News About St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul Receives Matching Grant from The HEDCO Foundation: Grant will be used to Update the Efficiency and Operation of Truck Fleet
June 20, 2011—The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, (SVdP) of Contra Costa County has received a $33,828 Matching Grant from the HEDCO Foundation, announced Derek Jernstedt, executive director of the HEDCO Foundation, and Jim Noe, board president of St. Vincent de Paul. This donation matches the "Challenge Grant" of $50,000 donated by the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation to St. Vincent de Paul in February, providing full funding for a new 18-foot delivery vehicle.
The HEDCO Foundation's charitable giving in Northern California supports education, and "safety net" services for children and families. The Lesher Foundation enhances the quality of life in Contra Costa County through charitable giving to support education, the arts, and children and families. Kathleen Odne, executive director of the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation said "We are pleased to partner with the HEDCO Foundation in providing this support to vulnerable families in the county".
"The funds will be utilized to purchase a new truck in order to update the efficiency and operation of the St. Vincent de Paul truck fleet which supports the pick-up, delivery and transportation of all goods sold or given to the needy from the two St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores," said Ron Weston, executive director of SVdP. Additional uses of the truck fleet include distribution of 14,000 warm coats each winter in the "One Warm Coat Program" and distribution of food/meals to the needy. The challenge grant and matching grant covers the total $83,828 needed to purchase the truck. Kathleen Odne, executive director of the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation said "We are pleased to partner with the HEDCO Foundation in providing this support to vulnerable families in the county".
The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores, located in Pleasant Hill and Pittsburg, support the economically marginalized in Contra Costa County by providing free and low-cost clothing, furniture and appliances. Over $100,000 in free clothing/furniture was provided by St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa to over 25,000 families in 2010. Over the past five years, our truck driver employee development program has successfully transitioned 12 employees from post-incarceration and successful parole completion to productive employment.
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Contra Costa County looks to strengthen vulnerable families by providing not only support for clothing, furniture and appliances, but by also providing nutritional support, (free meals and food pantries/distributions), rental assistance, immigration and legal services, job training, and shelter for the homeless. This compassionate assistance is provided without discrimination of any kind; "No Act of Charity is Foreign to the Society". The newest program, the RotaCare Pittsburg Free Medical Clinic at St. Vincent de Paul is a four exam-room free clinic staffed by volunteer physicians, pharmacists, nurses, translators, social workers and non-medical volunteers. This clinic opened on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, and is open from 4:00-7:00pm every Wednesday. The Clinic offers medical care to uninsured adults with acute or chronic health conditions. This Clinic is sponsored by the rotary Clubs of Alamo and Pittsburg and is co-sponsored by eight additional Rotary Clubs. Clinic appointments are scheduled on Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00pm by calling (925) 439-2009.
2011 MHCC Unsung Hero for Contra Costa County
June 11, 2011—Excerpt from Concord Hilton—We of the MHCC of Contra Costa County would like to call Denise Barkasy to the podium. Tonight Deniese Barkasy is being honored as the 2011 MHCC Unsung Hero for Contra Costa County. Her path to the podium tonight started two years ago when Denise and her fellow Vincentian had been visiting some of Walnut Creek's Homeless Men that receive food from the St. Mary's Conference in their home (under the bridge in between the Macy's and Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek).
After the visit they stopped by Heather Farms Park and Denise noticed a young man with wild hair sitting on the ground propped up by his back pack. Deniese asked "how are you doing?" The young man, James, with barely a glint in his eye frowned, didn't really acknowledge her...still she asked if he needed anything. He looked at her for a moment, not in anger, "there was just a brief look of recognition, almost gentleness. For the first six months or so he wouldn't talk to me, but I just kept stopping by when we were out in the area and would talk to him" stated Deniese.
In Denise's words: I never was able to locate the family until 2 years into it when I came across an obituary in the Contra Costa Times for his father. It was actually 2 years of me working with him on the streets and the 3rd year when I got Mental Health involved after much, much effort and wall hitting. This was his home, and it was the first of what became almost weekly meetings. Sometimes he would be there in the heat sitting bundled up under the tree with his ever present back pack. Sometime after the seventh or eighth month we started "talking"—starting out mostly in single words "ok or fine" he would say. It took him a long time for him to open up to me. I would be careful who I brought down with me because I didn't want to scare him. Ever so slowly he began to open up about how long he had been on the streets. He just didn't seem to belong on the street. He n ever told me he had been on the street for 17 years, that was much later...his sister did. He is what they call disorganized schizophrenic. He doesn't really have the capacity to understand time spatially. We would talk about him in our Conference meetings and it became obvious he needs some help. We searched for the family online through Facebook and LinkedIn. Came across the brother on LinkedIn but he never responded back to me and the sister had recently put up a Facebook page and connected with her for the first time on Christmas Eve 2009. We did not push him, so we started looking into how to get him to some kind of an assessment, but he didn't want to go. Finally the day came when he said he did trust me. I asked him if I could bring someone to meet him. The next day I called the friend I had made when I was trying to find him some help at MHCC (Mental Health Consumer Concerns) and he came down with me into the park to "his home" and did an assessment. James is somebody who had just fallen through the cracks. He is/was definitely a work in progress! I guess the main point to drive home is that every human being has worth and is deserving of the human touch. Make no mistake, providing food and clothing, etc... is a wonderful gift, but to touch the human spirit takes it to another level. That is what we should strive for. James is here at the dinner tonight...sitting across from us.
Deniese BARKASY was one of two "outsiders" not directly involved in (Mental Health Consumer Concerns) that was honored at The 35th MHCC Gala for their contribution to those suffering with mental Illness in Contra Costa County. The second being Senator Mark De Saltier who as a long time friend and supporter through the years of MHCC and its peer to peer approach to helping "Mental Health Consumers" in Contra Costa County. Deniese is the Conference President from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Walnut Creek.