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Working to save St. Vincent de Paul
After a tumultuous few months, things are beginning to look up for the local non-profit
New board members for the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Crook County pause for a photo in their new food bank. Pictured left to right are board co-president David Schwab, board treasurer Kate Mura Erickson, and board co-president Charlene McMann.
November 05, 2012
In late August, the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Crook County faced an uncertain future.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church had just evicted them from their two East First Street buildings, which housed their main office and food bank. Further complicating matters, because of St. Vincent de Paul organizational guidelines, the leadership at that time was set to change at the end of September. The sudden upheaval presented such a challenge that it forced them to turn to outside help to remedy the situation.
Things look much better now. After renovating their Northeast Court Street thrift store, the local organization reopened its food bank and main office at that location this past Thursday.
During the past two months, NeighborImpact along with partnering churches helped keep the St. Vincent de Paul food bank running. According to Steve Murray, NeighborImpact’s food bank and winter emergency programs manager, they leased the East First Street location and operated the food bank, serving about 175 families each month.
“With the help of everyone involved, all of the volunteers that stepped up . . . we were able to continue providing services to the folks of Crook County,” he said.
For those involved, the transition wasn’t always easy.
“It was work,” Murray admits. “It wasn’t in the normal scope of what NeighborImpact does. We basically are the background, and work for all of the food pantries and meal sites in the three counties (Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson). It was new for us, but we were able to meet the challenge.”
Now, with the thrift store renovations complete and the food bank and main office housed under the same roof, local St. Vincent de Paul leaders anticipate a positive experience going forward.
“It’s nice having everything in the same complex now instead of a store here (on Court Street), a store down there (on East First Street), the food pantry down there, the warehouse up here,” said Dave Schwab, who took over as co-president of the local St. Vincent board of directors in the beginning of October. “It cuts down on trips. It cuts down on . . . electrical bills. You don’t have three or four different phone bills. Everything is combined and it’s hopefully going to be a lot simpler for us — and cheaper.”
Charlene McMann, the other board co-president, added that the change enables them to better manage the operations of the local organization.
“It just lets us have more knowledge of what’s happening in each area,” she said. “We have constant contact instead of have to go out of area to make the contact.”
While the leadership gives the new consolidated location a positive review, they did acknowledge that their food bank is smaller than before. Furthermore, they had to downsize their thrift store to make enough room for everything. In spite of this, they do not anticipate a drop-off in service.
“We were concerned about it (the food bank) being smaller,” said board treasurer Kate Mura Erickson, before emphasizing that they will not give out less food boxes. “We’re still going to be doing the same amount of business as before, if not more.”
With the crises of two months ago seemingly averted, local St. Vincent de Paul leaders anticipate a less hectic schedule going forward. Schwab noted that some board members have put in seven days a week during the past month. Now, they feel they can catch their breath a bit.
“I’m going on vacation next week, and I feel comfortable going on vacation next week,” Mura Erickson said on Friday. “We got the bills caught up and things are falling into place.”