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St. Vincent de Paul Prepares For Holiday Services for Homeless

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul staff are gearing up for the “organized chaos” of the holiday season.

Hundreds of people will be served by volunteers and staff at the St. Vincent de Paul Open Hand Kitchen located in downtown Louisville this week, said Ed Wnorowski, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul in Louisville.

Wnorowski said the Christmas dinner alone will attract nearly 500 people.  That’s about 150 more than what the kitchen usually serves, he said.

Anyone is welcome to attend the Christmas dinner, "no questions asked," Wnorowski said.

"Anyone that is hungry is welcome to dine with us,” he said.  "And I’ve got to tell you we have a really good chef, but you have to come experience that firsthand."

He said a majority of the food is provided through donations from places like Dare to Care andKentucky Harvest.

But he said “the need far exceeds the supply.”

And he isn’t just talking about holiday meals.

St. Vincent de Paul, like other area shelters, provide year round, 24/7 service to struggling men, women and children.

“Virtually every individual is coming from homelessness,” Wnorowski said.  “Most have some underlying disability in addition to the situation of being homeless.  A lot of people are dealing with substance abuse and underlying mental health issues.”

Donations are always accepted, but Wnorowski said volunteering is often the most rewarding avenue of service. About 1,800 people volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul each year, he said.

“It’s a really good opportunity for folks to engage one-on-one with the clients and really see the fact that there is very little difference between the people we are serving and ourselves, other than perhaps a life changing event like a serious illness or loss of income,” he said.

As WFPL has reported, the overall number of homeless people is decreasing in the area, but the number of homeless families remains constant.

There are nearly 30 agencies in the Louisville area that work to fight homelessness, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

To find out how to volunteer during the holidays or anytime,go here.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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