In the early 1870’s, the St. Vincent de Paul Society was incorporated in Kingston, Ontario. But the story of 85 Stephen Street begins in 1965 when the Society began to formalize their care for those in need through St. Mary’s Cathedral. By 1966, other local parishes joined in the effort of the society to care for the vulnerable in this community and were providing support to those in need and those who were in jail.
In 1967-68, under the leadership of Arch Bishop Wilhelm, the property at 85 Stephen St. was purchased. With the tireless support of Father William Burns and local parishioners, including Pat Deasey, John McLean and Don Mocktiche, care for those in need could now include free clothing and furniture. At that time, St. Vincent de Paul Society had only the Warehouse to provide services from.
It was not until the mid 1970’s that a hot meal was provided for those living in poverty. Sister Loretta McArthy, who as the 1st Manager of the Society, began this ministry with the purchase of the small building referred to as the “Bug House” as it was once a small extermination business that used the space. Later, a new kitchen was created to accommodate the increasing number of individuals who were in need of a hot meal and a place to belong. The community that exists here today among the clients, volunteers and staff is rooted in the tender care provided by Sister Loretta. Her dedication to this program inspired the naming of our front building – The Loretta Hospitality Centre.
Today, we still offer a hot meal at lunch time, five days a week, all year long. The WearHouse still operates offering free household items and clothing to those who visit our facility. We also offer an Emergency Food Pantry to assist our neighbours who are running short and find themselves without enough food.
We work very hard to maintain the quality of service that our founders and early supporters aimed to provide. We stay close to our roots and offer kindness and compassion to all who cross the threshold at 85 Stephen St.
Laurie has been with The St. Vincent de Paul Society since February 2014. She has worked in the local restaurant industry for more than 20 years, and has a not-for-profit background with the United Way and KGH Auxiliary Café. Laurie's passion lies with local food and spends her free time in her garden.
sister pauline lally
We're continually working hard to improve our services. If you're interested to see what we've been doing recently take a look at our financial and annual report.
Michelle McCaugherty has been our Program Facilitator and is also acting as our Volunteer Coordinator since August of 2015. She brings a variety of work experience from the non-profit sector with an emphasis on issues relating to poverty, homelessness and food security. Previously, Michelle worked in the healthcare sector as a Personal Support Worker. She is a graduate from Trillium College. She completed the Community Service Worker Program with honours. She is dedicated to caring for the clients we serve. She loves to create workshops and support groups and in her spare time enjoys volunteering to paint women’s nails at some of the shelters here in our city and sits as a director on the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston's board.
If you have able hands, we want your help. Whether it's serving food in the kitchen, our WEARhouse or collecting donations, we need you. And so does our friends who are in need.
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Judy Fyfe has been in the position Executive Director for four years. She has 25 years of experience working in the non-profit sector serving those living in poverty. Her experience includes shelter work for youth, residential work with teen mom’s and extensive work with issues surrounding adult homelessness. She is committed to delivering services that are personalized to the individual. Judy is a graduate of the University of Guelph where she earned her B.A. majoring in Sociology. She also holds a Social Service Worker diploma from Conestoga College. Judy spends her free time with her husband and two teenage kids. She is grateful for the opportunity to work in a community that is as compassionate as it is beautiful. Kingston has been her home now for 5 years.
We are grateful to have support in our community. We could not do the work we do without the help of many individuals and businesses. It truly takes a village