The Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison held its seventh annual Care Café on Wednesday, May 11 to raise funds to meet basic needs among Dane County individuals and families coping with poverty.
Held virtually this year, the Care Café theme was “Your Community Calling” and the 8 a.m. event showcased several clients who shared the impact St. Vincent de Paul made in their lives.
From a gentleman starting on insulin after a surprise diagnosis and a young mother needing a stable place to live, to a family needing help to make ends meet and a man working to find employment during the pandemic, the event shared how St. Vincent de Paul continually goes above and beyond to help people coping with poverty.
Through a series of phone calls, St. Vincent de Paul staff explained how people use their food pantry, charitable pharmacy and men’s housing program. Staff also shared information about how each program has operated over the past two years under pandemic restrictions.
Last year, the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry provided food and personal-care items to more than 46,000 people. Staff and volunteers at the Charitable Pharmacy filled 8,878 30-day prescriptions.
Port St. Vincent de Paul, the longest-serving men’s housing program in Madison, provided 5,636 bed nights to 40 men. The organization provides both material goods (food, personal-care items, medicine, bedding) and supportive services (help to find permanent housing, job references, friendship to accompany someone through tough times).
Whether people call St. Vincent de Paul for help providing food for the family, stocking their home with personal-care items, obtaining their prescriptions or needing a place to stay while they plan for their next steps in life, staff answer calls for help every day. The organization is calling on the help of the community to help them meet these needs.
Matthew Gonnering, general manager of Widen, shared inspiration to attendees on answering the call to help our community. Gonnering shared how he balances his various callings – as a husband, a father and a business leader – and how the intersection of these callings has helped him learn about new people and experiences.
“With a donation to Care Café, we’re providing hope to a generation of future leaders,” Gonnering said. He asserted that St. Vincent de Paul — Madison is set up to help people with food insecurity, prescription medications, securing permanent housing or providing emergency housing, a place to retrieve clothing and household goods.
Gonnering encouraged attendees to consider how they can help the organization, to give generously and to put the time in to make the community better.
Ernie Stetenfeld, Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison CEO, and Julie Bennett, CEO Designate, described the impact the Society has made for Dane County families in need during the past year. The District Council in Madison distributed more than $2.89 million in goods and services last year.
Stetenfeld and Bennett urged generosity to support the organization toward its $175,000 fundraising goal. The 25-minute program remains available to view on the St. Vincent de Paul — Madison Facebook page, YouTube channel and website at svdpmadison.org/carecafe.