Submitted by John Thelen
The St. Vincent de Paul – St. Joseph Conference was aggregated on September 9, 1946. The Conference will have served this community for 75 years this next September! Operating in conjunction with St. Joseph Catholic Church in St. Johns, people in need would contact the parish office, who would pass on the request to the Conference. The volunteers (Vincentians) would meet in pairs to work with clients/families to address the client’s emergency needs.
People provided support through donations or by the Vincentians passing a hat at weekly meetings. Their work was quiet and discreet, making no distinction in those they serve.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is Catholic lay organization. Assistance, however, is provided to anyone in need. “We look for the Face of Christ in everyone we serve.” says Joe Tomczyk the current Conference President.
Fast forward 50 years to the Spring of 1996 and this small St. Vincent de Paul Conference was asked by
Hugh Banninga (Volunteer Services Manager, Clinton County Family Independence Agency) to take over the Clothing Center that this agency had been operating. John Thelen, a Vincentian at the time, recalls discussing this with a handful of other Vincentians and pondering what to do. As a group, they thought if they don’t do this, who will? There was still a need to provide a place where members of the community could shop for reasonably priced items? After much discussion (and prayer, of course) St. Vincent de Paul stepped up to accept the responsibility to continue the retail work. Operating the Store provided two benefits: it offered low prices to people who couldn’t otherwise afford it; and it provided funds to supplement the charitable work of the Conference.
So as we approach our store’s 25th Anniversary on June 1, 2021, we want to celebrate the occasion and say THANK YOU for all the support this community has provided to us.
With the community’s help, by donating & shopping at our store, since June 1, 1996, you have helped provide assistance to thousands of families totaling over $2.2 MILLION DOLLARS!! This assistance was for things like rent, utilities, prescriptions, car repairs, clothing, household items, etc.
What a tremendous blessing our community has given to us to be able to assist others in the Clinton County Community.
To celebrate this occasion, we would like to invite anyone who hasn’t been to our store to stop in and check it out. You will be pleasantly surprised of our HUGE selection of clothing, household items, knickknacks, pictures, frames, jewelry, bedding, sporting goods, hardware, home furnishings, etc.
Starting Tuesday, June 1, 2021 through Friday, June 4th, customers will receive a ticket, after they check out at the cash register, to be entered into a drawing for prizes to include silver jewelry items or a $25.00 St. Vincent de Paul Gift Certificate.
Drawings will be held at the close of each day and posted on our St. Vincent de Paul-St. Johns Facebook Page and at our store. Two tickets will be drawn each day. You need not be present to win. If you haven’t already done so, please LIKE our Facebook page – St. Vincent de Paul-St. Johns.
The St. Vincent de Paul Store is located at 1009 S. US-27 in St. Johns. Retail hours
are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Our temporary donation hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Due to high donation volume and limited intake space due to COVID quarantine processes, donations are not currently being accepted on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Please stop in to help us celebrate!
For a trip down memory lane, here is some information as to the locations we’ve been over the last 25 years.
Around 1998, the store moved up the block to 213 N. Clinton where The Basic Needs Center is currently located. That store location was approximately 2,300 square feet. In the Summer of 2011, Thelen was serving as Conference President. That year, the Conference received requests for assistance exceeding available funds (including Store income).
Thelen recalls talking with other Vincentians about what they should do since the financial needs were there and we needed to generate more revenue to meet the needs. That’s when they explored a larger location.
The Vincentian board looked at a couple of locations and selected their current location at 1009 S. US-27 in the Southpoint Mall. The initial space was 8,400 square feet (over 3 times the size of the store downtown).
The board toured the location and members asked Thelen, “What are you going to do with all that space?” The store moved to their current location in January of 2012.
The Community’s donations of goods soon exceeded available floor space in the store. In the Spring of 2018, the store added an additional 4,000 square feet to accommodate for the increase in donations that they were receiving from the Clinton County (and beyond) community.