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CFC: The saint that keeps giving

St. Vincent de Paul helps the community

Volunteer Kelly Wagner and director Tracy Peacock sort through clothes donated to St. Vincent de Paul stores. Photo Credit: JM Simpson

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St. Vincent de Paul of Tacoma-Pierce County is a welcoming community of individuals committed to offering person-to-person service to those in need.

"We are one of the best kept secrets in helping others," commented Tracy Peacock, executive director, as she walked through a well-organized reception yard. "We help those in need, and we want the community to know what we do."

The sense of organized compassion at St. Vincent de Paul, affectionately referred to as St. Vinnie's, began in 1926.

"We formed then," said Peacock, "and this building was donated to us in 1950."

St. Vincent de Paul provides the historical props to the Tacoma-Pierce County based mission.  

Born in France in 1581, Vincent de Paul was a Roman Catholic priest. In 1617 he began his ministry among the poor of Paris and he soon became known for his ability to organize and coordinate the efforts of well-meaning individuals with the church's mission in order to collect funds for projects, start hospitals and gather relief funds.

"He was dedicated to helping the poor, and he was the first to organize people, charities and the Church to help the poor," explained Peacock.

With his canonization in 1737, St. Vincent de Paul became the patron of all charitable societies.

To further what the saint had begun, Frederic Ozanam, a lawyer and writer, founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 1833.

The society - and the building located at 4009 56th Street, Tacoma - is a place of help and second chances.

"We have a Homelessness Prevention Program, and it is a safety net that provides basic needs to those needing help," Peacock explained. "We spend over $500,000 per year to help pay rent and utilities; we work to prevent homelessness."

St. Vinnie's thrift store is at the core of its mission and ability to meet the challenge.

"The store is our financial engine; we are able to generate $1 million per year from the sales of affordable household items, our e-commerce store is up-and-coming and recycling sales."

Clothes, knick-knacks and furniture are the store's big sellers.

When donations are made, they are processed and then retailed in either the store or on-line.

"We do a good job of getting items ready for retail," commented Kelly Wagner, a volunteer, as she sorted through a bin of gently used women's clothes. "We restock the store daily with clothes."

Besides furniture and clothing, St. Vinnie's also accepts cars, boats, appliances and computers.

"We also will pick up donations," Peacock said.

Along with the thrift shop, St. Vinnie's Second Change Employment program plays an important role in providing help.

"Over 80 percent of our employees come out of this program, and we have over 800 people use the program per year in order to find employment," added Peacock.

She also acknowledged that St. Vinnie's is grateful to the various organizations with which they partner.

"We are proud to give back to the community in all we do," Peacock said, "we welcome all who come here, and we will continue to do so."

For more information, visit or call (253) 495-8772.

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