Skip Navigation

The St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy dispenses prescriptions to Dane County adults who do not have health insurance. If you are passionate about helping people with their health, especially people who are underserved, then join the volunteer team!

Requirements:

Ready to help? Apply now or contact the pharmacy for more information.

Open positions

Welcome window

Be the friendly face that greets our patients! This position involves answering phone calls, speaking with patients, and greeting them when they enter the pharmacy. Additionally, when patients visit the pharmacy, you will ring up their medications and assist with over-the-counter medicine and products with the help or a pharmacist. You will use pharmacy software to access patient information, track and enter data. This position is ideal for outgoing, extroverted and eager individuals who want to connect with the community we serve.

Prescription filler

In this position, you will help prepare medications for patients. This includes counting pills, scanning, filling and labeling bottles to be checked by the pharmacists. You may also do some light cleaning, restock vials, keep medications organized by looking through expiration dates, and put medications back into their correct place. While no pharmaceutical experience is necessary, you must be detail oriented in this role.

Interpreter

We are always looking for interpreters; particularly Spanish-speaking volunteers, as we have a large number of patients who speak Spanish. As an interpreter, you’ll help patients who might have questions regarding their medication or the pharmacy process. Interpretation may be done over the phone or in-person at the pharmacy.

Updated: 12/29/23

A lifelong volunteer and health care professional, Kathy moved to Madison after nursing school. She spent the bulk of her working career in the NICU at St. Mary’s Hospital. She retired in 2013 and began volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy.

“I knew about the stores,” Kathy said. “I first started in the food pantry and volunteered there for about six months. Then someone told me there was a pharmacy downstairs. So, I came down and stopped going upstairs,” Kathy laughed.

Above and beyond volunteer service

When she began volunteering, Kathy was the “welcome window lady.” She checked patients into the pharmacy and confirmed their prescriptions were ready for pickup. She continues this role now with the curbside process and fields questions from people about the certification process or the pharmacy in general.

Kathy always goes above and beyond her duties as a volunteer. She sees a problem and works to fix it.

For example, she regularly answers calls from people interested in donating items to the pharmacy. For medications the pharmacy can accept, she supplies the needed information for folks to do so. For medical supplies, the pharmacy cannot accept she coordinates with a friend, Mary Dowling, at Sharing Resources Worldwide to donate supplies to medical missions in Honduras.

A while ago, Kathy noticed the supply of expired donated medicines that the pharmacy couldn’t use. Kathy worked out an agreement with Officer Barret R. Erwin at the UW-Madison Police Department to safely dispose of the medications. Thanks to Officer Barret, the station accepts and disposes of the medications for free rather than having the pharmacy pay to dispose of them.

“I just had this thought; UW Police isn’t too far away,” Kathy recalls. “Since we’re a nonprofit, they’ll take the medications for free. I collect the unused medications and coordinate a time to drop them off. If there’s a simple way to take care of something that’s not terribly out of my way, I can do that.”

The best aspects of volunteering

Kathy is grateful the pharmacy accommodates her flexible schedule and that she doesn’t have to find a substitute when she is sick or on vacation. She is grateful for expanding her network, and the best aspects of volunteer have been the people and patients.

“It’s the people. The people you get to know,” Kathy said. “The patients who know your name, especially when they came to the window. They have all been very nice and generous. We laugh a lot.”

“My idea of retirement is that you work or you volunteer at a place so you can expand the group of people that you know,” Kathy continued. “ You have to keep active in retirement. Find your niche and volunteer to share your skills. Find what you want to do and find where you can be helpful.”

A heart to help people

If the pharmacy didn’t exist, it would be a daily struggle for patients with diabetes to find regular medications and more people would end up in the Emergency Room, Kathy said. The care that the pharmacy volunteers and staff provide helps lower patients’ stress.

“I think St. Vincent de Paul is a good organization that works with people who need help,” Kathy said. “Everyone involved is committed to improving the community and helping others. All of the places I volunteer help people with low incomes.”

Besides her longtime commitment to the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy Kathy has volunteered at Specialty Care Free Clinic in Madison since 2011. As the only free specialty clinic for uninsured patients in the state, the clinic sends numerous patients to the pharmacy for their prescriptions. She also volunteers at the Lacy Food Pantry Garden where she helps plant, grow and harvest produce for distribution at the pantry. She is an avid sewer and donates her handmade quilts to Open Doors for Refugees.

Join the volunteer team! Click here or contact Zoe Lavender, Volunteer Coordinator, at zlavender@svdpmadison.org or (608) 442-7200 x71 to help.

Living in shelters, outdoors, or in their cars, between 70 and 100 Dane County families are homeless any day of the week. Far more local families are at risk of becoming homeless while doubling up with family or friends. Schools and service agencies report that most of these fragile families consist of a single custodial adult (mom, dad, aunt, grandparent, etc.) raising minor-aged children. 

Rachel and her children, Marcus and Marina, are one of these families. They were staying with Rachel’s cousin and two kids for several months before it became too crowded and the landlord threatened to evict them for violating the lease.  

Rachel connected with YWCA Madison, which helps doubled-up families find permanent housing. But once in her new apartment, there was still a good chance Rachel’s family would fall back into homelessness without additional support.

Placing homeless and at-risk families in housing is not enough. National data on housing with long-term supportive services overwhelmingly shows greater housing stability, improved enrollment in early education, and better child welfare outcomes.

Local nonprofit housing providers, YWCA Madison and Catholic Charities of Madison, receive funding to place families in housing. But this funding does not cover ongoing help that keeps families in their new homes. Without supportive services to address challenges with transportation, mental health, financial literacy, employment, childcare, parenting skills, addiction recovery, and health care, families are likely to return to homelessness. 

This is where you and St. Vincent de Paul — Madison’s new St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program step in.

The Seton Program was created in the fall of 2022 to fill this glaring gap and help fragile families on the path to stability.

The Seton Program provides wrap-around, flexible, individualized supportive services to newly housed single adult families. Seton Program staff and volunteers accompany families to work on issues negatively impacting their well-being and help them create manageable goals that bring stability, prevent future homelessness, and help them thrive. 

Up to 20 families will be enrolled in the Seton Program in its first year, with the capacity to grow over time. Support is provided with no term limit; however, a two-year enrollment is expected.

 

Rachel and Marina

Getting help to thrive

In Rachel’s case, the help she receives through the Seton Program goes beyond material necessities. It’s a chance to connect with a trusted person and receive encouragement to push through challenges. Emotional support and accompaniment means she’s not alone during this stressful point in life. 

Seton Program Director and social worker, Priscilla Lentini, is that trusted person.

“I tell people, ‘You’re not a mess. You’re going through a lot of challenges right now. And you have a lot of strengths that you’re bringing to the issues you’re facing,” Priscilla said. “Their attitude flips to, ‘I can do this. I have the capability to face what I’m going through right now.’ Sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else to believe that you’re not your issues.”

You have made the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program possible. With you, Rachel’s life, and those of her children are changing for the better.

“The Seton Program complements existing efforts from SVdP Madison such as the food pantry and pharmacy that address the immediate needs of our neighbors,” Susanna Herro, Board Secretary, said. So many of us care deeply about our brothers and sisters in need and are eager to walk alongside them on a path of greater stability. This program makes that possible.”

To effectively and efficiently support fragile families, a central program space is under construction where families can meet with Priscilla, mental health, and human service professionals, search for job opportunities, identify affordable child care, and access additional resources.

The Seton Program will be housed above the St. Vincent de Paul Williamson Street Thrift Store, currently undergoing an extensive building redevelopment (see sidebar). Completion is expected in the fall of 2024.

Because of you, Rachel is participating in an addiction recovery peer group, has landed a job with good benefits, and is learning how to advocate for her children at school. Marcus has a tutor to help him with math and Marina is excited about art class in Pre-K. They are happy to have a place to call home where they can heal from the trauma of homelessness, and set a course to move from surviving to thriving.

Please keep Rachel and her children in your prayers. Click here to share your volunteer time or click here to make a gift to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program.

* Names changed to maintain the neighbors’ privacy. Photos are representational.

For Dan Millmann, volunteering has always been on his radar.

After retiring from a 37-year career as a CPA, he volunteers at several places throughout town: the Catholic Multicultural Center, Queen of Peace Parish, Madison Children’s Museum. He’s the president of Madison South Rotary and joined the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry team last fall.

“In my mind, I always knew that I would work and once I was done I would volunteer and give back,” Dan said.

Growing up in Wauwatosa, Dan’s father modeled volunteering. Dan also credits the Catholic education he received from kindergarten through high school for instilling the value of volunteering in him. He said it’s a shared mission to help our neighbors.

“Through high school, there was always something [volunteering] there,” Dan said. “My dad was active in the church and as a family, we would volunteer. It’s always been in my mind that you do things like that and I’m just wired that way.”

Volunteering is something Dan has modeled now for his kids, both graduating this year; one from high school, one from college. He acknowledges young adults and young professionals are often strained for time, as he was early in his career. Volunteering can fall down the priority list after raising a family, managing a home, or working full-time.

Yet, he’s impressed by the number of college students volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry today. 

Camaraderie 

His awareness of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry began at his church on the west side of Madison and grew after a tour of the pantry several years ago. Looking for a volunteer opportunity close to home, he contacted the pantry and called to see how he could help. He didn’t have any specific idea what we wanted to do, how he could help, or all that was going on, but the staff put him right to work!

As a table loader now for the outdoor, drive-through pantry, Dan gets to do an active role and connect with new people. He values the camaraderie of a diverse volunteer team.

“I was looking for something to itch the social side of me and connect with people,” Dan said. “What I do now does both of those things. This gives me the opportunity to give back. It makes me feel productive and I get to talk with a bunch of interesting people I never would have met. We’re all people looking to give back and it’s fun to be a part of and associated with this group of people.”

Helping people get food

Dan is passionate about helping people get food. He found that volunteering at the pantry was a natural and organized way to do that.

“Access to food and food insecurity – covering basic needs for families – were some things that were important to me personally,” Dan said “So giving people what they need so they don’t go hungry and have access to food. I wanted to do whatever I could to help with that.”

The need for food is great, Dan continued, and it’s everywhere. Just about every town across the county has a small pantry of its own, he’s learned. The work of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and all of the pantries in the area is so important; they’re filling a huge need.

“I don’t know what we would do without pantries like this,” Dan said. “I can’t imagine a country like ours having people who didn’t want to take care of their community.”

Join the volunteer team! Click here or contact Zoe Lavender, Volunteer Coordinator, at zlavender@svdpmadison.org or (608) 442-7200 x71 to help.

Heartbroken, Frustrated, Grateful: a tangled ball of emotions for one situation.

I went on a home visit with my husband recently. There we met Carter*. His apartment was empty, except for some clothes on the floor for his bed, a box of berries and two bottles of water. He offered the water to my husband and me. 

Heartbroken: This young man, a father in his early 30s, has cancer.

Frustrated: His treatment has left him unable to work. He used his savings as long as the money lasted, then sold his belongings and moved in with a friend until he couldn’t stay any longer. For five months now, his disability claim has been “backlogged.” He has no income.

Grateful: When he was homeless, he was able to qualify for an apartment. He moved into his new home about three weeks ago.

The end of COVID-19 pandemic programs, combined with rising prices, make it harder for people like Carter to afford basic life necessities. Of the 100 largest cities in the USA, Madison has the fastest rising rent (14.1% in the past year and 30.4% since March 2020**). To survive, more and more people turn to programs like our food pantry for help.

In Dane County, a quarter of renters spend more than 50% of their income on housing. Those on the margins, those we serve, spend even more. A new book, Poverty, by America, by Matthew Desmond, describes public policy decisions that cause entrenched poverty in our country. Poverty in America is higher and deeper than any other developed country in the world. While I don’t agree with all that Desmond proposes, surely, we can do better.

You are already doing better for those in need in our community. Your generosity gives food, clothing, beds, furniture, household goods and medicine to neighbors like Carter and his kids. You are helping thousands of neighbors with your faithful support. In addition to these material items, you give Carter hope.

Heartbroken, I pray for Carter. In my frustration, I advocate on his behalf. In my gratitude, I say, thank you, for helping our neighbors in need.

 

 

Julie Bennett
CEO & Executive Director

 

* Name changed to protect privacy

**https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/national-rent-data

Dearest friends,

Lent is upon us. For Catholics and many other Christian denominations, Lent is a time for self-examination. Am I living up to the purpose to which I have been called. Are you? Whatever our faith beliefs, most of us want to believe we are on this earth for a purpose. And most of us want to make the world a better place for ourselves and others. Through your generosity, you have shown that is the world you want.

In the Christian tradition, Lent is a time to use the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to grow in holiness. These practices, followed intentionally, should also grow our capacity to love one another. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on fasting.

Isaiah 6-8 tells us:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”

It occurs to me that fasting is largely the privilege of those with means. You can’t fast from what you don’t have. I’m reminded of a prayer that my mother-in-law taught our children when they were very young.

Thank you Lord for enough and some to share.

The concept of “enough” seems contradictory to our culture. Rather, accumulation and materialism reign supreme. But if we are to think about justice for our neighbors in need, we must grapple with what is enough. Intentional fasting helps us recall the difference between wants and needs. It softens our hearts towards those who can only choose between need and need without the option to choose a want.

This Lent, whether or not you are a person of faith:

I’d love to hear about your experience with fasting and how – or if – you grew in goodness through it. Please stay in touch.

You remain in my prayers of gratitude,

 

 

Julie Bennett
CEO & Executive Director

Have you ever been in a stressful time full of things beyond your control?

For Mr. and Mrs. Thao* that stressful time occurred when they were both admitted to the hospital. Neither had health insurance. They were worried. Worried about what was wrong with each of them and what it would mean – What would it cost? Where would they go? Who could help them?

Once diagnosed, they received treatment plans and prescriptions for multiple medications. Yet the costs for a reduced rate prescription program was financially beyond their means.

A hand outstretched to help

At a follow-up appointment, a glimmer of hope appeared. Their nurse recommended the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy.

The Thaos now make monthly visits to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions – at no cost to them. They also receive support and encouragement from pharmacy staff and volunteers.

In its ten years of operation the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy staff have filled over 50,000 prescriptions for more than 1,500 uninsured adult patients.

Mr. and Mrs. Thao live healthier lives because of your care and commitment to our neighbors in need. Without you, each of these individuals would suffer from untreated effects of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental health conditions, and be susceptible to the flu and COVID-19 variants.

The pharmacy is often the last lifeline for patients who have nowhere else to turn. Many patients are initially referred from hospitals, emergency departments, and local clinics.

The St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in Madison.

Pill organizers and schedules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of good communication

Even as the couple started on a stable regime, there was one more hurdle to overcome.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Thao are native Hmong speakers with limited English. Thanks to Ricky, a St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy volunteer fluent in the Hmong language, the couple can fully understand how to properly manage their conditions and medications.

Hmong is the third most common language spoken in Wisconsin. It’s primarily an oral language with a relatively short written history. For older Hmong adults who cannot read the language or speak English fluently, navigating life, including a detailed pharmacy visit can be difficult.

During each pharmacy visit, the couple sit down with Managing Pharmacist, Yolanda Tolson-Eveans, RPh, where she provides a pill organizer, schedule and calendar. The calendar shows images of the pills they’ll receive so they know what to expect (at right). Ricky is on hand to translate and explain her instructions.

“Ever since we’ve been here it’s been so helpful to have a schedule and calendar,” Mrs. Thao affirms. “We’re very thankful to the donors and everybody. Even as cold as it gets, the pharmacy staff is helping (outside for the curbside delivery). We’re grateful for the pharmacy and volunteers.”

Recalling their first meeting, Ricky immediately noticed Mr. Thao’s face relax when they were introduced.

“Bridging the gap of understanding and ensuring access to care is so important,” Ricky commented. “When you have someone that is of your culture and community, you have trust in the healthcare system. Trust in the pharmacists and trust in the pharmacy.”

Today, the world is a little brighter because of your dedication. Today, the Thaos and hundreds of neighbors like them can thrive.

How you can help pharmacy patients right now

In December 2022, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. There are several health-related policies in the document. One of the most notable for the pharmacy relates to changes in Medicare coverage. During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, states were “prohibited from terminating or reducing benefits for most Medicaid enrollees.” During this time, Medicaid enrollment increased by nearly 30%. This “continuous coverage” will end this month, March 2023. States have three months to plan for a return to regular eligibility and enrollment but experts expect it could take up to a year for people to receive renewed coverage.

For neighbors relying on prescription medicine everyday, doing without them puts them at risk for declining health, job loss, and expensive emergency department visits. As patients are dropped from Medicaid coverage, it is anticipated that neighbors in need of free medication will drastically increase. To serve more patients, the pharmacy will expand operating hours. Additional hours will also allow UW-Madison School of Pharmacy students to provide patient care and earn valuable practical experience.

Here are three ways to help:

Sources: Princeton University, Unwinding Provisions in the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023: Medicaid and CHIP Provisions Explained

 

*Using last names only to protect the neighbors’ privacy. Photos are representational.

Nicholas in Mexico.

Growing up, Nicholas moved often: Canada, Montana, Portugal, Japan. The son of an Air Force pilot, he went into military service himself after high school and settled down in Georgia later in life to raise his daughter. Through childhood, he grew to love the beach, the mountains and winter. But, it wasn’t until a recent trip that he decided to change his life.

“I was planning a trip and had been wanting to make a will for several years,” Nicolas said. “I knew I needed to have something ready and available, especially because I have kids.”

Wanting to know where his assets were going after death and feeling comfortable in his current financial state, he decided to finally write his will. He recalls looking at almost a dozen will-writing services online. The one he finally settled on was Freewill.

Freewill is a no-cost online estate planning tool that simplifies the creation of a will or trust. They partner with charities such as St. Vincent de Paul to encourage more people to document their wishes for those they love and the causes that are meaningful to them.

“I wanted something that was easy to find and go through; was simple and legit,” Nicholas said. “It was a very simple process. It was self-explanatory with easy steps to go through. I completed the will myself, printed the paperwork and got it notarized. That was it.”

Life experiences move him to care

Nicholas credits his time abroad and parent’s guidance for his philanthropic outlook and passion for giving back.

“When I was in the military, we were stationed in Haiti. It’s split into the tourist side and the local side where most people live in poverty. Guerillas were stationed in the mountains to keep local people away from the resorts. When you see things like that, you’re reminded how lucky you are. If you don’t look, you forget how lucky you really are,” Nicholas said.

Since he’s passionate about helping people when they need it, especially with basic life essentials: food, clothing, clean water, Nicholas included a bequest to St. Vincent de Paul — Madison in his will. Another charity close to his heart provides plumbing and clean water for families living in remote Guatemala.

“You must look at immediate needs first,” Nicholas said. “A lot of people are living month to month and need help. It’s so important that people have a place they can go for support and help; nobody likes to ask for charity. If you can get people the help they need without complications, that’s the way it should be.”

No matter what you have to offer, sometimes the smallest act of kindness can have a big impact, Nicholas affirmed.

“Don’t assume someone else will step in to help,” Nicholas continued. “Take the extra effort. Do something extra for somebody. If everybody did something one time for someone else, look how much help that would be around the world!”

Taking care of what’s important

Nicholas first heard about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul from his church. There were several active service programs at his church and one day a representative from the local St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store spoke to the congregation. Nicholas recalls spending weekends shopping and helping sort goods at the store; always looking for a way to help. Since that initial encounter, he’s always been involved in some capacity with the organization and a proud supporter.

“I didn’t know that when you make a will, you have options to donate,” Nicholas added. “Until I did my own will, I had no idea. Freewill gave me a few options of places to donate, but it was an easy decision.”

“I know I’ll leave enough money for my kids to be okay,” Nicholas continued. “Since I was in the military my funeral will be covered. I shouldn’t have debt when I die, so why not donate it? It was very simple and easy to do.”

Learn more about Freewill here. Or, contact Eric Fleming: (608) 442-7220 x34 or efleming@svdpmadison.org.

Total Number Of Households Using The Food Pantry Each Month

As we evaluate the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison Food Pantry use month-by-month since 2019, we see a remarkable pattern.

2019
2020
2021
2022
2023
2024

 

Thank you for everything you do for Dane County neighbors in need.

There is so much that the staff and volunteers here at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison do to help our neighbors in need. But it’s only possible because of the support from people like you.

Today, I’m writing to thank you for all your help and to update you on some of the recent achievements made possible by you, as well as challenges for the year ahead.

Families who are financially struggling are often hidden in plain sight. Many work multiple jobs to pay the rent, feed their families, and keep their cars running. Some have chronic health conditions compounding their challenges with limited mobility and isolation.

In the three months since I’ve been CEO, I’ve personally seen an alarming number of our Dane County neighbors hungry, without proper winter clothing, sleeping on floors, and failing in health because they cannot afford their prescription medications. 

My recent letter about struggling families featured Roy and his son Jackson who needed help with groceries, clothes, beds, and life-sustaining heart medication. Roy and Jackson’s story moved many of our supporters.

I want to thank you for your donation to help our neighbors in need. Thanks to your support, I am very pleased to share that we surpassed our December goal of $400,000 to help Roy and the many families in Dane County who struggle to make ends meet. Your generosity is extraordinary!

Every dollar will be used as we acquire food and medicine from the most cost-effective sources and distribute clothing and household donations provided by generous supporters.

Thanks to people like you, we have been able to reach more neighbors in need than ever before with our food pantry, clothing and furniture vouchers, charitable pharmacy, and housing programs. I continue to hear from neighbors who are so grateful to turn to us during difficult times.

With your help, we have already achieved much for our neighbors in need. However, I know there is much, much more that we must do.

Working in step with the board, our staff, and volunteers we are adapting and strengthening our efforts for neighbors in need. I know how much we can improve the lives of many more struggling families.

My top priorities in 2023 are:

These efforts would not be possible without your support during the past year. Thank you for everything you do to help our neighbors in need.

If you have any questions about the work you enable us to do please feel free to contact me directly at (608) 278-2920 x32 or jbennett@svdpma​dison.org. I’d love to speak with you.

Julie BennettWith the deepest gratitude,

 

 

Julie Bennett

CEO & Executive Director