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Each week, hundreds of households turn to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry for food. In order for households to have fresh produce, meat, dairy, bakery items and more, we need your help. If you care about food security, helping your community and lending a hand to people in need, then join our volunteer team! Flexible volunteer positions are available on weekday mornings and afternoons. Some volunteer positions in our food pantry require the ability to bend, lift and carry up to 20 lbs. at a time, but not all. Ready to help? Apply now or contact Zoe Lavender for more information.

Lend a hand to:

Load food outside: HIGH PRIORITY

If you would prefer to work outside assisting with our drive-through food pantry, this would be the position for you! Your primary responsibility would be to load food into vehicles as they come through the drive-through.  This does require a bit more lifting and carrying, the items will be about 15- 20 pounds. (We do need a weekly commitment for this specific volunteer duty).

Control drive-through traffic: HIGH PRIORITY

Have you always wanted to be a crossing guard? Is blaze yellow your color of choice? We have an opportunity you can’t miss! Join the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry volunteer team as a traffic controller. As the pantry gets busier, help cars navigate the line and keep everyone safe.

Pack food boxes

This position involves filling boxes or bags with canned and dry goods (between 15- 18 pounds). Package pantry staples, cooking supplies and nonperishable items. You will also stock and sort some food donations.

Stock shelves

This position requires lifting and transporting cases of food. The cases can weigh up to 20 pounds, but many are not as heavy (between 10- 15 pounds). We have pallets of food stored in the back of the pantry and this job will entail taking a flat pushcart into the back and bringing up cases of canned and dry goods to stock the table that our food box packers are using to fill their boxes.

Sort and package food

We are in need of volunteers to assist with sorting food donations and packaging them into bags so they can be distributed outside in the drive-through. We are currently limited in morning availability however we are in need of volunteers for the afternoon shifts to help with a second round of bagging food once our pantry is in full swing for the day.

Fill online orders

We are in need of volunteers to help fill our online order requests. This job serves as a personal shopper. You’ll be given a list of items for an order and you’ll package them into bags and boxes accordingly. This will include various dry goods, dairy and frozen meat. Once the order is complete, you’ll label the orders and organize them onto shelves to await pickup.

Updated: 1/18/2023

The Feast of St. Isadore, patron saint of farmers, saw St. Vincent de Paul — Madison volunteers and staff come together for the annual blessing of Lacy Garden, a member of Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens.

Msgr. Larry Bakke led the blessing, which included a reminder from the book of Genesis that God has called us to be stewards of his creation. The gathered group prayed for a bountiful harvest to provide food for families coping with food insecurity in our community. Msgr. Bakke, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison, reflected that God’s work began in a garden and continued in a garden after Christ’s resurrection.

Tom Lacy, carrying on the tradition established by his late parents, invites volunteers to use 1.25 acres of the family farmland each year. In the garden’s 23rd year, planting began in early May, and harvesting will happen into October.

In a typical year, the Lacy Garden provides about 20,000 pounds of vegetables for distribution to people at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. Crops grown at the garden include asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, melons, squash and more.

This year, for the first time, a summer intern, Becks Gatewood, will learn and support the work of garden volunteers: individuals, families, corporate groups and youth group members. These workers are crucial to a successful harvest. Getting involved is rewarding. No previous gardening experience is necessary. Regular work sessions are held on Monday and Thursday evenings, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. You can find more information about the Lacy Garden and volunteer registration here.


What is a conference? Who are members? A brief history and overview of current service provided by St. Vincent de Paul member conferences in Dane County


In 1925, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul began serving in Madison at St. Bernard Catholic Church and Holy Redeemer Church. Each parish formed a conference of members dedicated to providing help to people in need. Ninety-seven years later, the Society continues to serve in Dane County with 18 member conferences which together make up the District Council of Madison. Today, each conference is located at a Catholic church.

“I wanted some hands-on work to help people, not just talking about helping people,” Ed Emmenegger, Blessed Sacrament (Madison) conference member, said, “It lets me put what’s in my heart into action.”

Four volunteers loading food pantry donations into metal carts. Two volunteers standing behind a table for a blanket drive.

One way Society members provide relational care and support is by visiting people in their homes. A person in need calls for help and two conference members go to their home to hear their story and learn what assistance they need. “I like how respectful home visits are,” Jeanne Bauhs, Our Lady Queen of Peace (Madison) conference member, said, “We’re just showing someone that people care when they are down and out.” Often, the conference will help with rent, utility bills, or other financial needs, and direct that person to additional resources that may provide support, including the District Council and its programs of assistance.

A volunteer standing in front of a table of brown grocery bags for a food drive.In 1941, the church conferences established what is now the District Council, to operate larger programs than any conference could manage on its own. The “Special Works” of the District Council include all our programs and resources you know about today! These include our customer choice Food Pantry, Charitable Pharmacy for uninsured adults, housing programs for men, women and children, Vinny’s Lockers long-term goods storage, and our seven St. Vinny’s Thrift Stores. The District Council may also provide additional funds to help people whose needs exceed a conference’s ability to help.

“It’s great to have real assistance as part of an organization,” Mike Meehan, St. Thomas Aquinas (Madison) conference member, said, “We couldn’t do all this as an individual or a church, but we can do big things as part of a larger group.” Beyond home visits, conference members provide volunteer service at various St. Vincent de Paul — Madison events throughout the year, run food drives, help with our Recycle the Warmth blanket drive and more!

“I encourage others to get involved in whatever way they can,” Brenda Welhoefer, Saint Ann (Stoughton) conference member, said, “Even if you can’t be a home visitor, you can donate, you can raise money, you can volunteer, you can donate things you no longer need. It’s all done by local people for local people.”

Are you interested in becoming a member? Email Membership Director Gayle Westfahl at

Alejandro Vergara serves as a current Charitable Pharmacy volunteer, Board of Directors member and long-time friend of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


His involvement and dedication to the organization is felt by clients, staff and fellow volunteers. As a Spanish interpreter, his communication with patients is essential. Alejandro remembers growing up in Columbia where his father was an active member in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. His father visited people struggling with poverty on the outskirts of town. He provided clothing and food vouchers, among other items. When Alejandro moved to Madison in 1992, he wanted to reconnect with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and found fellow Vincentians at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Middleton.

Alejandro dove deeper into the organization through his involvement on the Board of Directors and as a pharmacy volunteer. Speaking on his involvement with pharmacy patients, “It’s a relationship,” Alejandro said. “It is a chance to interact directly with people needing help. It is more than just giving medications.”

Since April 2017, Alejandro has volunteered over 590 hours in the Charitable Pharmacy!

“The reward I receive is unbelievable. I feel so good and want to inspire others to help. The more you give, the more you receive,” Alejandro said.

Alejandro remarks that the best way to encourage others is to look around you. While we are all accustomed to our routines, he suggests taking a moment to truly look at the people around you— your coworkers, the person behind you in the grocery store, your neighbor. “The first step in helping is recognizing your own talents and that you are so privileged to be able to share and give back,” Alejandro said.

We are extremely fortunate to have Alejandro as a volunteer and supporter!

To give your support as a Sustaining Samaritan click here!

2014 awards recognize service to neighbors in need through the charitable Society.

 Dedicated efforts by several hundred Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers make real the local charity’s mission of helping neighbors in need in our area. Each November a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in Madison is one means that St. Vincent de Paul – rooted in Catholic spirituality and social teaching – uses to thank the Society’s generous local members and other volunteers.

St. Vincent de Paul annually uses this event as an opportunity to recognize several volunteers whose efforts are exemplary and inspiring. The organization’s local 2014 Volunteer Service Awards were presented Nov. 6 before a group of about 325 St. Vincent de Paul volunteers, members and guests gathered at Madison’s Turner Hall for the event. St. Vincent de Paul Madison District Council President Richard Pilsner and Executive Director Ralph Middlecamp presented the awards.

Honoring dedicated efforts that help neighbors in need, the awards were made to the following individuals and groups:  Thomas Dobbins of Madison, Roger LaMasney of Baraboo, Barbara Matthews of Fitchburg, the Oscar Mayer R.E.A.D.I. group, Thomas Parslow of Madison, Patricia Ponty of Madison and Mary Jo Rimkus of Madison.

Pat Ponty was recognized for her Vincentian leadership and effort in a number of service roles over several years. Specially cited was Pat’s coordination of the annual Little Drummer Gift Giveaway benefiting the children of families visited by Dane County St. Vincent de Paul member groups (or “conferences”). This event, which Pat has worked effectively with other Vincentians to coordinate, is a Christmastime blessing to children of families struggling with poverty. Also noted were Pat’s Vincentian service and leadership as a longtime member and current president of Monona’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Tom Parslow was also honored for his Vincentian leadership and significant effort in several service roles over many years. Society members and volunteers tend to know Tom best for his coordination of efforts to farm the Lacy Food Pantry Garden in Fitchburg for the benefit of those who turn to Madison’s St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry for assistance. With Tom’s coordination and hard work, the fresh and healthy vegetables the garden has yielded – as much as 23,000 pounds in a season – have been greatly appreciated by pantry clients. Also recognized were Tom’s role in facilitating the work of the Madison Area Food Pantry Gardens network, coordination of St. Vincent de Paul’s annual “Pick a Pack” fundraiser for Lacy Garden transplants, Vincentian service and leadership as a member and former President of Madison’s Our Lady Queen of Peace Conference, and his current role as a member of the board of St. Vincent de Paul – Madison.

Barbara Matthews and Mary Jo Rimkus were honored together for serving as co-chairs for the 2013 U.S. National Assembly of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The meeting was held in Madison in September last year and marked the only time that Madison has hosted this national gathering of Vincentians. Barbara and Mary Jo were recognized for the leadership and effort they offered for this highly successful and well-attended event intended to foster growth in service, spirituality and friendship among the hundreds of U.S. Vincentians who met here. It was noted that Mary Jo and Barbara took on their National Assembly roles while also serving on the St. Vincent de Paul – Madison board.

The Oscar Mayer R.E.A.D.I. group was honored for significant volunteer service to the community. The award recognized work that members of this retiree group have offered as monthly volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry since the middle of the last decade. It was noted that generous spirit and regular attendance of the R.E.A.D.I. volunteers was evidence supporting the group’s acronym: “Retired Employees Are Dedicated Individuals.” R.E.A.D.I. pantry volunteers Dave Weber, Shirley Worl, Tom Parker and Ray Griesbach were on-hand to accept the group’s award plaque.

Roger LaMasney was recognized for offering Vincentian leadership as president of the Madison Diocesan Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. His 12 years of presidential service across three decades was noted, as was his long tenure as a member and leader of the St. Vincent de Paul conference in Baraboo and the Society’s Baraboo District Council. His dedicated service was cited as a testament to the priority Roger places on the Vincentian values of service, spirituality and friendship in the work of St. Vincent de Paul members on behalf of neighbors in need.

Thomas Dobbins was accorded an honor not previously awarded by St. Vincent de Paul’s Madison District Council. He was honored for significant leadership as a young Vincentian. While still an undergraduate and then a graduate engineering student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tom has helped lead and renew the student St. Vincent de Paul member group at St. Paul University Catholic Center. His service as president of that conference for more than two years and his work as a member in years prior were cited as instrumental in growing the conference both in membership and in service to people in need. It was noted that Tom’s service followed the example of the first members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, who were university students when they founded the Society in 1833.

More about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the volunteer and member opportunities it offers for growth in charity, spirituality and friendship may be found at