Well done is better than well said.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in Paris, France, in 1833 when a young law student at the Sorbonne, Frédéric Ozanam, was challenged during a debate to demonstrate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in Paris. Ozanam’s reaction was immediate. Within weeks, Ozanam, at 20 years of age, and six of his peers formed the first “Conference of Charity.”
Under the conference, this group of seven men financed their works of charity out of their own pockets and from contributions of friends. They visited the poor in their homes, providing them with needed aid and assistance. At the prompting of Monsieur Emmanuel Bailly and Sister Rosalie Rendu, superior of a convent of the Daughters of Charity, Ozanam soon placed the conference under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul who had spent his life in 16th century France serving the poor. Within a few years, the original group of seven grew to 600, spreading to 15 other cities and towns in France, numbering more than 2,000 members.
Twelve years later, in 1845, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul crossed the ocean to St. Louis, Missouri, where the first American conference was formed. To this day, St. Louis remains the Society’s national headquarters.
A little more than one hundred years later, the seed that would grow to become the present-day SVdP Uniontown Conference was planted. In the 1950’s SVdP was formed and operated from churches helping people through small individual donations until through the inspiration of Father John Sedlak. The first store opened in 1991. It included a center to aid the poor which provided the basics of food and clothing.
Funded entirely by donations, in 2002, the current thrift store was built. Eventually, charitable services increased to include utility assistance, emergency shelter, furniture, Hear Fayette, and partnerships with area Catholic churches and Rendu Services. In 2014, SVdP obtained the building adjacent to the Thrift Retail Store.
Currently, from there the Furniture Store and Seasonal Shoppe operate. With the acquisition of this building, SVdP Uniontown Conference became a campus of assistance to the community. With a small staff and hundreds of volunteers as the backbone, today, the SVdP mission of providing help and hope to those in need is alive and well in Uniontown, Pennsylvania!