St. Vincent de Paul was established in the Louisville community in 1854, with the purpose of aiding the poor and homeless, providing food, clothing, shelter and compassion. Yes – we are 21 years older than the Kentucky Derby! Bishop Martin Spalding of Louisville first witnessed the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris in 1852, where St. Vincent de Paul was founded by Frederic Ozanam. Bishop Martin then returned to Louisville and established the organization.
SVDP Conferences were established throughout Louisville over the next 86 years, with the first Conference organized at the Cathedral of the Assumption. These Conferences are parish-based groups of volunteers working in the name of St. Vincent de Paul, to help ease the pain of chronic hunger and poverty. These kind and generous volunteers came to be known as Vincentians.
St. Vincent de Paul’s impact on the Louisville community began to expand beyond the Conference network in 1983, when St. Vincent de Paul acquired the Holy Name Salvage Bureau Thrift Store to assist in funding the mission and expanding the reach of the organization.
In 1982, The Archdiocese of Louisville gifted St. Paul’s Catholic Church, the rectory, and the school to St. Vincent de Paul Louisville. The Open Hand Kitchen opened in 1983 in the basement of St. Paul’s Church and later, in 1997, moved upstairs, allowing the Open Hand Kitchen to expand its service as a large community kitchen which has provided more than 140,000 meals each year to anyone in need. These meals are served by a loyal network of 2,850 volunteers. The expansion ramped up quickly as buildings were built and our services offered expanded.
- 1984 Ozanam Inn opens in the former St. Paul’s Elementary School
- 1985 St. Jude House opened as the first halfway house for women in Louisville
- 1988 DePaul Apartments opened
- 1989 Administration Building opened for offices and OHK food storage
- 1990 Robert’s Hall opened in the St. Elizabeth Convent on Burnett
- 1992 Tranquil House opened
- 1992 Thrift Store and Processing Center opened at 1029 S. Preston
- 1993 Simon Hall opened in the St. Paul Rectory
- 1999 St. Jude Recovery Center opens replacing St. Jude House
- 2012 The East and West Family Apartments, the SRO (now Waypoint) and the 1-Bedroom Apartments opened
- 2013 Thrift Store and Processing Center moved from Preston Street location
- 2014 The Family Success Center opened
- 2015 St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry opened serving 300 families each month
All of this growth and expansion has been accomplished by the support of foundations and you, our devoted donors. Your impact on the community has been vast, and we all celebrate the success with you.
Would you like to help maintain the important buildings designed to support those in need? Visit our Rainy-Day Fund page to make a donation.