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Detroit and Wayne County Society of St. Vincent De Paul.

The city of Detroit and Wayne County have been hit hard by the weak economy, and St. Vincent de Paul is a charity organization that can help. The organization offers a number of community services to the low income, unemployed, and working poor. Resources can provide food, financial assistance for energy and heating bills, dental care, legal aid and more. The number of people that can be helped is limited, and qualifications need to be met.

The St. Vincent de Paul Detroit Dental Clinic can provide care to people of Wayne County who are uninsured, low income, and who can’t afford to pay for dental care or services on their own. The center is open about 20 days per month, and will provide help to as many qualified people as possible.

The clinic was started in 2010, and currently almost 50 dentists, volunteers, surgeons, dental students, and hygienists provide support to the needy. The St. Vincent De Paul clinic also partners with the University of Michigan & University of Detroit and Mercy Schools of Dentistry to use resources in combination with those universities.

The dental clinic offers a number of services, including dentures, fillings, and extractions. Only adults without health/dental insurance and who need basic dental treatment or services should contact the clinic for an appointment or more information. 313-393-3009.

Thrift stores also operate in the Wayne County Michigan region. The thrift stores also support and partner with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and other charitable operations including youth summer camps, emergency food centers and pantries, and social services that are operated in the Van Elslander Family Center.

Thrift stores provide people the ability to shop economically for their products. A number of items may also be provided at no cost to the needy, seniors, and the most vulnerable in the community. Individuals can buy gently used clothing, furniture, household products, coats, and other items.





Energy bill assistance, including support around the winter, is offered by Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Special Works program. The organization has been providing energy and heating bill assistance to the low income, including senior citizens, those living in poverty, people who are most at risk and others who may be in danger of having their utilities disconnected or heating services shut off.

St. Vincent de Paul has worked with the Michigan Public Service Commission. On average a few thousand Detroit families per year may receive help with paying utility bills, and the total amount paid out has gradually been increasing to several hundred thousand dollars per year.

From time to time the agency may also receive additional funding from the Vulnerable Household Warmth Fund (VHWF) grant which is provided from the Michigan Public Service Commission. This will expand the number of people that can receive help to both Wayne County Michigan and neighboring counties too.

Community Food Depots have been operating since the 1980s and the centers can help people meet their emergency food and nutritional needs. The depots provide free or low cost groceries, meals, and food boxes to help people until they can get themselves reestablished.

Many of the pantries rely on donations from the community, and almost 100 groups and businesses donate money, food, items and even volunteers to the cause. In addition, hundreds of neighbors and individuals support the agency with food and monetary donations. St. Vincent de Paul Food Depots provide assistance to thousands of Detroit families every year.

Southwest Detroit Community Food Depot is another option with a more unique format. The center allows clients the ability to choose their own food, which is really just like grocery shopping.

In a concerted effort to serve more people and families in the region, and in an effort to increase food purchasing power at a great price and support the community better, the food pantries that operate in southwestern part of the city created the Southwest Detroit Community Food Depot. The center is a collaborative effort formed between many churches and pantries, and its helps members from local parishes.




Meals are also served at the Matchan Nutrition Center. This location is open by Oakland County Vincentians and located at the St. Vincent de Paul Parish site in Pontiac, Michigan. This facility serves meals Tuesdays and Thursdays each week at noontime.

Van Elslander Center is the name of a number of assistance programs that were created by the Detroit St. Vincent de Paul is partnership with other community agencies, non-profits, and churches in Wayne County. Together they provide specialized programs to help families and individuals lift themselves up and out of poverty. For example, the Center houses a clothing referral center, Head Start center, legal services and aid, dental care clinic, and a Thrift Store.


By Jon McNamara

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