Skip Navigation

“Enrique is the best example of Port St. Vincent de Paul,” Nick Fatsis, Port St. Vincent de Paul Director, said. “The way he’s living and taking care of his business is setting an example for the other men. I wish I could clone him. He’s really that impressive.”

Enrique is a current resident of Port St. Vincent de Paul which provides a home and hope for up to 30 men as they transition out of homelessness, prison, or struggles with addiction or mental illness. The 24-hour staff help men like Enrique navigate life challenges, apply for jobs, rest and stabilize, find permanent homes and restore their hope for the future.

Accompaniment on a new path

Enrique’s new path of hope is made possible by your generosity and your care for him and many men working to change their lives for the better. His journey could not be realized without you – your donation of goods, volunteer support, shopping at our thrift stores, and monetary gifts.

You and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison have embraced Enrique and are accompanying him along his new path of hope.

In addition to being a model Port resident, Enrique is a St. Vincent de Paul — Madison employee who recently earned a promotion at the Processing Center. He joined the staff while serving a sentence at Oakhill Correctional Institution.

“While I was in prison, I worked my way down to the custody level to be able to get a job in the community,” Enrique said. “And that’s where I met John Cobb (Associate Director of Retail Operations) and he hired me, gave me a job at the Processing Center and this is how this all started. If John didn’t give me the chance, I know I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am doing.”

“If I didn’t get the opportunity to work I would have gone back to Milwaukee and wound up right back into the mix,” Enrique continued. “I probably would have ended up doing drugs again, coming back to prison. John put me in touch with Nick and talked to the social worker and my probation officer, they got in touch and set it all up and here I am.”

What started was a transition from incarceration to full-time employment and support to plan his next steps in life while living at Port St. Vincent de Paul. Enrique is now working towards building a new life with your help and continued support.

The people who help

Enrique credits the personal connections he has made through St. Vincent de Paul with helping him be successful.

“Nick has been amazing,” Enrique said. “He is probably one of the nicest people I’ve met in my life. It doesn’t matter what you did, or where you’re from. He doesn’t look at you any differently. He’s just got a huge heart. He’s a great guy.”

Nick applauds Enrique’s work to change his life and commends him as an example of the immense power and potential of Port St. Vincent de Paul.

“He is setting an example for other Port residents,” Nick said. “The way he’s living and taking care of his business is setting an example.”

The generosity of others

Port residents receive counseling, daily meals, laundry facilities, and access to phones and computers through the program. Residents pay nominal program fees to partially underwrite expenses and establish a payment history for tenancy when they move into permanent housing. Staff work with residents to identify and achieve their goals which leads to greater stability and independence such as references for permanent housing and employment.

Nick is moved by the generosity of people like you who volunteer and donate money to support men changing their lives through the men’s housing program.

“I already have calls from people that are planning to bring loads of wrapped Christmas gifts,” Nick said. “It almost makes me want to tear up. The fact that people do care in this community.”

Overcoming challenges and moving forward

Enrique has his sights set on a brighter future.

“I hope to get my own place and continue starting my life over,” Enrique said. “It’s crappy having to restart all of the time. I just turned 34 and I’m still climbing out of holes.”

When asked if he had advice for other men in similar situations, Enrique said he would tell them to reach out for help.

“I would tell them that if they’re in need and they’re struggling like I was, they should try this route,” Enrique said. “I would tell them about Nick.”

If you have a heart for creating futures of hope for Enrique and men like him, please pray for them and Director Nick Fatsis, and give generously to support the life-changing work at Port St. Vincent de Paul.

Kickoff for National Homelessness Awareness Month

On November 2nd, National Homelessness Awareness Month began. At an awareness event in the State Capitol, various speakers addressed the prevalence of homelessness in Wisconsin and the need for government, agencies and individuals to come together to find better solutions. Along with community and statewide school leaders working to end homelessness, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program Director Priscilla Lentini worked to put on this event.

At the event, a Ribbon Tree visually represented the estimated number of people who experience homelessness in a year. Each ribbon accounted for 1,000 individuals. Here is data on youth and young adults facing homelessness in a year:

Press release

The kickoff event for National Homelessness Awareness Month is at the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda on November 2, 2022 at 11:30AM. Speakers will range from state representatives addressing the concerns of homelessness in Wisconsin to individuals speaking about their lived experience of homelessness. Through their voices and stories we can learn about ways we can make a difference in our community. This event is an opportunity to build much needed awareness of the homeless crisis in our state and local communities and we hope we can come together to find better solutions.

The November 2 kickoff event at the State Capitol will also feature a Ribbon Tree designed to showcase and measure the different types of homelessness experienced in Wisconsin. 

“Young people often have innovative survival strategies that make many assume that youth homelessness does not exist. This includes sleeping with friends, strangers, engaging in survival sex, or couch-surfing across state lines. Unfortunately, our systems don’t always identify these survival strategies as homelessness,” said Rachel Litchman, member of the Youth Action Board of Dane County, who will be one of the speakers at the Nov. 2 event.

“Housing is a human right, and no person in our state deserves to struggle with the stress of finding affordable housing or experiencing homelessness. We know that safe and secure housing is essential for strong families and strong communities, yet too often are inaccessible,” said Wisconsin State Senator Melissa Agard, who will also be speaking at the event.

According to another scheduled speaker, Michael Basford, Director of the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness, “Homelessness and housing insecurity happens all over Wisconsin – regardless of area of the state and whether it’s urban, suburban, or rural areas. This is an issue that has always required an all-hands-on-deck response if we’re going to end homelessness as we know it in this state.”

Background, Plans & FAQ

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison has plans to conduct a building project near the intersection of Williamson Street and S. Baldwin Street in Madison. The zone currently hosts the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program office.

Our intent now is to demolish our two structurally comprised buildings along Baldwin Street – as well as our Williamson Street store’s book room, which shares the lot with one of those buildings. We would then erect a two-story building at the Baldwin Williamson corner and a single-story building where our Baldwin store building is now. Except for vestibule, elevator and stairwell space at the corner, our plan is to devote the new first-floor space to retail and the new corner building’s second floor to our charitable programming. That programming would be primarily our St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program of assistance to custodial single parents of minor children — the non-residential successor to the Seton House Program with its current office in the corner structure being replaced.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions

View the current plans

Brief history

The core mission of the District Council of Madison – Society of St. Vincent de Paul is helping Dane County neighbors in need. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Society has been engaged in that mission in Madison since 1925 and has had a physical locus in the Williamson-Marquette neighborhood since 1941, when SVdP Madison opened a store on Baldwin Street. From that location, St. Vincent de Paul’s retail and service complex grew organically around the Baldwin corner to Williamson Street to become the Society’s local flagship thrift store. The parcel at the corner of Williamson and Baldwin streets has since served as the Society’s busy food pantry and then as the office location of the Seton House women’s transitional housing program – as well the site of the adjoining Willy Street store’s bookroom.

The Williamson-Baldwin corner property and the original Baldwin Street portion of the thrift-store complex have clearly reached their end of life. SVdP Madison has been advised that the corner “Seton 2” building, an old balloon-frame structure, is not sound enough to salvage and remodel. Compromised wooden roof trusses of the Baldwin retail property have led the Society to empty that space and leave it unused for its usual purpose. The century-old concrete structure of the Baldwin store space is of unknown design capacity. After carefully considering options, St. Vincent de Paul is seeking to rebuild in the footprint of these two parcels. New construction designed to sensitively honor the look and feel of the local traditional shopping street and historic district will best serve the interest of safety, modern code compliance, energy efficiency, sustainability, and avoidance of unintended consequences.

These are key objectives for the future of properties SVdP Madison intends to continue using for purposes toward which the site has long been put. Those purposes are supporting and meeting the Society’s mission by selling and giving away donated goods and by offering other charitable services to local households in need. Through new, historically sensitive construction, SVdP Madison’s plan is to devote almost all first-floor space to retail and – for the corner – parcel create second-floor space focused on serving neighbors in need through SVdP Madison charitable programming.

The men of Port St. Vincent de Paul recently planted a “rain garden” as part of The Roger Bannerman Rain Garden Initiative.

The City of Madison Engineering Division established the program and hopes residents will help it reach its goal of 1,000 rain gardens! Port St. Vincent de Paul is proud to be one garden growing that possibility! Rain gardens help reduce runoff on the Isthmus and keep our lakes clean.

At the Port, several men planted a variety of flowers and wildflowers and installed a ‘bee barn” to help our local pollinators thrive. The Port vegetable and flower gardens are pretty popular during the summer months, and the new gardens give program participants an opportunity to unwind and relax while they are seeking a fresh start.

St. Vincent de Paul conferences at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church generously provided funds and plants for the garden. Lacy Garden leader, Tom Parslow, graciously lended his expertise and equipment to help plant the garden as well.

Will you consider growing your support for Port St. Vincent de Paul?

With a monthly gift, you can invest in the ongoing maintenance and care of our men’s housing program. Thank you!