Fortney & Weygandt to Donate 1,000 Turkeys to SVDP Woodland Food Center – November 30, 2016

woodland-turkey-give-awaySt. Vincent de Paul Society’s Woodland Food Center will give away 1,000 frozen turkeys and five-pound bags of potatoes, thanks to the generosity of Fortney & Weygandt, Inc.  This is 13th year that the local construction firm has donated the food to the food center, which is located in Cleveland’s impoverished Central neighborhood.

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SVDP Participates in #WeGiveCatholic Crowdfunding for Giving Tuesday


St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Cleveland 2015 – November 23, 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio — #GivingTuesday, an annual and global online day devoted to giving to those in need, is Tuesday and the Northeast Ohio Catholic community plans to participate in a big way.

The Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese Cleveland will host its inaugural crowdfunding event #weGiveCatholic. More than 140 schools, parishes, ministries, Catholic Charities sites and programs and other Catholic nonprofits will participate in the online fundraising effort. During the 24-hour window on November 29, people can go to and donate to their favorite participating organizations.

Participants include Catholic Youth Organization, Society for St. Vincent de Paul, West Side Catholic Center, Camp Christopher and St. Augustine Health Ministries. John Carroll University, Ursuline College and Notre Dame College will join in with many Catholic elementary and high schools, as well as parishes throughout the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland.

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Taking it to the Streets: Angels in Disguise

Homeless in New York

Volunteers Joe and Mary Tondo 

At first glance, Joe and Mary Tondo  look like your average retired married couple.

But as St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers (known as “Vincentians”) from St. Joseph Parish in Avon Lake, Ohio, they’re regarded by many as nothing less than angels in disguise.

The Tondos have taken their works of charity to the streets in order to reach out to their community’s most forgotten citizens.

Each week, the Tondos seek out the homeless in Lorain city parks and provide them with food and clothing, many times at their own personal expense.

One year, Mary even lovingly crocheted 69 woolen blankets and 50 woolen caps with yarn she purchased in order to give the homeless a semblance of warmth during the cold weather.

If that were not enough, she and her husband provide weekly meals to the poor at city parks and at Lorain Catholic Charities. During one month alone, they prepared 171 meals.

The Tondos started their ministry in gratitude after Joe’s successful open heart surgery a few years earlier.

They believe that it’s not enough just to bring individuals food and clothing, but to do so with a heartfelt smile and a desire to get to know them.

“We feel like it’s sort of a mission from God,” said Mary.

“These people have no expectations of living and truly think their journey is just to survive. They have nothing, and yet they tell us, ‘If you need help with anything, just let us know.’”

“We’re very passionate that they deserve more than what they have,” added Joe.

Volunteers Joe & Mary Tondo (left) were honored for their ministry to the homeless in Lorain County, Ohio

Volunteers Joe & Mary Tondo (left) were honored by St. Vincent de Paul Society for their ministry to the homeless in Lorain County, Ohio


I Never Thought That I Would Need Help

Lynardo Mays 2 - Jan. 29, 2016


Lynardo’s Story

Lynardo never saw it coming.

“It was like a lightning bolt out of the blue!”

This is how he describes the shocking moment he found himself homeless and hungry for the first time in his life.

Before this time, Lynardo and his wife of 43 years had been living for more than three decades in a comfortable middle class suburban Cleveland home that he painstakingly fixed up throughout the years.

Hunger and homelessness were two things he never had to worry about.

But when his marriage took a turn for the worse, Lynardo suddenly found himself banished from his home, alone, hungry and living on the streets.

“It was something that I least expected,” he said. The challenge now was finding help so that he could survive this crisis.

That’s when someone suggested turning to the St. Vincent de Paul Society Woodland hunger center.

Lynardo was worried that his lack of an address might prevent him from receiving emergency food, but was pleasantly surprised that the St. Vincent de Paul Society staff and volunteers were able to register him in the hunger center’s computer system and give him the help he needed immediately.

He was also impressed by the workers’ genuine concern for his wellbeing, such as whether or not he had a roof over his head at the end of the day.

The emergency food he received through the St. Vincent de Paul Society was a much-needed blessing during a very difficult time, Lynardo said.

Today, he is off the streets and lives in a house that he is renovating for a friend. And during the summer, he is employed as a landscaper at a golf course.

But he still occasionally relies on St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Woodland hunger center, especially during the winter when it’s more difficult to find work and his funds are limited.

“I’m very thankful for what I get at the hunger center,” he said. “It supplies me with the staples so that there’s less I have to buy. This helps my bottom line.”

He added that his experience has been humbling because he now has a new respect for people who are in crisis.

“There needs to be an entity to help others in these situations, and St. Vincent de Paul Society is that entity,” he said.

Lynardo is only one example of the 13,000 deserving adults, children and senior citizens in Northeast Ohio that the St. Vincent de Paul Society hunger centers feed monthly, thanks to the generous contributions of kind neighbors.

Whether it’s through non-perishables, fresh produce or hot meals served with a kind heart and caring smile, SVDP hunger centers offer people in crisis the nourishment they need to sustain them when there’s no other place to turn.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Woodland Food Center Receives Greater Cleveland Food Bank Bag of Hope Award


August 22, 2016

Media Contact: Natalie Schrimpf
216.696.6525 x. 2520 or

CLEVELAND – The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP), Diocese of Cleveland, was honored recently by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for its commitment to hunger relief in Cleveland’s impoverished Central neighborhood. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank presented SVDP’s Woodland Food Center with its esteemed Bag of Hope Award in recognition of service to the community through both its emergency food program and its Seeds to Read early reading initiative to fight generational poverty. Will Skora, Woodland Food Center Operations manager, accepted the award at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Sixth Annual Healthy Communities, Healthy Families Conference.

Located at 6001 Woodland Avenue, SVDP’s Woodland Food Center serves an area in which 90 percent of residents qualify for food assistance, according to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. The Woodland Food Center feeds an average of 700 families monthly and has experienced an uptick in additional clients, including the working poor.   During the past 12 months, the Woodland Food Center provided nearly 320,000 meals and assisted more than 21,500 people.

In an effort to combat generational poverty within the Central neighborhood, last March SVDP launched its Seeds to Read early reading initiative at Woodland Food Center by distributing free, age-appropriate children’s books (targeted at newborns to five-year-olds) to youth and parents as they visit the center for emergency food. SVDP collaborates with local organizations to provide volunteer “librarians” who assist clients with finding the appropriate reading materials.

SVDP Cleveland has operated the Woodland Food Center since 2013. It previously was managed by the Capuchin Franciscan Brothers under the direction of Brother Walt Robb, but was in danger of closing when it was announced that Robb was leaving for another assignment.

“The St. Vincent de Paul Society is grateful for this award, but also grateful for the opportunity to help so many good people in need,” said John Litten, SVDP executive director. “It takes a team of players to combat hunger in the community, and we are one of many members. We’re blessed to have the support of incredible organizations like the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, as well as the help of our dedicated volunteers.”

“St. Vincent de Paul – Woodland Food Center has been a fantastic partner since they came on board with us about three years ago. When we learned the previous agency that operated the site would be closing, we were worried how the neighborhood, particularly one with such a high food insecurity rate, would continue to be served,” said Kristin Warzocha, CEO and president, Greater Cleveland Food Bank. “St. Vincent de Paul Society stepped up and took over right where the other agency left off, and has continued to build their programming to best meet the needs of the families in the Central neighborhood and surrounding communities. We value St. Vincent de Paul – Woodland Food Center’s partnership and their commitment to feeding our hungry neighbors.”

The Bag of Hope Award recognizes organizations that have made significant contributions in the hunger relief network through innovation and excellent service in their region.

Approximately 200 people attended the GCFB conference, which was held Friday, August 19 at the Intercontinental Cleveland Hotel and Conference Center.

Established in 1865, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Diocese of Cleveland, is a local human service and welfare organization of neighborhood volunteer groups residing in participating parishes (“Conferences”) throughout the Diocese of Cleveland’s eight-county service area. Volunteers (“Vincentians”) provide face-to-face emergency assistance to those in need, regardless of their race, ethnicity or religious affiliation.   Last year alone, more than 240,000 low-income individuals in Northeast Ohio received over $7 million in aid, which included food at SVDP’s multiple food centers, clothing, school supplies and financial assistance with utilities and rent. SVDP’s central office is located at 1404 East Ninth Street, Cleveland.   For more information, call 216.696.6525, ext. 3150 or 


SVDP Woodland Food Center Receives GCFB Award

SVDP Launches Pilot Early Reading Program at its Woodland Pantry


February 17, 2016

Media Contact:  Natalie Schrimpf
216.696.6525 x. 2520 or

(Cleveland, OH) — In an effort to combat generational poverty in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, one of the city’s most impoverished communities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is piloting a new early reading program to introduce the power of books and the joy of reading to neighborhood children during their earliest stages of life.  SVDP’S “SEEDS to READ” initiative will kick off Friday, March 4 and will target youngsters from birth to five years old, which is the most critical period in brain development, according to experts.  To capitalize on this window of opportunity for learning and provide parents with the tools for instilling a love of reading in their children, SVDP will distribute free, age-appropriate children’s books to parents and legal guardians as they visit the SVDP Woodland pantry each month for food starting Friday, March 4.  The pantry is located at 6001 Woodland Avenue and is open Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with the exception of holidays.
SVDP Cleveland is seeking financial donations to purchase books for the program.  Individuals, organizations or corporations wishing to make a financial donation may send a check/money order to St. Vincent de Paul Society  SEEDS to READ Program, 1404 East 9th Street – Third floor, Cleveland, OH 44114.  Donations may also be made online (please indicate that the donation is for SEEDS to READ) at

The SVDP Woodland pantry is one of the largest food pantries in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood and is situated in an area where 89 percent of residents live below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, according to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.  Nearly one-third of the pantry’s clients are children.  Because the St. Vincent de Paul Society recognizes the challenge for some parents to help their children due to limited resources, it will also offer written instruction on ways to use the books.

“Studies tell us that people entrapped in generational poverty have limited education, poor verbal skills and frequently lack job skills with little hope of escaping their predicament,” said John Litten, SVDP executive director.  “While we know we aren’t in a position to fully eradicate this type of poverty, we’re confident that we can make a significant impact in the lives of many poor children by planting the seeds of learning at a young age with the ultimate goal of building a foundation for lifelong learning.”


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Goodnight Moon