Focus Areas

Basic Human Needs

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides basic needs assistance to our fellow Rhode Islanders through our 32 parish-based local conferences. Categories of aid include food, clothing, assistance with rent and utility payments, furniture, security deposits, medical bills, and more. Our founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, had a motto: “No act of charity is foreign to the Society.” We live this motto every day by visiting people in their homes and welcoming them into our soup kitchens, food pantries, and clothing closets. In the past year, our 700 volunteers provided nearly $2.5 million in basic needs assistance to an estimated 25,000 Rhode Islanders.

Disaster Services

Our disaster services include immediate response for basic needs support, volunteer training, long-term case management, fire prevention, coordination of community resources, and House-in-a-Box™. We are an active member of RI Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (RIVOAD) and work closely with the American Red Cross on a number of initiatives. House in a Box is a national program of the Society that is funded with a $2 million grant from the American Red Cross. House in a Box supplies qualified survivors with critical items to furnish an entire home: furniture, dishes, towels, food, toiletries and clothing – everything from the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom.

Poverty Education

The National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has adopted the motto, “End Poverty Through Systemic Change.” Here in Rhode Island, we fully endorse that goal, and know that education about poverty is a key element in achieving it. Using the “Bridges Out of Poverty” paradigm pioneered by Dr. Ruby Payne and developed by aha! Process, we provide seminars on “Understanding Poverty” for members of the Society, social service partners, schools, churches, and the general public. We also organize “Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-By World” workshops for our motivated friends struggling to escape generational poverty.

Refugee Aid

SVDP Providence provides targeted aid to the poorest of the poor among us: those who have fled violence in their home countries. These are legal refugees, plucked from camps and resettled in the United States. We work with the state Department of Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, as well as Dorcas International Institute to provide food, clothing, housing and education assistance. Rhode Island welcomes up to 100 refugees every year, and most arrive with nothing but the suitcases they can carry. They have no choice about where they’ll be resettled in the United States and often have to wait months for public assistance to kick in. SVDP Providence is there for them when they need help the most.