Recently, the Pittsburgh Catholic published an article featuring stories about local Vincentians and the work that they do in their communities through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The article, written by Bob De Witt, also highlighted the need for assistance programs like those offered through our Conferences (i.e. food, clothing, furniture, housing, and transportation).

“Last year the Catholic lay association assisted 104,924 individuals in southwestern Pennsylvania…Supported by parishioners and other generous donors, they help with rent, utility bills, clothing, furniture and other items. More than 38,000 people received food assistance in 2017. Thrift stores sell donated goods at a low price, helping to raise money.

“Despite a low unemployment rate, the ranks of the working poor are growing” wrote De Witt. “More than 40 percent of Pennsylvania households can’t afford basic necessities, according to a recent United Way study. Between 2005 and 2016, the annual cost of utilities for an average home jumped 43 percent, as medical costs also continue to rise. Meanwhile, median income in the U.S. increased less than 3 percent over a decade.”

Click here to read the full article.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also sign up for our occasional e-newsletter.

It’s nearing the end of May and, here in Pittsburgh, Spring has definitely set in.  The signs of the season are plentiful – the rise in temperatures, the increase in rainfall, the closing of the Mon Wharf on a semi-regular basis, and the looming specter of spring cleaning.

If you haven’t started your spring cleaning yet, know that you’re not alone and that we’ve got your back with some tips, tricks, and resources to make your cleaning experience less overwhelming and more calm-inducing.

Make a spring cleaning checklist

Checking items off of a list can be cathartic. With that in mind, we suggest creating a checklists for each room you’re going to tackle (that way you can recycle your list after you’ve checked everything off of it – even more satisfying!) Need some list making inspiration? We’ve created a template you can use to create your own mini spring cleaning checklists.

Start small

Starting small means making those room-by-room checklists (see above), but it also means not taking on the entire attic (or garage or closet) in one go – break it down by area or by task. You’ve got this – the attic will not defeat you!

Limit your time

Spring cleaning burn out: the best way to end up with only half of your house or apartment clean. This is a marathon, not a sprint and your house will end up in a much better state if you pace yourself and make conscious, active decisions on what to keep and what to throw away or donate.

Don’t go it alone

If you’re like us, cleaning isn’t exactly up there on your list of favorite things to do. But it doesn’t have to be a silent, solitary task that is occasionally interrupted by the sound of spraying window cleaner or the rustling of garbage bags. Make a deal with your friends – they help you get with some of your cleaning and you’ll help them with theirs! Or enlist your kids, spouse, or that cousin who owes you a favor. Put on some music and catch up, it’ll make the time and tasks go by much faster.

Identify the necessities

Whenever you start a new room or task, identify the items that you have to keep – both for practical and sentimental reasons. Make sure the necessities find a prominent or easily accessible space in your newly organized home or office. That way you can cut down on any frustration from having to find something you use often and you can increase your happiness quota by looking at something that brings you joy.

Declutter your workspace

Your bedroom and bathroom are important places to clean and declutter, but your workspace should also be pretty high on your list of priorities. Whether that’s your car, your home office, or your work office, give priority to the place that you most likely spend a bulk of your time. Clear the extra paperwork, go through that giant pile of mail that magically appeared overnight, dust, and disinfect.

Put away the winter items

We’re pretty sure winter is finally over (knock on some form of wood immediately). Now it’s time to pack up those bulky sweaters, scarves, and hats for at least a few months. Free up your closet space for sundresses and linen by boxing up your cold weather attire and banishing them to the attic, garage, or under the bed.

Donate your discards

You’ve made it to the end of a cleaning session and your closet or office is now a clutter-free paradise! Congratulations!

So what do you do with the boxes and bags of discarded items you no longer need? Donate your gently used clothes and household items to St. Vincent de Paul!

Drop off items at any of our thrift stores (locations here) or donation boxes (locations here). For larger donation pickups of furniture, call our Donation Department to schedule a home pickup (412-321-1071 x1). Your items will provide support to thousands of local individuals and families in need of assistance throughout the Pittsburgh region.

Decluttering and organizing your home can help to decrease stress and increase productivity, so get on it! You’ll feel so much better with a clean house & the knowledge that your discarded items will support those in need.

For more information about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, make sure to sign up for our e-newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

Last week, we announced the winners of our 2018 Earth Day Poster & Essay Contest! Our competition (now in its second year) asks every participating student to focus on their role as a care-giver of our world and to demonstrate their understanding of recycling and the benefits of reuse.

For this year’s competition, we asked students in 1st-5th grade to create posters illustrating the importance of recycling and how it can protect the environment. For students in 6th-8th grade, we asked them to take something they were going to throw away and transform it into something that would bring joy to someone else.

When we asked the 6th-8th grade students to include a reflection on why and how their projects would benefit someone else, we never anticipated the joy their responses would bring our office as well. Project after project provided a look into the empathy and consideration of each of the finalists. Here are some of the highlights:

“All candles can help you see. They can comfort others, some have a special scent, or they could just make a person feel joyful. I learned that most of the things we throw away could be used for wonderful things and might just change the world’s perspective of ordinary things.” – Amelia, 8th grade, St. Monica Catholic Academy

“Have you ever gone to bed cold? Probably not, but many people in our world go to bed every night being cold…I know I cannot help with their heating expenses, but I can help by giving them a chance to be warm when they go to bed…Jesus wants us to be good Christians so this is one way I thought I could be a disciple of Jesus by giving someone the gift of warmth, a blanket. Doing so, I hope I put a smile on someone’s face.” – Kaylee, 7th grade, St. Louise de Marillac Catholic School

“This old raggedy T-shirt was able to be transformed into a dog toy, in order to bring joy both to pets and family members. Spending time with pets often helps cheer up people, and what better way to hang out with your dog, than to play with it. This dog toy can help my dad, and sisters, have fun with my dog, and give them something to play with her. She loves spending time with us, and we enjoy playing with her.” – Benjamin, 8th grade, St. Kilian Parish School

Twelve local Catholic Schools and more than 1,000 students have participated in this contest over the past two years, creating projects that were thoughtful, creative, and illustrated their understanding of the significance of recycling and reuse.

A special thank you to all of this year’s participating schools: Saint Thomas More School, Saint Kilian Parish School, Saint Monica Catholic Academy, Saint Anne School, Saint Gregory Catholic School, Saint Bernadette School, & Saint Louise de Marillac Catholic School!

Here are the 2018 Society of St. Vincent de Paul Earth Day Poster & Essay Contest winners!

1st-2nd Grade Winner: Corbin Cabana, St. Monica Catholic Academy

3rd-5th Grade Winner: Naomi Saures, St. Gregory Catholic School

6th-8th Grade Winner: Amelia Kilnar, St. Louise de Marillac Catholic School

To see all of our finalists’ projects, visit our Facebook page.

Want to keep up-to-date on all things St. Vincent de Paul? Sign up for our e-newsletter!

Are you interested in learning more about the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul both in Pittsburgh and across the nation? Tune in to EWTN Sundays at 6:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. over the next 10 weeks for their series “Our Faith in Action: Today’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”

The series joins Vincentians on their spiritual growth journey through service to people and families in need. From home visits to food pantries to financial mentoring programs, “Our Faith In Action” shows how Vincentians see the face of Christ in the people they encounter.

The Pittsburgh Council will be featured in the third episode of the series which will air on Sunday, March 18th at 6:30 a.m. and Saturday, March 24th at 6:00 p.m.

In addition to highlighting the Madison and Rhode Island Councils, our episode will feature Vincentians from our St. Irenaeus conference conducting a home visit with a local family.

What is a home visit? A home visit is when two Vincentians visit a client in their home in order to better understand their circumstances, struggles, and how best to assist them. From the Society’s beginning, home visits have been one of the core tenants – a way to symbolize and live our commitment to our neighbors in need. (Read more stories about home visits here)

Henry Pieczynski, one of the Vincentians in the upcoming episode explained home visits like this: “You get to know the people by making a home visit. You get to understand their plight, what they need, what they want — you just get to know the people. It’s like meeting a new friend.”

Home visits sets St. Vincent de Paul apart. Our members live in the communities that they serve; they are truly helping their neighbors.

Crystal and Matthew Williams received assistance and are featured in the Pittsburgh episode.

“I’ve been treated with nothing but respect and I love them for that and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me and my family,” said Matthew. “It’s just so important to me to know there are people in the world who will help you and not look down on you.”

To learn more about home visits and other services provided by the Society across the country, make sure to tune in to “Our Faith In Action.” To keep up with everything related to the Pittsburgh St. Vincent de Paul, make sure to sign up for our email and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you follow us on social media or have listened to Star 100.7 recently, this is probably something you may have already seen or heard. But in the event that you’ve also spent the past week or so hibernating from the cold and snow, here’s some big news: our Sleep Like A Saint mattress sale is BACK!

And here’s some even bigger news: so are our Daily Specials!!

Let’s take this one exciting development at a time.

Sleep Like A Saint: From now until March 31st, you can purchase one of our factory fresh renovated beds at any St. Vincent de Paul thrift store for 10% off.  This sale only happens once a year, so if you need a mattress for the spare bedroom, your summer campground or for a dorm room, now’s the time!

What is a renovated mattress? Renovated mattresses and box springs are made from at least one component of a previously used bed. Each bed is constructed to the same quality and standards as a new bed, but they cost less and keep unnecessary waste out of local landfills.

If you want to learn more about our beds, check out this short video:

Next up: daily specials!

A few months ago we moved away from our daily specials to try a different system. After a hearing from many of you during that time, we have decided to go back to our tried-and-true specials. So starting this past Monday (January 12, 2018), they are back in effect!

Here’s the breakdown of specials:

  • Monday is Senior Day: 50% off all regular priced clothes, shoes, purses, and linens (for customers ages 50+)
  • Tuesday is Kid’s Day: 50% off all kids clothes, toys, and books
  • Wednesday is Ladies’ Day: 50% off all regular priced ladies clothes
  • Thursday is Upscale Day: 50% off all upscale clothes
  • Friday is Men’s Day: 50% off all regular priced men’s clothes
  • Saturday is 99 Cent Day: All clothes, shoes, purses, belts, and linens with a tag of a certain color are just 99 cents!

We hope you’re as excited as we are at the return of our specials. Thank you for your continued support and feedback!

To keep up with the goings on at St. Vincent de Paul, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramYouTube, and by signing up for our email list.