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St. Vincent de Paul’s Summerfest caps another year helping southwest Idaho’s most vulnerable citizens

The following story appeared in the September 9 Idaho Catholic Register.

Master of Ceremonies, David McKinzie III, entertained the audience with sing-a-longs and jokes in-between speakers. McKinzie is a graduate of Boise State, played football in high school and college and is host of “The Voice of Boise,” a talk show on social media. (Courtesy photo/4Karma Studios)

by Emily Woodham

Staff Writer

EAGLE – Whether its service to the homeless, to the hungry or to those re-entering society after incarceration, the reach of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Southwest Idaho continues to expand.

About 250 supporters of St. Vincent de Paul from around the Treasure Valley attended

this year’s annual Summerfest gala. The event at the Château des Fleurs in Eagle and catered by Roghani’s Restaurant raised $155,000 for SVdP’s services throughout the region.

In addition to tickets sold for the gala, participants could also buy raffle tickets to win a Subaru Outback and Subaru Impreza from Treasure Valley Subaru. Jane Sherack won the Outback and Don Kemner the Impreza.

The night highlighted the expansion of SVdP services in a number of areas, including a re-entry programs for citizens who are returning to society from prison.

“Our re-entry services operation has seen a dramatic increase in the past three months,” said Ralph May, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Southwest Idaho. SVdP is collaborating with the Idaho Department of Correction for re-entry services to expand the program this year.

“Our partnership with St. Vincent de Paul is so key to our success,” said Bree Derrick, deputy director of the Idaho Department of Correction, who spoke at the event. Derrick thanked the staff and volunteers of SVdP for their passion and energy to make things better for re-entering citizens. The program offers recently released citizens rent, clothing and transportation support to help them assimilate back into society. The goal is to reduce the recidivism rate of men and women who fall back into former habits and end up back in prison.

A major goal of SVdP is to reduce homelessness. The society’s thrift stores and food pantries are designed to make it possible for low-income citizens to have enough income to stay in their homes.

For those who are temporarily with-out homes, SVdP supports the work of Interfaith Sanctuary, which provides shelter, food and other necessities for the homeless.

Jodi Peterson-Stigers, executive director of Interfaith Sanctuary, spoke about the partnership between Inter-faith Sanctuary and SVdP. “Homeless people want to get back to work!” she said. “They want to get back to work, they want to be useful, they want to be considered in the community, and they want to get back to their own housing.”

SVdP hires guests of Interfaith Sanctuary to work in their State Street warehouse and store at 6464 W. State Street. “We went with 12 of our guests to walk through St. Vincent de Paul and to meet the staff. They were treated so gracefully,” Peterson-Stigers said.

The State Street location also has a retail area called “The Homeless Art Collective,” set aside to sell artwork created by guests of Interfaith Sanc-tuary. “You can buy art created by unhoused men, women and children, who then get that money (from the sale of the art) to help them,” she said.

Curtis Stigers, a well-known musician, recording artist and husband of Jodi Peterson-Stigers, raised $22,000 for St. Vincent de Paul – the high bidder getting an evening with dinner and a private concert performed by his band.

Auctioneer Kevin Troutt, left, was surprised when Jodi Peterson-Stigers and her musician husband, Curtis Stigers, surprised the audience with an impromptu offer to auction a private concert by Stigers with a dinner to raise funds for SVdP. The winning bid for the dinner and concert was $22,000. (Courtesy photo/4Karma Studios)

SVdP is also increasing the reach of its Christmas Toy Store program. This year, the society will create what it calls “pop-up” stores in parts of the region that don’t have immediate access to St. Vincent de Paul’s six thrift stores in the Treasure Valley. The pop-up stores, open for three days during the Christmas season, will be at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Mountain Home in early December and at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Ontario the following week.

Last year, the Ada County and Canyon County Christmas Toy Stores provided Christmas gifts to 4,411 children, according to Mareesa Rule, development director for SVdP.

SVdP works with several churches to provide a Thanksgiving Food Box program that provides a thanksgiving dinner for more than 12,000 each year.

Even though SVdP has had a presence in southwest Idaho since the 1940s, its first thrift store did not open until 1976. The six stores now in operation offer gently used, low-cost items. Additionally, SVdP distributes more than $250,000 worth of furniture, clothes, and household goods to those in need at no cost.

SVdP is also increasing the number of its mobile food pantries, May said. The Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority has asked that one mobile food pantry be provided at a senior-living apartment complex. The mobile food pantries are in addition to the five year-round food pantries that serve hundreds of families each week with nutritious food to keep families healthy and stretch food budgets. Last year, the pantries distributed more than $1,750,000 worth of groceries. An SVdP dining hall on Overland Road serves hot meals three to four nights a week. The society works with several other churches to provide dinners in other parts of the city.

SVdP is also working with the International Rescue Committee to increase service to refugees resettled in the Boise area, he said.

SVdP responds to more than 7,500 calls to its Help Line every year. When someone calls, a pair of volunteers visit callers in their home to assess needs on a case-by-case basis, offering temporary help with rent, utilities, furniture, clothes, transportation, and other needs while, at the same time, providing counseling to get clients get back on their feet.

To donate to St. Vincent de Paul or for more information on its outreach programs, go to

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