On January 5, 1858, the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul reached the shores of Santa Barbara near what is today Stearns Wharf. Within a week, these pioneer Sisters established the first English-speaking school and orphanage in the region. This was the beginning of their life-transforming work that continues today.
One of the service programs assisting low-income mothers and their at-risk children is
St. Vincent’s Family Strengthening Program. Opened in 1996, this two-year residential program provides shared housing, case management, educational opportunities, and parenting classes. “In keeping with St. Vincent’s mission, the program is designed to help each mother create stability as well as emotional and spiritual well-being for herself and her children,” says Rebecca Robertson, St. Vincent’s Vice President of Children & Family Services.
In the past five years, St. Vincent’s Family Strengthening Program has helped more than 224 mothers and 286 young children move from homelessness to stability. In the words of one mother whose child was taken from her due to substance abuse, “Slowly but surely, I built a new life for myself and my child. The staff at St. Vincent’s really helped me get my life back.” In addition, the program focuses on developing self-sufficiency and the skills necessary to transition to independent living.
“While we celebrate the history and heritage of St. Vincent’s in Santa Barbara during this milestone year, we are so grateful to the benefactors, supporters, volunteers, and staff who have journeyed with us,” says Sister Margaret. “They have made the ministry of
St. Vincent’s an uninterrupted story of service to the people of Santa Barbara since 1858.”
St. Vincent’s is the longest, continuously-operating nonprofit human service agency in Santa Barbara. With a Tradition of Caring Since 1858, St. Vincent’s serves the most vulnerable residents of Santa Barbara County by providing affordable housing, early childhood education, and family enrichment opportunities.