February 29, 2024

By Laurie Stiegelmeier

The Sioux Falls St. Vincent de Paul Society is expanding its services with a second thrift store. The current store and warehouse have been operating at or above capacity for several years. 

“As the community grows, the need for more store space has been acknowledged, as well as additional need for those who enjoy the thrift shopping experience,” Donna Edwards, president of the St. Katharine Drexel Conference, said. “Safety for storage of excessive items is also a concern. An additional store will help fill currently unavailable services on the west side of the city.”

The new 25,000-square-foot store and warehouse will also house a training center for Vincentian volunteers. While the thrift store is staffed by employees, volunteers who belong to a church or group of churches form conferences. A council is made of leadership from the conferences who come together monthly to discuss the needs in the conferences and how to meet them. The council also gives guidance to two special works of the society: the thrift store and the Holy Innocents Ministry, which offers diapers at no charge to eligible individuals.

“The councils also discuss spirituality and formation, which is core to the St. Vincent de Paul Society,” Cathy Crisp, president of the Sioux Falls District Council, said. “Spiritual growth is important in these three pillars: individual spiritual growth, growth within the conference, and the spirituality the volunteers take into the homes they serve.”

According to Donna, the existing St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Cliff Avenue has been a prosperous asset. Profits from the sales of previously owned clothing and household items are given back to the seven St. Vincent de Paul Conferences—five in Sioux Falls, one in Yankton and one in Watertown. These funds are used to assist those who request help, and adding another store will increase revenue to support conference ministries.

A mission of service

The society is an international Catholic organization that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, serves those in need. The society not only strives to alleviate immediate needs, but it also works with individuals and families to identify key causes of their poverty, to potentially eliminate it in the future, Donna said.

“The Society of St. Vincent de Paul serves anyone regardless of race, creed or social background,” Donna said. “They often partner with community agencies by referring friends in need to appropriate services. Financial aid for rent, utilities and transportation are the most frequent requests; food, clothing, diapers, and hygiene items are also high-need resources that are offered.”

She explained that pairs of Vincentians meet with families in their homes to provide privacy, trust, and to allow assessment of the environment. To provide hope and reduce stress, time is spent in prayer and encouragement.

St. Vincent de Paul is central to the society’s mission. Known as “the Apostle of Charity” and the “Father of the Poor,” St. Vincent was also named the Patron of Charity by Pope Leo XIII. Blessed Fredric Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 1833, recognized Vincent’s influence and dedication to the poor.

“It was only fitting that the Conference of Charity be named after Vincent de Paul,” Donna said, adding that Blessed Fredric followed in the footsteps of Vincent, addressing social justice and incorporating his beliefs of spiritual and moral support for those experiencing poverty.

“As a vocation, the society is called to follow Christ through service to those in need,” Donna said. “Vincentians utilize his spirituality and example when mentoring and evangelizing those in need of assistance. Members see Christ in the poor and the poor in Christ.”

Building on rock

In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus says, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.”

So too, prayer at conference and council meetings has been crucial to the new building project. At the beginning, the land was blessed for worker safety during the construction project, and for a successful store.

“Like any new project, patience and faith in God has been paramount,” Donna said. “Ensuring that the timing and resources are available to initiate and see the project to completion have been given to God and St. Vincent. Individuals and resources that God has provided have been crucial to pull the project together.”

The projected opening of the new St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store is June 2024. It will be located west of Fareway on the corner of Ellis Road and West 41st Street.

Get ready to shop—till the poverty level drops!

 

Laurie Stiegelmeier is active in faith formation for all ages at St. John de Britto Church, Britton/Pastorate 5. Above career and volunteer work, being a mother and grandmother is the most important and rewarding “job” she ever held.