its founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, and patron, St. Vincent de Paul.
As a reflection of the whole family of God, Members, who are known as Vincentians, are drawn from every ethnic and cultural background, age group, and economic level. Vincentians are united in an international society of charity by their spirit of poverty, humility and sharing, which is nourished by prayer and reflection, mutually supportive gatherings and adherence to a basic Rule.
Organized locally, Vincentians witness God’s love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served because, in them, Vincentians see the face of Christ.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization (NCO) whose mission is to help its members grow spiritually through friendship and service to the poor and disenfranchised in our communities. We are in 149 countries with a worldwide membership of 800,000.The International Office is based in Paris, France (http://en.ssvpglobal.org). Our National Office in the United States is based in St. Louis, MO (http://www.svdpusa.org). We organize at the local level through parish-based groups referred to as “conferences”. A designated group of conferences compose “councils” which exist to support the works of charity undertaken by the conferences.
Special works of councils and conferences may include the operation of special services to assist the poor, such as pharmacies, medical and dental clinics, homeless shelters or temporary housing; or thrift stores or other enterprises to generate revenues to fund programs addressing emergent as well as long-term needs of those we serve. Other important sources of revenue include donations from benefactors, grants and fundraising campaigns and events.
The main focus of our work is to assist those living in poverty in becoming self-sufficient by helping to remove roadblocks as we walk with them on their journey out of poverty. No act of charity is foreign to the Society as long as it facilitates the mission and is within the capabilities of our Vincentians to perform.
The Des Moines Council operates two thrift stores, a social services department and an education center. We employ around 22 paid staff and many volunteers. There are currently sixteen conferences in the Des Moines Council’s area of responsibility.
We collaborate and partner with many like-minded community service organizations with visions similar to ours: “End Poverty Through Systemic Change”.