December 16, 2023 // Bishop

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store Renovations Begin

Things are looking up – and will soon be going up – at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store.

Paid for with funds from the Legacy of Hope Campaign, a new elevator is the first of many improvements to the infrastructure of the thrift store at 1600 South Calhoun St. in Fort Wayne. According to Lara Schreck, Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, more than 95 percent of the campaign’s $2 million goal has been raised.

Photos by Bethany Beebe
On Tuesday, December 5, leaders of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Fort Wayne kicked off the first phase of building renovations. Below, Executive Director Lara Schreck speaks during the open-house event.

The Legacy of Hope Campaign has three primary objectives. First, they hope to serve more people in need with improved operations at the store. The St. Vincent de Paul Society provides assistance with utilities, rent, food, clothing, and furniture through person-to-person service from funds raised at the store. Second, greater self-sufficiency is a goal. The onsite woodshop will offer opportunities for people to learn carpentry skills while creating beds and dressers that are donated to families who otherwise might not own such amenities. According to officials with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Allen County Workforce Development estimates 10,000 new Allen County construction jobs in the coming decade. Finally, the campaign aims to create equity by making the entire facility accessible to all who use it.

St. Vincent de Paul Society leaders held a special event on Tuesday, December 5, to kick off the beginning of construction at the thrift store. The goal of the community event was “to celebrate the success of our Legacy of Hope Campaign, to humbly thank all of you who were instrumental to that success, and to kick off construction of the thrift store improvements to help us better serve our community,” Schreck said.

Sam Schenkel, President of the Board of Directors and a member of the Campaign Steering Committee as well as the Leadership Gift Committee, said: “The elevator being built … is just the start of many planned improvements, including a new donation drop-off center, a multipurpose training room, accessible restrooms, a ramp connecting the buildings, a new e-commerce center, exterior facade renovations, and upgrades to our woodshop. It’s exciting to see construction beginning to make these plans a reality.”

Bishop Rhoades is an honorary chairperson of the campaign, supporting its work from a perspective of faith as the store’s improvement plans are implemented and the last dollars anticipated. “The Society of St. Vincent de Paul attends to the poor and needy of our community in the spirit of Christ,” he said, “seeing in every poor and suffering person the face of Jesus. They put our faith into practice through their many works of charity.”

Schreck expressed thanks to those who have supported the campaign and hopes to finish strong. “We are so grateful,” she said, “to all who have donated to the Legacy of Hope Campaign so far, and we invite the community to help us cross the finish line.”

Simply getting the job done is not the only aim, however. Speaking of the clients the St. Vincent de Paul Society helps, Darrel Dodane, Conference President of the St. Louis Besancon chapter of St. Vincent de Paul, said sharing faith is important, too. “You give them a little dignity,” he said, reminding, too, that “the good Lord is there to help, also.” He noted, with a smile, that the society does not just do the job, but uses its resources well. “We are the Von Maur of thrift stores in Fort Wayne,” he said.

There are many ways to help the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store make a difference in the Fort Wayne community. They invite everyone to come downtown to see the new improvements, shop for deals, volunteer with a caring team, and/or donate material items to help them in their mission to serve the poor. Furniture items can be scheduled for pickup by calling 260-456-3561.

To contribute to the Legacy of Hope Campaign, visit the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s website at

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