Facing Tolerance

by SVdP Staff on January 10, 2014

By: Gretchen Burnton

St. Vincent de Paul recently had the opportunity to host a unique anti-bullying program, Face Tolerance. The program was held every Friday for several weeks during the evening meal at our main campus.

Jennifer Forman Weinstein, the founder of Face Tolerance, headed the program. She taught a group of SVdP’s kids to create masks that would relate to tolerance.

“Through the fine art of mixed media mask making, kids learn to embrace each other’s differences through art and come together as one big family,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer is a sculptress and artist who has been teaching this program since 2006. Prior to this pursuit, Jennifer was a featured guest on the Oprah WinfreyShow for her sculptures of pregnant women’s bellies.

In one of the final Face Tolerance lessons held at SVdP, using the masks they sculpted and plastered themselves, students started to decorate their masks as it related to tolerance.

They did this with paint and by gluing “found objects” to their mask.

Found objects, according to Jennifer, is when you take something that seems unexciting to the average observer and you bring meaning to it.

“It’s taking junk and making it a treasure as it related to tolerance,” Jennifer said.

While most students brought in their found objects, they didn’t know what meaning their objects could possibly have. So Jennifer helped explain some possibilities.

One student in the past brought in a Q-tip that he had found. The Q-tip represented the battle between good and evil in life.


Another student in a past class brought in an old watch. This represented how “the time is now for tolerance.”

The kids, now understanding what a found object was, were able to bring new meaning to each object that they wielded. A spring no longer was just a spring; it instead represented springing forward into tolerance.

It was as if a fog had been lifted from the room. There were so many possibilities for the meanings behind every object.

And eventually, these objects helped the kids convey their personal messages about tolerance. They all had their own meanings and motivations behind each mask that they created.

During the Face Tolerance program, students transform, Jennifer said.

“From what I’ve been told and witnessed for myself, at first I come into the classroom and [the students’] arms are crossed, their legs are crossed.”

They seem to wonder who Jennifer is; why they have to listen to her.

“And before you know it, by the time I’m done with the kids, they’re hugging each other and they’re all one big family.”

There is such a change of attitudes from the start and finish of the project because students are forced to break barriers with one another from the get-go.

The first and second sessions of Face Tolerance are devoted to the creation of the masks. One kid will be the artist and the other will be the subject.

“They’re paired up with somebody who they know the least. Maybe they’ve had an issue on the playground, or they don’t know their first name. And so they become partners and this is how the magic begins. They begin a dialogue,” Jennifer said.

So students are able to think about tolerance as it relates to them on a personal and grand level.

“Face Tolerance belongs in every school in America. It needs to be part of the curriculum. Just like you learn Math, Science, and English, kids today, they need to know tolerance. They need to know how to embrace difference. They need to know how to not be a bully and to instead be a friend,” Jennifer said.

We’re very fortunate to have had Jennifer share her program with some of our kids at SVdP.

For more information on Face Tolerance, visit Jennifer’s Facebook page about Face Tolerance or Website.


Christmas is a Time to Give

by SVdP Staff on December 23, 2013

By: Gretchen Burnton

Christmas is just around the corner so we at St. Vincent de Paul wanted to give thanks to those who help make our mission to feed, clothe, house and heal those in need a little easier by putting on food drives. We hope this generosity continues through the New Year.

Putting on a food drive can seem like a difficult task, but even the smallest drives are worth so much to us at SVdP.

Below is the story of 5-year-old Olivia Moore, who put on a food drive and bake sale of her own with the help of some friends and family:

It all started with a question from Olivia, who is always curious to learn more.

“We were driving home from school one day and we talked about how my brother moved to Texas,” said Lisa Moore, mother to Olivia.

Lisa’s brother had to move for a job opportunity; this idea made Olivia very curious.

“What happens if a person doesn’t have a job?” Olivia asked.Lisa told her that this could lead to a person or a family not having any home, so this led Olivia to ask a new string of questions.

“Some people don’t have homes?” Olivia asked. “Do they have barbeques?”

Lisa’s mom told her, “no,” leaving Olivia upset with the realization that some fruits of life are unfortunately not enjoyed by everyone.

With this, Olivia was inspired to donate the money from her piggy bank, but her mom figured there was more they could do.

“Why don’t we have a bake sale?” Lisa asked Olivia.

This idea sat well with Olivia, so together, they set out to hold not only a bake sale but also a food drive for those in need.

“We did two things; we made up a flyer and distributed Trader Joe’s bags and asked people to fill them up with canned goods,” Lisa said.

Lisa and Olivia set out with their wagon full of flyers and distributed them door to door near their neighborhood.

For their bake sale, Lisa and Olivia baked lemon bars, brownies, and cookies and asked their friends to contribute what they could.

“We had two tables in our front yard filled with baked goods,” Lisa said.

Olivia was very involved in the process beyond the baking, Lisa said. Whenever a person would contribute to the bake sale, she would take their money and tell them what all sweets they had to offer.

In the end, Olivia, with the help of her mom and neighborhood friends, was able to raise $260 for St. Vincent de Paul. This amount of money is able to provide 130 meals and support services to those in need.

   “Today, kids have a lot,” Lisa said. “They have a lot of friends; my children have never gone hungry. They need to see that this isn’t everyone’s life; we need to give back when we can.”

We’re so appreciative of what Olivia did for St. Vincent de Paul and can’t wait to see what’s in store for her next.

This New Year, let’s make it a resolution to be like Olivia and spread as much generosity as we can.

Starting a food drive or raising money in a fun way like Olivia did can be really rewarding. And if you need assistance in putting on your own drive, we’re just a phone call away: (602) 850-6748

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Surprise, Surprise, A New Thrift Store!

by SVdP Staff on November 6, 2013


Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott officially welcomed our new thrift store into the Surprise community Wednesday morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

St. Vincent de Paul has been doing great work across the country for years, and now it’s ready to do the same in the Surprise community, Wolcott said.

The thrift store will generate funding for SVdP services, including a food pantry in Surprise and the dining room in El Mirage.

“St. Vincent de Paul will benefit our community for years to come,” Wolcott said. “Thank you for being a part of our family.”

The 42,000 square-foot thrift store is located at 12845 W. Bell Road. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. The store will carry high-end furniture, designer handbags, clothing, jewelry and artwork. Donations may be dropped off at the store or a pick-up may be scheduled online at http://www.stvincentdepaul.net/

We’re excited to be joining the Surprise community. Be sure to stop in to see the new store, if you haven’t already!


APS Labor of Love

2 October 2013

Until the end of this month, Arizona Public Service (APS) is helping St. Vincent de Paul in our mission to feed, clothe, house and heal families in need by pursuing a “Labor of Love.” APS will donate $1 for every customer who registers his/her account online. And they’ll donate an additional $1 for those who […]

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Tools for Labor: Helping People Get Back on Their Feet

30 August 2013

By Gretchen Burnton Monday is Labor Day. It signals the end of summer and for most, an extra long weekend. The holiday also reminds us to stand back and not only appreciate the workers of the world and all that they do, but also appreciate those who have endured the struggle to find work, even […]

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Are you on Team PB or Team Jelly?

12 July 2013

Last year, we delivered nearly 400,000 emergency food boxes to hungry families in central and northern Arizona. Each box contains staples like milk, eggs, rice, beans and canned goods, but peanut butter and jelly is always a favorite among kids. It’s also a quick snack that kids can make when parents are at work. Donating […]

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Thrift Stores Sale July 1-7, 2013 Celebrating Freedom Days

30 June 2013

St. Vincent de Paul is celebrating our nation’s Independence Day with a 7 day sale starting on July 1st through July 7th at the following Phoenix area stores: Apache Junction Thrift Store 2540 W. Apache Trail Apache Junction, Arizona 85120 (480) 380-4515 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun Bell […]

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Changing Lives, One Bike at a Time

28 June 2013

By: Gretchen Burnton Ernie Renaud, a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, had been fascinated with planes since he was a kid. “I grew up in a small suburb of Detroit and I knew about the naval air stations in Michigan and every time I would visit my Canadian relatives in Windsor, I would see […]

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Score Another Big Win for the Knights

20 June 2013

The 12th Annual Golf-Fore-Charity event, hosted by the Our Lady of Joy Council of the Knights of Columbus, was a huge success this year. The event  took place on April 29th and was held at Troon Country Club. It consisted of a scramble tournament, holes-in-one for $10,000 or for a car, wine tasting and cooking […]

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Empowering and Defending the Poor

6 June 2013

This weeks post writen by Ebony Holt, SVdP volunteer Imagine you are going through life minding your own business when all of a sudden you find yourself in need of legal aid. What would you do? I would love to say that we could all just pick up the phone and call our local attorney […]

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