His backpack was stolen the night before, and he had been wearing the same pants for 30 days. Charles had been waiting outside the St. Vincent de Paul Seneca Store to redeem his voucher for new clothes, but found the stores were not open.

“I thought I had my voucher in the backpack, but it got stolen.” Charles recalled. “The gentleman here, Ashley, is helping me out with some clothing, some pants and socks.”

Ashley Raman, Stores Director, was checking on the Seneca Store donations and noticed Charles waiting outside.

“He told me, he needs some new pants, he’s been wearing the same pants. And he had a voucher, and was waiting on St. Vincent de Paul.” Ashley also bought him lunch so he could have a warm meal.

Unfortunately, St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County’s (SVdP) retail stores have been closed for almost a month, leaving many individuals and families without ways to redeem their vouchers from the Social Service Office on HWY 99. SVdP decided to close the stores in light of COVID-19 and the restrictions put on retailers that were non-essential.

homeless veteran in front of svdp thrift store

“It’s really a pain…when you have no clothing, and you can’t go to the thrift stores you get vouchers for,” Charles said. “My ability to live is impacted. Not just for the homeless, for everyone.”

SVdP spent the last few weeks re-arranging the Division Store to comply with Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Governor Kate Brown’s orders for safe social distancing. All staff working in the stores were given trainings on how to work safely during COVID-19, and were encouraged to only work if they felt comfortable.

On Thursday, April 18, 2020 the Division Store opened to the public. The same day, Support Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) was able to furnish five homes for veteran families who were previously homeless. By opening only this one location, SVdP has been able to redeem clothing vouchers for its clients, as well as clients from other partnering organizations who also issue vouchers.

St. Vincent de Paul is proud to serve community members like Charles, who spent 10 years in the United States Army as a combat medic, serving in Iraq (2004), and Afghanistan (2006-2007, 2009-2010). SVdP is honored to serve our veterans, and the rest of our neighbors in need.

Support your neighbors in need by donating today!