SVDP celebrates 17 years of service in the community
By Jared Schmeltzer
Established in March of 2003 by Denis McCarthy and many community members, Saint Vincent de Paul (SVDP) of Merrill is proudly celebrating 17 years of service to the Merrill community. According to SVDP Outreach Director Sue Norenberg, in the past 17 years the St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Office has shared more than $1,161,000, while addressing over 15,300 total requests in the Merrill and surrounding area. Out of that number, $381,400 was used to prevent rental evictions and $315,000 was used to prevent utility disconnections. The remaining $464,600 was shared to help with lodging, vehicle repair, diapers, medical bills, food, gas and other related emergencies.
“Denis McCarthy had the idea and started our St. Vincent de Paul Conference in Merrill with a group of interested community members,” said Norenberg. “Denis had been involved with SVDP in Chicago prior to moving to Wisconsin.”
“We began with the Thrift Store and Outreach Office at the 1004 East Main Street location,” Norenberg explains about the evolution of SVDP.
“The Thrift Store is a funding source that provides needed money to share assistance to those in need in our community and the surrounding area. In 2004, a group of local doctors approached the Conference with an idea to open a Free Clinic. Their goal was to help those in need with minor illness that didn’t have health insurance or those with high deductibles. And thus the formation of our Free Medical Clinic. In 2007, Lincoln Community Bank donated their former building on West Main Street to SVDP. After renovations the SVDP Outreach and Free Medical Clinic along with 6 other community agencies shared this building. In 2016, then Ministry Health Care offered space for all agencies, except the Free Clinic, in the Menard Center located behind the hospital. It was hard to walk away from the donated building but our relocation worked well for us. The former bank building was sold in 2016. At that time the Free Clinic was relocated upstairs above the thrift store.”
According to Norenberg, volunteers are the driving force behind SVDP, and they are the people making everything run smoothly.
“We have an active volunteer conference of 9 community members,” said Norenberg. “The Conference members meet weekly and oversee the operations of the outreach Office, thrift Store and the free medical Clinic. At the thrift store we have 26 volunteers who process and prepare the donated items for sale. I just want to note that our volunteers are the best! They are a wonderful group of people! Without them we wouldn’t have such a smooth running Thrift Store.”
Despite the generous support of many volunteers, Norenberg stresses the importance of community engagement. When asked what the community can do to help, Norenberg explained, “Volunteer at the thrift store, pray for us and our neighbors in need, donate items and shop at our thrift store, and monetary donations are much appreciated to help our neighbors in need. SVDP is very important to our community. We are committed to serving those in need in Merrill and the surrounding area. We need you to ‘Help Us Help Others’. It is a community effort.”
The SVDP Thrift Store and Free Medical Clinic are currently located at 1004 East Main Street. The Free Medical Clinic is located on the second level of the Thrift Store. The SVDP Outreach Office is located at the Menard Building on the Ascension Hospital campus, 503 South Center Avenue, Merrill. For any questions feel free to call the Outreach Office at 715-539-2666.