The St. Vincent de Paul Society is an international charitable lay Catholic organization established in 1833 by a young college student, Frederic Ozanam. Challenged to put his faith into action, Ozanam created the Society and named it after Vincent de Paul, a saint noted for his work with the poor.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) began in the United States in St. Louis, Missouri in 1845 and has since spread to every state in the union.
The first St. Vincent de Paul Conference on the Pacific Coast was established in Portland Oregon on October 9, 1869. Their first major contribution to this community was sponsoring one of the finest hospitals on the west coast, St. Vincent’s Hospital, in Portland in 1874.
SVDP has always been a “grass roots” organization. Each participating Catholic Church has a group of volunteers who meet regularly and do the actual outreach of the Society. These small geographically located church-based groups are called Conferences.
Vincentian’s help can include any person-to-person assistance that promotes human dignity and integrity. In a given locality, several of these Conferences are grouped together and are represented by a Council. The Portland District Council represents the combined efforts of 50 local Conferences.
In addition to coordinating the efforts of the Conferences, the Council, with a paid professional staff, manages special works programs including coordinating emergency services, operating a prepared and perishable food recovery program, and providing emergency food, rent and utility assistance. The Council also maintains a support structure for information, referral, and linkage in assistance to the Conference volunteers.
The Portland Council Service District covers Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, and Washington counties.
No work of charity is foreign to the Society. It serves persons in need regardless of race, creed, color or religion.