The St. Vincent DePaul Society of Waterbury, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to eliminating the root causes of homelessness in the Greater Waterbury Area. Its mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of the homeless, hungry and mentally ill through professionally supported relationships with caring adults, and to assist them in achieving their highest potential of wellness to move from poverty to a local social standard of living. To this end, the Society established a network to address each cause contributing or allowing a person or family to become homeless. However, this can only be accomplished through cooperation between the nonprofit provider, the State of Connecticut, the Church and the private and corporate sectors of society.
What St. Vincent DePaul Society Does
In 1978, the St. Vincent DePaul Society established a Thrift Store under the direction of Rev. Philip J. Cascia and its Board of Directors. The Thrift Store operates six (6) days a week, providing clothing and material needs for the poor. A case worker is available to assess the individual needs of the clientele. Our experience has taught us that a poor person may be able to afford a rent, but not, however, furniture or clothing. The St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store helps this person get on their feet, maintain their dignity, and become a member of society. The Thrift Store also financially supports the Soup Kitchen.
In 1981, hunger became a known way of life for many Connecticut residents. To relieve the people’s hunger, Father Cascia established a Soup Kitchen in a residential neighborhood on South Main Street in Waterbury. The Soup Kitchen allows the area’s poor to receive, at no cost to them, a nutritionally balanced hot noon time meal. The kitchen provides over four hundred served meals and two hundred bagged meals of groceries six days a week. The Soup Kitchen Manager also provides a referral service to individuals who express a need.
On March 1, 1997, the Soup Kitchen closed and reopened at its new location at 327 Baldwin Street, as the Merriman Culinary School/Kitchen. In this building the homeless adults living at the Shelter are afforded the opportunity to volunteer in an education and training program to teach them a work ethic and restaurant job skills. The students prepare meals for the poor.
As economic benefits grew further away from the poor, homelessness became evident in Waterbury and the surrounding towns. To address this need, Father Cascia and the Society founded the St. Vincent DePaul Emergency Shelter in 1984. The Shelter is the largest in the state with 125 beds. Thank God it has never been filled. The Shelter also provides a Day Care Program and Case Management for the men, women and children who receive temporary refuge. The Shelter has five full time case workers. It is because of their work that the average stay for a person or family is only 37 days. Within this period the person or family will have a permanent place to live or be placed in an appropriate assistance program.
One of the major causes of homelessness is mental illness. After the Shelter had been in operation for a year, it became obvious that some of the people being released from State mental institutions did not have the capability to live in society without a program designed for remedial skill training
Father Cascia and the Board of Directors addressed this issue by working with the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health, and in 1986, established a 50-bed supervised living program. The program currently has seventy-eight clients.
This program teaches the chronically mentally ill the basic living skills that you and I take for granted. The clients are re-taught such skills as personal hygiene, financial management, job search and cooking. A doctor, psychologist and 20 case managers are staffed to ensure that the mental health and recovery of the individual is obtained. The expected average time that a person will be in this program is one to five years. Also included in this program is an eight bed Group Home for lower functioning mentally ill men and women
Another one of the major causes of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. Every town and city in the state is affected by the rising cost of home ownership and apartment rentals. Many times our own adult children have been unable to live in the town in which they grew up because the economy of the town is out of the reach of their income. In 1989, the Society again addressed this issue. The St. Vincent DePaul Society of Waterbury, Inc., purchased two parcels of land and with a grant from the State of Connecticut Department of Housing, has built and managed 16 units of affordable housing on South Main Street, Waterbury.
The St. Vincent DePaul Society of Waterbury, Inc., is funded by grants from the State of Connecticut, the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, foundations and donations. The major portions of donations come from the individual people who live in the Greater Waterbury Area.
The St. Vincent DePaul Society of Waterbury, Inc., is dedicated to helping the poorest of the poor. If you would like to be part of this great Society of caring people, please volunteer your time and talents by calling our office at 203-754-0000.
To contact the St. Vincent DePaul Society:
Deacon Paul Iadarola, Executive Director
St. Vincent DePaul Society of Waterbury, Inc.
34 Willow Street, P.O. Box 1612
Waterbury, CT 06712
Web Site: http://www.stvincentdepaulmission.org