When people hear the name “St. Vincent de Paul,” their first thought is often the thrift store in their neighborhood that bears that name.
We know that the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has numerous ways we help our neighbors in need. However, our Thrift Stores are an integral part of our assistance model. You may think its a great place to go to find a discount sweater, or some used cookware, but have you ever thought about how important the SVdP Thrift Store can be to someone who is re-entering the workforce after being incarcerated?
“The U.S. releases over seven million people from jail and more than 600,000 people from prison each year. However, recidivism is common. Within 3 years of their release, 2 out of 3 people are rearrested and more than 50% are incarcerated again,” said Jeff Beamguard, Stores Support Director. “50 percent of people are returning to a normal life and paying taxes again. I have worked with thousands of people coming out of prison and jails. St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores provide a place for individuals to find clothing and accessories to find a job! SVdP has stores from coast to coast to give you a hand up, not a handout!”
Recently, the SVdP National Council’s Marketing and Communications intern, Lili Pino, decided to focus on just that. She dedicated her internship’s final project to bringing awareness to the Society’s Immersion Program by collaborating with Heather Fullerton, Associate Director of Poverty Programs / Director of Immersion Program, in the first-ever SVdP Thrift Store Challenge.
“Returning to the workforce after incarceration can be a challenging experience. SVdP thrift stores can help ease the difficulty by offering clothes, shoes, accessories, and more at an affordable price,” said Fullerton. “Anyone who has applied or interviewed for a job understands how stressful it can be to find professional clothing… Add an additional layer of being someone who is returning from incarceration and the stress can be overwhelming. Thankfully, job hunters can find a large selection of business attire at SVdP thrift stores. Items like ties, blouses, blazers, dresses, belts, and accessories are all available for a low price.”
Together, they each put together an outfit from the Thrift Store to show that returning citizens can find clothing appropriate for job interviews at affordable prices. Watch the video to see what they found!
Click here to learn more about the Immersion Program.
Click here to find your local SVdP Thrift Store.
SVdP National Council Welcomes Associate Director of Poverty Programs / Director of Immersion Program
The National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul is excited to welcome Heather Fullerton as the new Associate Director of Poverty Programs / Director of Immersion Program.
Heather will work collaboratively with Councils and Conferences to enhance and expand the Society’s Systemic Change programming, with a particular focus on Immersion, the Society’s national reentry program, and Back2Work, the national workforce development program.
For the past 15 years, Heather has used her skills as an educator and nonprofit manager to create equitable systems in which all people flourish by training and coaching others to build capacity.
As a teacher, Heather earned National Board Certification for excellence in innovative teaching.
Heather lives in St. Louis with her husband Joshua and their children Camille and Christian. They have a Dalmatian mix named Uno. In her free time, Heather enjoys sewing, gardening, and playing video games with her family.
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the National Council Staff,” said Heather. “I can’t wait to collaborate with this family of passionate, talented, and faithful individuals. Thank you for welcoming me with such open arms!”
If you’d like to contact Heather, she can be reached at (314) 576-3993 ext. 217 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not need (or even want!) to be reminded of the unusual year we have faced in 2020: A pandemic, economic crisis, and societal turmoil from racial injustices. Yet amidst it all, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has offered a steady hand to our most vulnerable neighbors, providing food, rent assistance, utility payments, the list goes on and on. Thankfully, in the worst of time, the Society shines. With nearly 100,000 Vincentians in the United States alone, we are ready and willing to step in.
Among those we are serving, our sisters and brothers returning home from incarceration are facing many barriers and obstacles, often without family or resources to fall back on. Up to one third of our Home Visit contacts have a formerly incarcerated individual in their household. Sadly, years of systemic racism have profoundly impacted the struggles, evidenced in the disproportionate numbers of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples bearing the brunt of inequities in the criminal justice system. Addressing this myriad of concerns through the Society calls us as Vincentians to form a “network of Reentry,” to borrow a phrase from Frédéric Ozanam: “I would like to embrace the whole world in a network of charity.”
St. Vincent de Paul has already responded with the typical creativity that we are known for. Immersion and Back2Work were designed to work in tandem to address the special needs of those returning from incarceration, “returning citizens.” Utilizing the strength of our many Conferences, our community partnerships, ability to access resources, we walk with each neighbor on their journey home. Right now, we have these programs in four different Councils across the country.
Now, in a hopefully “post-COVID-19” world, we are challenged to be even better organized and consistent in our approach. A “network of Reentry” has already been conceived in the National Reentry Task Force (NRTF). We have an opportunity to grow our Task Force to form a new vision, to provide invigorated and integrated services to returning citizens everywhere. By providing mentoring, job training, education, advocacy, restorative justice and more, we can help bring healing to our sisters and brothers and communities.
Please take a moment to prayerfully discern: Are you being called to this Reentry ministry? Consider how you can help us in this shared mission. Who in your Council or Region is already serving the formerly incarcerated? Who has a passion for restorative justice? Can you help us bring a new vision to the National Reentry Task Force?
As the Society of St. Vincent de Paul we are uniquely qualified, indeed gifted, to help meet the many challenges our returning citizens are facing. Together, we can begin to participate in the building up of the Kingdom of God within our truly Vincentian charism, embracing a “network of Reentry.”
In Christ’s faith,