St. Francis’ St. Vincent de Paul Society was started in 1959. They provide food, transportation, and vouchers for lodging to those who need help in their parish area.
The St. Francis conference has a rich history of special works in the community. In 1986 they opened St. Francis Dining Hall in southeast Portland to provide meals for homeless individuals and families. It provided a separate entrance and eating area for ‘Families Only”, as well as menu items for infants and toddlers, and added a special play area named The Kids’ Kaboose. St. Francis also operated a Food Bank which later became the Food Train Program. In 1992, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Portland was honored as a recipient of The United States Conference of Mayors End Hunger Award for its St. Francis Dining Hall program.
The Food Train Program was an example of business and non-profit organizations cooperating to solve community problems. The program picked up surplus food from many local restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, bakeries, warehouses and unharvested fields. The food was sorted and distributed to families in need and other charitable agencies.
In 1994 a pilot program, The Life Skills Program, was started by St. Francis Conference to explore ways to assist unemployed and often homeless people get back on their feet and re-enter the workforce. The Life Skills Program operated out of the St. Francis Dining Hall. It provided adults with literacy and pre-employment skills training, and then followed the client through the process of obtaining assistance from various community agencies. The Life Skills Program adopted a slogan that was a spin-off of the SVdP “Help Us Help Others”. The Life Skills Program’s motto was “Help Others Help Themselves.”
The current St. Francis Conference president is Penny Sue Anders. The conference has 18 members, two of which do not do deliveries, but two newly joined will start doing deliveries this July. The average age of its members is around 70! No age limit on doing good and helping others!
To view past Spotlights, click on the following link: Archived Conference Spotlights 7-9-18