Blessing and Dedication of SSVP Brant Thrift Store

May 11, 2019, Brantford, ON.

It’s a celebration and a blessing of our new Thrift Store.

His Excellency, Bishop Douglas Crosby O.M.I.  from the Diocese of Hamilton helped celebrate the opening of the new Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Brant Thrift Store in Brantford with his blessing ceremony on Saturday May 11, 2019. In addition to his blessing of the new Thrift Store Bishop Crosby recognized the work of the Brant volunteer Vincentians in helping our neighbours in need. The Bishop  stated, “This impressive new Thrift Store is a testament to the ongoing work of local Vincentian volunteers whose mission is to live the message of the gospel to serve Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy.” “It was a privilege to have Bishop Crosby here to give his blessing of our new Thrift Store in Brantford” stated Pat Lenz, President, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Particular Council of Brant.

The move to the new Thrift Store at 143 Wellington Street at Clarence has been at least three years in the making since the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul decided to sell their store on Colborne Street and purchase the former Crosby Cable YMCA building.

Volunteers conducted tours for the Bishop and his deanery, dignitaries, donors and honoured invited guests. An inspiring Wall of Recognition acknowledging donors to the capital campaign was unveiled to those in attendance. Some of those recognized The City of Brantford, The Diocese of Hamilton, Empire Homes, SC Johnson & Son, Hankinson Foundation, Don & Joanne Wilkin, Steve & Helen Kun and Ron and Joan Underwood & Family. The Catholic Women’s League of St. Pius Church conducted a private reception then the new store opened to the public for shopping from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

The new Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store offers free parking for over 70 vehicles. The entire facility is on one floor making it accessible for all. It has twice the retail space, twice the loading space, twice the sorting area, a volunteer staff lunchroom, and a large boardroom and reception area including a drive up door to accept donations.

In addition, the sparkling new retail space offers clothing in one large area for women, men, and children, furniture in another area and household items in still another area. The larger space, large aisles, new shopping carts, larger private change rooms and more choice makes for a pleasant shopping experience. What also makes the SSVP Brant Thrift Store unique is that all of the people who work in the store are volunteers, including supervisory staff. Although the Society is a lay Catholic organization store volunteers come from all backgrounds and need not be affiliated with any religious organization.

Vincentians were grateful to Bishop Crosby for the blessing ceremony and look forward to seeing new  shoppers as well as familiar faces from their previous location at their new Thrift Store.   

Mother’s Day Outreach by SSVP Brant Thrift Store

May 8, 2019 by Director of Systemic Change Marg Beach: The SSVP Brant Thrift Store went out to the Stepping Stones Resource Centre at Riverside Gardens on May 8th to coincide with a children’s after school activity.  A variety of our jewellery was put on display.  Each child was able to choose a gift for their mother for Mother’s Day.  Gift bags and boxes were also supplied so that each piece of jewellery was ready for giving. Continue reading “Mother’s Day Outreach by SSVP Brant Thrift Store”

FINALLY – The opening of our new Thrift Store!


October 1, 2018, Brantford, ON.

It is a feeling of excitement, moving into a new home.

That’s the feeling shared by Pat Lenz, President of The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Brant, her executive and the many Vincentian volunteers who work in their Thrift Store. “This move has been at least three years in the making since we decided to sell our store on Colborne Street and purchase the former Crosby Cable YMCA building at 143 Wellington Street, (at Clarence), ” said Ms. Lenz.

Continue reading “FINALLY – The opening of our new Thrift Store!”

Moving day is fast approaching!

August 27, 2018, Brantford, ON

It is the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Brant (SSVP Brant) has never been more excited about having a Sale. Everything on the first floor is on sale for 50% off. However, this is no ordinary sale. This is a moving sale. Continue reading “Moving day is fast approaching!”

Congratulations, Meghan!

Continue reading “Congratulations, Meghan!”

A Bed for Every Child

The Bed for Every Child project was conceived to help alleviate some of the ill effects of poverty on children in the Brant/Brantford community. The goal is to provide a new bed to a child in an underprivileged home who would otherwise not have a bed in which to sleep. These children are currently sleeping on the floor or carpet or couch or are sharing a bed with parents and/or several siblings. The living conditions in these homes are personally witnessed by SSVP Brant home visitors, who engage in home visits to determine the extent of the need within these families.

Each conference (our Society’s groups) decides which family(ies) has(have) a child in need of a bed.  Then, two members of a conference make a home visit and complete a Demographic Sheet for this family as well as a voucher for a new single bed when they feel it is appropriate.  The completed Demographic Sheet is returned to the Particular Council President, who turns it in to the bed allocation coordinator. The completed bed voucher is left with the client who will redeem it at the store and arrange for delivery of the bed. For purposes of accountability, and in order to ensure that we are good stewards, the bed allocation coordinator keeps track of the money we are given for beds to ensure that it is spent on beds for children.  The bed allocation coordinator also maintains a data base of those who receive a bed.

The need was first recognized 4 years ago, and various groups (mainly 1 local high school) have engaged in various fund-raising activities including pilgrimage walks, all-night sleep-overs, school dress-down days etc. that allowed the program to be established and sustained. The approximate cost per bed is $100. To date, over 280 beds have been given to these very under-privileged children. The provision of beds to these children has made a profound difference in the lives of the children as well as their families, which is of course part of our mission as Vincentians.

“Savings For Success” RESP Project: the Canada Learning Bond

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul’s Savings for Success project aims to empower eligible families to plan for post-secondary education for their children.

Our objectives are:

  • to educate families regarding the Canada Learning Bond (up to $2,000 in funding per child for post-secondary education)
  • to provide families with information about setting up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for their children so as to access these funds; and
  • to make a $50 contribution to each newly opened RESP (in Brantford/Brant County) that is eligible to receive the Canada Learning Bond.

To be eligible to receive the Canada Learning Bond children must have been born after Dec. 31, 2003 and the family’s net income, excluding the universal child care benefit, must be less than or equal to $45,916.  (For families with more than three children there are higher income brackets.)

Parents are able to open no-fee RESPs and no parental contribution is required to obtain the Canada Learning Bond.  These education savings funds do not affect any Social Assistance Benefits being received by the family.

We believe that education is a key factor in helping young people create a brighter future for themselves.  The existence of education savings is a strong motivator for pursuing post-secondary education.   Canada Learning Bond funds can be used for university, college, trade schools or apprenticeship programs and students can attend on a part-time or full-time basis.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Brant appreciates the financial support received from the Brant Community Foundation and the Retired Teachers of Ontario District 40 to assist us in initiating this project.

To date, we have assisted the families of 25 children to obtain Canada Learning Bond funds.  We know that there are many more eligible children in our area. For further information, please leave your name and phone number on voice mail at 519-753-8439 ext. 400 or email

2017 National AGA at Quebec City

This was the first Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Canada attended by Kristine Paul, Store Volunteer Coordinator and Peter Albano, Communications Director and the third such meeting attended by Pat Lenz, President, Particular Council of Brant.

A warm Quebec greeting was received from our fellow Quebec City Vincentians at the airport. Then we were transported to the AGA site on the campus of Notre-Dame-de-Foy Community College in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures just outside of Quebec City. All of the AGA meetings, workshops, seminars, Masses and Rosaries and presentation activities except for the Welcoming Ceremony dinner and Mass in the town of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures were conveniently held in two buildings on the campus. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided every day in a small cafeteria in the residence hall or in the large cafeteria in the main student union and lecture hall building.

Pat, Kristine and Peter split up each day to attend the following workshops and AGA meeting activities.

Wednesday, June 22, 2017

Travel to Quebec City

Ontario Regional Council Meeting for all attending from Ontario.

Thursday June 22, 2017

The Joy of our Vincentian Spirit Workshop – Service with Spirituality.

Now What do I do. Your term of office is expiring – How to deal with a President’s end of term and election process.

Project Northern Alberta, Cadotte Lake – Assist Northern Alberta Indigenous communities with food, clothing, furniture, education and sanitation.

The Stress of Living in Poverty – A hands-on living in poverty exercise.

What you need to know. – The Nitty Gritty of Conference Operations.

Catholic Social Teaching in action – To motivate and encourage for Systemic Change

Busy as C(ee)s – Commitment of volunteers, coordination, community, collaboration and connections.

Mass and rosary

Welcoming Ceremony and gala dinner at Seminaire de Quebec in old Quebec City.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Keynote Speaker: Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec– biblical examples of serving those in need in the way Christ did were very practical and put new light on the Joy in Serving.

Address from Renato Lima de Oliveira, President General of SSVP International – It was a surprise to learn that the President General was attending the AGA. Pat Lenz, Kristine Paul and Peter Albano had the pleasure of meeting him in person and having our photo taken with him at the Thursday night dinner and Welcoming Ceremony at Seminaire de Quebec in old Quebec City. The President General discussed his 20 personal objectives while in office, his three wishes and his seven recommendations. He also provided some SSVP International statistics and conducted an open mic question and answer period with attendees.

Impressions left by the President General are best described by Kristine,  “Renato is an example of the youth that will bring the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul into the present day; he is charming, gifted, intelligent, a family man, worldly, passionate and on top of that has a beautiful singing voice; his love of the Lord and of serving the needs of the poor are tangible.”

PLENARY Sessions

All members were welcome to attend. Sessions included a broad range of content from keynote speakers to panel discussions.. This also included an open question and answer session with the Canadian President Jean Noel Cormier.

Mass and rosary

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, National Spiritual Advisor – discussed Vincentian Charism in a way lay individuals could understand and apply. Whereas a social worker is boxed in by regulation, a Vincentian has flexibility to act within SSVP principles to serve a need.

Honourable Graydon Nichols Spoke on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of North American Indigenous People starting in Mexico. 30th Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick from 2009 to 2014; born in 1946, Tobique First Nation; Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University; Bachelor or Laws from University of New Brunswick and Masters in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. Attorney, judge, politician, activist and advocate for education – first aboriginal person in Atlantic Canada to receive law degree and first aboriginal person in Atlantic Canada appointed as a court judge. Named to Order of Canada June 30, 2016 for his contributions to the people of New Brunswick as a lawyer, judge, lieutenant-governor and indigenous leader

Sister Aurea of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Moncton, New Brunswick – worked with prisoners and founded the SSVP House for the poor.

National President’s Roundtable discussion with all attendees

The National President, Jean-Noel Cormier discussed the status of several National initiatives including:

  • Launch of the new national Website (a work in progress)
  • Strategic Plan 2015-2020 – its ongoing implementation
  • Communications Plan and research survey conducted among a random group of SSVP members
  • Vincenpaul Magazine will be changing to an electronic version from the current costly print version
  • An electronic Annual Report will also be produced
  • Following on some revisions to the Rule at the international level, a Statutes Review Committee will be making recommendations to make changes to the Canadian Statutes
  • 2016 Stats – SSVP visited 204,000 homes, 30,000 prisoners, 350,000 people were helped, there are 15,000 Vincentians, 175 Thrift Stores and 90 food banks across Canada.

Quebec Region – School Student Assistance Program – Operation Bonne Mine

  • In 2001 3,900 students were served. In 2016 8,279 students were served. 80% of funding is used for Back-to-School support, 15% for perseverance initiatives and 5% for perseverance scholarships.
  • Elementary and secondary school students are assisted with $250. and $500 levels respectively.

Quebec Central Council – RV Caravan Program serving homeless youth in Quebec City

  • The Marginal RV serves youth 18-35. The Boehme RV serves youth 18-25. The majority are male.
  • The caravan program reaches out to youth at risk.
  • In 2016 6,117 youth were served.

Mass in the town of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.

Gala Dinner and closure of AGA Meeting.