Summer 2019 newsletter

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As a freshman at Xavier University, Dave Endres felt he might have a calling to become a priest. Then he found the university’s St.Vincent de Paul Conference, and the confirmation he got leading people spiritually was the beginning of his PATHWAY


Society of St. Vincent de Paul—Cincinnati District Council

DEAR FRIENDS, For the last 150 years, Cincinnati has had two great organizations, each making the city better in its own way: St. Vincent de Paul and the Cincinnati Reds. Both of us were formed in 1869, and this spring we spent a lot of time together. In March, St. Vincent de Paul marched in the Reds Opening Day Parade, where we were met with applause and thanks from Reds fans who recognized and appreciated our good works. A month later, nearly 350 people gathered at the Cintas Center for our fifth annual Celebration of Service. This year we honored Reds owner, longtime St. Vincent de Paul advocate and one of Cincinnati’s most active community supporters, Bob Castellini. By the end of the evening we raised more than $370,000 in Bob’s name to support our homelessness prevention efforts.

How long have you been a Vincentian? About 20 years. Conference: Cathedral/ St. Xavier Your role in the Society: Vice President but filling in as Secretary. Past role has been President. How did you become a Vincentian? My office was close to downtown, and I was going to morning Mass at the

Three weeks after that, we were together once again, this time partnering for the 13th annual Strike Out Hunger food drive, in which the Reds donated a ticket to each fan who gave three non-perishable food items to SVDP. More than three tons of food was collected, enough to provide 5,000 meals. I mention these events in part because of all the good they provided in our efforts to help our neighbors in need. I also mention them because of the opportunity they provided to get engaged in different segments within St. Vincent de Paul. There are many ways to get involved. Being a Vincentian and making home visits is the most vital way to get involved. Vincentians help a lot of people and touch a lot of programs in that way. Working in the food pantry is also a common way. Consider some other ways, though. Take a look at the calendar on page 7 of this newsletter. Come golf with us in July and support the Charitable

Pharmacy. Join us at RetroFittings in October or during the holidays. Help us hand out Thanksgiving turkeys or Christmas hams. Help us give out winter coats so our neighbors can stay warm. Or, if you can’t volunteer your time, consider your resources. Here’s a relatively inexpensive way to support everything we do: Buy a brick. We’re building a brick plaza outside of our new Don & Phyllis Neyer Outreach Center, and you can buy a personalized brick in the plaza to honor your family or loved ones. And then, come find your brick during the grand opening of the building in November. The date is still being finalized, but we will let you know. We just want to see you.

Dan Long St. Vincent de Paul Board President

Cathedral. There was a notice in the bulletin about wanting to start some kind of a social action group. There were about six of us. We tried various activities when the pastor said that there used to be a St. Vincent de Paul Conference at the Cathedral but it was not active. We decided to explore it. There was still money left over from when the Conference was active, so we restarted it. Most memorable home visit: One I will never forget is meeting with a young 20-something woman on her own since her teens. She was bright and articulate. She shared a dream of going back to school. I said something to encourage her like, “You can do this. You have a lot of gifts. You’re smart and express yourself very well.” All of a sudden tears start rolling down her face. She looks up and said, “You’re the first person who ever believed in me.” Imagine someone in their 20s who never had someone believe in them or say anything positive to them. Sometimes helping is providing someone with hope.

Vincentian Spotlight: Don Lipps Biggest lesson you’ve learned as a Vincentian? I think meeting and talking to people in situations I have never experienced. It is so easy to criticize, judge and assign blame. We must remember that for many of us—and definitely for me—the advantages we had many others did not. We can’t underestimate that. I like to ask other Vincentians if there is a difference between themselves and those we help. In the eyes of the world, there are all kinds of differences. But when God looks down and sees me in a visit with someone, does he see any differences? I don’t think so. We are all beggars before God. We have nothing and need everything, hoping simply that God is merciful and will provide what we need. That is how our neighbors are with us and us with God. See more Vincentian stories online at 2


The PHARMer’s Market

The Charitable Pharmacy is piloting a program that uses food as a drug to help its patients with diabetes Miss Paula bursts into tears. The elderly woman is sitting in St. Vincent de Paul’s Charitable Pharmacy as assistant pharmacy director Rusty Curington slides a large, non-descript box in front of her. This, he says, may save your life. Paula has diabetes. Her A1c level is more than nine percent, a dangerously high level that puts her at risk for severe complications— heart failure, stroke, loss of limbs. She came into the pharmacy for insulin but is told that alone isn’t enough for her extreme condition. For two hours, pharmacists educate her on diabetes, what’s happening in her body and what will probably happen if she doesn’t make some changes. They fill the prescription from her doctor for the insulin, but also fill their own self-written prescription for another drug that is going to help her as much as the medicine: food. Not just food—healthy food. Curington lifts the lid of the box and starts pointing out its contents: lowcarb tortillas to replace bread, low-fat turkey bacon as a protein, Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes and 24 other items. It also includes 27 recipe cards—three meals a day for nine days—that can be used with the food. Paula stares through teary eyes at all of the food being given to her in an effort to make her healthier. In May, the pharmacy initiated a unique program called the PHARMer’s Market in which it is giving out healthy food to 50 of its high-risk patients with diabetes in order to help them return to good health and document the impact of food as a drug. The concept is a result of a grant from CVS Pharmacy and the National Association of Free Clinics. “The idea of food as a drug is not

new,” says Curington, “but it’s certainly trending at the moment, which is sad because it should have always been a consideration because all disease states are impacted by food. In my vision, all pharmacies would be dispensing food as drugs—here’s your medicine, here are your over-thecounter products and the salad is over there. What would make that so great—and what makes this so appealing—is that it’s a multidisciplinary approach. You have your doctor, your pharmacist and your social worker involved. It’s coordinated care.” The PHARMer’s Market is also a coordinated effort with St. Vincent de Paul’s food pantries, which are trying to change their focus from strictly addressing the issue of

hunger to a more informed approach of addressing both hunger and health. Not all of the PHARMer’s Market food is currently available in the pantry, so Curington uses the grant money to purchase what’s needed to fill the boxes. “People just don’t donate low-fat turkey bacon or Greek yogurt to the food pantry,” he says. St. Vincent de Paul is planting gardens in an effort to supplement its food pantries with fresh produce, something that is becoming more and more common. Curington points to Boston Medical Center, which has a food pantry that receives 60 percent of its produce from a rooftop garden. For St. Vincent de Paul, a similar approach is a good fit. While nine percent of Americans have diabetes, 56 percent of those who come to the Charitable Pharmacy have diabetes. “This means a lot to them,” says Curington. “People who come here don’t have the options others have or often don’t have the educational background to know what healthier options are. We survey the people in the program, and some don’t report a food insecurity. They just don’t have healthy food options in their homes. They don’t understand they are killing themselves with what they are eating. And if they make this at home instead of eating out, they can afford it. That is critical. A head of lettuce is 90 cents, and it can make three salads.” Participants like Paula can bring their food boxes back every two weeks to be refilled. After three months they rotate off the program. The whole pilot ends in October. “If we get good outcomes, perhaps it can lead to different donations of food to the pantry, or maybe it can lead to other grants for the new teaching kitchen so we can do this on a bigger scale,” he says. “It’s all about education—what food to have at home and how to make good meals.” Read more at SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG


Driving theMission Rich Smith was riding shotgun in a box truck through a Cincinnati suburb when he noticed a woman on a riding lawnmower cutting the grass of a steep hillside. As they were driving by, the lawnmower flipped, rolling over on top of the woman.

Smith and the driver pulled over, jumped out and rushed up the hillside. They lifted the lawnmower off of the woman, and sat with her as she overcame the shock of what happened. After a few minutes and a quick self-examination, she thanked them for coming to her rescue and insisted they get back to work. They walked back to the truck, and she returned to cutting the grass. “I’ll tell you, that was scary,” Smith says. It’s also, in many ways, the life of a St. Vincent de Paul truck driver. Often the public face of the organization, they frequently spend their days fulfilling the “neighbors helping neighbors” mission. For Smith, he has tried to fully embrace that responsibility for the 13 years he has been a driver. “If you get an opportunity to help, you take it,” he says. “If someone has a mattress or couch that we can’t accept, you at least carry it out of a house for them because

they probably can’t move it otherwise. Other drivers do the same thing. It’s just what you do.” Although sometimes, at least for Smith, he does more. He’s pulled over and pushed stalled cars off the interstate. He’s even gone so far as to move turtles, hawks and wounded groundhogs out of the road so they don’t get run over.

Smith shrugs at the efforts. Even though these mission moments aren’t part of his job description, they are actually what help sustain him through the long days, he says. “Once we were headed to a house for a pickup,” he says, “and we saw these boys with what looked like a lemonade stand. We decided to stop and get something to drink. As it turns out, they weren’t selling lemonade but selling rocks. We asked them what they were doing with the profits and they said donating them to St. Vincent de Paul. We said, ‘Are you saying that because you saw our truck?’ They said no, that was their intention all along. So I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, whatever you’ve made, I’ll double it.’ They had $9, so I gave them a $20 and told them to keep the money they raised and do something fun with it. I gave them a donation receipt for the $20.” Read more at

Getting Ahead While Getting Life behind bars is hard. Out Life once you’re released from prison can be even harder. The physical walls that hold people back while inside of a prison are replaced by invisible barriers built by society once they get out, making getting a job or moving out of poverty nearly impossible. The laws, the social stigma and the complications of life often lead to more bad decisions, which lead to a return to the prison system. The challenge is so great that St. Vincent de Paul decided to intervene by starting a new program. In June, 15 formerly incarcerated people enrolled in “Upward to Work,” an eight-week program that both educates them on ways to get ahead despite the efforts to keep them down and opens a door for them to move through by providing them with a job. The program is based on a similar program done by St. Vincent de Paul nationally, although the Cincinnati version is done in partnership with the HELP program from St. Francis de Sales Parish, a number of other local partners, and incorporates a spinoff of St. Vincent de Paul’s successful overcoming poverty program “Getting Ahead” called “Getting Ahead While Getting Out.” Upward to Work, though, is tough. Members attend class for three hours daily before going to work at a secondshift job that’s been prearranged for them. For those not accustomed to the demands and discipline required of both working and going to school, it’s an immense challenge. Still, the rewards are substantial, even life-changing.



Pathway to Priesthood For Fr. Dave Endres, his pathway to priesthood led straight through a St. Vincent de Paul Conference

Dave Endres

was just a few days into his college career at Xavier University when he found himself at Club Day on the Mall—an event in which student clubs recruit new members. As he walked past the St. Vincent de Paul Xavier Conference table, he stopped. “What do you do?” he asked. “We tutor kids at a nearby elementary school,” they said. He joined, and by the end of the year his interest in the organization and propensity for leadership sparked the Conference president to simply hand him the reins. Over the next three years, the Conference went from 15 members to 75. It expanded the number of schools it tutored at, began serving Holy Communion to members of a nearby nursing home and worked at the Bank Street Outreach Center each weekend. It helped the Nativity Conference with home visits and held weekly prayer meetings. “We took to heart Frederic Ozanam’s saying about no works of charity are foreign to the society,”

he says. “We would always do things together, two by two, putting ourselves out there. We would do trick or treat for canned goods in North Avondale, or coat and clothing drives in Hyde Park. They weren’t organized. We would just go into the neighborhoods and go door to door and ask if they had anything. We were operating out of dorm rooms. We would bring them back and put them in one guy’s room and when we had free time a week or so later we would put them in a car and take them down to Bank Street. I remember once we were on our way back and we realized we accidentally gave away our friend’s coat as well.” Today, sitting at a table in his office at The Athenaeum of Ohio and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Endres laughs at the memories. He may have made an impact on the Conference, he says, but the Conference actually had an even larger impact on him. Specifically, it gave him a taste of what it was like to lead people spiritually. “The first real tangible impact the Conference had on me was being able to see Christ in other

people—tutoring kids, bringing communion to nursing homes. We saw people every week. We performed a great deal of service hours in high school, but going into these places, dealing with people one on one, really feeling connected and seeing the love of Christ in those relationships. That made an impact.” Upon graduation, he studied Church history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning both his master’s and doctorate degrees before enrolling in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati. He was ordained in 2009 as a Diocesan priest. After a short time as a parish priest he began teaching at Mount St. Mary’s where his classroom skills earned him the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015. A year later he was named the seminary’s dean, where he’s had the same impact as he had with the Xavier Conference—growth. Enrollment grew from 78 students when he started to 95 last year— more students than it had dorm rooms for, leading to some creative use of space and, today, an expansion of the facility. Read more at SVDPCINCINNATI.ORG


A Look Back

For more photos, go to

APRIL: REDS OPENING DAY PARADE SVDP volunteers and staff were greeted with cheers throughout the mile-and-a-half route.

MAY: CELEBRATION OF SERVICE The fifth annual COS raised more than $370,000 for homelessness prevention in the name of Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini.

JUNE: STRIKE OUT HUNGER More than three tons of food was donated by Reds fans during the 13th annual Strike Out Hunger food drive, enough to provide 5,000 meals.

GOD MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND, BUT THESE DAYS IT SEEMS LIKE COMPUTERS RUN EVERYTHING ELSE. And that can be a real challenge for those living on the edge of poverty. Without access to and knowledge about computers—or the ability to pay for them—life is exponentially more difficult. Those facts weren’t lost to Marty Klenke, a retired business executive and small business consultant. So he did something about it. Along with Mary Jo Burns, the members of St. Susanna parish started Charitable Computing Ministry, whose mission is to take old computers, clean them and give them to the poor. But Klenke and Burns went an extra step with St. Vincent de Paul. They are not only providing computers to the Winton Hills Outreach Center, they are also teaching classes on how to rebuild the computers so people in the community can collect job skills as well. The classes are small—just three per class—and last two hours each spread over three weeks. But by the end, students should know how to rebuild a computer start to finish. The overarching goal, says Klenke, is to train one of the students to teach the class in the community. 6





Medicine and pharmaceutical care is expensive—so expensive, in fact, that many of our neighbors go without because they can’t afford it. In order to provide it to them for free, we take to the links. We drive, we chip, we putt, all in an effort to raise roughly half of the money needed to offset what we spend on purchasing medicine.


Some kids sleep on blankets or couch cushions or just the floor. It’s a tragedy, which is why we created Day to Dream. Along with Morris Home Furniture, we give away beds to 50 kids who don’t have one of their own. It’s a magical event. Bring tissues and join us. Watch our website for the date and details.


“Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most in need of encouragement or assistance.” Live in the heart of St. Vincent de Paul’s vision and go provide a random act of kindness to someone who could never repay you.


This one-of-a-kind event blends high fashion and helping others. University of Cincinnati DAAP fashion design students shop St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores, remake their finds and put on a fashion show, while boutique shopping and auction bidding fill in the can’t-miss evening. Go to for tickets.


After operating out of our old building for nearly 60 years, join us as we cut the ribbon on our new outreach center and step into the future. The new and larger space allows us to better serve our neighbors, and that’s worth celebrating. Watch the website for dates and times.


As the holidays approach, our neighbors need a lot, so they turn to us. We can’t do it alone, so we turn to you. Each November, we hold our Day of Online Giving—the one day of the year when gifts are matched and help is doubled— and you always come through. Watch for the date and power up your computer.


Thanksgiving is a holiday built around gathering family at the dinner table and giving thanks. Many of our neighbors wouldn’t be able to enjoy the celebration without a little help, so we fill that need by handing out 1,300 turkey dinners. Volunteers are needed. Believe us, you will be the one who’s thankful.


For the last 28 years, we have collected food at local Kroger stores to help stock the shelves of our food pantries and meet the huge demand for food during the holiday season. You can help: Grab a few extra non-perishable food items and drop them in the barrel near the door when you’re doing your grocery shopping.


For many families, a clean, warm winter coat is a luxury, so we collect new and gently used coats, and give them away to those in need. Donate a coat (or two or three) or volunteer at one of the distributions. Helping others find a warm coat makes you feel warm all over. Watch the website for dates.



Non Profit Org US Postage Paid Cincinnati, OH Permit #1106

1125 Bank Street Cinti., OH 45214-2130


Use the enclosed envelope to purchase a brick for outside our new Don and Phyllis Neyer Outreach Center, or order online at Follow SVDPcincinnati on

Save The Date 10.17.19 6:00 p.m. Cincinnati Music Hall Learn more at

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